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John McCormack (1884 - 1945)

John McCormack was born on 14th June 1884, in the central Irish town of Athlone, where he received his early schooling, later attending Summerhill College in County Sligo. By 1902 he was in Dublin, urged by his father to take a job in the Civil Service. The young man had other ideas, however, and decided to become involved in Dublin’s musical life, soon joining the Roman Catholic cathedral’s Palestrina Choir. It was the director of that choir, Vincent O’Brien, who heard promise in the young man’s voice and prepared him for the tenor contest in the May, 1903 Dublin Feis Ceoil, an important music contest. His protégé won the gold medal in that Feis, and with that victory came a new confidence and a sudden widening of his ambition. In 1904 he was singing in the Irish Village at the St. Louis World Exposition; this brief appearance in the United States was followed the next year by serious study in Italy. These vocal studies took place in Milan, under Maestro Vincenzo Sabatini, the father of Raphael, the novelist who wrote Scaramouche.



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