JOHN IRELAND, was born in 1879 near Manchester, he studied piano, organ and composition at The Royal college of Music where he went onto be a teacher tutoring the likes of Benjamin Britten. Normally the composer would avoid becoming involved in the writing of music for film as he thought that film music was something that would damage his reputation as a serious music composer or a composer of music that would be performed in the concert hall. In 1946, the Ealing studios musical director Ernest Irving approached Ireland asking him to consider working on a Michael Balcon movie entitled THE OVERLANDERS, this was a film based upon the story of Australian wranglers attempts to move large numbers of cattle from the Northern areas of Australia in case of a Japanese invasion during the second world war, the events which took place in 1942,were captured perfectly by Balcon;s movie and the film which was written and also directed by Harry Watt has attained the reputation of being a British movie classic. At first Ireland declined to have anything to do with the project, but Irving was determined to enlist the composers talents on the film and went back to Ireland with a very lucrative offer which Ireland accepted, Irving promised Ireland that he would support him throughout the scoring process offer, Ireland provided the movie with a soundtrack that not only worked with the movie but also has since become an iconic score for cinema and a part of British film history.
Ireland was also drawn to the project as it featured a cast of people who were not stars. The music has since appeared on recordings which have been directed by the likes of Sir Adrian Boult, Richard Hickox etc and has been included in a number of film music compilations. Ireland was to have produced a second film score for Ealing studios entitled The Toilers of the Sea but this project was cancelled when the producer involved decided to part company with Ealing Studios. THE OVERLANDERS was to be the composers last major work and he retired to Sussex in 1953, taking up residence in a converted windmill on the south downs, which along with the river Thames had always been a rich source of inspiration for the composer. John Ireland, passed away in 1962, aged 82.