On this day in 1911 and 1916, it was the 1st Sunday in Advent at St Luke’s, Chelsea. The anthem at evensong in 1911 was Handel’s ‘Comfort ye, comfort ye my people’, from Messiah. In 1916 it was ‘Lord, for Thy tender mercy’s sake’, at that time attributed to the 16th-century composer Richard Farrant. On both occasions there were two services with music.
On this day in 1911 Ireland gave a recital on the newly-installed organ at the Onslow Mission Hall, part of the parish of St Luke’s. The builder was Henry Spain Jones, the organ acquired entirely through donations.
On this day in 1932 Ireland broadcast his First Violin Sonata with violinist May Harrison, seen below with sister Beatrice, also a performer of Ireland’s music.
On 4 May 1960 the recently-formed John Ireland Society put on its inaugural concert in the Purcell Room, in a programme of songs and chamber music. ‘Adroit and persuasive’, Eric Parkin played a number of Ireland’s piano works, among them Sarnia. The tenor John Steel sang The Land of Lost Content and other songs, accompanied by Alan Rowlands, who also played for Vyvyan Kendall in the First Violin Sonata and for Thea King in the Fantasy-Sonata. The composer, now aged 80, was present, and given a huge ovation. Lawrence Norcross, best known for his work in education, was responsible for the event, and indeed for the society more broadly.
Musical Opinion 83 (June 1960), p. 600.
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!’.
On this day in 1949 John Ireland’s Overture ‘Satyricon’ opened that evening’s Prom, in a concert that also included works by Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius and Rimsky-Korsakov. On this occasion Malcolm Sargent conducted the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
On this day in 1952 Ireland’s Piano Concerto was featured, with Colin Horsley (seen below) as soloist and Basil Cameron conducting the London Symphony Orchestra.
On this day in 1953 Ireland’s song ‘When lights go rolling round the sky’ featured in a concert in Leicester’s grand De Montfort Hall, seen left. The programme was not primarily a vocal recital, but rather showcased the Leicester Philharmonic Society in Mozart’s Requiem, conducted by Leslie Woodgate. Stanley Riley, one of the soloists in the Mozart, sang a small selection of English songs in the first half of the concert. In addition to Ireland he chose items by Arne and Vaughan Williams.