In “The Lark Ascending,” composer Ralph Vaughan Williams conjures up a bucolic vision of pastoral England. Small fields, hedgerows, an early summer’s morning. And the display flight of a Eurasian Skylark: Alauda arvensis. The lark — not much bigger than a swallow — has been severely affected by changes in farming practices during the past 40 years. Attempts to preserve its remaining habitat are ongoing. It's strange to think the lark’s display flight may one day exist only in the lines of music written to describe its high, airy patterns.
The Lark Ascending
Written By Dominic Black
This is BirdNote.
In his piece The Lark Ascending, English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams seemed to conjure up a bucolic vision of pastoral England. Small fields, hedgerows, an early summer's morning. And the display flight of a lark - Alauda arvensis. [Music]
Vaughan Williams wrote The Lark Ascending in 1914, but only orchestrated it in 1919 after returning from World War I. Its lush orchestration is heavy with nostalgia for a time gone by and a landscape that was disappearing, even then. [Music]
In the flourishes of the violin, we imagine the lark rising almost out of sight against the sky. In reality, the Skylark - not much bigger than a swallow - has been severely affected by changes in farming practices over the past forty years. Attempts to preserve its few remaining areas of habitat are ongoing.
It's strange to think that this imaginary version of an English pastoral scene would come to be the last remaining habitat of the Skylark. And that its display flight may one day exist only in the lines of music written to describe its high, airy patterns. [Music]
For BirdNote, I'm Mary McCann.
Music from album: Ralph Vaughan Williams - The Lark Ascending
Vernon Hadley & the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, 2001 EMI
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Dominic Black
© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org April 2018 / 2020 Narrator: Mary McCann
ID #: larkascending-01-2015-04-05 larkascending-01