Nontraditional Seasonal Songs: Movement 4, “A Pastoral Symphony”

When I was 26 years old, I was hospitalized for severe depression, which had manifested itself in two serious suicide attempts. I had been physically ill as well for some time.

While recovering in the hospital, I listened a lot to this entire piece of music, called “A Pastoral Symphony” (the composer’s third symphony). Only the last part (“fourth movement”) is included here. Ralph (which is always pronounced “Rafe”) Vaughan Williams composed much of this while an infantryman in the first world war, hence the rather disturbing imagery shown in the video.

For me though, at twenty-six years old, sitting in the dark in a hospital with my eyes closed, this music encapsulated both the unspeakable beauty of nature and the inherent limits on what we can know, if that makes any sense.

To this day, this music reminds me of both hope and sorrow, which are, after all, close cousins.

Author: Sibelius Russell

Sibelius Russell (a/k/a/ Owen "Beleaguered" Servant) lives a life of whimsical servitude -- whatever that means.

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