Vincent O' Brien

(09/05/1871 - 21/06/1948)

Vincent O’Brien, an illustrious Irish organist, music teacher, and composer, left his mark on the landscape of early 20th-century Irish music. Born on May 9, 1871, in Dublin, Vincent was destined for musical greatness. O’Brien Road in Walkinstown is named after him.

His father, Richard Vincent O’Brien, a renowned Roman Catholic church musician, provided him with his initial musical training, setting the stage for a remarkable career.

Vincent’s musical journey began at the tender age of fourteen when he captivated audiences with his piano recitals. His talents blossomed swiftly, leading him to assume the role of organist at Rathmines parish church in 1885. Over the years, he held prestigious positions at various churches, including the Dublin Carmelite church, before ascending to the esteemed position of organist and choir director at Dublin’s largest Roman Catholic Church, St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, a post he held from 1903 to 1946.

One of Vincent’s most lasting legacies was the founding of the Palestrina Choir in 1898, under the patronage of Edward Martyn. This all-male choir, initially financed by Martyn, flourished under Vincent’s direction and remains active to this day.

Vincent’s influence extended beyond the walls of churches and cathedrals. He was a founding conductor of the Dublin Oratorio Society and the Brisan Opera Company, showcasing his versatility and passion for music across various genres.

In 1925, Vincent embarked on a new chapter as the first music director of Radio Éireann, a position he held until 1941. His tenure marked the beginning of a new era in Irish broadcasting, as he conducted the first public concerts of the station’s orchestra.

Among his many accolades, Vincent singled out his work as music director for the 31st Eucharistic Congress in 1932 as his most prized personal achievement.

Vincent’s impact extended beyond performance and conducting; he was a revered teacher whose pupils included luminaries such as John McCormack, Margaret Burke Sheridan, and even the celebrated writer James Joyce. He imparted his wisdom not only as a vocal coach but also as a professor of music at various institutions.

In 1932, Vincent received a well-deserved honorary doctorate from the National University of Ireland, a fitting tribute to his contributions to the musical landscape of Ireland.

Vincent’s musical legacy lives on through his compositions, including the opera “Hester” and numerous choral and orchestral works. While he may be best remembered as a teacher and conductor, his compositions continue to resonate with audiences.

Vincent O’Brien’s life was a symphony of dedication, passion, and artistry. His contributions continue to inspire and uplift audiences, ensuring that his legacy will endure for generations to come.

Person Photo
Connection with area: Conductor, music teacher, and répétiteur of whom O' Brien Road in Walkinstown is named after.