Anthology: E J Moeran
1971 the Irish state broadcaster RTE transmitted a documentary film
that had been some fifteen months in the making - a 63 minute long
TV biography of Jack Moeran, written, prtoduced and presented by
the late Bill Skinner.
Lacking the recordings and research we have today,
Skinner's job was tough. He had to make new recordings for all the
music featured in the programme. He had to do much new research.
But he had one major advantage - a good number of those people who
knew and remembered Moeran were still around - after all this was
just 20 years on from his death, and their memories were still fresh.
Skinner was clearly granted the kind of budget we
can only now dream of for such a documentary. Filming in colour
(surely still highly unusual in 1970/1) on 16mm film stock, he took
his cameras to Norfolk, Uppingham, Eynsford, Ludlow, London and
Kerry. Recordings of some of the piano pieces were made by Charles
Lynch - the same pianist who'd played with Peers Coetmore at the
premiere of the Cello Sonata
in 1947. He has the time in the film to play extensive extracts
of music, especially the Symphony
in G minor, illustrated by wonderful scenic shots designed to
complement the composer's inspiration. And, quite early on, we get
the first Moeran 'pop video' - a complete rendition of At
A Horse Fair with the appropriate pictures.
The only thing missing from this is any film of Moeran
himself - instead we are offered several speech-only extracts, almost
certainly all taken from an iterview he gave to Eamonn Andrews in
the late 1940's and heard elsewhere on this
RTE are able to make copies of the film for sale (probably
more quickly than mine as they've now carried out the laborious
transfer from old film stock to professional videotape) on VHS for
the princely sum of £70 IR. Full contact details can be sent
to anyone who wishes to buy this film direct from RTE - drop me
a line at email@example.com
and I'll send them to you.
In the meantime, I've digitised a number of stills
to create the following pages, which illustrate the film admirably.
The pages are quite graphic-intensive - with 21 pictures in total
how could they be otherwise? But I hope this will give you a flavour
fo the film. I've omitted long sections of countryside shots which
accompany the extended musical sections, but any Moeran lover will
find new images of people and places unseen in any current publications
within this selection.
Bill Skinner wrote an artcile in the RTE Guide magazine
published on February 12th, 1971, to accompany the film - you can
read the article in full here.
I've digitised to short sequences - the discussion
of Jack's death and the 'pop video' version of At A Horse Fair,
both for 56k modems. Click on the links to the right to view the
clips. If you have a slower modem or wish to save the clips, use
the links below to download the files to your hard drive and view
I've divided the film into three pages. Click
here to start the film!