John Ireland (1879 -1962)
English composer John Ireland was born 1879 in Bowdon, near Manchester, in a family of Scottish descent. From his literary-minded parents, who knew many writers of the day, he inherited a life-long interest in literature, inspiring many of his best works.
Shortly after entering the newly-established Royal College of Music in London at the age of 14, he lost both his parents. He studied piano, organ and composition. His composition teacher was Sir Charles Villiers Stanford, who taught many of the important English composers of the time, like Vaughan Williams, Holst, Bridge, Bliss, Howells, Goossens and Butterworth. After completing his studies, Ireland became himself a teacher at the College, counting among his pupils E.J. Moeran, Geoffrey Bush, and Benjamin Britten (the latter later declaring having learned 'absolutely nothing' from Ireland). Next to his teaching position, Ireland was an organist at London's Holy Trinity Church, and later became organist and choirmaster at St. Luke’s Church in Chelsea.
Musical influences include the German classics like Beethoven and Brahms, but also the French impressionists and the trailblazing early works of Bartók and Stravinsky, and, to a lesser extent, the English folk song tradition. All this was eventually fused in his own particular brand of 'English Impressionism'.
Favoring small forms, Ireland mostly produced chamber music, piano works and songs set to English poems. He also wrote a number of hymns, carols and other sacred choral works. Among his relatively few larger works, we count a splendid Piano Concerto, A Downland Suite and Concertino Pastorale for strings, The Overlanders, A London Overture, Mai-Dun, and The Forgotten Rite for orchestra.