Frank Corcoran

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4th JUNE 2017 at 12:00

The music of Frank Corcoran

with the Pratoleva Trio
Fergal Caulfield: pianoforte
Adèle Johnson: viola
Martin Johnson: violoncello

“Duetti Irlandesi” for violoncello & pianoforte (Irish Premiere)

“Variazioni semplici” for Solo Viola

“Rhapsodietta Joyceana” for Solo Cello

“Trio” for viola, violoncello and pianoforte (Irish Premiere)


For further information contact
Gavin O’Sullivan
ph: +353-87-2456971

The Sundays @ Noon Concert Series is funded by Dublin City Council
and grant aided by The Arts Council/ An Chomhairle Ealaíon.
Beantworten Allen antworten Weiterleiten


Frank Corcoran

geb. 1944 in Tipperary Irland.
Studierte in Dublin (alte Sprachen, Philosophie), Rom (Theologie , Gregorianik und Renaissance-Musik) und Berlin (Meisterschüler von Boris Blacher). 1971-79 Music Inspector beim Irischen Erziehungsministerium. 1980 Stipendiat des Berliner Künstlerprogramms . 1981 Gastprofessor an der HdK Berlin. 1982 Professor in Stuttgart, seit 1983 an der Hamburger Musikhochschule. 1989-90 Fulbright-Professor in den USA und Gastdozent in CalArts, Harvard, Wisconsin, Boston, New York und Indiana. Seit 1983 ist Frank Corcoran Mitglied der Irischen AdK.


Balthasars Traum 1980
Sweeney’s Vision 1997
Quasi Una Missa 1999
Sweeney’s letztes Gedicht, Sweeney’s Farewell 1997/98
Tradurre – Tradire 2004



Sweeneys Visionen über Irlands Leid auf CD gepresst

Veröffentlicht am 28.12.1999

Wie eine irische Quelle ums Jahr 1200 berichtet, verlor der König von Nordirland in der blutigen Schlacht von Maigh Rath anno 637 den Verstand. Die erst in den achtziger Jahren entstandene englische Nachdichtung von Seamus Heaney löste in dem irischen Komponisten

Frank Corcoran , seit 1983 Theorielehrer an der Hamburger Musikhochschule, “Klangbilder der Zerrüttung” aus.

Das NDR-Ensemble “Das Neue Werk” hat diese Klangbilder jetzt unter Dieter Cichewiecz auf CD eingespielt. Mad Sweeney, ein in den entlegensten Gegenden Englands und Irlands umherirrender, auf Bäumen lebender “Vogelmensch”, klagt dabei sein Leid zu Gott. Corcoran selbst leiht ihm seine Vogel-Stimme. Außer dieser melodramatischen Lautgebung wagt er noch eine zweite Annäherung an die Seelenlandschaft des verwirrten Königs: “Sweeney’s Vision”. Dabei handelt es sich um computererzeugte Stimmen des Meeres und der Lüfte.

Für die University of Wisconsin, die 1990 die alt-irische Handschrift “Book of Kells” erwarb, komponierte Corcoran außerdem seine schlagzeugbunte “Music for the Book of Kells”. Mit dem “Wind Quintett” von 1992 gibt Corcoran schließlich Strawinskys Ballett “Le Sacre du Printemps” ganz neue Töne. Das Stuttgarter Bläserquintett gibt diesem “Stück über den Wind” frischen Atem und Farbglanz ( Black Box bbm 1026 ). ll


Prisma Musik NDR – KULTUR

Kleine Schule des musikalischen Hörens

Samstag, 03. Dezember 2016, 20:00 bis 22:00 Uhr

Frank Corcoran hört das Streichquintett C-Dur von Franz Schubert
Der irische Komponist Frank Corcoran im Porträt. © imago/UPI Photo
Frank Corcoran hat unter anderem auch an der Hamburger Hochschule für Musik und Theater Komposition und Musiktheorie gelehrt.

Das Werk gehört zu seinen letzten und gilt Kennern als Gipfel dessen, was in dieser Kunst überhaupt möglich ist. Generationen haben sich den Kopf darüber zerbrochen, wie Schubert zum Beispiel die magische Stimmung des Adagio-Satzes erzeugt hat. Der irische Komponist Frank Corcoran versucht in der Kleinen Schule des musikalischen Hörens den Geheimnissen dieser Musik auf die Spur zu kommen, die einem unbegreiflichen Schaffensrausch auf dem Kranken- und schließlich Sterbebett entsprang.



20 December 2014 – Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin

Orla Flanagan, conductor

A selection of Christmas carols old and new

Benjamin Britten: A Boy was Born
J.F. Wade arr. Willcocks: Adeste fideles
Morten Lauridsen: O Magnum Mysterium
French trad. arr. Willcocks: Il est né le divin Enfant
English trad. arr. Willcocks: God Rest you Merry, Gentlemen
English anon: Coventry Carol
Appalachian carol arr. Rutter: I wonder as I wander
English trad. arr. Willcocks: Sussex Carol
German trad., harm. J.S. Bach: O little one sweet
William J. Kirkpatrick arr. Hill: Away in a Manger
Lowell Mason arr. Rutter: Joy to the World!
Benjamin Britten: A Hymn to the Virgin
Irish trad. arr. Sean Creamer: Wexford Carol

Frank Corcoran: An Irish Carol



Cello Concerto [32:31]

Rhapsodietta Joyceana [3:31]

Rhapsodic Bowing for 8 Celli [8:42]

Duetti Irlandesi for Cello and Piano [23:43]

Martin Johnson (cello)
Fergal Caulfield (piano)
RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra Cello Octet
RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra/Gavin Maloney
rec. 2016, National Concert Hall, Dublin (concerto), RTÉ Studio 1, Dublin (others)

RTÉ LYRIC FM CD154 [68:17]

This is a valuable addition to RTÉ’s series of recordings of the Irish tradition in classical music, a series which gives the opportunity to hear music from a nation often overlooked by listeners.

It needs to be said at once that the music of Frank Corcoran is rarely easy, or, in the colloquial sense, particularly rhapsodic. He does have a distinctive voice and, in some ways places himself in the Irish tradition, especially, on this release, in Duetti Irlandesi for Cello and Piano. A valuable feature of the CD is the cross-section of his music provided, from solo works up to the full orchestra of the concerto. The linking feature is the cello, but otherwise, the pieces are dissimilar.
The sound world put me in mind of Elliott Carter, though the voice is not identical, and distinctly Corcoran’s own.

As a composer, Corcoran has worked in various media, including electric-acoustic, but many of his works refer to Irish literature and traditions.
Despite this, his teaching has been international, notably in the USA (including Harvard, Princeton and Boston) and Germany. In the 1980s he was professor of composition in Hamburg
and his first symphony (Symphonies of Symphonies of Wind Instruments) was premiered by Lothar Zagrosek in Vienna in 1981.

The Cello Concerto is perhaps the most substantial work here, and it is a considerable piece.
The opening movement acts as a gritty introduction to the remainder—it has a stern, rather agonised character.
The cantabilissimo slow movement is characterful, with an element of slow song made up of scraps of melodic material. It has an instant attractiveness.
The scherzo is described by the composer as “easily the most violent music I have ever written”. Orchestral strings are silent: the propulsion—it drives hard, very hard—comes from massed percussion and howling brass.
The final movement recalls the first, reconciling, or not quite, fragments of the others, and recalling the opening of the whole concerto.

James Joyce, of course, also used this circularity in ” Finnegan’s Wake ” (as would Flann O’Brien in ” The Third Policeman” ), so it is perhaps apposite that the next work on the CD is ” Rhapsodietta Joyceana ” . The composer describes Joyce as “the greatest Irish composer”, noting the effects of reading Joyce aloud. The piece is not large but it works as a tribute to the spirit of Joyce.

” Rhapsodic Bowing” for 8 Celli written specifically for the cellos of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra is an interesting piece which requires virtuosity. As Corcoran says: “There is … not only rhapsodic bowing but also rhapsodic plonking and plinking, pizzicati and (col legno) striking”,
but matters are resolved into a strong and ultimately tender ending based on Bach’s C Major Suite for Cello.

The composer claims descent from Floirint Ó Corcorain, a master harpist of the 15th Century.
Corcoran has long been fascinated by the traditional pieces. Yet he describes himself as appalled by settings of traditional melodies by composers such as Beethoven, Haydn, Britten and Harty, and attempts, in the rethinking here, to recapture the original spirit of eight traditional melodies.
Many are associated with Corcoran’s home county of Tipperary. The pieces are melodic, touchingly beautiful, and suited to the melancholic tones of the cello. The original airs are treated with affection and respect for their character. There is an absence of aggressive modernism, but real affection.
These eight pieces deserve frequent performance. Most familiar to many will be the final tune ” Róisín Dubh ” . It was so significant in Seán Ó Riada’s score for his ” Míse Eire ” and has much political resonance.

Playing by Martin Johnson and his partners is excellent, notes (by the composer) are informative.

This is a worthwhile and fascinating addition to the RTÉ series.

Michael Wilkinson



Ausstellung mit Werken von Heinz Gellrich,

der Musik von Frank Corcoran, Luigi Nono u. a. in Bilder verwandelt

So 17. Dezember, 11.30 Uhr | Vernissage

Einführung: Thomas Sello, Kunsthistoriker
Musik: Corinna Meyer-Esche, Mezzosopran, Jennifer Hymer, Klavier

Sa 27. Januar 2018, 19 Uhr | Konzertabend:

Vokalise für Heinz Gellrich,
2. Symphonie,
Vertonung von fünf Haikus (F. Corcoran) und
Lieder von J. Brahms
Ausführende: Corinna Meyer-Esche, Mezzosopran, Jennifer Hymer, Klavier
Ausstellung bis 31. Januar 2018
Gemeindehaus der Blankeneser Kirche am Markt
Mühlenberger Weg 64a, 22587 Hamburg
Öffnungszeiten: Mo – Do 9 – 12 Uhr + 15 – 17 Uhr, Fr 9 – 12 Uhr



They just went live with the essay on Colony…SEE:!joyceanaesthetics/csdx

Text, audio, manuscripts and photos…..I think it looks, sounds and reads

well….this is a very hip journal and everyone on Dublin in reading this right


Access through CHROME…..NOT Safari

Talk soon,


Frank Corcoran

(born 1 May 1944) is an Irish composer.[1] His output includes chamber, symphonic, choral and electro-acoustic music, through which he often explores Irish mythology and history.


1 Life
2 Music
3 Awards
4 Selected compositions
5 Bibliography
6 Recordings
7 References


“I came late to art music; childhood soundscapes live on. The best work with imagination/intellect must be exorcistic-laudatory-excavatory. I am a passionate believer in “Irish” dream-landscape, two languages, polyphony of history, not ideology or programme. No Irish composer has yet dealt adequately with our past. The way forward – newest forms and technique (for me especially macro-counterpoint) – is the way back to deepest human experience.”[2]

Born in Borrisokane, County Tipperary, Corcoran studied at Dublin, Maynooth (1961–4), Rome (1967–9) and Berlin (1969–71), where he was a pupil of Boris Blacher. He was a music inspector for the Irish government Department of Education from 1971 to 1979, after which he took up a composer fellowship from the Berlin Künstlerprogramm (1980–1). He has taught in Berlin (1981), Stuttgart (1982) and Hamburg, where he has been professor of composition and theory in the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst (1983–2008). He was a visiting professor and Fulbright scholar at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in the U.S. in 1989-90 and has been a guest lecturer at CalArts, Harvard University, Princeton University, Boston College, New York University, and Indiana University.[3]

Corcoran has been a member of Aosdána, the Irish academy of creative artists, since its inception in 1983. He was the first Irish composer to have had a symphony premiered in Vienna (1st Symphony, Symphonies of Symphonies of Wind, in 1981).[4]

Corcoran lives in Germany and Italy.

In the late 1970s, Corcoran developed a technique he calls “macro-counterpoint”. Related to similar approaches by Witold Lutos?awski and György Ligeti, it “refers to the contrapuntal treatment of layers of sound as opposed to the traditional focus of the intervallic compatibility of one line with another”[5] as in traditional counterpoint. The first composition in which he applied this technique was the Piano Trio (1978). Here, the three instruments each form an independent layer of sound, moving at their own speed and in individual time signatures, numbers of bars, etc. The individual lines remain transparent throughout. At specific points in the score, the musicians are asked to pause in order to start again simultaneously.[6] The aleatoric element is even stronger than with Lutos?awski, however, because “unlike Lutos?awski he does not have control over the harmonic result, as pitches will be differently sounded against each other during every performance”.[7]

Corcoran’s strong identification with his Irish heritage has led to many compositions inspired by Celtic Irish mythology, and modern Irish literature. A series of works in various genres written between 1996 and 2003 focus on the life of “Mad Sweeney”, a minor 7th-century king from the north of Ireland who is the subject of the ancient Irish tale Buile Shuibhne. Many other works also have an Irish focus, including the choral Nine Medieval Irish Epigrams (1973), the percussion piece Music for the Book of Kells (1990) and some works referring to the work of Irish writers James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney.

Another series of works with titles beginning on the word “Quasi …”, written between 1999 and 2009, highlights and interprets concepts such as visions or musical forms and expressions such as concertino, lamento, fuga, sarabanda, pizzicato, etc. which serve as both inspiration for the music and as creative raw material.

Corcoran has won a number of awards throughout his career. Recent awards include:

StudioAkustische Kunst, Cologne, in 1995 (for Joycepeak Music)
Bourges International Electro-acoustic Music Competition, 1999 (for Sweeney’s Vision)
EMS Prize, Stockholm, 2002 (for Quasi Una Missa)
Sean Ó Riada Memorial Prize at the Cork International Choral Festival, 2011
First Prize Outright of the International Foundation for Choral Music, 2013 (for 8 Haikus)

Selected compositions


Symphony No. 1 (1980)
Symphony No. 2 (1981)
Concerto for String Orchestra (1982)
Symphony No. 3 (1994)
Mikrokosmoi (1994)
Symphony No. 4 (1996)
Quasi un canto (2002)
Quasi un concertino (2003)
Quasi una visione (2004)
Quasi una fuga (2005)
Violin Concerto (2011)
Variations on Myself (2012), chamber orch
Cello Concerto (2014)

Chamber ensembles

Wind Quintet No. 2 (1978)
Piano Trio (1978), vn, vc, pf
Shadows of Gilgamesh (1988), fl, ob, cl, hn, tpt, trbn, perc, pf, vn, va, vc, db
Music for the Book of Kells (1990), 5perc, pf
Four Concertini of Ice (1993), fl, ob, cl, hn, vn, vc, db, perc
Trauerfelder (1995), 4perc
Wind Quintet No. 3 (1999)
Sweeney’s Smithereens (2000), fl, pic, cl+bcl, perc, pf, vn, db
Quasi un amore (2002), fl, gui
Quasi una Sarabande (2008), cl, bn, hn, 2vn, va, vc, db
Clarinet Quintet (2011)
Rhapsodic Bowing (2012), 8vc
Nine Looks at Pierrot (2013), fl+picc, cl+bcl, vn, vc, pf
Quasi una Storia (2014), 8vn, 2va, 2vc, db
8 Irish Duets for Cello and Piano (2015)
Piano Trio (2016), va, vc, pf
String Quartet (2016)

Solo instrumental

Sonata for Organ (1973)
The Quare Hawk (1974), flute
Hernia (1977), double bass
Changes (1979), piano
Variations on ‘Caleno costure me’ (1982), harpsichord
Three Pieces for Solo Clarinet (1987)
Three Pieces for Guitar (1990)
Ice-Etchings No. 2 (1996), cello
Sweeney’s Total Rondo (2002), piano
Variations on ‘A Mháirín de Barra’ (2004), viola
Nine Pratoleva Pearls (2008), piano
A Dark Song (2011), bass clarinet
In the Deep Heart’s Core (2011), harp
Snapshot (2012), cello
Seven Miniatures for Solo Violin (2013)

Vocal and choral

Nine Medieval Irish Epigrams (1973), satb
Ceol an Aifrinn (1980)
Gilgamesh (1990), 7 soli, satb, orchestra
Nine Aspects of a Poem (1989; rev. 2003), satb, vn
Carraig aonair (1976), soprano, alto, pf
Kiesel (1980), soprano, 2vn, va
Cúig amhráin de chuid Gabriel Rosenstock (1980), soprano, vn, vc, pf
Dán Aimhirgín (1989), soprano, va, bcl, pf
Buile Suibhne (1998), fl+pic+afl, ob, cl+bcl, hn, perc, vn, va, vc, db, spkr
Quasi una melodia (2001), soprano, tsax, va, mar, pf
Quasi un pizzicato (2004), fl, hp, pf, perc, spkr
The Light Gleams (2006), soprano, bcl, vn, vc
Four Orchestral Prayers (2006), mezzo, orch
Five Lieder (2010), tenor, pf
Songs of Terror and Love (2011), bass, fl+picc+afl, cl+bcl, pf, vn+va, vc
Eight Haikus (2012), satb
My Alto Rhapsodies (2014), alto, orch
An Irish Christmas Carol (2014), satb


Balthazar’s Dream (1980)
Farewell Symphonies (1982), with speaker & orch
Sweeney’s Vision (1997)
Quasi una missa (1999)
Tradurre – Tradire (2005)


Annette Kreutziger-Herr: “Frank Corcoran”, in: Komponisten der Gegenwart (KdG) (Munich: edition text+kritik, 1992ff.), 5th supplement, July 1994.
Axel Klein: Die Musik Irlands im 20. Jahrhundert (Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlag, 1996).
John Page: “A Post-War ‘Irish’ Symphony: Frank Corcoran’s Symphony No. 2”, in: Gareth Cox & Axel Klein (eds.): Irish Music in the Twentieth Century (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2003), p. 134–149.
Hazel Farrell: “Corcoran, Frank”, in: The Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland, ed. by Harry White & Barra Boydell (Dublin: UCD Press, 2013), p. 243–5.
Benjamin Dwyer: “An Interview with Frank Corcoran”, in: B. Dwyer: Different Voices. Irish Music and Music in Ireland (Hofheim: Wolke Verlag, 2014), p. 94–111.
Hans-Dieter Grünefeld (ed.): Old and New – Sean agus Núa. An Irish Composer Invents Himself. Frank Corcoran. Festschrift at Seventy (Lübeck: the editor, 2015); ISBN 978-3-00-050153-1.


Piano Trio; The Quare Hawk; String Quartet No. 1; Gestures of Sound and Silence, Mythologies, performed by Hesketh Trio, Madeleine Berkeley (fl), Testore Quartet, Aisling Drury-Byrne (vc), Frank Corcoran (pf), Roger Doyle (perc), on: Self Help 101 (LP, 1980).
Mikrokosmoi, performed by Irish Chamber Orchestra, Fionnuala Hunt (cond.), on: Black Box Music BBM 1013 (CD, 1998).
Symphonies No. 2, 3, and 4, performed by National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Colman Pearce (cond.), on: Marco Polo 8.225107 (CD, 1999).
Mad Sweeney; Music for the Book of Kells; Wind Quintet; Sweeney’s Vision, performed by Das Neue Werk NDR Ensemble, Percussion Modern, Stuttgart Wind Quintet, on: Black Box Music BBM 1026 (CD, 1999).
Trauerfelder, performed by Modern Percussion, Joachim Winkler (cond.), on: Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg [no label code] (CD, 2000).
Quasi una missa; Piano Trio; Balthasar’s Dream; Five Rosenstock Lieder; Wind Quintet No. 3; Sweeney’s Farewell, performed by Hesketh Trio, Sabine Sommerfeld (soprano), Hamburg Trio, Daedalus Quintet, on: col legno WWE 1CD 20214 (CD, 2003).
Sweeney’s Smithereens; Five Trauerfelder; Tradurre – Tradire; Concert for String Orchestra; Five Songs Without Words, performed by Ensemble für Neue Musik München & Dieter Cichewicz (cond.), Percussion-Ensemble München & Dieter Cichewicz (cond.), Die Maulwerker & electronics, Irish Chamber Orchestra & David Robertson (cond.), Das Neue Werk NDR Ensemble & Dieter Cichewicz (cond.), on: Composers Art Label cal-13017 (CD, 2003).
Quasi una visione; Ice-Etchings No. 2; Quasi un concerto; Quasi Variations on ‘A Mhárín de Bharra’; Quasi un pizzicato; Quasi Aspects of an Irish Poem, performed by Ensemble Modern & Sian Edwards (cond.), David Stromberg (vc), Cantus Kammerorchester & Beroslaw Sipus (cond.), Wireworks Ensemble & René Gulikers (cond.), National Chamber Choir & Celso Antunes (cond.), Constantin Zanidache (va), on: Composers Art Label cal-13021 (CD, 2006).
Cello Concerto; Rhapsodietta Joyceana; Rhapsodic Bowing; Duetti Irlandesi, performed by Martin Johnson (vc), Fergal Caulfield (pf), RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, Gavin Maloney (cond.), on: RTÉ lyric fm CD 154 (CD, 2017).


Hazel Farrell: “Corcoran, Frank”, in: The Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland, ed. by Harry White & Barra Boydell (Dublin: UCD Press, 2013), p. 243–5.
Farrell (2013), p. 244; see Bibliography.
Klein (1996), p. 289–292; see Bibliography.
Farrell (2013), as above.


Cross Currents: Episode 1
Tue 13 Sep 2016

Episode 1 from Cross Currents, radio series on Irish composers and their music produced by Athena Media for RTÉ lyric fm in association with CMC.

The episode opens with Seóirse Bodley, part of an earlier generation of composers who made waves in the 1960s, and traces the evolution of new music in Ireland from the late 1960s to the mid 1970s. The programme will deal with the issues which music faced in a post-colonial Ireland: the lack of an obvious tradition in Irish composition, and a tension between modernity and tradition.

Other contributions in this series will include those from John Kinsella, composer and former Head of Music in RTÉ, Frank Corcoran, who will talk about his emergence from Tipperary and his discovery of the European contemporary music scene through recordings and performances of the Radio Eireann Symphony Orchestra, and Raymond Deane on his early career as a young composer in Dublin. Some of the key developments for new music during this time will be covered, such as the establishment of the Association of Irish Composers, and the Dublin Festival of Twentieth Century Music, and John Buckley will talk about how these developments were instrumental in the compositional path which he followed.

Further information:
Episode Playlist

Frank Corcoran – Three pieces for orchestra
RTE Symphony Orchestra, conductor Richard Pittman
RTÉ archives