Today is Memorial Day in the United States—a day of reflection to honor those who lost their lives in war.
To commemorate this day, and the sacrifice of our fallen heroes, I offer up Ralph Vaughan Williams’s A Pastoral Symphony (Symphony No. 3). It was written while the composer was in active duty in France during the First World War, and captures his experiences there. But for having been conceived during the war, it is almost the antithesis of wartime music. Instead of marches, percussion and martial fanfares, the Pastoral Symphony is a work of memory and regret; through it, Vaughan Williams laments the loss of many personal friends, as well as an entire generation. It is haunting… yet gorgeous.
Rest in peace. A grateful nation remembers.