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History of the Music Association of Ireland

The Music Association of Ireland (MAI) was founded in 1948 at a moment in Irish history that witnessed the emergence of the Irish nation after decades of self-imposed isolation. At a luncheon in the Unicorn Restaurant, Dublin in early, 1948, a group of friends, Brian Boydell, Edgar Deale, Frederick May and Michael McMullin discussed the standing of music in Ireland and how the profile of music might be raised throughout the country. This core group, which was later joined by John Beckett and Brendan Dunne, came to the conclusion that much could be achieved by a voluntary association of musicians and music lovers. At a meeting on the 30th April, 1948, the National Music Association came into existence; it had six objectives:

  • To further musical education.
  • To improve conditions for composers and musicians generally.
  • To work for the establishment of a National Concert Hall.
  • To submit recommendations on musical policy to the authorities concerned.
  • To encourage the formation of musical groups, societies and choirs throughout the country.
  • To organise popular lectures, concerts and recitals and to awaken a musical consciousness in the nation.

The first Council of the MAI comprised of illustrious academics, educationalists, composers and musicians: Brian Boydell (chair), Michael McMullin (Honorary Secretary), Olive Smith (Honorary Treasurer), Brendan Dunne, Aloys Fleischmann, Joseph Groocock, Anthony Hughes, Madeleine Larchet, Nancie Lord, Frederick May, Terry O’ Connor, Joseph O’ Neill, Dorothy Stokes, William F. Watt, Edgar M. Deale and James Delany.

During its lifetime, the MAI organised music appreciation lectures, agitated for the establishment of a National Concert Hall, set up a Chamber Music Group and a Composers’ Group, organised country tours, supported young musicians in their ‘Coming-Out’ recitals, Ógra Ceoil and the National Youth Orchestra, formed the Schools’ Recitals’ Scheme, published various music bulletins and magazines and organised the Twentieth Century Music Festival. Many initiatives set up by the MAI, as a voluntary body, now function as separate, professional organisations, for example the Music in Great Irish Houses Festival, Music Network, National Youth Orchestra of Ireland and Contemporary Music Centre.

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