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Vaughan Williams on Music$
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David Manning

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195182392

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195182392.001.0001

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A London Symphony

A London Symphony

(p.338) (p.339) Chapter 80 A London Symphony
Vaughan Williams on Music

David Manning

Oxford University Press

The title A London Symphony may suggest to some hearers a descriptive piece, but this is not the intention of the composer. A better title would perhaps be “Symphony by a Londoner,”; that is to say, the life of London has suggested to the composer an attempt at musical expression; but it would be no help to the hearer to describe these in words. The music is intended to be self-expressive, and must stand or fall as “absolute” music. Therefore, if listeners recognize suggestions of such things as the “Westminster Chimes” or the “Lavender Cry,” they are asked to consider these as accidents, not essentials of the music. The work consists of the usual four symphonic movements: Lento, leading to allegro risoluto, Lento, Scherzo (Nocturne), Maestoso alla marcia, leading to Epilogue in which the theme of the opening Lento recurs.

Keywords:   London Symphony, absolute music, Westminster Chimes, Lavender Cry, Lento, Scherzo, Maestoso alla Marcia, Epilogue

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