The Lark Ascending – The Music Of The British Landscape – Paperback
- Faber & Faber
- 19.5 × 13.2 × 2.3 cm
The Lark Ascending, Ralph Vaughan Williams’s ‘pastoral romance for orchestra’, was premiered on 14 June 1921. Over the course of the twentieth century this piece of music, perhaps more than any other, worked its way into the collective consciousness to seemingly define a mythical concept of the English countryside: babbling brooks, skylarks, hayricks. But the birth and legacy of the composition are more complex than this simplified, idyllic vision suggests. The landscape we celebrate as unsullied and ripe with mystique is not an unaffected utopia, but a living, working and occasionally rancorous environment that forged a nation’s musical personality, and its dissenting traditions.
On a chronological journey that takes us from post-war poets and artists to the late twentieth century and the free party scene which emerged from acid house and travelling communities, Richard King explores how Britain’s history and identity have been shaped by the mysterious relationship between music and nature. From the far west of Wales to the Thames Estuary and the Suffolk shoreline, taking in Brian Eno, Kate Bush, Boards of Canada, Dylan Thomas, Gavin Bryars, Greenham Common and the Kinder Scout mass trespass, The Lark Ascending listens to the land and the music that emerged from it, to chart a new and surprising course through a familiar landscape.