Antartica

After the desolation of the sixth symphony what’s left for us? Well, the short answer is, more desolation. But this time the wasteland is peopled; peopled by heroes with stoic endurance and – however misguided and fruitless it is – hope.

The film:

The symphony:

André Previn, Heather Harper (soprano),
the London Symphony Orchestra
BMG-RCA RED SEAL 82876-55708 – 2

Vaughan Williams used the score he wrote for Scott of the Antarctic (1948) as the basis of his seventh symphony, the Sinfonia Antartica. As you can see/hear above, some of the music used for the opening titles and the ascent of the Beardmore glacier became the Prelude of the symphony which was, in its turn, transformed into the final fatal march of the work:

André Previn, Heather Harper (soprano),
the London Symphony Orchestra
BMG-RCA RED SEAL 82876-55708 – 2

…and, after the journey and after the tragedy? A sense of heroism, dignity and nobility, sure, but what we hear is the keening of wordless voices and the wind howling across the endless, frozen waste…

André Previn, Heather Harper (soprano),
the London Symphony Orchestra
BMG-RCA RED SEAL 82876-55708 – 2

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Straying from the Antarctic gloom back to the comforts of rural England; thanks to Stuart (thanks, Stuart!) we now have a slide show of Vaughan Williams’ birthplace, Down Ampney in Gloucestershire (if you remember, his father was the vicar there):

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Course materials:

VW biography

The music:
Vaughan Williams 7
[Spotify search terms:
vaughan williams “sinfonia antartica” previn]

General musical materials:

Keyboard

Cycle of 5ths

Modes

Header image
Vincent van Zeijst: Laubeuf Fjord in the Antarctic Peninsula region, 8 February 2011

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