On this day in 1914 Ireland met up with his good friend Thomas Dunhill, who recorded this in his diary:
29th Jan: . . . met Jack at Sloane Square. To his flat – a long talk on many subjects. We played the new Schoenberg pieces, and laughed over them! – I cannot somehow believe that there is anything real in them, with all the will in the world! And I hate being a Conservative!
The pieces that caused such consternation were Schoenberg’s Sechs kleine Klavierstücke, Op. 19, published in 1913. This was in more ways than one a controversial year for Schoenberg: in March he conducted what came to be known as the ‘Skandalkonzert’, a concert in which the audience rioted and fighting broke out.
Dunhill showed a certain horrified fascination for this composer, having earlier in the month attended a Queen’s Hall Symphony Concert, at which Schoenberg conducted his Five Orchestral Pieces, Op 16. On this occasion Dunhill wrote: ‘Of course I could make nothing coherent of this extraordinary stuff – it is like going back to primitive noise! The music of the past, I think – a real representation of chaos!’.