Frank Corcoran

irish composer

A very modest e/cribble & dribble on, yes, once again ! , – my SELF/ESTEEM and its post/Christmas enemies …

I have once again caught myself out and copped myself on…

Among my young composer’ s works and sweated pomps from 1970 ( I was 26 years old, now c’mon ! ) to 1990 ( I eventually became 46, bruised but not bowed ) there are

, strong, extraordinary gob-smackers and ear-whackers among my musical compositions. Certainly. – So how come I had so long ignored, mistrusted, was

uncomfortable with and silent about these creative achievements ?

Today, late in the day , I got my hands again on a catalogue of the young Frank Corcoran’s long-forgotten compositions from all genres. seeing again my youthful music, I

was knocked sideways … I must ask again : Why so long my lack of ” appreciation” of some of my own works which I now briefly mention here.

Take my early MEDIEVAL IRISH EPIGRAMMES of 1973 – here is a crisply fresh handling of delightful Early Celtic texts ( and that choral HERR JESU CHRIST

of a few years later tackles the Baroque text of Paul Eber, with dark spirituality. – its quasi Black Death – terror of Late-Renaissance Europe .

Again, fresh and courageous colours, quasi instrumetal.. ).

THREE SYMPHONIC PIECES ( ” Pictures From My Exhibition ” ) explores just that, the instrumentating pencil as paint-brush. Retro- and Pro- and

Perspective in these dramatic scores .

Only now in late reflection do I see how my young Irish composer’s lonely struggle against a viciousl ocean of ignorance and anti-art

prejudice and , yerra , general bankruptcy of spirit in the Dublin of my tender years whacked and weakened continuously a brave young composer from the Outer

Yoblands. Yes. -Out there in these Sloblands which I had crawled from was not only Irish total depression or economic hopelessness

but a far worse moral failure in our “middle class ” to accept good Irish art or artists or to understand me as a

composing artist on my Irish island ; to ever dare to imagine with me the boundaries of the musically permissible.

It was woeful. Invincible

ignorance weakens . The pressure was enormous.

But I did not compromise; I decided not to give in in my composing to cheap solutions. Forge strong musical forms and don’t repeat yourself…

The Piano Trio, my break-through ( in 1978 ) to a newly crafted macro-counterpoint was my extraordinary victory over both my musical material and my “musical” ( ! )

ambience. It was bliss and Hell to be alive , certainly.

Before withdrawing to Berlin in 1979 on a Berlin Artist’s Scholarship, the Wind Quintet of that same

year shows highest qualities of, I’ll say it again and again , imagined compositional courage ( see especially the opening bars for those fresh , leaping upper

woodwinds ) .

No, it was no fun for me to have to fight dopyness and intellectual laziness, to persist in a lonely composer’s microcosmos .

The fight ( – heroic ? Certainly, heroic ! ) all but weakened my creative

energies – could have snuffed them out . And yet those three works which I carpentered and crafted in that first

Berlin ” annus mirabilis ” . my Symphonies Of Symphonies for 23 Wind, the there begun

2. Symphony and the first piece ever which I created in the electronic studies of the Technical University are as

huge as any orchestral, chamber or computer-works I have ever attempted since.

Many times I faltered, nearly let that dreadful indifference and lack of resonance take over. The opera ,

“Gilgamesh” I comosed entirely alone by myself in

the domestic terror and mental insanity of 1986 – 1989.

– Time to stop listing jousts and survival strategies and catastrophes and recoveries, I suppose. A list is only a

list.

By 1990 in distant America, I had crafted my “Music For The Book Of Kells”,

my sounding portrait of Early Iron Ireland. Hmmm, I suppose I had won through , bloodied but unbowed. gone strange

in my head and in my musical images.

The lesson which I ( culpably ? ) forgot for many decades since was : head down, forward fighting; never for an

instant give in to the barbarians and Yahoos.

Never.

A VERY MODEST E-CRIBBLE AND – DRIBBLE

I have once again caught myself out and copped myself on…

Among my young composer’ s works and sweated pomps from 1970 ( I was 26 years old, now c’mon ! ) to 1990 ( I

eventually became 46, bruised but not bowed ) there are

, strong, extraordinary gob-smackers and ear-whackers among my musical compositions. Certainly.

– So how come I had so long ignored, mistrusted, was uncomfortable with and silent about these creative achievements ?

Today, late in the day , I got my hands again on a catalogue of the young Frank Corcoran’s long-forgotten

compositions from all genres. seeing again my youthful music, I

was knocked sideways … Why so long my lack of ” appreciation” of some of my own works which I now briefly

mention here.

Take the HERR JESU CHRIST which a few years later tackles the Baroque text of Paul Eber, its dark spirituality.

its quasi Black Death – terror of Late-Renaissance Europe .

Again, fresh and courageous colours, quasi instrumetal.. ).

THREE SYMPHONIC PIECES ( ” Pictures From My Exhibition ” ) explores just that, the instrumentating pencil as

paint-brush.

Only now do I see how my young Irish composer’s lonely struggle against a viciousl ocean of ignorance and anti-art

prejudice and , yerra , general bankruptcy of spirit in the Dublin of my tender years whacked and weakened

continuously a brave young composer from the Outer

Yoblands. Yes. -Out there in the Sloblands from which I had crawled was not only Irish total depression or economic

hopelessness

but a far worse moral failure in our “middle class ” to accept good Irish art or artists or to understand me as a

composing artist on my Irish island ; to ever dare to imagine with me the boundaries of the musically permissible.

It was woeful. Invincible

ignorance weakens . The pressure was enormous.

But I did not compromise; I decided not to give in in my composing to cheap solutions. Forge strong musical forms and don’t repeat yourself…

The Piano Trio, my break-through ( in 1978 ) to a newly crafted macro-counterpoint was my extraordinary victory over

both my musical material and my “musical” ( ! )

ambience. It was bliss and Hell to be alive , certainly.

Before withdrawing to Berlin in 1979 on a Berlin Artist’s Scholarship, the Wind Quintet of that same

year shows highest qualities of, I’ll say it again and again , imagined compositional courage ( see especially the

opening bars for those fresh , leaping upper

woodwinds ) .

No, it was no fun for me to have to fight dopyness and intellectual laziness, to persist in a lonely composer’s microcosmos .

The fight ( – heroic ? Certainly, heroic ! ) all but weakened my creative

energies – could have snuffed them out . And yet those three works which I carpentered and crafted in that first

Berlin ” annus mirabilis ” . my Symphonies Of Symphonies for 23 Wind, the there begun

2. Symphony and the first piece ever which I created in the electronic studies of the Technical University are as

huge as any orchestral, chamber or computer-works I have ever attempted since.

Many times I faltered, nearly let that dreadful indifference and lack of resonance take over. The opera ,

“Gilgamesh” I comosed entirely alone by myself in

the domestic terror and mental insanity of 1986 – 1989.

– Time to stop listing jousts and survival strategies and catastrophes and recoveries, I suppose. A list is only a list.

By 1990 in distant America, I had crafted “Music For The Book Of Kells”,

my sounding portrait of Early Iron Ireland. Hmmm, I suppose I had won through , bloodied but unbowed. gone strange in my head and in my musical images.

The lesson which I ( culpably ? ) forgot for many decades since was : head down, forward fighting; never for an

instant give in to the barbarians and Yahoos.

Never.

WHERE FROM MY LITTLE VANITIES ?

Where from my little vanities ? I am too good to write for a concert performance ?

No slave near with his

honeyed tongue .

Land me a creamy parformance. Quality plus strawberries plus notoriety plus the palm.

Since I was about six, I dodged various “realities ” , psychological ( ” It can’t be thus so it is not thus “… and other

models ) and spatial ( – eg. where led which road to Lorrha, to the Mighty Shannon, the silver treasures of the

Silvermines ? Wrere was it ? That golden calf of Knockshegawna ? – and, well, personal.

‘ Nuff said.

From where this ? Whence my Great Disturbance ? ( – wanted to change mother with seven, father with

seventeen plus…. ?

My great 7 MINIATURES for Luigidi Filippi’s bow and knock and pluck in Gravesend Concert. Then that birth : the PIANO

TRIO I crafted and stretched and mangled and polished exactly 12 months ago here in , even then , cold

Hamburg – the viola and its worked over cello, my four exquisitely poised movements with the piano.

Villa

Spada and Bolsena and Hugh Lane will shake. )

2015 HOT SUMMER

Frank Corcoran’s hot, hot summer in Italy will introduce two hot “IL CONCERTO DI DUBLINO ” concerts , one

in hot Orvieto in Umbria and the other in hot Bolsena by the lake.

Frank’s three friends from the N.S.O.I. , Martin Johnson , Cello, Adele Johnson, Viola and Fergal Caulfield, Piano,
will present a Piano Trio programme – Frank’s tale of two cities – at the Teatro Mancinelli , Orvieto, on July 31 and a similar programme in Bolsena’s Piccolo Teatro Cavour on August 2.

It will consist of music by Schubert, Brahms ( – his mighty Piano Trio as climax ) , David Popper and new

work by Frank himself, from the 8 Irish Duets for Cello and Piano.

These little miniatures are based on Irish Slow Airs, eight of the greatest sean nos songs . As the composer insists, his melodic distillations are neither neo-romantic settings, nor neo- Bartok, nor neo-minimalist and yet neo-Corcoran.

Up till now they consist of : Sean O Duibhir An Ghleanna, A Mhairin De Barra, A Una Bhain 1. and 2., A Roisin Dubh,
Na Conneries, Im Aonar Seal and Priosun Cluain Meala.

The first three will be premiered in Orvieto and Bolsena.

Frank Corcoran

FRANK CORCORAN’S MUSIC ON NDR . KULTUR PRISMAMUSIK 20.11.2017

NDR.KULTUR

20:00 Prisma Musik Thema: Kleine Schule des musikalischen Hörens.

Frank Corcoran hört das Cellokonzert von Edward Elgar

Elgars langsame Passagen zerreißen mich innerlich gerade… Es ist wie das Destillat einer Träne, gestand Jacqueline du Pré einmal, die vielleicht berühmteste Interpretin dieses Werks. Kurz nach dem Ersten Weltkrieg entstand das Cellokonzert, das man einmal die Elegie auf eine untergegangene Zivilisation genannt hat, in der ländlichen Abgeschiedenheit seines Landhauses in Sussex. Das Werk markiert.

5 gleichsam den Gegenpol zu Pomp and Circumstance in Elgars Schaffen, eine Musik des Abschieds, verhaltener und sparsamer in den Mitteln als alle Orchesterwerke der Vorkriegszeit.

22:00 Variationen zum Thema Musikbeispiele zum Themenabend

Edward Elgar: Konzert für Violoncello und Orchester e-moll op. 85 Steven Isserlis, Violoncello Philharmonia Orchestra London Ltg.: Paavo Järvi Klavierquintett a-moll op. 84 Pihtipudas Kvintetti

Frank Corcoran: Cellokonzert Martin Johnson, Violoncello RTE National Symphony Orchestra Ltg.: Gavin Maloney

Frank Coecoran “Rhapsodic Bowing ” for 8 Celli. ” “

October 2001 CONCERT

FRANK CORCORAN DUBLIN OCTOBER 17 2001

Wed, Oct 17, 2001,

6 Bagatelles for Wind Quintet – Ligeti

Hebraische Balladen – Ulrich Leyendecker

die Steine – Peter Michael Hamel

Music for the Book of Kells; Wind Quintet-Sweeney’s Wind-Cries; Trauerfelder-Gort an Bhroin – Frank Corcoran

Ligeti’s Bagatelles of 1953 now seem to him to be “absolutely prehistoric”. It is true that they sound rather like a baroque suite with touches of Stravinsky and Bartok, but they are eminently listenable to, have an individual voice and still sound fresh. The Daedalus Wind Quintet played them with bite and rhythmic vivacity.

The other work for wind quintet last Sunday in the Hugh Lane Gallery was
” Sweeney’s Wind-Cries ” by FRANK CORCORAN who, born in Tipperary and resident in Hamburg, combines a knowledge of Irish culture, including the prehistoric, with a compostitional freedom acquired on the Continent.

In his music it is as if the sounds of nature are transformed, but only half tamed, so there is a nervous balance between discipline and what sounds like licence.
Each of his works immediately creates an atmosphere,
strong but impossible to particularise.

” Music for the Book of Kells ”
opens with a solo for tubular bells, which may suggest the life of monasticism, but when the other members of the R.I.A.M. Percussion Ensemble join in, with much use of the bass drum, it seems that more elemental forces are brought into play.
And when the piano enters, toward the end, played by the composer, it utters primitive sounds not at all like a piano.

” Gort an Bhroin” is perhaps the best embodiment of the recital’s title: “Irish and German Tonal Landscapes”.
In it four percussionists make a threnody for the victims of Auschwitz.

The work opens with tubular bells, but with the accompaniment of a snare drum.
The two effects, rightly, are a world apart.

FRANK CORCORAN ” DUETTI IRLANDESI ” FOR CELLO AND PIANOFORTE

It-s in the Annals Of the Four Masters , that entry for the year 1498 records the death of a distant ancestor, Floirint O
Corcorain, ” saoi cruitire ” , a master harper.

How many of these eight melodies, or their melodic prototypes, were already in his repertoire ?

I wrote the 8 miniatures for cello and piano in 2016 and 2015. These traditional “sean nos ” melodies have been haunting me since my rural childhood in Tipperary .
I had long been appalled by the settings of old Irish melodies attempted by Beethoven, Haydn, Britten , Harty and
too many other well/meaning composers, by their often saccharine harmonies, their rhythmic iron corset or indeed the foursquare form they too often adopted….

In these 8 settings I have had to respect the fundamentally monodic nature of each song, to take great care of its modal intentions and linear ornamentations and its rock/solid architectural form * normally an arched A B B A structure.
Their rhythm is normally that of the Old Spanish sarabande, a heavy three in the bar (
and how the sarabande came so strongly to impregnate the Irish harpers and the music they played or recited since the 16th. century is anybody-s guess… )
So when I “set” a traditional Irish air the cello has to sing its plaintive song while the piano remains orchestral with its myriad colours and short phrases and echoes and motivs.

SEAN O DUIBHIR AN GHLEANNA I learned with six in my rural Borrisokane school, this Jacobite lament by John O-Dwyer from Aherlow who with the downfall of Catholic King James at the hands of Protestant William of Orange has lost his lands, his everything . Fine nature lyricism in its text >
” On my rising in the golden morning with its resurgent sun I heard the sounds of the hunting horn, the distant guns and an old peasant woman lamenting the loss of her geese. ”

PRIOSUN CLUAIN MEALA, “The Prison Of Clonmel” , another Tipperary tune, dating from the revolution year 1798 is certainly older. Again, the words of its lament / with their almost Mahlerian / Des Knabenwunderhorn
quality are very fine. This young prisoner will be hanged next Friday….
” My Kerry friends, pray for me, your voices are soft to my ear. I never did think that I would never return to ye. Our three heads they-ll place upon spikes to make a grand spectacle . The snows of the night and all harsh weather will bleach us…. ”

In the myxolydic love/song A MHAIRIN DE BARRA
the singer curses his lover, his Mary Barry who has got between him and God.

There are at least two versions of that great Romeo/and/Juliet Co. Roscommon song A UNA BHAIN . Tomas Mac Coisdealbha was drowned in his nightly swimming across lovely Lough Key to visit
his fair Una
” you were a candlabra on the festive table for a queen…. ”
and still today on Trinity Island you can visit the two intertwined trees growing from their two graves.
In the first version, piano harmonics echo the cello-s wild high line. In the second version it is the cello-s primitive pizzicati on the open strings which punctates the piano-s vain attempt to imitate the ululations of Connamara folksinger, legendary Joe Heaney, in those distant fifties of my childhood.

Ever since the film/music of Irish composer, Sean O Riada, in the sixties achieved iconic status, fiery ROISIN DUBH also has become for many the Song of Revolution , indeed almost an Irish “Finlandia” .
Its huge melodic ascent and incandescent leaps strain to express the folk/ poet-s vision : ” The ships are on the ocean deep. There will come wine from the the royal Pope for this
has

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2017 WAS A HOT YEAR – WHEW !

2.2.2017 WGXC Radio : Frank Corcoran VIOLIN CONCERTO, QUASI UNA MISSA, TRAUERFELDER

2.3.2017 WGXC Radio : ” Cello Concerto and QUASI UNA FUGA

27.4.2017 Woodville Theatre, Gravesend, England. The Italian violinist virtuoso, Luigi De Filippi gives the English premiere of Frank Corcoran’s
SEVEN MINIATURES for Solo Violin.

IL CONCERTO DI DUBLINO – FRANK CORCORAN

27.5.2017 Irish Embassy Rome . PRATOLEVA TRIO plays

new contemporary Irish chamber music by Frank Corcoran plus Brahms, Geminiani etc. Premiere of Frank Corcoran’s new PIANO TRIO ( 2016 )

28.5.2017 Bolsena Piccolo Teatro Cavour ” ”

4.6. 2017 Dublin Hugh Lane City Gallery ” “( – plus RTE-LYRIC FM launch of new CD

“Rhapsodic Celli ” with Frank Corcoran’s CELLO CONCERTO , ” Rhapsodic Bowing” for 8 Celli etc. )


——– The Contemporary Music Centre ——

DUBLIN AND KILKENNY CHAMBER CHOIR IRELAND XMAS 2017 MY Irish Carol

AN IRISH CHRISTMAS CAROL FRANK CORCORAN

is just that : This fine, arching melody from 17th. c. “Baroque” Ireland

with its sarabande rhythm suggests an instrumental piece of the time for harp or pipes .

It perfectly matches the lovely Christmas text in Irish by Archbishop Aodh Mac Aingil ( died 1626 ) .

My English

translation tries to grasp the folklike quality of the original.