The English composer, John Ireland (1879-1962), never wrote symphonies or operas, preferring to concentrate on smaller-scale works, in particular songs and chamber music. This is perhaps why he remains rather overshadowed by the likes of other 20th century English composers such as Walton, Vaughan Williams, Elgar and Britten (a pupil of Ireland’s at the Royal College of Music).
As a young man he was strongly influenced by the music of Debussy, Ravel and the early works of Stravinsky. Ireland developed his own style – a complex mix of the English pastoral tradition and impressionism.
One of Ireland’s best known works – A Downland Suite – was originally composed as a brass band commission for a competition test-piece in 1932. The suite is a pictorial depiction enshrining the composer’s love for the rolling countryside of the Sussex downs (where he eventually retired to live in a converted windmill) and has been described as ‘sunnily bucolic’.
The work has four movements: Prelude, Elegy, Minuet and Rondo. The Elegy and the charming, graceful and elegant Minuet are among Ireland’s most popular compositions and were the only two movements he completed in the (more often performed) arrangement for string orchestra.
For copyright reasons this publication is only available as printed sheet music