Ireland’s church music was and continues to be much-performed. An instance of the popularity and durability of this part of his musical output can be seen on 6 January 1939, when his Communion Office in C formed part of the Festival of the Epiphany of our Lord at St James’s Palace.
On this day in 1938 Ireland’s mighty choral work, These Things Shall Be, was performed by the students of the RAM at Duke’s Hall. Ernest Read conducted, with Edward Crowther taking the tenor role. A surviving programme from this event shows a distinguished crowd of musicians in the RAM orchestra, including Dennis Brain, Reginald Kell and Gareth Morris.
John Ireland’s first address in Chelsea was 43 Markham Square, off King’s Road and very close to Holy Trinity Church on Sloane Street, where he was organist from 1897.
The lovely terraces of Markham Square date from 1836, when the square was constructed on the site of an old orchard, retaining communal gardens.
When John Ireland was visiting Amberley in the 1920s, writing Amberley Wild Brooks in 1921, the village was not only an exquisite one, but also one inhabited and visited by artists and writers. Arnold Bennett and family stayed in Box Tree Cottage for several weeks on an extended holiday, this property the home of artist Fred Stratton. Fred’s son Hilary Byfield Stratton (1906–85) went on to become a well-known sculptor. A distant link with the world of John Ireland emerges here, in that this Stratton was married in Chelsea Old Church in 1937, to Billie Despard, an artist’s model. Stratton was Eric Gill’s assistant, working with him in South Harting in West Sussex in 1919, on a memorial obelisk following WWI (shown right).
Another Amberley artist was Gerald Burn (1862–1945), an etcher and engraver. His home was in Penny Hill, with attached studio. Many of Burn’s works take Sussex as their focus, for example his representation of the lovely Stopham Bridge (below).
Predating these two artists, Edward Stott (1859-1918), settled in Amberley after studying in Paris. Stott left many wonderful paintings, but also played an important role in the preservation of Amberley’s thatched cottages.
The immensely talented and individual violinist Fred Grinke was a wonderful advocate of English music, known for his association with John Ireland. He played both of the composer’s violin sonatas on many occasions, as well as the three piano trios. One regular accompanist was Dorothy Manley, shown left.
A series of reviews collected by the young Grinke, undated, as seen below, make mention of the Second Violin Sonata in A minor in particular. The regular partnership of Grinke and Manley is praised for its ‘smoothness of ensemble’, and Ireland’s sonata is widely considered to bring out Grinke’s depth of feeling. One commentator sees this piece as showing this violinist to ‘outstanding advantage’ in the long, sweeping phrases of the second movement.
In Cheltenham on 6 July 1950 a delightful concert of British music included works by William Alwyn, Vaughan Williams and John Ireland. For Vaughan Williams, it was the occasion of the 100th performance of his magnificent Symphony no.6. For Alwyn, it saw the premiere of his Symphony in D. And for Ireland, it was another outing for his ‘brilliant, witty, and beautiful’ overture Satyricon. The performers at the festival were Sir John Barbirolli and the Hallé Orchestra.
Source: The Times, 7 July 1950, page 6.
On this day in 1873 Edith Alleyne Ireland, sister of the composer, was born in Bowdon. Always known as Ethel, she remained close to her brother until her death in Provence in 1948.