Classical Sunday: Vaughan William’s London Symphony

Ralph Vaughan Williams: “A London Symphony”

Vaughan Williams’s great paean to the city of London, written shortly before the outbreak of the Great War of 1914-18.

1st movment: Lento – Allegro risoluto 00:00
2nd movement: Lento: 14:00
3rd movement: Scherzo 24:43
4th movement Andante con moto – Maestoso all marcia 32:28

The performance is by the London Philharmonic conducted by Sir Roger Norrington on a wonderful Decca disc which also includes beautiful performances of the Tallis Fantasia and the Serenade to Music.

To accompany the music, I have used paintings of London which reflect the changing mood of the music as I hear it. Most of the paintings date from the early 20th century, though some are much later and a few somewhat earlier. They are listed below (work in progress: first three movements only.

00:10 George Hyde Pownell (1876-1932) Tower Bridge
00:59 David Roberts (1796-1864) St Paul’s From the West
01:54 Marcus Ford (1914-1989) Tower Bridge
02:53 Edward Seago (1910-1974) Thames Embankment
03:25 Charles William Wyllie (1853-1923) Tower Bridge
04:13 William Logsdail (1859-1944) Bank of England
04:28 Anon (circa 1850) Snow Hill, Holborn
04:58 Rose Maynard Barton (1856-1929) Trafalgar Square
05:11 ” ” ” ” ”
05:21 ” ” ” ” Fleet Street
05:33 William Logsdail Royal Exchange
05:44 Rose Maynard Barton Wesminster
05:44 Anders Zorn (1860-1920) ‘Impressions of London’
06:03 Atkinson Grimshaw (1836-1893) Blackman Street
06:24 Rose Maynard Barton
06:44 John O’Connor (1830-1899) Pentonville Road & St Pancras
06:56 Donald Maxwell (1877-1936) Lots Road Power Station
07:12 Sir George Clausen (1852-1944) ‘Where the Guns Are Made’
07:32 Luther Hooper (1849-1932) ‘Nocturn’
08:10 George Hyde Pownall (1876-1932) London Bridge
08:38 ” ” ”
09:33 Edward Seago
10:27 Atkinson Grimshaw Hampstead
10:43 Unknown Street scene
11:01 Unknown High Holborn? Signed ‘Smith’
11:27 John O’Connor Detail from picture at 06.44
11:43 Atkinson Grimshaw
11:54 ” ”
12:06 ” ” The Strand
12:24 Rose Maynard Barton London Bridge and Parliament
12:39 George Hyde Pownall St Pauls
12:50 Charles Dixon (1872-1934) Shipping on the Thames
13:10 William Lionel Wyllie (1851-1931) ‘Toil Glitter Grime & Wealth’
13:34 Charles Dixon Greenwich
14:00 John Atkinson Grimshaw
14:27 Abraham Pether (1756-1812)
14:53 John Atkinson Grimshaw
15:17 Unknown
15:38 John Atkinson Grimshaw
16:09 David Cressman (b1980) Battersea Power Station
16:31 George Hyde Pownall (1876-1932)
17:02 John Atkinson Grimshaw
17:26 Claude Monet (1840-1926)
18:00 John Atkinson Grimshaw
19:19 John Arnesby Brown (1866-1955)
19:48 Unknown
19:55 John Atkinson Grimshaw (sequence of 4 pictures)
21:34 Unknown
22:06 Frederick William Scarborough (1860-1930)
22:43 John Atkinson Grimshaw (sequence of 2 pictures)
Most pictures in this movement are paintings of Piccadilly and London’s ‘theatreland’ at night by George Hyde Pownall. Other paintings featured are:
26:14 Unknown (Piccadilly Circus at night)
28:49 John Atkinson Grimshaw (Pall Mall)
30:32 John T Wood (Piccadilly and Regent Steet)
30:50 Giuseppe De Nittis (1846-1884) Westminster
31:21 John Atkinson Grimshaw: 2 pictures of Westminster


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