Ireland and Evelyn Howard-Jones

In 1922 Evelyn Howard-Jones gave a performance of Ireland’s Piano Sonata, his playing making it clear that ‘this work belongs to the most splendid of musical creations which have been written during recent years’, and that the demands of the piece could be interpreted ‘only by a pianist who is not only a first-rate musician, but also one who is not afraid of facing any technical problems. Such a pianist is Howard-Jones. He has with his interpretation of this beautiful work set the crown on all he has offered us thus far’ (Monthly Musical Record, 1 June 1922, p. 127). The same review commented more widely on the piece:

The preference is to our thinking to be given to the first movement, which, with its almost sarcastic mood-content, may, in one word, be characterised as matchless. This is followed by a dreamy middle movement, also a chamber piece. The last movement comprises the largest range of moods, and is therefore the most difficult to understand at a first hearing.

So who was Evelyn Howard-Jones? An almost exact contemporary of Ireland, born in 1877, he went on to play many of the composer’s works, particularly in the 1920s, a snapshot of which includes:

  • 6 Dec 1925 Cello Sonata with Beatrice Harrison, Wigmore Hall
  • 7 Oct 1926 Cello Sonata with May Mukle, Wigmore Hall
  • 11 Dec 1927 Equinox and Amberley Wild Brooks, Wigmore Hall

He was a great friend of Delius, performed much English music and transcribed a number of Bach’s cantatas for piano. He also toured widely. For example, in 1936 he arrived in New York on the R.M.S. Queen Mary, then travelling to Toronto, a Canadian newspaper describing him as the ‘distinguished English pianist’ (Montreal Gazette, 29 July 1936).

Evelyn-Jones also had wealthy connections. He lived in Lupus Street in Westminster, and in 1914 married Grace Granville Thynne (1873–1952), a fellow musician and member of the British peerage, a descendant of the Marquess of Bath. He died in 1951, having made a major contribution to the performance of English music during his lifetime.

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