On the perimeter of Greenville’s “Uptown District” and a quick walk from stone and glass government buildings sits John O’Brien’s Music House, a Victorian-style historical home that houses some of the area’s finest musical performances.
O’Brien allows invited guests to attend small-audience concerts featuring musicians that present classical and modern selections. Admission is by donation and intermission often features beverages and hors d’oevres from local businesses.
The Moye house was built 1902 by J.R. “Jessie” Moye. For over 90 years it stayed in the same family. O’Brien purchased it in 1995 and began work on its restoration that summer. “Although much of the historic integrity remained the house required significant restoration including all new electric, heating/air, roof and bathrooms and kitchen. Floors, windows, plaster ceilings and walls as well as light fixtures were intact but required major repairs,” O’Brien recalled.
He added “I grew up in an 1870s house that my parents restored over 10 years. I had always wanted a large old Victorian and in particular I wanted a music room so that I did not have to move furniture in order to make music in my home. My parents (both piano teachers) had a large music room addition on their home and I grew up accustomed to recitals on a regular basis in this room.”
“Once I had the house restored enough to move in it was only a short time before I was having regular performances in the music room. About 4 years ago it seemed I was regularly hosting concerts and getting more and more requests from performers to play in my home so I began the formal Music House Series. The name, “The Music House” came from my college days where I lived in one of 16 rooms in a large 1880s Victorian in Los Angeles with other music students. That house was called the Music House so I copied the name.”
“I do have 3 pianos, one harpsichord, 3 pump organs, 2 pipe organs and a Mozart era piano in the house. I also have harp and several string and wind instruments. There is a story behind each of the instruments but suffice to say when you have space you fill it with things you love to have!”
John O’Brien came to Greenville and ECU in 1985. He is a Professor of piano and early music at ECU and he also serves as organist and choirmaster at First Presbyterian Church in Kinston. Dr. O’Brien began conducting the Eastern Youth Orchestra in 1986. He grew up in a musical family. Both of his parents are pianists and his three brothers are all string players. He grew up studying piano, violin, and flute, and playing string quartets with his brothers. When Dr. O’Brien is not teaching, conducting, or performing, he is usually working on his 1902 Victorian house.