Accompanied by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Warwick Adeney performs the popular Ralph Vaughn Williams masterpiece “The Lark Ascending”. Conductor: Peter Luff. Filmed in Yugambeh Country in Australia.

Accompanied by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Warwick Adeney performs the popular Ralph Vaughn Williams masterpiece “The Lark Ascending”. Conductor: Peter Luff. Filmed in Yugambeh Country in Australia.

Vaughn Williams’ “The Lark Ascending”

The Lark Ascending” is a composition for violin and orchestra by the British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. It was completed in 1914, but its premiere was delayed until 1920 due to World War I. The work is inspired by a poem of the same name by George Meredith and aims to capture the essence of the English countryside, as well as the flight of a skylark.

In terms of structure, “The Lark Ascending” is a single-movement work that lasts about 15 minutes. The violin takes the lead, portraying the lark, while the orchestra provides the landscape over which the bird soars. It’s written in a way that allows for a great deal of interpretation and expression by the soloist, using a lot of ornamentation, glissandos, and cadenzas. The piece is characterized by its pastoral and serene mood, and it often evokes strong emotional reactions from its listeners.

Musically, the composition utilizes elements of English folk music, a common feature in Vaughan Williams’ works. The composer was deeply influenced by English folk tunes, and he often incorporated them into his compositions to evoke a sense of place and tradition.

“The Lark Ascending” has been enormously popular since its premiere, and it often ranks highly in surveys of Britain’s favorite classical music. It has been recorded multiple times and is frequently performed in concert settings. The piece is often seen as a symbol of English identity and has been used in various films, documentaries, and public commemorations.

As for its significance in the classical music world, “The Lark Ascending” stands as an example of early 20th-century Romanticism in British classical music. While Vaughan Williams is sometimes criticized for not being as avant-garde as some of his contemporaries, the emotional depth and intricate violin techniques in this piece showcase his mastery of composition.

George Meredith’s Poem “The Lark Ascending”

The Lark Ascending is a poem of 122 lines by the English poet George Meredith (12 February 1828 – 18 May 1909) about the song of the skylark. The poem inspired the English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (12 October 1872 – 26 August 1958) to write a musical work of the same name, which is now more widely known than the poem.

He rises and begins to round,
He drops the silver chain of sound
Of many links without a break,
In chirrup, whistle, slur and shake,
All intervolv’d and spreading wide,
Like water-dimples down a tide
Where ripple ripple overcurls
And eddy into eddy whirls;
A press of hurried notes that run
So fleet they scarce are more than one,
Yet changingly the trills repeat
And linger ringing while they fleet,
Sweet to the quick o’ the ear, and dear
To her beyond the handmaid ear,
Who sits beside our inner springs,
Too often dry for this he brings,
Which seems the very jet of earth
At sight of sun, her music’s mirth,
As up he wings the spiral stair,
A song of light, and pierces air
With fountain ardor, fountain play,
To reach the shining tops of day,
And drink in everything discern’d
An ecstasy to music turn’d,
Impell’d by what his happy bill
Disperses; drinking, showering still,
Unthinking save that he may give
His voice the outlet, there to live
Renew’d in endless notes of glee,
So thirsty of his voice is he,
For all to hear and all to know
That he is joy, awake, aglow,
The tumult of the heart to hear
Through pureness filter’d crystal-clear,
And know the pleasure sprinkled bright
By simple singing of delight,
Shrill, irreflective, unrestrain’d,
Rapt, ringing, on the jet sustain’d
Without a break, without a fall,
Sweet-silvery, sheer lyrical,
Perennial, quavering up the chord
Like myriad dews of sunny sward
That trembling into fulness shine,
And sparkle dropping argentine;
Such wooing as the ear receives
From zephyr caught in choric leaves
Of aspens when their chattering net
Is flush’d to white with shivers wet;
And such the water-spirit’s chime
On mountain heights in morning’s prime,
Too freshly sweet to seem excess,
Too animate to need a stress;
But wider over many heads
The starry voice ascending spreads,
Awakening, as it waxes thin,
The best in us to him akin;
And every face to watch him rais’d,
Puts on the light of children prais’d,
So rich our human pleasure ripes
When sweetness on sincereness pipes,
Though nought be promis’d from the seas,
But only a soft-ruffling breeze
Sweep glittering on a still content,
Serenity in ravishment.

For singing till his heaven fills,
‘T is love of earth that he instils,
And ever winging up and up,
Our valley is his golden cup,
And he the wine which overflows
To lift us with him as he goes:
The woods and brooks, the sheep and kine
He is, the hills, the human line,
The meadows green, the fallows brown,
The dreams of labor in the town;
He sings the sap, the quicken’d veins;
The wedding song of sun and rains
He is, the dance of children, thanks
Of sowers, shout of primrose-banks,
And eye of violets while they breathe;
All these the circling song will wreathe,
And you shall hear the herb and tree,
The better heart of men shall see,
Shall feel celestially, as long
As you crave nothing save the song.
Was never voice of ours could say
Our inmost in the sweetest way,
Like yonder voice aloft, and link
All hearers in the song they drink:
Our wisdom speaks from failing blood,
Our passion is too full in flood,
We want the key of his wild note
Of truthful in a tuneful throat,
The song seraphically free
Of taint of personality,
So pure that it salutes the suns
The voice of one for millions,
In whom the millions rejoice
For giving their one spirit voice.

Yet men have we, whom we revere,
Now names, and men still housing here,
Whose lives, by many a battle-dint
Defaced, and grinding wheels on flint,
Yield substance, though they sing not, sweet
For song our highest heaven to greet:
Whom heavenly singing gives us new,
Enspheres them brilliant in our blue,
From firmest base to farthest leap,
Because their love of Earth is deep,
And they are warriors in accord
With life to serve and pass reward,
So touching purest and so heard
In the brain’s reflex of yon bird;
Wherefore their soul in me, or mine,
Through self-forgetfulness divine,
In them, that song aloft maintains,
To fill the sky and thrill the plains
With showerings drawn from human stores,
As he to silence nearer soars,
Extends the world at wings and dome,
More spacious making more our home,
Till lost on his aërial rings
In light, and then the fancy sings.

Warwick Adeney

Warwick Adeney performs the popular Ralph Vaughn Williams masterpiece The Lark Ascending
Warwick Adeney performing The Lark Ascending

Warwick Adeney was born into a large family of violinists and trained at Queensland Conservatorium alongside three of his siblings. There he learned with Dr. Anthony Doheny, was a member of the Ambrosian Quartet, and emerged as the Gold Medal graduate of 1984.

Married to Michele, a fellow musician, Warwick Adeney is blessed with nine children, all of whom learn a variety of instruments, and the family attends a weekly traditional Latin mass. The violin Warwick plays is a Venetian instrument from the early 18th century, possibly by Carlo Antonio Testore.

Warwick Adeney played many solos, including the memorable Lark Ascending with Sir Neville Marriner, and directed many concerts. Over the years Warwick Adeney has continued to enjoy the privileged and challenging life of an orchestral performer and become something of a specialist in ballet solos and the Four Seasons along the way.


M. Özgür Nevres

Published by M. Özgür Nevres

I am Özgür Nevres, a software engineer, a former road racing cyclist, and also an amateur musician. I opened to share my favorite music. I also take care of stray cats & dogs. This website's all income goes directly to our furry friends. Please consider supporting me on Patreon, so I can help more animals!

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