John O’Conor to receive NCH Lifetime Achievement award

The pianist marks his 70th birthday year with a wonderful coda

On Sunday night, pianist Dr John O’Conor will receive the NCH Lifetime Achievement Award 2017. The event will be a gala concert in honour of his unique contribution to classical music in Ireland.

The renowned musician who celebrates his 70th birthday this year is regarded as one of Ireland’s leading pianists. Over the course of his 40-year career O’Conor has been recognised for his masterful playing, sensitive interpretation and extensive work with young players.

A former pupil of Dieter Weber and Wilhelm Kempff, O'Conor won First Prize at the International Beethoven Piano Competition in Vienna in 1973. He went on to build a career as a renowned concert pianist and recording artist, a celebrated teacher, co-founder and artistic director of the Dublin International Piano Competition and formerly director of the Royal Irish Academy of Music. He is especially known for his his recordings of the complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas.

In this video excerpt, made to mark the occasion, O'Conor discusses his life and work, and in particular his memories of his friends Seamus Heaney and Brian Friel.


Performing on the evening will be a selection of O'Conor's friends and colleagues, including Tara Erraught, Veronica McSwiney, Finghin Collins, Philippe Cassard, John Finucane, a chamber orchestra of alumni and staff of the Royal Irish Academy of Music. The event will be presented by Olivia O'Leary.

“My relationship with the hall dates back to 1981 when I was invited to perform the very first recital in the newly opened NCH on September 12th of that year,” O’Conor says. “It is a hall I’ve always enjoyed performing in not least because of its acoustic and intimate surroundings but because of the warmth of Irish audiences.”

Simon Taylor, CEO Of the National Concert Hall, said: "John has had a huge impact on the musical life of Ireland – his highly successful international career as performer and teacher has been an inspiration to many and the Dublin International Piano Competition has been a major part of our musical landscape for three decades. It is wonderful to round off the celebration of his 70th birthday year with the highest accolade the National Concert Hall can offer."

Tickets are still available from with proceeds going to the Dublin International Piano Competition.