Classical Music Playlist, August 18, 2022

Given that some of the composers in history are notable for their groundbreaking music, their influence, or even their scandals, English composer John Ireland would have lived a relatively unremarkable life. He traveled little, held no leadership positions, composed no symphony or opera and, having lived through years (1879-1962) when music changed drastically and he could have, he did not never written music likely to frighten an audience. But having lived in the midst of these years of changing styles, his music leans both towards the classicism before him and towards modern influences, giving his compositions a unique style in their hybrid variety.

But the backstory of a John Ireland composition may contain its only hint of drama. Around the age of 50, he would have fallen in love with a 19-year-old pianist for whom he was writing and to whom he dedicated his only concerto, for piano. And although she created the piece, she did not return his affection, married an architect and moved to Australia. Rejected, Ireland canceled the dedication. It was an immediate success and was for decades considered Britain’s finest piano concerto and performed regularly by Britain’s greatest pianists. John Ireland’s Piano Concerto in E flat major is today’s noon masterpiece at 2:00 p.m.