John Ireland

Biography

John Ireland was an English composer who was best known for his chamber music, songs, and solo piano works, but also left behind orchestral pieces of exceptional beauty, including one complete film score for the postwar Ealing Studios production of The Overlanders (1946). Ireland was born in Bowden, near Manchester, England, in 1879, and was educated at the Royal College of Music as a piano student and later as a composer with Sir Charles Villier Stanford. His early influences included Johannes Brahms, although his later music incorporated the more impressionistic and modern influences of Ravel, Stravinsky, and Debussy. He established his reputation as a composer through his chamber works while serving as the organist and choirmaster at St. Luke's in Chelsea, and later as a teacher at the Royal College of Music. His students included Benjamin Britten, Alan Bush, and E. J. Moeran. Ireland was highly self-critical and also a very slow, methodical composer, which resulted in his orchestral works coming very slowly later in his career. They ended up somewhat neglected, and he had largely retired by the outbreak of the Second World War. That didn't prevent Ealing Studios musical director Ernest Irving from approaching and persuading Ireland to compose the music for the studio's first overseas production, The Overlanders. This score, one of the longest and largest bodies of orchestral music ever written by the composer, was highly accomplished and expressive, proving sufficiently popular to yield an orchestral suite prepared by Irving, which was later recorded by Sir Adrian Boult. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

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