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JOHN IRELAND 70th Birthday Concert The Henry Wood Promenade Concerts were inaugurated in 1895 in London’s principal concert venue, Queen’s Hall. Following the hall’s destruction during World War II, the BBC Promenade concerts have continued ever since at the Royal Albert Hall. The annual summer season is in effect a huge music festival, drawing the greatest artists and orchestras from all over the world. In the years after the 1939–45 war it became quite usual to celebrate composers’ anniversaries, sometimes devoting a concert entirely to their music. The concert recorded on this CD, given on 10 September 1949 to mark John Ireland’s 70th birthday, was conducted by Sir Adrian Boult (1889–1983). Boult described the composer as ‘one of the most interesting and complex characters among all our recent composers, whose whole output, all of great importance, yet fills a comparatively small space in any catalogue.’ Small as Ireland’s output was, particularly his orchestral oeuvre, had he lived beyond 1962 he would surely have rejoiced to see Boult go on to place all of it on disc with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in the mid 1960s. I n 1949 Boult had yet to become permanently associated with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, although when he reached 60 the following year and had to retire as the

BBC Symphony Orchestra’s Chief Conductor, the move from one rostrum to another was effected with great smoothness: “I was only out of work for two or three days,” he liked to say. For Ireland’s birthday concert he was the ideal choice. Boult’s wide embrace of English music had long included Ireland’s music: he had premièred These things shall be in his BBC days, and in 1936 encouraged the composer to turn his Comedy Overture, originally composed for brass band, into A London Overture, so giving it a wider and more popular following. Ireland had a great love of London, revealed in such cameos as his picturesque London Pieces for piano with their nostalgic titles ‘Chelsea Reach’ and ‘Soho Forenoons’. A London Overture boasts a particularly acute piece of observation in the perky theme that represents one of the bus conductors of past times calling out ‘'dilly! Piccadilly!’ as his bus reached Piccadilly Circus; elsewhere there is a reference to an old London song about church bells and a slow central elegy in memory of one of Ireland’s friends. The other purely orchestral work in the concert was the prelude The Forgotten Rite, dating from 1913: inspired by his life-long love of the Channel Islands and perhaps reflecting some pre-historic ceremony, it was Ireland’s first claim for attention as an orchestral composer. When first heard at the Proms

on 13 September 1917 it was conducted by Sir Henry Wood, the founder-conductor of the concert series, who later also directed the premières of the Piano Concerto (2 October 1930) and A London Overture (23 September 1936). Eileen Joyce (1908–1991) was another ideal choice for the birthday concert: she had become closely associated with Ireland’s Piano Concerto in the late 1930s, and in January 1942 made the first-ever recording of it with the Hallé Orchestra under Leslie Heward (a younger friend and colleague whom Boult greatly admired). Right from its successful première in 1930 the Concerto was taken up eagerly by pianists (not only native players: Artur Rubinstein even made his 1936 Proms debut performing it) and it enjoyed a vogue lasting well into the 1950s. The fact that Ireland had written it originally for a young female pianist, Helen Perkin, at one time perhaps led to it being viewed as something of a female province; Eileen Joyce, however, had become a hugely popular artist during the 1939–45 war and it was an astute move on the part of the recording company to capitalise upon it by engaging her. Ireland thoroughly approved: according to her biographer he provided special coaching and attended all the rehearsals and the recording in Manchester.

Ireland’s visionary cantata These things shall be was commissioned by the BBC to mark the Coronation of King George VI on 12 May 1937. A setting of words from the poem A Vista by John Addington Symonds for male voice, chorus and orchestra, Boult conducted its first performance with BBC forces in the studio on the night after the Royal event; the soloist was the baritone Dennis Noble, who also sang when the work was repeated in public later on 1 December. As Boult’s biographer Michael Kennedy has observed, the work is a hybrid of Parry and Walton, though Boult never lost his affection for it. Doubtless its anti-war sentiments stirred him; and, in any case, ‘It is beautiful music, isn’t it?’ he was heard to remark during one rehearsal. Ireland attended a Boult performance in 1945, subsequently writing to him: ‘No conventional words can be marshalled by me to express my feelings about your performance of my choral piece last night … all I met afterwards [was] spontaneous praise and admiration for your inspired and truly splendid presentation of what is embodied in this music. If it happens that I have been the amanuensis of this so urgent message, you have been the orator chosen to deliver it …’ Lyndon Jenkins 2009

These things shall be Chorus Say, heart, what will the future bring, To happier men when we are gone? What golden days shall dawn for them, Transcending all we gaze upon? These things shall be! A loftier race Than e’er the world hath known shall rise With flame of freedom in their souls And light of science in their eyes. They shall be gentle, brave and strong, Not to shed human blood, but dare All that may plant man’s lordship firm On earth and fire, on sea and air. Baritone solo Nation with nation, land with land Unarmed shall live as comrades free; In ev’ry brain and heart shall throb The pulse of one fraternity.

Chorus … one fraternity. They shall be simple in their homes, And splendid in their public ways; Filling the mansions of the state With music and with hymns of praise. In aisles majestic, halls with pride, In gardens, in groves and galleries, Manhood and age and youth shall meet To grow by converse only wise. New arts shall bloom of loftier mould, And mightier music thrill the skies And ev’ry life a song shall be When all the earth is paradise. (Say, heart, what will the future bring?) These things, they are no dreams, shall be, For happier men when we are gone: Golden days for them shall dawn, Transcending all we gaze upon. John Addington Symonds

John Ireland

Eileen Joyce

Sir Adrian Boult and Redvers Llewellyn at the Royal Albert Hall. Photos courtesy of Lyndon Jenkins.

London Philharmonic Orchestra

© Richard Cannon

The London Philharmonic Orchestra is known as one of the world’s great orchestras with a reputation secured by its performances in the concert hall and opera house, its many award-winning recordings, its trail-blazing international tours and its pioneering education work. Distinguished conductors who have held positions with the Orchestra since its foundation in 1932 by Sir Thomas Beecham include Sir Adrian Boult, Sir John Pritchard, Bernard Haitink, Sir Georg Solti, Klaus Tennstedt, Franz Welser-Möst and Kurt Masur. Vladimir Jurowski was appointed the Orchestra’s Principal Guest Conductor in March 2003 and became Principal Conductor in September 2007, succeeding Kurt Masur. The London Philharmonic Orchestra has been resident symphony orchestra at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall since 1992 and there it presents its main series of concerts

between September and May each year. In summer, the Orchestra moves to Sussex where it has been Resident at Glyndebourne Festival Opera for over 40 years. The Orchestra also performs at venues around the UK and has made numerous tours to America, Europe and Japan, and visited India, Hong Kong, China, South Korea, Australia, South Africa and Abu Dhabi. The London Philharmonic Orchestra made its first recording on 10 October 1932, just three days after its first public performance. It has recorded and broadcast regularly ever since, and in 2005 established its own record label. These CDs are unique: amongst them are archive, studio and live concert recordings including world-première performances. These are also available as high quality downloads. Visit:

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–L LPO-0016

PO-0020 (5

CD set)

JOHN IRELAND (1879–1962)

70th Birthday Concert



A London Overture


Piano Concerto in E flat major

02 03 04

08:51 07:39 08:06

I In tempo moderato II Lento espressivo III Allegro giocoso



The Forgotten Rite – Prelude


These things shall be (baritone, chorus & orchestra)

05:46 04:41 08:03 04:00

Say, heart, what will the future bring These things shall be! Nation with nation, land with land These things, they are no dream, shall be

06 07 08 09

SIR ADRIAN BOULT conductor LONDON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA EILEEN JOYCE piano Redvers Llewellyn baritone LUTON CHORAL SOCIETY (music director Arthur E Davies) David Wise leader

Recorded live at the ROYAL ALBERT HALL London

LPO – 0041



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