Ralph Vaughan Williams's Symphony No. 3, published as A Pastoral Symphony and not numbered until later, was completed in 1922. Vaughan Williams' initial inspiration to write this symphony came during World War I after hearing a bugler practising and accidentally playing an interval of a seventh instead of an octave; this ultimately led to the trumpet cadenza in the second movement.

The work is among the least performed of Vaughan Williams' symphonies,[citation needed] but it has gained the reputation of being a subtly beautiful elegy for the dead of World War I and a meditation on the sounds of peace. Like many of the composer's works, the Pastoral Symphony is not programmatic, but its spirit is very evocative. None of the movements are particularly fast or upbeat (the composer himself described it as "four movements, all of them slow"),[This quote needs a citation] but there are isolated extroverted sections.

It was first performed in London on 16 January 1922, with Adrian Boult conducting.

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