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Born in 1894 into an Anglo-Irish family, Ernest John Moeran received his early education at Uppingham School before going on to the Royal College of Music. He studied for one year with Charles Villiers Stanford before the First World War intervened. While serving on the Western Front, Moeran was badly wounded when a piece of shrapnel became lodged in his brain. This was a horrific injury and a deeply affecting experience that may have contributed towards the eccentric behaviour and alcoholism of his later life.
Following the war, Moeran resumed his studies at the Royal College of Music, this time with John Ireland, who along with Frederick Delius and Peter Warlock would remain a strong influence on his work in years to come. By this period Moeran had also begun to delve into his Irish heritage, his interest piqued whilst posted in Boyle, County Roscommon towards the end of the war. Alongside the folk song and landscape of his native Norfolk, this Irish heritage would become a strong influence upon his work and personal life throughout his career.
Moeran was an enthusiastic song composer and also wrote a large number of chamber works. These include two string quartets and the string trio heard on this disc, as well as sonatas for cello and violin. The second half of his life would see an increasing interest in larger-scale works with his Symphony in G minor (1934-7) and Cello Concerto (1945) being particularly successful.
In many ways Moeran’s music can be seen as typical of a British composer writing in the first half of the twentieth century. However, he is often unafraid to imbue his music with a darker, almost astringent hue when expression demands. This distinctive characteristic is certainly responsible for some of the most memorable and affecting moments in his work.
Towards the end of his life, Moeran would begin to spend more and more time in Ireland, living in a cottage near Kenmare, County Kerry. He would eventually die there in 1950 and is buried in the churchyard.
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