Saturday, 17 May 2008

John Ireland – The First Major Review

I quote this article from the Monthly Musical Record without commentary. I have done minor editing and updating or spelling.

Mr John Ireland was born on August 13, 1879, at Inglewood, Bowden, Cheshire. His father, Alexander Ireland, came of a Fifeshire family. He was the editor of the Manchester Examiner and Times, being also an author of considerable note, sharing the friendship of such men as Carlyle, Emerson, Leigh Hunt, and others. His mother, Anne Nicholson (from a Cumberland family), also possessed high literary and critical gifts. The son was educated at Leeds Grammar School, and also received private tuition. Later on he became a student and scholar at the R.C.M, being a pupil of Sir Charles Stanford in composition. Mr Ireland left the R.C.M. in 1901, and graduated for Mus.Bac. at Durham University in 1905.

Candidness is a characteristic which one would expect form an old North-Country family. This being so, it is significant that Mr. Ireland, in complying with our request for a complete list of his compositions, does so only for the purpose of revealing the process through which he arrived at his period of mature work. He openly discards all of his works before the year 1908 (when he was twenty-nine), except for a few trifling pieces which happen to be published. This discarded work he calls merely “learning the business” of a composer- technique, powers of expression, style etc: here is the list:

Discarded works (1895-1906)

Trio for Piano, Violin, and Cello, in A minor
Variations on an Irish tune
for Piano

Sonata in C minor for Piano
String Quartet in D minor (Scholarship Piece, R.C.M.)

The following works are R.C.M. Studentship Works:

Variations in F sharp minor for Piano
Variations in E flat for Piano
Sonata in C minor for Violin and Piano
Mass in Dorian Mode for Four Voices (strict style of Palestrina)
Vexilla Regis” Choral Work
Sextet for Strings and Wind in D
Sea Idyll for Piano
Quartet for Strings in C minor
Midsummer” Prelude for Orchestra
Tritons” Symphonic Prelude for Orchestra
Orchestral Poem in A minor
(R.C.M. Studentship ends.)

“The Princess Maleine” Orchestral Poem
Psalm xlii for Chorus and Orchestra (
Rhapsody in C sharp minor for Piano
Sonata in G minor for Violin and Piano
(Apprenticeship period ends)

1908 Phantasy Trio in A minor (published)
1909 Sonata in D minor for Piano and Violin (Lately reissued by Messrs. Augener
1910 Songs of a Wayfarer (published)
1912-15 “Decorations” for Piano (Augener)
Marigold” Impressions for Voice and Piano
The Forgotten Rite,” Prelude for Orchestra
Trio in E minor for Piano, Violin, and ‘Cello (in the press; Augener)
Rhapsody” for Piano (in press; Augener)
Also many Songs and Pieces for Piano, for Organ, for Violin, Church Music, Part-Songs etc.

Unquestionably, one of Mr. Ireland’s finest works is the Sonata in D minor for Violin and Pianoforte, a review of which appears in another column. Of this fine work, The Times says: “It ought to be heard several times before it can be fully understood. Mr. Ireland is a writer who eschews the superficial and obvious, and has clearly much to say that is worth saying.” The Morning Post speaking of the Sonata, says: “It appeals to highly cultivated musical opinions. It is strong in character, resourceful, and consistent in style.” “This Sonata,” the Pall Mall considers, “is quite one of the most important works of its kind heard in recent years, and it is to be hoped the composer will continue to add to the somewhat slender store of serious chamber music of the British School.” The late Mr. Karlyle wrote in The Star: “Delicacy, lucidity, and tonal charm, are qualities inherent in the music. Coherence of ideas is apparent in the three movements, which are cleverly and definitely contrasted in mood. There is a strong vein of temperament in every one.”

Mr. Ireland’s latest pianoforte composition (Three Decorations) has just been issued by Messrs. Augener.
His new trio was to receive its first performance at the hands of the English Trio (Beatrice Langley, John Ireland and C. Warwick-Evans) on June 29. We hope to give a review of the work in our next issue. 
The Monthly Musical Record July 1, 1915

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