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John Ireland

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John Nicholson Ireland (13 August 1879 – 12 June 1962) was an English composer.

Ireland was born in Bowdon, near Altrincham, Manchester, into a family of Scottish descent and some cultural distinction. His parents died soon after he had entered the Royal College of Music at the age of 14. He studied piano and organ there, and later composition under Charles Villiers Stanford. He subsequently became a teacher at the College himself, his pupils including Ernest John Moeran (who admired him) and Benjamin Britten (who found Ireland’s teaching of less interest). He was sub organist at Holy Trinity Church, Sloane Street, London SW1, and later became organist and choirmaster at St. Luke’s Church, Chelsea, London. Ireland frequently visited the Channel Islands and was inspired by their landscape; he was evacuated from them just before the German invasion during World War II. Ireland retired in 1953, settling at the small hamlet of Rock in Sussex for the rest of his life. He is buried in nearby Shipley churchyard.

[1] Ireland regretted immediately his marriage, which he never consummated. His assistant and companion, Norah Kirkby, destroyed portions of Ireland’s papers and correspondence upon his death, donating the remainder to the British Library.

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