8 Apr 2012

John Ireland (1879–1962)

From Composer of the Week, 9:00 am on 8 April 2012
John Ireland

John Ireland 1919 Photo: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

When John Ireland began studying composition at the age of 16 he was in good company. His class at the Royal College of Music, taught by the often severe Charles Villiers Stanford, included Frank Bridge, Gustav Holst, and Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Ireland forged his unique compositional style out of a desire to create an imaginary, yet still very English soundscape. In his music, the composer sought to escape from the present into a distant past which lent his compositions a very distinctive, mysterious character.

Places in England to which Ireland felt connected had a strong influence on his inner life and music. He often visited the Channel Islands and revelled in its ancient pagan history. He sympathised with the pagan mysticism of his friend, the writer Arthur Machen, and this manifests in many of Ireland’s works.

Although he is best known for his English art songs, Ireland’s musical life was diverse, ranging from church music to his own brand of "English Impressionism" influenced by French composers Debussy and Ravel.

Music details:

Ireland: The Holy Boy - Naxos 8.557777
Ireland: String Quartet No 1 - Naxos 8.557777
Ireland: Cappricio - Guild GMCD 7302
Ireland: Island Spell - Kingdom KCLCD 2017
Ireland: Greater Love - EMI 2 28944
Ireland: Sea Fever - Trust MMT 2023
Ireland: Mai-Dun - Lyrita SRCD 240
Ireland: Piano Concerto - Lyrita SRCD 241
Ireland: Downland Suite - Chandos CHAN 9376
Ireland: Things that shall be - Lyrita SRCD 241
Ireland: The Overlanders - Lyrita SRCD.240
Ireland: My song is love unknown - Move MD 303