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Charles Lynch
Birth name Charles Edgeworth Cagney Lynch
Born 22 October 1906(1906-10-22)
Republic of Ireland Cork, Republic of Ireland
Died 15 September 1984 (aged 77)
Republic of Ireland Cork, Republic of Ireland
Genres Classical
Occupations Musician
Instruments Piano

Charles Edgeworth Cagney Lynch (22 October 1906 – 15 September 1984) was an Irish pianist who premiered works by several important 20th century composers.


Background and early life

Charles Lynch was born in Parkgariff, County Cork, Ireland. His father was a British army colonel and his mother came from a well-known Cork business dynasty, the Suttons. While he was still a young boy, the family moved to Greenock in western Scotland and it was there, at the Tontine Hotel, that the young pianist gave his first public recital at the age of nine.[1] When he was fifteen, he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, London, where he studied under York Bowen and, later, Egon Petri.[1]

Career in England

Lynch became a popular recitalist in London during the 1920s and 1930s. He gave the first performance in England of Rachmaninoff's Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor, having been coached beforehand by the composer.[1] Sir Arnold Bax's Fourth Piano Sonata (1932) is dedicated to the 26-year-old Lynch,[1] whom Bax described as "a very curious character with little sense of time and place". In addition to concert recitals he broadcast regularly with the BBC and in 1937 acted as assistant to Sir Thomas Beecham at Covent Garden.

Lynch had a close association with the composer Ernest John Moeran, and gave the première of the Cello Sonata with its dedicatee, the composer's wife Peers Coetmore, in 1947.

Return to Ireland

A pacifist, Lynch returned to Ireland following the outbreak of World War II, where he became the country's premier concert pianist.[1] In February 1971 at Trinity College, Dublin, he performed the entire set of Liszt's transcriptions of Beethoven's symphonies over four successive Saturday evenings. The Irish Times critic, Charles Acton, paid tribute to Lynch's achievement:

"It is doubtful if Liszt himself ever played them as a series. Since his day, individual virtuosi have played individual symphonies but it is possible that Charles Lynch is the first person who has played all of them as a public series - and all in four weeks. On that score we may be in the presence of a historical event. We are certainly in the presence of a quite tremendous physical, mental, emotional, and intellectual feat."[2]

Lynch continued to give public recitals throughout Ireland until shortly before his death at the age of 77. He also lectured in music at University College, Cork[3] and gave masterclasses at the Cork School of Music.[1]

Lynch's technique was remarkable for the stillness with which he sat, making the most difficult of music seem almost technically unremarkable. His recorded legacy is small, but includes music by Samuel Barber, Moeran's Violin Sonata (with Geraldine O'Grady, violin) as well as music by Irish composers such as Aloys Fleischmann.

Final years

Towards the end of his life he lived in very reduced circumstances. He died in Cork at St. Finbarr's Hospital and was buried behind Bax's grave in the cemetery of Saint Finbarre's Cathedral, Cork City.


  • Moeran: Sonata for violin and piano in E minor (with Geraldine O'Grady, violin), EMI Classics 5851542
  • Bax: Sonata for violin and piano no. 3 (with May Harrison, violin), Symposium 1075
  • Fleischmann: Sreath do Phiano [Suite for Piano], New Irish Recording Company NIR001, 1971


  1. ^ a b c d e f The Irish Times, "Death of Charles Lynch in Cork at 77", September 17, 1984
  2. ^ The Irish Times, "Beethoven-Liszt recital series", February 15, 1971
  3. ^ The Irish Times, "Charles Lynch - An Appreciation", September 24, 1984


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