On today’s date in 1948, at a Proms concert at the Royal Albert Hall, the London Symphony gave the premiere performance of the “Serenade in G Major” by the British composer Ernest John Moeran. Moeran was born in 1894 in London, but Ireland became his adopted home and musical inspiration during the last decades of his life.
Moeran was fascinated by folksongs, and his method of collecting them was to sit in a country pub and wait until an old man started singing. He would note down the song and ask for more. In the 1920s, Moeran became drinking companion of another British composer, music critic, and fellow folk song aficionado Peter Warlock, a talented but rather notorious character who was the model for the outrageously Bohemian composer depicted in Anthony Powell’s string of novels collectively titled “A Dance to the Music of Time.”
Warlock’s most famous work was his “Capriol Suite,” an affectionate reworking of Renaissance tunes, and Moeran’s “Serenade,” similar in tone, was perhaps a tribute to his old boon companion. Moeran’s 1948 “Serenade” proved to be last major work, as he died suddenly two years later, at age 55, in his beloved Ireland.
Music Played in Today's Program
E. J. Moeran (1894 - 1950)Serenade in GNorthern Sinfonietta of England;Richard Hickox, cond.EMI 74991-2
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