The Lark Ascending Premiere

Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending was first performed, in a version for violin and piano, at Shirehampton Public Hall on 15th December 1920. This page gives details of that concert, based on the original programme, which is held in the Philip Napier Miles Archive in Bristol University Library.

Click the links on the transcript of the programme below to find out more…

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AVONMOUTH & SHIREHAMPTON
CHORAL SOCIETY


Wednesday, December 15th, 1920
GRAND CONCERT
IN THE
Public Hall, Shirehampton

ARTISTS:
Miss MARIE HALL
Miss G. FFRANGCON DAVIS
Rev. Dr. E. H. FELLOWES
Mr. GILBERT J. BAILEY

Conductor: Mr. P. NAPIER MILES
Choir Master: Mr. W. POWELL
Accompanist: Mr. G. MENDHAM

Doors Open at 7 p.m.
Commence at 7.50.
Price 4d

TAYLOR & JAMES, AVONMOUTH

PROGRAMME

1. FANTASIA ON CHRISTMAS CAROLS R. Vaughan Williams

Mr. GILBERT J. BAILEY & THE CHORAL SOCIETY
Violoncello Obligato: Miss HELEN JUST

2. VIOLIN SOLO “The Lark Ascending” : R. Vaughan Williams

FIRST PERFORMANCE
Romance for Violin and Orchestra.

Miss MARIE HALL

“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.

For singing till his Heaven fills,
‘Tis 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,

Till lost on his aerial rings
In light, and then the fancy sings.”
George Meredith.


The accompaniment for this work is scored for strings, woodwind, and two horns. The pianoforte version has been made by the Composer himself, who has very kindly given permission for the work to be performed without Orchestra on this occasion.

3. SONGS

(a) “O Death Rock me Asleep” : Ascribed to Ann Boleyn, 1536, ed. Dolmetsch
(b) “Come Again” : Dowland 1597, ed. Fellowes
(c) “Phyllis was a Faire Maid” : Giles Earles, 1615, ed. Keel
(d) “Virgins are like the Fair Flowers” : Purcell, arranged by F. Austin
(e) “Names” : P. Napier Miles

Miss G. FFRANGCON DAVIS

4. CONCERTO FOR TWO VIOLINS: Bach

(a) Vivace
(b) Largo, Ma Non Tanto
(c) Allegro

Miss MARIE HALL & Rev. Dr. E. H. FELLOWES.

5. ODE ON ST. CECILIA’S DAY: C. Hubert H. Parry

Miss G. FFRANGCON DAVIS, Mr. GILBERT J. BAILEY, & THE CHORAL SOCIETY.

6. CHORAL SONG “Jerusalem”: C. Hubert H. Parry

THE CHORAL SOCIETY.

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?
And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic Mills.

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.