Thursday, 11 April 2013

Irish musicians mourn pianist Felix Dolan of Scarsdale | The Journal News

SCARSDALE — Felix Dolan spent the last decades of his life revolutionizing piano backup for Irish traditional music.

The 76-year-old retired IBM executive and longtime Scarsdale resident died Tuesday at home surrounded by his family.

Within minutes of announcement of his death, members of the international community that plays Irish traditional music were on Facebook and other social media sites, mourning his passing.

“Tonight the internet is on overdrive as people pay homage to Felix Dolan, a truly great man and a gentleman,” Sligo fiddler and Westchester County Assistant District Attorney Brian Conway wrote on his Facebook page . “I have been consumed by thoughts of Felix, over the last few weeks in particular, and I always come back to that wonderful warm smile that greeted everyone who came in contact with Felix.”

Conway and Dolan played together on a regular basis at Dunne’s pub in White Plains. Dolan’s distinctive piano vamping set the pace for Conway and the musicians who joined him.

“Felix Dolan: the keyboard is silent,” is how the news was announced on, a forum dedicated to Irish music.

“Felix was the consummate gentleman with the broadest smile and most positive outlook,” said Tim Quinn, president of the Fairfield, Conn.-based Shamrock Traditional Irish Music Society, which helped support some of the workshops and CD’s that featured Dolan. “In the Traditional Irish Music world he was second to none, hundreds of albums and CD’s include his brilliant playing … he shall be sorely missed!”

The Bronx-born Dolan attended Catholic schools through high school and, at one time, contemplated becoming a teaching brother. Instead, he opted for a family life, marrying Joan Lynch in 1959.

Dolan received a bachelor's degree in economics from St. John’s University and a master’s in computers from Pratt Institute.

He worked for IBM from 1963 until his retirement in 1996. He began as a computer programmer in the research department and became involved in early computer and information security.

In 1981, he and his wife and four children were sent to Paris for the company. Back in the United States in 1984, he continued in management and was IBM's director of information security when he retired.

Survivors include his wife; four children, Phelin, Siobhan, Brendan and Dierdre; and seven grandchildren.

The wake will be held 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. Thursday at the Edwin L. Bennett Funeral Home in Scarsdale. A funeral Mass is set for 11 a.m. Friday at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Scarsdale.

Irish musicians mourn pianist Felix Dolan of Scarsdale | The Journal News | |

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