“Like a sunflower turning towards the sun, its instinct is slow but sure. People feel in their bones that this is a profound utterance.”
RVW’s most enduring work, The Lark Ascending, for solo violin and orchestra, was completed in the year following the first world war and celebrates the 100th anniversary of its premiere in December 2020. It continues to be one of the most played and beloved pieces of classical music in the UK and beyond, and regularly tops the annual Classic FM ‘Hall of Fame’.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, music critic Ivan Hewitt offers his analysis into why the piece deserves the adulation it gets:
“The secret of this piece, the thing that makes it endure year after year, is that under the appearance of rhapsodic freedom it actually has a very subtle form. The melodies are cunningly contrived to share a “family likeness”, and VW used subtle changes of harmony and colour to make a simple recurrence of a tune seem emotionally rich, as if it’s coming from a huge distance. That, plus the fact that the piece was completed after VW’s searing experience of the First World War battlefield, create a feeling of elegy for an England that was passing away. …”