Last week we looked at variations on a very old English folk song, "John Barleycorn". I thought it might be fun to continue the theme with a classical piece.
Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote "The Lark Ascending" in 1914, based on a poem by George Meredith. He scored the original piece for piano and violin. The outbreak of the First World War disrupted the first performance, which eventually took place in 1920. Here it is as originally scored.
In the same year, 1920, the composer re-scored the piece for solo violin and orchestra. It's in this form that it's become most well known (and beloved).
The piece has also been re-scored for solo flute and orchestra. This variation might be the most "moody" of them all, with the flute being well suited to reproduce the sounds intrinsic to birdsong.
All three versions are lovely, each in their own way.