Ernest John Moeran was the son of a Norfolk clergyman of Irish descent; after studying composition with John Ireland at the Royal College of Music, and serving in the army in World War I, he returned to Norfolk  where he taught and composed music.

While his early works were influenced by Delius, and his friendship with Philip Heseltine (Peter Warlock) - with whom he and artist Hal Collins shared a house in Kent - he later took an interest in the Irish music of his background. Important works include his Symphony in G minor (begun in the composer's twenties, but completed in 1937), the Violin Concerto (1942), and Cello Concerto and Cello Sonata, both written for his wife.