Frank Corcoran

irish composer

Seven theses on Joyce and Irish music
Friday, February 5, 2016 – 3:00am

Irish composer FRANK CORCORAN delivered these seven theses at the James Joyce Centre in Dublin as part of his seventieth birthday celebratory concert.

1. Pythagoras was the greater composer – il miglior fabbro.

2. Yet James Joyce was in many respects the greatest Irish composer.

3. Joyce chiselled and turned and fashioned his syllables and word-units and titles and bits of songs, as would a composing Irish artist. He thus achieved his emotional-semantic character-associations and the fragments of memories which he needed in composing those great sonorous passages in his own sound-world.

4. If he had so wished , he could have reached highest places in his singing, playing and composing of (at least) Lieder. He chose not to.

5. As I mentioned in my 2005 Trieste James Joyce Summer School lecture, Nora’s father, Tom Barnacle, was known in Galway by his nick-name ‘Gobar i Goney’ – Irish: Ag obair i gconaí = ‘always busy’ – here is Joyce’s opening to Gabriel Conroy’s far-off West of Ireland ‘native Doric’, the music of sean nós song. At the same time we have Steven Dedalus’ Lestrygonian entry, “Music is maths for ladies….”. And then in the Trieste Notebook , Stephen Dedalus prefers the “vigour of the mind” needed in composing literature to any thought of composing music.

James Joyce, a great LISTENER, preferred the intellectual rigour of composing words to composing musical structures….

6. In 1917, in Zürich, the James Joyce family had as a neighbour in the Seefelderstrasse 73, the composer Philip Jarnach, who was the secretary of the great Ferrucio Busoni, a major figure in the revolution of musical language in the early decades of the 20th century. (Years later Philip Jarnach became president of the Musikhochschule in Hamburg.)

Did Joyce ever discuss the why and how of this revolution, or the birth of the early atonal masterpieces of the Second Viennese School? He did not. Did he show an interest in the compositional bomb that was Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring at its Paris premiere on March 31 1913? Was he at all interested in the Viennese ‘Skandalkonzert’ with the premieres of Alban Berg’s Peter Altenberg Lieder and Webern’s Opus 6 Six Orchestral Pieces in May of the same year? Was he? Had he ever asked himself why John Field was buried in Moscow’s Nevensky Cemetry but not in Leopold Bloom’s Dean’s Grange? Or why Stanford, ‘the Irish Brahms’, ended his days at Cambridge but not in Dublin? Why there was no Dublin Bartok or Sibelius?

7. Joyce had an intimate, urgent, yet deeply split relationship with art music, with any Irish concept of composition as an Irish art. He mirrored his native city’s colonial inheritage in this regard.

He was the perfect forerunner of our post-colonial – or non-reception – reception of Irish contemporary composing as art, up to this day.

As Irish art. Of Irish composers as on a par with Irish poets, Irish painters etc. Perfect.

Frank Corcoran spoke at Dublin’s James Joyce Centre, November 26, 2015.

Frank Corcoran
James Joyce
Other Shorts
Book Review: The Life and Music of James Wilson
10/10/2015 – 1:30pm
Kevin O’Connell on his ‘Early Music’ (2015)
14/07/2015 – 2:30pm
Concert Review: ICC10 Day One and Day Two Lunchtime
20/02/2015 – 10:00pm
Concert review: ICC10: Dublin Laptop Orchestra
25/01/2015 – 11:30am


Yep !

Hope this year to premier ( Bolsena and Orvieto ) the new PIANO TRIO ( with Viola instead of Violin ) and the

Piccolo Quartetto Filarmonico ( with double bass…. ). Dear and sweet to me also the new 8 IRISH DUETS for Cello

and Piano -the real ould stuff, these ancient melodies of my soil – which we will also premier.

We’re getting there …. ( But where is THERE, I wonder ? )

Yep ! I watch this space. ? ‘ Course I do.


No, I don’t know what lies ahead. Nor who is lying.
However, take stock. ( Take everything …. )

Take 2015 ; post CELLO CONCERTO. The little Piccolo Quartetto Filarmonico ( a string quartet with double bass ) and the Piano Trio Nr. 2 ( Viola with cello plus piano ) are both shortish ( the first is only one movement ) . Both
more-or-less barred. Is my writing in both “simple” ? “Late Corcoran ” ?
Not sure at all. A new love of this or that figure, interval, sigh. But the old search for:
form , elegance ( i.e. exhaust the material but then stop ) , aura remains. How achieve these ?
Rounding and rounding up ?
We’ll know sooner or later. And the 8 little Irish Duets ( Piano and Cello ) are a delight. The projected C.D. also.
Good summary. A good start to this 2016 composer’s year.


Your thermometer
Splintering in roiling heat.
I keep my head cool.

Fierce heat from the sun
These High Alps groan; they’re boiling.
Could we stop marching ?

( tairseach an Fhéin
is ea an uile ní –
fothracha )

No! everything
is a portal for the Self –
How shore these ruins ?

The Poet slips in
Through his own portal. No self.
Nothing. No language.

Immense static light
Beamed down on Ungaretti
Healing the hot self

Unwind the onion
All our healthy, ruined selves
Am I Buddha’s portal ?

( Fróinsias As Pratoleva…. ‘ Sea ! 2012 )


Ihre Suche nach “frank corcoran irischer komponist” erzielte 2 TrefferSortierung nach Datum / Relevanz

Tradurre Tradire

Das Wortspiel und Sprichwort “Tradurre – Tradire” will sagen: “Übersetzen bedeutet Verrat, Betrug”. Frank Corcoran setzt sich in seiner Komposition ganz wörtlich mit diesem Grundproblem jeder sprachlichen Übersetzung und Vermittlung auseinander.
Programm: Vor- und Rückschau

Betrug”. Frank Corcoran setzt sich in seiner Komposition ganz wörtlich mit diesem Grundproblem jeder sprachlichen Übersetzung und Vermittlung auseinander. Anhand eines kurzen gälischen Gedichts des irischen Poeten Gabriel Rosenstock und dessen englischer

Seite 1/1


My eighties and nineties.
Danger lurked. I knew I didn´t know enough European art-history. How invent the ( musical ) wheel ? The sonata as a bicycle? Innocence can breed disaster, lonely, lovely. Hubble´s universe, in a garden-hut near Stuttgart I composed SONATA FOR STRING ORCHESTRA ; I ” wrote ” its stringiness. I had to. I learned to invent sound forms. I had to. My American
MUSIC FOR THE BOOK OF KELLS ( calls for vast percussion ).It is an Early Irish Iron Age window. I had to do it. – Nobody showed me how.
I had cut pre-digital BALTHAZAR´S DREAM with bleeding fingers at the Berlin Technical University in heady 1980. Then, years later, I composed QUASI UN LAMENTO for an odd orchestra of three saxophones, wind, percussion, piano and strings; – I often asked myself had this been my prescient scream before the violent death of Rory in Hamburg 1987 ?
Beware all Holy Fools. I’d also beware musical composition as the biography´s breakfast, the unmediated and the raw. Cook, ye composers! And yet Horace´s polished art is surely right: I must construct highest sheen, my musical art, holier than bronze , my transmuted amputations and child-cauterization and orphaned child-emotions and-ghosts and – dreams and – terrors. Too simple? Certainly. And yet….



Around Greenland booms
A white spume of cold breakers,
White noise, cool music.


For the womb the seed
Sighs.For light the eternal
Dark polar day.

Once here were strong pines.
Came the Great Wind that morning.
Now they are no more.

This bright New Year´s Day
I replay our autumn film,
Its lovely evening….

Old tides rush in where
No hovering white angel
Dares open its mouth


No words can. My writing ( I must ) music . In this 2016. – I’ll forget for a moment the global slop. Its money. It

is money.

Its hidden slaughter of all arts, artists, artistic works. It flattens. For money. Milk the cow while your cancer is ….

EPPUR SI MUOVE ( Galileo – no saint ) :

It is the highest ( protest PLUS music-composing together, Herr Adorno ) activity ?

How wrest / writhe ? To shape that initial ” Urmaterial ” ( Thank God for the Germans’ aesthetic / genes )


It was the fatal year 1976 . Just forty years. ( I remember the dog’s vomit yellow, certainly, of my Monkstown, Dublin, carpet ) Ahead lay years of terror.

My fingers bled . That page one ( solo piano ) , my PIANO TRIO gestated, me young. That work became for me technically AND HYPOTHUMOTICALLY

my breakthrough.

Just forty years on. This morning before ( cold-red ) Hamburg dawn , I completed this SECOND PIANO TRIO ( this time with a viola. Not violin. – bound to be quite different.) . Four not long movements . All Barred. Yerra, I suppose, “Charakterstuecke ” . – Not that this demystifies anything written, . The wonder. Strong structures. Strong aura. Strong architecture.

Brass, decay won’t nibble on my fresh manuscript. Last ? Yes.


Frank Corcoran ; Piano Trio Nr. 2. ( 2016 Ja – January IST ” the wicked month ” )

And Fank Corcoran , that ICY West Berlin, my Sender Freies Berlin’s deutsch marks swinging free, weepy Dublin

CONCORDE premiered , yes, in Zagreb Biennale 2013 . Great music. Musicians. Yes. Irish GREAT and TOTAL intellectual

laziness – YIPPEE . “Great ? ”

BH’OIFINN . N, Tipp vomit-group – Okay !