Frank Corcoran

irish composer

Home » Articles posted by Frank Corcoran

COBBLING TEXTS IN GREAT GARDEN HEAT

Certainly I will compose a Cello Concerto. How ? Certainly great Dvorak towers. Logical, Lutoslawsky´s Concerto is Music Drama of the highest order. When then ? This blessed night ?!
How then ? ( – Well, eg. for a start, mine is not the tonal option of Dvorak´s lovely and virtuoso washed sheen, his parallel sixths at high orchestral velocity , his aching sequences, cadential constructs and Slavic sighs and beautiful B Minor – yoked functional harmony.
Obvious. No?
I´ll also wish to prepare my very personal version of my personally ” drama” ( “Agony” is a fine word still ), my very own: Solo Versus Orchestra, Great Titan Against Great Many Them, ahem, yes, my ploy´s quite different from the Polish Master´s masterly tension graph. How?
Corcoran must ( once again ) invent his wheel, must sketch his musical syntax for his 2012 – 2013 Cello Concerto. Major principles of musical psychology holding on in the macro-wave , let´s say, so in the micro-wave how´ll he construct his initial “A then B then C” , that beautiful bane of all great composers´ humble musical alphabets after the Final Atonal Revolution? ( – we mean: its latest date was about 1913 – ish, a possible earliest date around Gesualdo, Wagner, such shades ; – but more on this in a near future, my Humble Hamburg Musing, – I have no doubt at all on this, ahem, score. ) . We mean by this, surely, that the poor man must choose even his basic motivic moves , all cello leps, mighty orchestral thin or thick massing, eg. he has to chose , say, ” C, A, Z, B,” etc. plus the well-known , -sung, – heard and -used motivic operations , blah, on this little start.
Follow ? Nein? Okay:
I´ll keep to a scale, seven sturdy notes ( – they often stood me stead ” sa bhearna bhaoil” ).
Neither minor nor major but, yes, Corcoran. With these seven tones, build me then my three great movements, my mighty soloist-plus-orchestra clash by night struggle, my heard accompaniment of My Dark Cello´s Great Song, Lush Dream Sounding. My tones will suffer, sing, die.
high, my post-Dvorak-and-Lutoslawsky

FRANK CORCORAN AND ARS ACUSTICA

eries:
Ars Acustica –
Format:
2 × CD, Compilation
Country:
Germany
Released:
1999
Genre:
Electronic, Non-Music
Style:
Radioplay, Field Recording, Experimental, Spoken Word
Tracklist
Voicings
1.1 –John Cage Muoyce 2:10
1.2 –Charles Amirkhanian Pas De Voix 2:17
1.3 –Henri Chopin Le Corpsbis 1:33
1.4 –Carlfriedrich Claus Lautaggregat 1:24
1.5 –Alvin Curran Erat Verbum (Alpha) 2:13
1.6 –Gerhard Rühm Gebet 0:39
1.7 –Franz Mon Artikulationen 2:17
1.8 –Hans G. Helms Fa:m’ Ahniesgwow 1:46
1.9 –Stephan von Huene Erweiterter Schwitters 1:04
1.10 –Ernst Jandl / Friederike Mayröcker Spaltungen 2:19
1.11 –Sorrel Hays Celebration Of NO 0:35
1.12 –Carlo Quartucci Penthesilea Aubade 2:19
1.13 –Hans Ulrich Humpert Andromache 2:33
1.14 –Gerhard Rühm / Klaus Schöning Ophelia And The Words 2:30
1.15 –Linda Mussman Danton’s Death 2:20
1.16 –Mauricio Kagel … Nach Einer Lektüre Von Orwell 2:40
1.17 –Werner Cee Elegien 3:00
1.18 –Robert HP Platz Andere Räume 2:02
1.19 –Alvin Curran For Julian 3:05
1.20 –Hans Otte Voicings 2:32
1.21 –Ferdinand Kriwet Radio 2:25
1.22 –Barry Bermange SOS 2:13
1.23 –Paul Carter (3) 7448. Eine Kolumbische Phantasie 2:26
1.24 –Josephine Truman* Sdreamings 2:53
1.25 –Alison Knowles Bean Sequences 3:24
1.26 –Jerome Rothenberg Das Hörspiel Des Bibers, Ein Testament 1:47
1.27 –Malcolm Goldstein Ishi/Timechangingspaces 1:48
1.28 –Jack Body Vox Humana 1:19
1.29 –Anne Tardos / Jackson Mac Low Für Stimmen 2:22
1.30 –Pauline Oliveros Humayun’s Tomb 2:33
1.31 –Philip Corner Satie’s Rose Cross As A Revelation 1:41
1.32 –George Brecht Das Hsin Hsin Ming Des Seng Ts’an 2:38
1.33 –John Cage Roaratorio 2:48
Soundscapes
2.1 –Bill Fontana Ohrbrücke/Soundbridge Köln – San Francisco 2:57
2.2 –R. Murray Schafer The Vancouver Soundscape 2:22
2.3 –Marielouise Franke Metropolis Venedig. Venezia Exaudi 2:55
2.4 –Joan La Barbara Sound Painting Cologne 2:17
2.5 –Mauricio Kagel Nah Und Fern 2:53
2.6 –Francisco Kröpfl Metropolis Buenos Aires 3:13
2.7 –Michael Riessler Ji-Virus 3:00
2.8 –Emmanuelle Loubet Metropolis Tokyo. Im Rennschritt 3:06
2.9 –Bill Fontana Satelliten-Klangbrücke/Satellite Sound Bridge Köln – Kyoto 2:04
2.10 –Klarenz Barlow* CCU. Metropolis Calcutta 3:21
2.11 –Richard Kostelanetz Metropolis New York 2:03
2.12 –Pierre Henry La Ville. Die Stadt 3:35
2.13 –Richard Ortmann / Raimund Fleiter / Ralf R. Wassermann Klangandschaft Ruhrgebeit 3:12
2.14 –Thomas Schulz Lingua X Tichon Oder Die Bedeutung Des Weges 2:50
2.15 –Peter Pannke Alles Ein Atmendes Buch 2:38
2.16 –Douglas Quin Forests/Wälder 1:57
2.17 –Ronald Steckel Schweigende Landschaft 1:55
2.18 –Charles Morrow* Arctic – Kristallklar 2:08
2.19 –Susan Stone Virigina Reel 2:03
2.20 –Randy Thom Ear Circus No. 1 3:19
2.21 –Nicola Sani Materia Sassi 2:40
2.22 –Arsenije Jovanovi? Metropolis Arles 3:22
2.23 –Sarah Hopkins From Our Dreams And Visions 2:05
2.24 –Ros Bandt Mungo 2:00
2.25 –Sorrel Hays Sound Shadows 2:04
2.26 –Frank Corcoran Sweeny’s Vision 2:30

ONE RADIO – PORTRAIT IN THE HAND IS WORTH TWO IN….

Composer Portrait FRANK CORCORAN

MUSIC Corcoran ” Mad Sweeney ”

“With bed or board, drinking cold water out of rivers, hunted in the autumnal wood ,hurt by sharp stones or surrounded by wolf packs, surprised by the red deer, flecked by blood, chased up to highest mountain-peak, cowering in the hedges, damned to loneliness. Son of God, have mercy on us !” A
broken and crazed king wandering in the loneliest places of ancient Ireland, Mad Sweeney, a little kind in N. Ireland, fleeing in terror from mankind and from himself .Crazed bird-man, hunted and hunting, pagan and Christian, cursed by a cleric, at the Battle of Maigh Rath in 637 he lost his mind.
Sweeney’s fate , mentioned in Middle Irish ca. 1200 and translated by the Irish poet Seamus Heaney in the early eighties, has long fascinated the Irish composer Frank Corcoran. Sweeney’s madness, visions, his yellings at the lonely cliffs of Skellig Rock are all encountered in a series of Corcoran works,
beginning with his “Buile Suibhne / Mad Sweeney ” , proceeding – up to now – to “Sweeney’s Wind Cries ” ( a commission of the Sligo Contemporary Music Festival in the little town of Sligo on the Irish Atlantic Coast ; 2000 Frank Corcoran was its artistic director ).
In this recording we heard the Hamburg Ensemble for New Music under the baton of Dieter Cichewiecz sings and recites the composer the psychic pain of Sweeney. His inner monologue is the voice of the artist, despairing of any place in the world , fleeing into art. Is Corcoran – Frank or Francis ? – ( since 1980 living in Germany ) the composer of Mad Sweeney’s insanity ?
Born 1944 in County Tipperary, this Irish composer ( he says ! ) finds himself alienated from his homeland. But he is also on one level also an alien in Germany. In one of his essays ” How an Irish composer forges new sounds in his German exile ” , Corcoran describes an exile’s feelings as composer and teacher.
( After his DAAD Scholarship in Berlin 1980 to 1981 he has taught Composition and Theory since 1983 at the Hamburg Music Hochschule. In his artist’s retreat he nourishes the images of his childhood.
” My Ireland is a dream-landscape in my mind. My deepest images spring from Early Ireland. ”
Interesting how , as over 20 years ago Sender Freies Berlin gave him a commission, Corcoran did not set any German poet, but rather verses by his friend , the renowned Irish poet, Gabriel Rosenstock. Rosenstock’s terse , Haiku-like miniatures in Irish, as part of a tradition of nearly 2000 years of Celtic nature-poetry, triggered off in Corcoran 5 aphoristic miniatures for High Voice and Piano Trio , the
“Cuig Liric De Chuid Ghabriel Rosenstock” ( ” Fuenf Rosenstock Lieder ” ) .
Here are three of these Rosenstock Lieder, sung by Sabine Sommerfeld accompanied by the Hamburg Piano Trio. The first Lied , ” The Sun”, is Corcoran’s answer to the metaphor of its last line : “Buailim bob ar bhas” i.e ” I trick death !” The composer uses a bright palette of string-colours ,
pizzicato, sul ponticello, col legno etc.
The second Lied , “JESUS”, oscillates between a church – hymn and a Valse Triste. In the final Lied , “STORM” we hear the rattling of the stormy wind at doors and windows before all disappears into silence….
( To make the text dramatically clear, the composer recites each text in Irish and in German before we hear the music . )

MUSIC : Frank Corcoran : ROSENSTOCK LIEDER 1., 2. and 5 .

Ireland as dream-landscape in the composer’s head, in his ” deep-freeze “, as he says, describes this creative psychology exactly. ” If I had stayed in Ireland, I’d not have created the 3. Symphony – or composed MAD SWEENEY !”
Sound-memories from a Tipperary childhood , noises and smells from the land , the pigs’ philharmonic and the skirling bagpipes are transformed into rough work, sound-sculptures. Like a sculptor his counterpoint doesn’t have note against note but rather line against line, layer over layer. He uses the term “macrocounterpoint”.
Frank Corcoran describes his childhood sounds, his musical obsessions: ” I find it hugely difficult to capture these sounds and noises of my childhood, greyhounds’ hoarsely barking as they tear the unfortunate hare into bits, the smells of market-day with cows and sheep and animals driven up our village Main Street, the rare vision of a lonely airoplane droning towards Shannon. Yes, I have very deep sounding impressions, the skirl of the bagpipes accompanying the Bishop’s limousine as he visited us on Confirmation Day , the mad symphony of ninety free-running pigs on my mother’s farm as we appeared with the buckets at feeding-time. I still hear the brittle blows of the village blacksmith hammering his anvil ; there was our ballad singer, Paddy Reddan, bawling out his ballads on Borrisokane fair-day. The Irish folk-music which I sang or played on the accordeon or the tin-whistle wasn’t top vintage, of course; it was monodic, ornamented, anti-harmony actually. I found it a bit schizophrenic, the clash between the Continental Music of the sonatinas which my little fingers had to play on the piano and the bare linearity of our folk-melodies. ”

Firmly earthed in Irish country life, fascinated by over two thousand years of Irish myth and literature, a love for the Irish language ( up until Ireland became independent it was forbidden and frowned upon…. ) , the early mystic texts of the Druids, the dried blood of Cromwell’s massacres under ruined churches, the sound-world and word-music of James Joyce , all this sharpened the inner ear of the young composer. These are all elements of his youthful Catholicism- 1964 to 67 he studied ( theology ) at the Lateran University in Rome and ( Renaissance music and Gregorian Chant ) at the Papal Institute for Sacred Music . After this he returned to more musical studies at home . 1969 to 71 he attended the master-class in composition of Boris Blacher in ( then West ) Berlin. His reading of Thomas Mann’s musical-theological-philosophical masterpiece, DR. FAUSTUS , directed his musical studies towards the Germany and Austro-German music tradition.
Frank Corcoran was now an allround educated composrt, theorist, theologian and literary professor. 1989 he was awarded a Fulbright Professorship in the USA. The University of Wisconsin commissioned from him a new work to celebrate its UWM Library’s presentation of a Facsimile Edition of the Book of Kells, one of the oldest medieval cultural treasures of Ireland. The composer chose an unusual combination of 5 Percussion and Piano in order to compose his auratic sound-world to correspond to this Early Celtic masterpiece of Insular Art.
Corcoran’s MUSIC FOR THE BOOK OF KELLS uses as motto a Medieval Irish two-liner poem:
” Have ye seen Caunnaght’s King, Hugh, on the battle-field ?
All that we saw was his shadow under his shield. ”

In the blows and strokes and beats for drums and timpani and gongs and cymbals, tam-tams and wood-blocks and temple-blocks you hear a long-lost world of Homeric heroes and Christian saints, monastic ascesis and worldly glory.

MUSIC F. Corcoran MUSIC FOR THE BOOK OF KELLS. Hamburg Percussion Ensemble Modern. Piano; Frank Corcoran

Frank Corcoran’s list of works is not over-long. This has three reasons- he developed relatively late; he has always been self-critical and loves his wastepaper basket ( like his self-critical models, Witold Lutoslawsky , and Gyoergy Ligeti ) ; his various ouvres belong to different biographical chapters of his life. His chamber music list ( for various instrumental combinations , including 3 wind-quintets, the orchestral music including 4 symphonies ) is
longer than that of his vocal works. He composed various electronic collages , including SWEENEY’S VISION of 1997 and QUASI UNA MISSA of 1999 –
this WDR Cologne commission saw him also encouraged to define his relationship to John Cage AND Johnny Cash…. and at the same time to a
2000 years old tradition of Godspeak on the Irish island.
In the late 8o s Frank Corcoran discovered the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh. This 5000 years old poem became for him the earliest cultural documentation of mankind’s alienation and flight from inner emptiness . His evening-long opera GILGAMESH ( a cyclical work of two acts with seven , then six short scenes ) is still unperformed today.
During his Berlin stay in 1981 Corcoran composed his two-part SECOND SYMPHONY; its model was clearly Lutoslawsky’s 2. Symphony ( 1967 ) with its dual movements, ” Hesitant” and “Direct” . Corcoran remembers hearing a Warsaw radio-tape of this masterpiece in Dublin in 1971 : ” the shock waves were running down my spine. He is deeply impressed by Lutoslawsky’s high ethics of composing ( for him the Polish master saw deeply into the danger of any compromise with the exterior world ) and he took over his “limited aleatory” , traces of which are to be heard in Corcoran’s 3. SYMPHONY . Here is wild sonorous energy with great instrumental highpoints and yells and orchestral crises , giving the music the character of archaic ritual.
Thus at the opening the composer enfolds his 11 tones, leaving the 12.th as yet excluded till – in the middle of the symphony , on low flutes with tambourine beats, – he enacts ” the Sacred Birth ” of the last tone!”.
Here now is the full 3. Symphony in one movement, played here by the National Symphony of Ireland, conducted by Colman Pearce.

MUSIC 6. Corcoran SYMPHONY NR. 3.

When it comes to composing music for winds ( after all the composer comes from the windiest corner of West Europe…. ) , Frank Corcoran inevitably thinks of , well, wind. But not only metreological, also metaphysical…. Referring to his 2. Wind Quintet of 1979 he writes : ” it’s wind and us, us as wind, music and life and breath. ”
In this work he use his technique of polyphonic and polymetrical layering ( already tried in his Piano Trio of some years before ) which – perhaps as a contrast to Ligeti’s micropolyphony of the sixties – he calls his ” macrocounterpoint” . With this he achieves a high degree of rhythmic and plasticity in the winds. New also is his discovery of colouring , his ” bright / dark sheen ” . People living near coasts will also hear in his writing for winds not only the whine of the wind and the storm-tossed ocean but also seagull cries and seals’ barking.
Here now is Frank Corcoran’s 2. Wind Quintet, played by the Stuttgart Wind Quintet.

MUSIC 7. Corcoran QUINTET NR. TWO.

A CORCORAN CONCERT DESCRIPTION FROM SEVENTEEN YEARS

The first piece was
6 Bagatelles for Wind Quintet
by Gyorgy Ligeti (1953) played by the Daedalus Wind Quintet. This piece was written before Ligeti was driven from Hungary by the failed uprising of 1956. The composer himself describes them as ‘frankly, ancient and today they seem to me to be absolutely prehistoric’. Listening to them is like going to a Picasso exhibition and seeing the artists earliest works. There is no sign of the revolutionary methods to come. These short ‘Bagatelles’ are romantic, much lighter than is typical of Ligeti – and indeed the rest of the concert programme – but nonetheless show that Corcoran’s oldest Hamburg colleague was a master of conventional technique before evolving his later characteristic musical language.
Music for the Book Of Kells
is a 1990 composition by Frank Corcoran. This performance by the
RIAM
Percussion Ensemble was its Dublin Premiere. The work is inspired by a notion of seventh-century Ireland as combining the heroic age of Celtic warriors with the rise of great Christian scholarship. The piece is surprisingly visual and it is entirely appropriate for composer to describe it as a ‘sound landscape’. The striking of bells evokes the round tower, the ominous rumble of the drums, the march of armies. Overall the feel of this work was dark and sinister with moments of real power.The third concert piece was
Hebr
ä
ische Balladen
by Ulrich Leyendecker (1993), a Professor in Hamberg alongside Frank Corcoran. Perhaps it was my lack of German, but this work was a distinctly less engaging part of the concert. Leyendecker’s piece is for soprano and piano, and while the technical ability of Rachel Talbot andDavid Adams was flawless in coping with its complex rhythmic and melodic changes, it may have also suffered from the acoustics at the Hugh Lane which seem to distort sound to the detriment of the lower tones.Frank Corcoran’s second contribution to the concert was a Dublin premiere of his
Third Wind Quintet
,
Sweeney’s Wind-Cries
, played by the Daedalus Wind Quintet. The story of the semi-mad seventh centuryking, transformed into a bird, condemned to flying about Ireland with unrecognised meaning to his apparently nonsensical twitterings has long been an interesting image for Irish artists and Sweeney has featured surprisingly often in literature, theatre and music.

The
Quintet
reflects its subject matter by being a dualistic piece, hovering between recognisable form and inchoateness. It is ‘one long argument’ as the composer put it in his pre-concert talk, between discipline and freedom, between a tiny figure appearing in the opening arpeggios and a swirling world of suffering about them. Sometimes on first being exposed to a complex piece of music you half catch the feel of it – enough to want to hear it again and absorb it. So it was with this work, not as immediately engaging as, say,
Music for the Book of Kells
, but if you had a version on
CD
you would want to play it repeatedly until you had grasped the argument.
The concert concluded with Frank Corcoran’s
Trauerfelder-Goirt An Bhr
ó
in
(1995) with
RIAM
Percussion Ensemble. This piece arose from commission by the Ministry of Culture to mark the 50th year of the Jewish community’s liberation from Auschwitz. Now in my experience, over 90 per cent of cultural references to the Holocaust come to grief. It is often an image used to evoke horror, without any depth to the actuality of the horror and as such over the years has become debased. The difficulty of this composition is that not only is the composer not Jewish, nor German, but he was asked to ‘celebrate’ the liberation. Wisely Corcoran refrained from obliging with a happy ending. The music is funereal, sombre and at the same time it does not shirk from its subject matter. Very visual images are created by the useof chains, whistles and tam-tams. By steering between impertinence

and avoidance Corcoran succeeds in creating an affecting and intense piece of music intimately bound up with its subject.The performances throughout the whole concert were expert, and really made you appreciate the fact that the fruits of such an investmentof time and talent were given to the public for free.Overall, the concert was well chosen, and if some of its parts were demanding, they were more than balanced by the immediacy and sensuality of Corcoran’s landscapes – almost as visual as the paintings that surrounded us.
Published on 1 November 2001

JUNE 2017 WAS A FERTILE MONTH FOR THIS COMPOSER

Friday June 16th RAI CULTURA .

Frank Corcoran’s new LYRIC FM CD ” Rhapsodic Celli ” presented by Professor Guido Zaccagnini of

Rome’s Santa Cecilia Conservatorio .

The program starts at 9.30′.

The musical example chosen is “Mo Roisin Dubh” , one of the most beautiful of Frank Corcoran’s recent

8 DUETTI IRLANDESI for Cello and Piano .

MAY AND JUNE – SOME FROLICS IN MUSIC

Well. we did it.

And well it was that we did my three concerts well – in Rome, Bolsena and Dublin.

Sublime playing from the PRATOLEVA TRIO. Sublime programming too, as they got through

to great audiences my idea of ” SEAN ” and ” NUA” , “OLD AND NEW “, Italian and Irish programmed

works.

This embedded well the premiering of my new 2. PIANO TRIO ( with Viola ) ,

the birthing of a new Corcoran work where – forty years ago – I had with the FIRST Piano Trio broken

through an important barrier with Corcoran’s macrocounterpoint.

Yes, well, we did it.

DROPBOX HAS MY ” TRAUERFELDER” AND “QUASI UNA FUGA” . NOW

The dropbox link I sent has a folder containing both ” Trauerfelder ” and ” Quasi una fuga ” .

I don’t understand the confusion with these works – the link is here again :

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/s31qfpd5zmsn4n2/AAD8IIBuqPz7XaQg8s4Boxtka?dl=0

– Both are GREAT Corcoran works – Great percussion in TRAUERFELDER on the horror of tortured death;

and QUASI UNA FUGA ‘s 18 Strings morph from my fugal polyphony into a 6.th c. Celtic Hymn.

A HIP JOURNAL HMMMM.

Frank,

They just went live with the essay on Colony…SEE: http://www.colony.ie/#!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

now……!!!!!!

Access through CHROME…..NOT Safari

DUBLIN JUNE 4 2017 HUGH LANE GALLERY CONCERT AND CD

Artist: Frank Corcoran

Event: HUGH LANE GALLERY DUBLIN Concert

4 Duetti Irlandesi for Cello and Piano:

( Im Aonar Seal, Sean O Duibhir an Ghleanna , Roisin Dubh, A Mhairin De Barra , )

Piano Trio ( World Premiere )

Viola solo ( Var.s on ” A Mhairin de Barra ” )

Solo cello Rhapsodietta Joyceana

and LYRIC-FM Frank Corcoran CD launch ” Rhapsodic Celli ” .

Date and time: Sunday June 4th

Venue: Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin

Further Info: At this Concert LYRIC FM will also launch the new Frank Corcoran CD RHAPSODIC CELLI