Music Notes for the Seventh Sunday of Easter — May 12, 2024

Elegy (from A Downland Suite) – John Ireland (1879-1962) / arr. Alec Rowley

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John Ireland was one of the most distinctive and distinguished of a generation of exceptional British composers that included Vaughan Williams, Gustav Holst, Frank Bridge and Arnold Bax. They emerged in the decade before the First World War and, in the inter-war years, produced a remarkable body of music. In Ireland’s case his was not only the most popular British piano concerto of its time, but he also composed a splendid repertoire of songs, piano music, chamber music and orchestral and choral scores.

John Ireland’s music is often a response to landscape and romantic sensitivities. A Downland Suite is one of Ireland’s most attractive compositions, a pictorial depiction enshrining the composer’s love for the Sussex Downs. Written in 1932 for brass band in four movements, it has also been arranged for string orchestra and various other instruments. This Sunday in church the suite’s hauntingly beautiful Elegy is presented as the organ prelude, in an arrangement by Alec Rowley.

Gerald Harder