A poet and a noted professor of music


Anthony Glavin:Anthony Glavin, who died aged 61 after a long illness, was a poet and professor of music at the Royal Irish Academy. He was born in Dublin on August 7th, 1945, to Kathleen and James J Glavin. Anthony's father fought in the War of Independence and later went on to work for the Irish Sugar Company (Comhlucht Siuicre Éireann, Teoranta) until he retired in 1971.

 Anthony was educated at Scoil Uí Chonaill, North Circular Road, where he excelled at drama and music, eventually studying at the Royal Irish Academy, where he was taught by Dina Copeman. He regularly entered the yearly Feis Ceol and came first many times, competing with musicians such as John O'Conor and Miceál O'Rourke. Each year he played one of the lead parts in the school's production of Gilbert and Sullivan.

After leaving school, Anthony studied at University College Dublin and Trinity College. In 1963, during his first year at UCD, he was approached by the Rathmines and Rathgar Musical Society and played Jack Point in the Gaiety's production of Yeoman of the Guard.

It was also at UCD that Anthony took over from Harry Crawley as auditor of the Literary and Historical Society and presided brilliantly over the Saturday night sessions and debates. During this period, he was active in the UCD drama society, Dramsoc.

His friend, the writer Thomas Tessier, recalls him giving an electrifying performance of Father Grandier in John Whiting's play The Devils, directed by Colm O'Briain, who later became director of the National College of Art and Design. Anthony received his licentiate from the Royal Irish Academy of Music (RIAM) and joined the staff there in 1969. During the 1980s, he served on the RIAM board of governors.

He was an outstanding teacher, a nurturer of talent and friendship who forged strong relationships with his students and their families.

Many of his students went on to become distinguished singers, teachers and musicians, such as Peter Tuite, who won the European Musician of the Year Award; also Sarah, John and Michelle Picardo, Niamh McGarry and Robin Tritschler, who read and performed at his funeral service.

Anthony was a highly valued and much-loved member of staff at the RIAM, which was very supportive of him during his long illness. On the day of his funeral, the RIAM held a half-day of mourning and one-minute silence in memory of Anthony's unique contribution.

Anthony began publishing poetry and reviews while at university and was a regular book and music reviewer for The Irish Times. His poetry appeared in numerous newspapers and journals and was first anthologised in Irish Poets 1924-74, edited by David Marcus.

Anthony won the Patrick Kavanagh Award in 1987 and his poetry collection, The Wrong Side of the Alps, was published by Gallery Press in 1989. The following year, he received an Arts Council bursary and his collection was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards.

Reviewing The Wrong Side of the Alps for Books Ireland, Fred Johnston wrote: "it is a fine, meticulous book . . . there is, to quote Glavin himself, 'a weightless perfection' about most of these poems".

Anthony could easily have gained prominence as a well-known and highly-acclaimed poet. However, a combination of relentless perfectionism and his worsening illness led to his reluctance to publish more than one collection.

Before and during his illness, Anthony was working on a long, ambitious sequence of four-line poems, the first three sections of which were published in his Gallery Press book. The following, previously unpublished poem is taken from this sequence:

An Afterlife

Suddenly, glass to lips in the ballyhoo

Of the 'Open Bar' after the Service, I knew

The bewildered and unbewildered carrying on

Would all end dedicated to you.

Anthony is survived by his two sisters, Irene and Anne and his brother Frank.

There will be a celebratory concert and poetry reading in memory of Anthony at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Westland Row, Dublin, on December 20th. For further information, contact the RIAM at 01-6325300.

Anthony Glavin, born August 7th, 1945; died on November 14th, 2006