Afternoon Drama on BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4, 9 November 2012
Ernest John ("Jack") Moeran was an English composer best known for his First Symphony in G Minor (1937), known as the Sibelian Symphony. On the basis of this, the Halle Orchestra under Sir John Barbirolli commissioned a second symphony, but it was never finished. Moeran wrote a cello concerto (1945) for his wife Peers, a musician in her own right, as well as a violin concerto.
In Martyn Wade's account of the last few weeks of his life, however, Moeran (Tim McInnerny) came across as a deeply unhappy man, whose addiction to the bottle had cost him both his carer and his marriage to Peers (Geraldine Fitzgerald). He had decamped from London to Ireland in the hope of rediscovering his inspiration; anh even quit the bottle; but nothing seemed to help him. He acquired a new pupil, Patrick (Sean Froudist Walsh), and although the two of them forged a touching relationship, it failed to stimulate Moeran to creative activity.
Cherry Cookson's production suggested that Moeran's life had been blighted by two things - an unfortunate injury during the First World War, which had never been successfully healed; and his relationship with fellow-composer Peter Warlock (Nicholas Boulton), that served to increase his dependence on the bottle. Moerlock died in tragic circumstances at the age of only fifty-six, by falling into the Kenmare River.
While the play was a study in failure, it was also painfully sad; the story of a man whose immense potential was wasted, partly by circumstances beyond his control, and partly by his own wilfulness.