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  • Date: 21/03/2023 01:05 PM
  • Location Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (Map)
  • More Info: Bradshaw Hall

Price: £8


Yi Wang violin

Robert Markham piano

Edward Elgar (1857-1934)

Sonata for Violin and Piano, in E minor, Op.82

i.    Allegro risoluto

ii.   Romance: Andante

iii.  Allegro non troppo

Frederick Delius (1862-1934)

Violin Sonata No.3

i.   Slow

ii.  Andante scherzando-meno mosso

iii. Lento-Con moto

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)

The Lark Ascending (Romance for Violin and Piano)

Sir Edward William Elgar (8 June 1810 – 29 July 1856), growing up in a household where his father owned a music shop and tuned pianos, as well as played the organ at church, it was almost certain that Edward Elgar would learn these instruments. However, it was the violin that he had a genuine passion for and truly loved playing. As a talented violinist himself, Elgar composed the final violin piece that captures the essence of Schubert's spontaneous lyricism and Brahms' fervent warmth in just one month in 1918 and dedicated it to a close friend named Marie Joshua. In a letter to her written while he was working on the sonata, he expressed his fondness for it, but noted that it was not particularly groundbreaking “I fear it does not carry us any further but it is full of golden sounds and I like it, but you must not expect anything violently chromatic or cubist”. Unfortunately, Marie Joshua passed away shortly after receiving the letter. To honor her memory, Elgar included a sorrowful theme from the sonata's slow movement at the end of the piece. He chose not to dwell on somber tones in his sonata, as the final movement instead provides a sense of comfort and optimism for what lies ahead. Here is provided a brief summary of his sonata in his own words “The first movement is bold and vigorous, then a fantastic, curious movement with a very expressive middle section; a melody for the violin they say it is as good or better than anything I have done in the expressive way … the last movement is very broad and soothing, like the last movement of the Second Symphony.”

Frederick Theodore Albert Delius (29 January 1862 – 10 June 1934), the Delius family had a strong musical background, with notable musicians like Joseph Joachim and Carlo Alfredo Piatti often visiting and performing for them. Despite becoming skilled enough to later teach violin, his love for piano improvisation remained his primary musical joy. During World War I, Delius and his wife Jelka moved to southern England to avoid the conflict, and he continued to compose during this time. However, by the end of the war, Delius began to exhibit symptoms of syphilis that he likely contracted in the 1880s. By 1922, he needed two walking sticks to get around, and by 1928 he had become paralyzed and blind.

Violin Sonata No.3 forms a part of the remarkable Indian summer of composition made possible by the blind and paralyzed composer’s collaboration with Eric Fenby (1906-1997). Sketches for this work already existed from as early as 1918, while Delius dictated the Sonata to Fenby at the end of March 1930, "a comparatively easy task" as the young amanuensis later recalled. Soon afterwards, at his home in Grez, Delius heard May Harrison play the completed work. Delighted at her interpretation, he dedicated it to her, declaring that "It seems a younger, fresher work than either of the other two [numbered] sonatas … and in some respects I like it better".

The first movement of the sonata is notable for its smooth and concise presentation of all three of its distinctive themes without extensive introduction. The movement begins with mournful piano semi-quavers, followed by the entry of the violin with an ascending, scalic theme. With a change of time signature from 4/4 to 6/4, the piano introduces the glorious third main theme, a lilting melody typical of the composer. The violin takes up the scalic theme with rich chordal harmonies in the piano, then movement repeats the three subjects and ends with an expanded second subject. Marked ‘Andante scherzando’, the second movement’s dancing character bears a melodic resemblance to the music of the Dark Fiddler in A Village Romeo and Juliet.The third movement begins with a slow introduction featuring melodic lines sung by the violin. The main part marked 'Con moto', starts with agitation but is balanced by a contrasting 'Tranquillo' episode. The music builds to a passionate climax where the violin uses double-stopping and soars over fortissimo piano chords with con passion. The mood then returns to the introspection of the introduction and ends with gentle and hushed wistful closing bars.

Ralph Vaughan Williams (12 October 1872 – 26 August 1958) was an English composer. Among the enthusiasms of the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams were poetry and the violin. At the head of the score, Vaughan Williams wrote out twelve lines from Meredith's 122-line 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.


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.

"The Lark Ascending" is composed by British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams in 1914, and revised in 1921 and 1935. Inspired by a poem of the same name by George Meredith, the piece aims to capture the soaring flight of a lark through the countryside. The music is characterised by flowing melodies and rich harmonies, evoking the beauty and tranquility of the English landscape. Originally written for solo violin and orchestra, this arrangement for violin and piano was made by the composer in 1926.

The opening violin solo, which is repeated throughout the piece, sets the mood with a gentle, soaring melody that gradually builds in intensity. The piano accompaniment provides a rich, evocative background, with lush chords and delicate arpeggios. As the music progresses, the violin's soaring melody becomes more virtuosic, with intricate runs and double stops, reaching a climax in the middle section of the piece. The music then subsides into a gentle, peaceful coda, evoking the calm stillness of the countryside.

"The Lark Ascending" has become one of Vaughan Williams' most popular and beloved works, and is considered a masterpiece of English pastoral music. Its timeless beauty and evocative imagery continue to captivate audiences to this day.