A pupil of Stanford at the Royal College of Music in London, John Ireland later taught composition at the Royal College, while earning his living for many years as an organist and choirmaster. His music belongs to the 20th-century English musical tradition, demonstrating some lyrical affinity with Elgar while admitting contemporary influences from abroad into a very personal idiom.
Ireland’s Piano Concerto and his Concertino pastorale for strings are notable works, with his once very popular A London Overture. Other orchestral music includes the prelude The Forgotten Rite and the symphonic rhapsody Mai-Dun. He provided a very competent score for the film The Overlanders.
Ireland’s chamber music, well crafted as always, includes two violin sonatas, the second particularly worthy of attention, followed by a fine Cello Sonata. He left three piano trios and a Fantasy Sonata for clarinet and piano. His two string quartets are early works, the first written to persuade Stanford to accept him as a composition student at the Royal College.
Ireland wrote one Piano Sonata and a Sonatina, in addition to a large number of lyrical shorter pieces, many with characteristic titles. Among these The Holy Boy won continuing popularity, in various arrangements.
Organ music by Ireland includes a Capriccio and a Miniature Suite, among other pieces.
Vocal and Choral Music
The coronation choral commission of 1937, These Things Shall Be, proved impressive in its time. Ireland’s songs include settings of Housman, Hardy and Yeats, with nine song cycles, of which Songs of a Wayfarer and Songs Sacred and Profane are examples.
Role: Classical Artist