Fred May

Irish composer Frederick May was born into a protestant Dublin family on 9 June 1911. His father (who had the same name) worked at the Guinness Brewery.

Fred May studied composition with John Larchet at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin. His Irish Love Song was published in 1930, leading to a scholarship, allowing him to study at Trinity College Dublin and then at the Royal College of Music in London with Gordon Jacob, Charles Kitson, Reginald Owen Morris and Ralph Vaughan Williams. He later studied in Vienna with Egon Wellesz.

Fred May struggled with mental health issues, deafness and tinnitus for much of his life, but nevertheless was able to compose a 1936 String Quartet in C minor, described in Grove as 'one of the most individual statements from an Irish composer in the first half of the twentieth century', and he campaigned tirelessly for better musical education in Ireland, co-founding the Music Association of Ireland in 1948 to promote art music as part of Irish culture.

Frederick May died in Dublin's Clontarf orthopaedic hospital on 8 September 1985, aged seventy-four.


A selection of articles about Fred May

Echoes of Oblivion by Robert McCarney - Rough winds do shake

Echoes of Oblivion by Robert McCarney - Selling like hot cakes ... maybe, hopefully