On Sunday evening, Dr John O’Conor received the National Concert Hall Lifetime Achievement Award, at a gala concert in honour of the renowned pianist's formidable contribution to classical music in Ireland.
Always a generous man with his time, John O’Conor has made many recordings with RTÉ of his performances, and given numerous memorable interviews along the years.
Speaking with Andy O’Mahony for the RTÉ Radio Music and The Musician series produced by Jane Carty back in February 1975, his geniality shines through. This recording captures the optimism, determination and his fierce dedication to his art. There is also his awareness that he is a musician who has been very lucky in his career as one of Ireland’s greatest internationally acclaimed living artists.
Listen: Music and The Musician - John O'Conor:
In the 1975 interview, O’Conor speaks of the importance of having won, only two years previously, the prestigious Beethoven Competition. He had initially been open to dedicating his life to teaching in Dublin, but a scholarship he received from the Austrian Embassy to study in Vienna proved invaluable to him. In Vienna, he experienced at first hand the city and surroundings of Schubert and Beethoven, and this had a fundamental influence on his interpretative abilities of their music.
O’Mahony asks O’Conor about concerns with perfection of performance, to which the musician responds that "it is the striving for perfection which keeps you practicing…one is never satisfied". On what it feels like at the end of a recital, O’Conor describes it as "a terrible letdown, after months of practice - now it’s gone. If people enjoy it, it somewhat takes away the disappointment that it is over".