After his study at the London Royal College, John Ireland developed first into a pianist, but he also studied composition with Stanford from 1897-1901. Equipped with a style founded on Brahms, he gradually changed his vision under influence of Debussy, Ravel and Stravinsky.
As a result, a series of lyrical piano works originated, followed by chamber music, including two violin sonatas (1909,1917) and two piano trio's (1906, 1917). Meanwhile, he had become an organist at St. Luke's in Chelsea (1904-1926) and he also went to teach at Royal College (1923-1939).
After the First World War, he wrote orchestral pieces like the symphonic rhapsody May Dun (1921), based on the English landscape and further the Piano Concerto (1930) and the Legend for piano and orchestra (1933).