England

'Lark Ascending' piano goes on show at Leith Hill Place

Ralph Vaughan Williams piano Image copyright National Trust
Image caption Ralph Vaughan Williams brought the second-hand Honeysuckle piano in 1905

A piano used by composer Ralph Vaughan Williams to write the UK's "most popular piece of music" has been restored and put on show at his home.

The Broadwood piano has gone on display at Leith Hill Place, near Dorking, now owned by the National Trust.

The piece, The Lark Ascending, has been voted the country's favourite six times by Classic FM listeners.

Vaughan Williams said he had been inspired to write the score after sitting on cliffs near Margate.

He had been on holiday at the resort on the day Britain entered World War One and was watching ships engaged in fleet exercises.

Image caption Ralph Vaughan Williams' great uncle, Charles Darwin, conducted experiments in the grounds of Leith Hill Place

The piano - a Honeysuckle model - was bought second-hand by the composer in 1905.

It was delivered to his home in Chelsea and later moved to his home near Dorking in 1930.

Gabrielle Gale, from the National Trust, described the instrument as a "workhorse" rather than a concert piano.

"It is quite an unassuming instrument and it sat in the composer's study where he used it daily to try out musical ideas," she said.

Image copyright National Trust
Image caption His music was inspired by the countryside and English folk music which he heard while cycling around Surrey
Image copyright Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust
Image caption Vaughan Williams enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps and his war-time experiences shaped much of his music

Vaughan Williams previously said the tune had come to him as he walked away from the cliff.

A boy scout then arrested him, suspecting him of making notes of the coastline for the enemy.

The piece for solo violin and orchestra - thought to capture the tranquillity of a pre-war England - was not performed in full until after the war.

Image caption Vaughan Williams conducted and led the Leith Hill Music Festival until 1953

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