On this day in 1924 one of the programmes broadcast by the BBC featured a recital by Edgar Bainton of English and French music. As well as pieces by Debussy, Ravel, Bax and Howells, Bainton included Ireland’s ‘Ragamuffin’ and ‘Amberley Wild Brooks’.
Dorothy Manley was a pianist working in the 1920s and 30s, for whom unfortunately little information is readily available. After studying at the RAM she went on to make several Proms appearances, on 23 August 1935 appearing in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto alongside Frederick Grinke and Florence Hooton. With these two musicians she was for a while a member of the Grinke Trio.
The reason for her mention here is that Manley is another English pianist who plays a role in the history of performances of Ireland’s music. In particular, on several occasions Manley performed Amberley Wild Brooks:
14 April 1926 Salle Aeolian, Paris
26 May 1931 Wigmore Hall
29 Dec 1931 broadcast of the piece
Ireland’s is not the only interpretation of this place. The Scottish-born poet and cleric Andrew Young (1885–1971) was appointed minister of the Presbyterian Church at Hove in 1920. He remained in the county for the rest of his life, becoming a canon of Chichester Cathedral and retiring to Yapton near Arundel. He left many Sussex-related poems, among them ‘At Amberley Wild Brooks’:
Watching the horses stand
And bend their long heads Roman-nosed
With thick cheek veins exposed,
So close to where the brook’s bank shelves
They almost meet themselves
In the smooth water sliding by,
I think it strange creatures so great
Can be shut in by wooden gate
And brook no deeper than my hand,
And not like Pegasus shoot wings and fly.
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’.