John Francis Larchet

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John Francis Larchet (13 July 1884 – 10 August 1967) was an Irish composer and teacher. He studied at Trinity College Dublin (MusB 1915, MusD 1917), also at the Royal Irish Academy of Music (RIAM) with Michele Esposito. Larchet was music director at the Abbey Theatre from 1908 to 1935 and was therefore responsible for the stage music accompanying many of the pivotal plays of the Irish Literary Renaissance, in particular those of William Butler Yeats, and also had his ballet Bluebeard performed there (in 1932), including the dancer Ninette de Valois. Although a prolific composer and arranger, his main contribution to Irish music was as a teacher: He taught harmony and counterpoint at the Royal Irish Academy of Music between 1920 and 1955[1] and was Professor of Music at University College Dublin between 1921 and 1958. Among his pupils were Michael Bowles (1909–1998), Frederick May (1911–1985), Walter Beckett (1914–1996), Joan Trimble (1915–2000), Brian Boydell (1917–2000), T.C. Kelly (1917–1985), Havelock Nelson (1917–1996), Gerard Victory (1921–1995), and Seóirse Bodley (b. 1933).[2]

Larchet was primarily a composer of miniatures and an arranger of Irish folksongs for classical ensembles. His arrangement (in 1954) of the Irish national anthem is the official version still in use[by whom?] today.[3]

His daughter, Sheila Larchet Cuthbert (b. 1923), is an Irish harpist and author.[4] She published The Irish Harp Book: A Tutor and Companion (Dublin, 1975; 5/2004).

Selected works[edit]


  • The Dirge of Ossian & MacAnanty's Reel: Radio Éireann Symphony Orchestra, cond. Milan Horvat, on Decca DL 9844 (LP, 1956). New recording: Irish Chamber Orchestra, cond. Fionnuala Hunt, on: Black Box Music BBM 1003 (CD, 1997).
  • Peata an Mhaoir: RTÉ Singers, cond. Hans Waldemar Rosen, on Harmonia Mundi HMS 30691 (LP, 1965).
  • Wee Hughie: Bernadette Greevy (Mez) & Jeannie Reddin (pf), on Argo ZRG 5459 (LP, 1966).
  • The Stranger: Mary Hegarty (S), Ingrid Surgenor (pf), on: ASV CD WHL 2091 (CD, 1994).
  • By the Waters of Moyle: RTÉ Sinfonietta, cond. Proinnséas Ó Duinn, on Marco Polo 8.223804 (CD, 1996).
  • Pádraic the Fiddiler, An Ardglass Boat Song, A Stóirin Bán, The Wee Boy in Bed, Wee Hughie: Bernadette Greevy (Mez) & Hugh Tinney (pf), on A Sheaf of Songs from Ireland. Marco Polo 8.225098 (CD, 1998).
  • Lament for Youth (in a band arrangement by Fritz Brase), performed by Band of the Defence Forces School of Music, Mark Armstrong (cond.), on: RTÉ lyric fm CD 153 (CD, 2016).


  1. ^ Axel Klein: Irish Classical Recordings: A Discography of Irish Art Music (Westport, CT, 2001), p. 100: "John F. Larchet (* Dublin 1884, t Dublin 1967). John Francis Larchet built the bridge between the 19th and the 20th century in Irish music. [...] However, Larchet is best remembered for his teaching."
  2. ^ Axel Klein: Die Musik Irlands im 20. Jahrhundert (Hildesheim, 1996), p. 429–30
  3. ^ Úna-Frances Clarke: "Larchet, John Francis", in: The Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland (Dublin, 2013), vol. 1, p. 579–80)
  4. ^ Nora Joan Clark: The Story of the Irish Harp: Its History and Influence (Lynnwood, WA: North Creek Press, 2003), p. 126: "Sheila's father, Dr. John F. Larchet, composer and conductor, was Director of Music at the Abbey Theatre during its heyday, from 1907 to 1934. Sheila Larchet began her harp studies with Mother Alphonsus O'Connor ...".
  5. ^ From Clarke (2013; see References. See also
  6. ^ Published in Jacqueline Genet (ed.): "Words for Music Perhaps": le "new art" de Yeats / "Words for Music Perhaps": Yeats's "new art" (Villeneuve d'Ascq: Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, 2010), ISBN 978-2-7574-0142-2, p. 199–213.