Before Elvis Presley, before Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby, there was John McCormack, an Irish world superstar. Born in Athlone in the heart of Ireland, he would go on to capture the hearts of millions worldwide with his performances, and recordings. In 1907 at the age of 23 he became the youngest ever tenor to perform a lead role at Covent Garden. He went on to perform there for eight consecutive years with the great sopranos of the time Melba, Tetrazzini, and Destinn; the run ending with the outbreak of the First World War.
During the war years he raised funds for the war effort, with money going to the Red Cross, and to the support of war widows. His efforts were recognised internationally; amongst them France awarding him the Legion Dâ€™Honneur, and the Vatican making him a Papal Count.
By the 1920â€™s John McCormackâ€™s pulling power was immense. By this stage he had moved away from performing opera in favour of the concert stage. During his career he would perform in Europe, the Far East, Australia and New Zealand but it would be Britain and The U.S. where he became a phenomenon. Such was the demand for his concert recitals that seats had to be placed on stages and in orchestra pits. And in 1932 he would perform to a world record crowd of one million people. The occasion was the Eucharistic Congress in Phoenix Park, Dublin.
McCormack truly was a phenomenon. His success brought great wealth and a lavish lifestyle. He earned over $1 million per year at his peak, and was paid $500,000 in 1929 by Fox Pictures to make the film â€œSong Oâ€™My Heartâ€. He had a lavish lifestyle, owning countless Rolls Royces, art masterpieces and homes. It is estimated that total McCormack record sales have exceeded 200 million.
He was a genuine icon of his age, rivalled only by his great friend and fellow tenor Enrico Caruso. Today he is widely regarded as one of the greatest concert recitalists of the 20th century.
The Definitive Collection 4 Cdâ€™s â€“ 1 Documentary DVD â€“ 100 Page Book
This stunningly packaged, definitive box set, â€˜John McCormack, Icon Of An Ageâ€™, explores his life and remarkable career.
– â€œThe Peopleâ€™s Tenorâ€ a DVD documentary that charts his meteoric rise to fame from humble beginnings in Athlone, Ireland.
– A book featuring for the first time ever, unpublished letters by McCormack.
– Two CDâ€™s containing the best from his recording legacy are also included one features opera, lieder, oratorio & art songs, the other features popular songs & Irish ballads
– Four unpublished recordings by John McCormack were recently discovered and they are being made available to the public in this box set for the very first time. There are also five unpublished recordings by his children Cyril and Gwen.
– And finally, a fourth CD, â€œGolden Voicesâ€ is included with recordings by contemporaries of McCormack who he admired, worked with, or mentioned in his letters. Such as Nellie Melba, Caruso etc.