The Lark at 100

Picture of a lark ascending © Mark Sturton

“Like a sunflower turning towards the sun, its instinct is slow but sure. People feel in their bones that this is a profound utterance.”

The Daily Telegraph

RVW’s most enduring work, The Lark Ascending, continues to be one of the most played, recorded and beloved pieces of classical music in the UK and beyond, and regularly tops the annual Classic FM ‘Hall of Fame’.

Vaughan Williams began composing The Lark in 1914 at the outbreak of the First World War, but the final draft, adapted with soloist Marie Hall, had to wait until 1919 after VW’s searing experience of the First World War battlefield. The composer dedicated the piece to Hall, who gave the premiere performance in a version for violin and piano at the Bristol Shirehampton Public Hall on 15 December 1920.

Two performances marked the centenary:

Jennifer Pike joined the Bristol Ensemble and Exultate Singers in the original venue, Bristol Shirehampton Hall.

Janice Graham – leader and artistic director of the English Sinfonia – performed the work with the ensemble’s principal conductor Chris Hopkins on the piano at St John’s Smith Square.

Both performances took place on 15 December 2020, 100 years to the day after the work’s first public performance.

The well-known orchestral version was first performed six months later at London’s Queen’s Hall under the baton of Sir Adrian Boult.

Leading violinists talk about The Lark

BBC Music Magazine recommended recordings of The Lark

Ceri Owen introduces the differing faces of Vaughan Williams in the run up to the composer’s 150th Anniversary