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John McCormack (1884 - 1945)

John McCormack was the fourth of eleven children born to parents who worked in the Athlone Woollen Mills. After early education from the Marist Brothers in Athlone he attended Summerhill College, Sligo and joined the Palestrina Choir of Dublin Cathedral in 1902, receiving singing lessons from the choirmaster, Vincent O’Brien. The following year he won the gold medal in the tenor section of the National Music Festival (Feis Ceoil) in Dublin and began to make concert appearances.

During 1904 McCormack made not only his American debut, at the St Louis Exposition, but also his first gramophone recordings (for Pathé and the Gramophone and Typewriter Company). He travelled to Milan in 1905 to study with Vincenzo Sabbatini, who helped him to perfect his phenomenal breath control, and made his operatic stage debut during January 1906 at the Teatro Chiabrera, Savona, as Fritz / L’amico Fritz. He returned to Italy in 1909 to sing Alfredo / La traviata at the San Carlo, Naples, followed by Tonio / La Fille du Régiment at Parma opposite Tetrazzini in 1910.



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