The Arts Council expresses great sadness at the passing of the distinguished Irish composer, Seóirse Bodley, who has passed away at the age of 90. Composer of a great body of vocal, chamber and orchestral music, including five symphonies, Dr. Bodley was a founder member of Áosdána, and was the first composer to be awarded the honour of ‘Saoi’ of Aosdána, conferred on him by president Mary McAleese in 2008.
After initial studies in Ireland and Germany and influential visits to the Darmstadt school, he became a leading exponent of the European avant-garde in the 1960s, while also seeking to marry this with a deep sense of his Irishness and his Irish musical heritage. His long career was to see his musical language and style evolve in different ways, and expressed in many forms, but always reflecting his profound sense of being both Irish and international, modern and conscious of his musical heritage.
Prof. Kevin Rafter, Chair of the Arts Council, said: ”Seóirse Bodley was one of the most important fiqures in Irish composition of the latter part of 20th Century. His long compositional journey combined a great outward-looking internationalism as well as a deeply personal engagement with his Irish musical heritage in forging what was always a uniquely true expression of himself and his time and place. He was greatly liked and admired by his many composition students in UCD, his colleagues in Aosdána and a wide circle of friends. On behalf of the Arts Council, I would like to express our sincere sympathy to his wife Lorraine and the Bodley family for their great loss. Suaimhneas síoraí dá anam uasal”.
Seóirse Bodley saw his work performed extensively during his lifetime, not just in Ireland, but throughout Europe and as far afield as China, North America, Japan and Australia. He was the most internationally pre-eminent Irish composer of his generation. His third symphony was commissioned for the opening of the National Concert Hall in 1980 and he received a number of major international commissions, including a mass for Westminster Cathedral and his fourth symphony for the Toscanini Symphony Orchestra in Parma.
For much of his life, Seóirse Bodley was a lecturer and professor of composition in UCD, where he was to have a great influence on generations of younger composition students, and he was also active as a pianist and accompanist, broadcaster and collector of Irish folk-music and song.
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