English composer. His works include the mystic orchestral prelude The Forgotten Rite (1913), a piano concerto (1930), and several song cycles. His pupils include Benjamin Britten and E J Moeran.
He was born in Bowdon, Cheshire, and was educated at Leeds Grammar School and at the Royal College of Music in London, studying under Charles Stanford 1893–1901. Apart from organist's appointments, and his later composition professorship at the Royal College of Music, he devoted himself entirely to creative work. Other pupils included Humphrey Searle. In 1932 he received an honorary PhD from Durham University. His music is small scale, and influenced by Debussy and early Stravinsky.
Ireland's first compositions were concerted chamber music and songs. Two violin sonatas followed, and these established his reputation at once. His best-known subsequent works are a pianoforte sonata, a symphonic rhapsody Mai-Dun (1921), and a piano concerto (1930). He also wrote a large number of songs, one of the best known being the setting of John Masefield's ‘Sea Fever’. Several song cycles are important, and all his songs are distinguished by his sensitive choice of words from the finest English poetry, and by the lyrical beauty and sincerity of their music, which is also found in the piano music.
WorksChorus and orchestraThese Things Shall Be (John Addington Symonds) for chorus and orchestra (1936–37).
Orchestral prelude The Forgotten Rite (1913), A London Overture (1936); Concertino pastorale for string orchestra (1939); concerto in E flat for piano and orchestra.
Chamber two violin and piano sonatas, cello and piano sonata, fantasy-sonata for clarinet and piano; piano sonatina and many shorter pieces such as Sarnia (1941).
Other music for the film The Overlanders (1946–47); song settings including Five Poems by Thomas Hardy (1926); A Downland Suite for brass band (1933).
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