Best known for his majestic Symphony in G and his Cello Concerto, Anglo-Irish composer EJ Moeran (1894–1950)has long been recognised as a neglected composer of interest. With no biography until now, the time is ripe forIan Maxwell’s authoritative reassessment of the life and equally comprehensive survey of the music to get a better idea of the breadth and importance of a man who counted leading artists as his colleagues and – more notoriously – Philip Heseltine (aka composer Peter Warlock) among his drinking buddies.

Ernest John Moeran

Until now, the potential biographer has faced a paucity of primary sources for Moeran’s life, especially the early, artistically formative years, and Maxwell’s unearthing of much that may be considered new material is among his finest achievements here.

Born into an ecclesiastical, middle-class family in Spring Grove, Middlesex, Ernest John Moeran had musical ancestors, not least his Cork-based piano-dealing paternal great-grandfather, who may have studied in Paris with Herz, and his maternal grandfather who was an amateur composer. His mother came from...