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Classical Composers A-Z: John Ireland

Peter Wintersgill tells of the composer John Ireland, who set a number of famous English poems to music.

Born
13th August, 1879, in Bowdon, Cheshire.

Father
Alexander, publisher. He was 70 when Ireland was born.

Mother
Annie, father’s second wife, a writer.

Family
Youngest of five

Adolescence
Studied at the Royal College of Music under Stanford and Cliffe from 14 to 18.

Adult Life
His style at first was similar to Brahams’s, later became more akin in Debussy’s and Ravel’s. Being a fine pianist, he concentrated mainly on piano music, e.g. piano trios, also chamber music.

At first he was organist at St. Luke’s, Chelsea, where he wrote Greater Love Hath No Man (1912) and the Service in F (1920).

He later returned to teach at the Royal College of Music from 1923 – 1939. His orchestral works include the symphonic rhapsody Mai Dunn (1921), the Piano Concerto (1930) and Legend (1933) for piano and orchestra. Other works include the songs Sea Fever (1913), settings of poems by Housman and Hardy and the cantata These Things Shall Be (1937).

He died on the 12th of June, 1962, aged 83, at Washington, Sussex, of heart failure.

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