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William Murphy
Double Take

Double Take: The modest plaque dedicated to 'Ireland's answer to Mozart'

He was one of the greatest musicians of his time.

LOCATED ON THE corner of Golden Lane and Bride Street , Dublin 8, is a plaque commemorating one of Ireland’s most talented composers and pianists, John Field. 

Despite his name being relatively unknown among those outside the realm of classical music, Field has been dubbed ‘Ireland’s answer to Mozart.’

Embedded in a large stone is a plaque dedicated to his life and work, featuring an engraving of the composer himself. It reads: “Creator of the nocturne, born Golden Lane 1782, died Moscow 1837.”

Born to a family of professional musicians, Field’s talent was discovered from a very young age, with his family moving to London when he was 10 years old to help him pursue his gift.

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Here, he studied under acclaimed composer Muzio Clementi, with the pair travelling throughout Europe over the following years to perform and sell Clementi’s pianos

An account of his life by the National Library of Ireland reads: “By the age of 18, he was already an established virtuoso on the London concert scene and over the next 30 years he received huge acclaim in cities across Europe.”

Field never returned to Ireland, and lived between St Petersburg and Moscow for 30 years following his travels throughout Europe in the early 1800s, reports The Irish Post

During that time, he became known as ‘The Father of the Nocturne’ – a musical composition that is inspired by the night – and is credited for its creation, despite its origins often being linked to Frederic Chopin.

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Throughout his career, he composed seven piano concerti, four sonatas, a quintet and various other short pieces, according to Oxford University Press’s blog.

In 1810 he married Adelaide Percheron, a French pianist and former pupil. Five years later, he fathered a son following an affair, but remained with his wife. They welcomed a son together in 1819 before Percheron left him a few years later as a result of his ‘extravagant lifestyle‘.

At the age of 54, Field died of cancer. His work went on to influence several acclaimed composers, including Chopin, Johann Hummel, Friedrick Kalkbrenner and Isaac Moscheles.

Now, a plaque stands in his memory in Dublin’s south inner city, metres away from a road in his name.

Centuries on from his death, Field is regarded a one of Ireland’s finest musicians, despite having only lived here for 10 years of his life. 

More: Double Take: The Dublin cemetery built in the year 5618

More: Double Take: The humble Galway house that played a part in Irish literary history

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