Ireland: Moeran’s teacher

In the early 1920s Ireland, along with Arthur Miller, visited Moeran in Norfolk, staying in Bacton, between the coast and the Broads.

Village Sign, Bacton, Bromholm and Keswick, Norfolk 

Moeran had been a pupil of Ireland at the RCM, and left this interesting assessment of the composer as teacher:

‘He is a very wise adviser and an astute critic, both of his own work and of that of others, and he succeeds in instilling into his pupils that blessed principle of self-criticism. Moreover, he possesses an uncanny knack of immediately and accurately probing the aesthetic content of what is put before him, thus arriving at the state of mind which gave it birth, and understanding its underlying mood and aims. It is here that his sympathy is aroused, for he has the faculty of feeling the music from the pupil’s point of view, and his wide experience then steps in to suggest the solution of difficulties, and not only the technical ones’.

Moeran also described Ireland’s generosity with his time (not something universally experienced by his pupils), saying that he had often spent several hours with him during the day before returning in the evening to return to the work in progress. As Ireland had studied counterpoint with Stanford, so did he pass on this skill to Moeran, requiring him to ‘spend many weary hours struggling with cantus firmus‘. Above all, Moeran found Ireland to be an exceptional counsellor and a warm friend.

Source: Moeran, E.J. (1931) ‘John Ireland as teacher’, Monthly Musical Record, 2 March, pp. 67-8.

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