In 1907, Ralph Vaughan Williams moved to Paris to study orchestration with Maurice Ravel. This was the beginning of an enduring friendship that spanned a world war and sent British music in an entirely new direction.
At the outbreak of the First World War, both composers enlisted for active duty, serving in ambulance brigades. Profoundly affected by his experiences, Ravel composed Le Tombeau de Couperin as a homage to his friends who had lost their lives during the conflict. Rather than being a sombre piece, Le Tombeau is a light-hearted, virtuosic work with Ravel commenting, “the dead are sad enough, in their eternal silence.”
Vaughan Williams also sought to express his harrowing war time experiences through music, composing what is considered to be his greatest work, the Pastoral Symphony. Incorporating a trumpet solo inspired by an army bugler he had heard practising, it also includes echoes of The Lark Ascending and The Last Post.
Sydney Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster and former Concert Master of the BBC Symphony Andrew Haveron joins the CSO to perform Vaughan Williams’ idyllic The Lark Ascending.