Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Ernest John Moeran
Moeran was born in Heston, the son of a clergyman of Irish descent, but his family soon moved to Fen Country , Norfolk. He learnt violin and piano as a child and, from 1913, studied in the Royal College of Music with Charles Villiers Stanford. He received serious head wounds in World War I and this is generally believed to have contributed to mental ill-health in later life. After the war he returned to the College to resume his studies, now with John Ireland. His first mature compositions, songs and chamber music, date from this time. He also began collecting and arranging folk music of Norfolk and other regions.
By the mid-1920s, Moeran had became close friends with Peter Warlock and they lived for some years in Eynsford, Kent, notorious among the locals for their frequent drunken revelry. For the rest of his life, Moeran was to have problems with alcohol, later joined by mental instability. After Warlock's death, he became interested in his Irish roots and began spending most of his time in Kenmare, County Kerry. He married the cellist Peers Coetmore in 1945. The marriage was not entirely happy although it inspired some of Moeran's masterpieces, the Cello Concerto and Cello Sonata. He died suddenly of a cerbral haemorrhage in Kenmare at the age of 55.
Moeran was one of the last major English composers to be heavily influenced by English folk-song and thus belongs to the lyrical tradition of such composers as Delius, Vaughan Williams and Ireland. The influence of the nature and landscapes of Norfolk and Ireland are also often evident in his music. But, unlike is the case with some now-forgotten English "pastoralist" composers, Moeran was capable of conveying all sorts of emotions through his music and wasn't afraid of writing in a darker and harsher way when he felt like that. His style is conservative but not derivative.
By Moeran's time, however, such style was already seen as somewhat dated and he never made a big breakthrough as a composer despite the success of the sombre, Sibelian Symphony in G minor (1924-1937), generally regarded as his masterpiece. Though he first received favourable critical attention for his chamber music and continued to composer significant works in this genre, his greatest achievements in general are to be found among his few large-scale orchestral works, including a Violin Concerto, Sinfonietta and Serenade. Recently, there has been more interest in and many recordings of Moeran's works, but many of them, such as the songs to poems by A. E. Housman and James Joyce, still remain relatively unknown.
- The Worldwide Moeran Database by Andrew Rose, including a more detailed biography and a complete list of works.
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