The Lark Ascending voted nation’s favourite classical tune again

By Alex Green, Press Association

Ralph Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending has been voted Britain’s favourite piece of classical music – regaining the top spot in the Classic FM Hall of Fame.

The English composer’s 15-minute work returns to number one after being displaced to third last year by Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.

The composition – written in its earliest form just over a century ago – was inspired by a poem of the same name by George Meredith.

Edward Elgar (PA)

In 1914 Vaughan Williams penned a version for violin and piano and six years later completed the more recognisable orchestral version.

The composer, who died in 1958, features eight times on the radio station’s 300-strong list.

His Fantasia On Greensleeves and the English Folk Song Suite both achieve their highest places at numbers 68 and 69 respectively.

More than 110,000 votes were cast in the 24th edition of the annual survey.

Classic FM host and gardener Alan Titchmarsh said The Lark Ascending’s success was thrilling if not unexpected.

He said: “I’m not remotely surprised that The Lark Ascending is number one in the Classic FM Hall of Fame, because it has everything you want in a piece of music.

“It has a fine melody that you can remember and it has an image that you can relate to.

“It’s a piece that speaks of home and if you just let yourself go for that 15 minutes that the lark is ascending, it’s one of the greatest things in life – and a fine piece of music.”

The survey also indicates a surge in popularity for British composers, with Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations reaching a record high of third place.

Of 10 new entries, four come from British composers with The Great War Symphony, a choral symphony by Patrick Hawes written to commemorate the centenary of the First World War, charting highest at 162.

Debbie Wiseman’s The Glorious Garden and Alexis Ffrench’s Bluebird, both released last year, also feature.

Presenter Anne-Marie Minhall said: “The results of the Classic FM Hall of Fame never fail to surprise and fascinate us. With more than 110,000 votes this year alone, the chart gives us an unprecedented look at how the nation’s classical music tastes are evolving.

“In these uncertain times, it’s interesting that there has been such a surge in the popularity of music from British composers. The results confirm that classical music – whether it’s traditional or modern – remains as relevant to our world as ever.”