The best music has the power to flick the switch that transports us to a different time or place. It also has the ability to either amplify our feelings or to help us escape them.
Songs are where we go to lose ourselves or to find something that is sometimes otherwise lacking- as is the natural world.
When you’re yearning for the outdoors give these great classical compositions a listen to transport you.
- The last ascending by Vaughan Williams: a hugely popular piece for solo violin and orchestra, this song portrays the artist’s love for the countryside. The solo violin representing the larks flight into the sky- it is one of the best loved pieces of music ever written.
- Enigma Variations by Elgar: this song is made up of a theme and 14 variations, each of which is dedicated to one of the composers friends and family.
- On hearing the first cuckoo in spring by Delius: Delius wrote this ode to the countryside in 1914 but while Vaughan Willaims used the violin to capture the song of the lark, Delius recreates the cuckoo’s iconic call using mainly woodwind instruments- the oboe and clarinet in particular.
- Eclogue by Finzi: Finzi was born in London in 1901 but he’s most famous for his music celebrating the British landscape.
- Variation XI (Allegro Di Molto) by Edward Elgar: so strong the composers association with Worcestershire’s Malvern Hills that it’s possible to explore the Elgar Route, where you can soak up the scenery that inspired so much of his work
- The Exe Estuary by Show of Hands: it’s not just classical pieces that transport us to our favourite places; folk music can be just as expressive. This track is taken from Show of Hands 2003 instrumental album ‘The Path’, recorded to mark the silver jubilee of the South-West coastal path. It also demonstrates Steve Knightley and Phil Beer’s deep understanding of their home patch.
- Rainbow River by Vashi Bunyan: this song comes from the English songwriters revered 1970 album ‘just another diamond day’ which was inspired by her travels through Scotland on horse and carriage. There’s a simplicity to both the music and lyrics of rainbow River which fits into how many other people view the country.
- Little bird by Goldfrapp: Alison Goldfrappe and Will Gregory, the duo behind the glam pop band tended to keep their pastoral influences concealed beneath layers of shimmering electronics however, in 2008 this changed. Their album ‘Seventh Tree’ a simpler folk-inflected affair revealed their love of the countryside.
- Kingfisher by Bert Jansch: Bert Jansch, formerly of the group Pentangle, recorded an instrumental folk album called ‘Avocet’ in February 1978. Avocet was inspired by the traditional song “The Cuckoo”. All tracks on the album are named after a sea bird or wading bird.
- Water by Sally Beamish (Piano Concerts no.1): Beamish wrote most of this concerto in 2016 while staying in the Caignorms National Park. Water is the first of 4 parts.
- The sea: I. Seascape by Frank Bridge: so stirring it inspired a 10 year old Benjamin Britten, this 4 movement piece was completed in Frank Bridge’s Eastbourne home in 1911. At the premiere, Bridge said this movement ‘Paints the sea on a summer morning’.
Enjoy listening to these beautiful pieces.
Thank you to Countryfile magazine for the inspiration and a lot of the content to write this article.