Ireland and Freda Swain


Ireland and Freda Swain

The John Ireland Companion contains a short chapter constructed from fragments contained in letters from Freda Swain (1902–85). Born in Portsmouth, she studied piano with Ireland’s colleague and friend Arthur Alexander (he was also the teacher of Helen Perkin). She went on to marry her former teacher in 1921, aged just 19, and with him toured Britain giving piano recitals and performing her own compositions. She taught at the RAM and in 1936 founded the British Music Movement to help promote the efforts of young composers and artists. It was at the home of Swain and Alexander (Telford Gardens), that John Longmire first met Ireland in 1923/4 (according to Longmire’s late nephew, Derek). It was also at this time that Swain made her only Proms appearance, on 28 September 1923, along with Alexander and Lloyd Powell playing in Bach’s Concerto for Three Keyboards in D minor, BMV 1063. There were also several occasions on which she played Ireland’s music, notably a Wigmore Hall recital on 17 November 1931 that included Amberley Wild Brooks, the Piano Sonata, and ‘Spring will not wait’.


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