Frank Corcoran

irish composer

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I was there. As it happened in Bergamo.
It was my 1994 ICE-ETCHINGS NR. 1 for, as it happened to happen, 9 wind-instruments. Later, I will release THAT letter which will tell all….

FOUR CONCERTINI OF ICE ( 1993 ) , being a predecessor , was subtly different. For the Düsseldorfer Sinfoniker, Cond. Mark-Andreas Schlingensiepen, I had to grapple,as it happened ( – it happened ! ) with the weighing-in of his following : Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn, Violin, Violin, Violoncello, Double-bass, Percussion. See ? ( – Whereas my newest, sweetest ” QUASI UNA SARABANDA” ( 2009 . 11´. ) for the Swiss Ensemble ” Antipodes” is, yes, a dream : Clarinet, Horn, Bassoon , String Quintet.

2009 will also see the birth of my new ” Quasi Un Preludio” for Solo Violin ; also, I announce it here, of my “Quasi Una Sarabanda” ( – see above ) , but , then, also of hotly baked VIOLIN CONCERTO Nr. 1. for Orchestra and Solo Violin.

HÖRPROBEN – neue CDs 3. 3. 2000 / Michael Trapp WDR 3

WDR 3 Hörproben 3.3.2000

Frank Corcoran´s Sinfonien Nr. 2,3 und 4. National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland / Colman Pearce
Marco Polo 8.225107 ( LC 9158 )

includes Frank Corcoran´s : ” Ich kam erst spät zur Kunstmusik. Die Klanglandschaft meiner Kindheit lebt weiter in mir…. ” Also: ” Der Komponist, geboren 1944 im County Tipperary, ist ein sehr gebildeter Mann… And, as they say, so on.

CORCORAN : Families of this name may, I dare say, be descended either from the ´O Corcráin sept whose homeland was around Lough Erne in Co. Fermanagh, or the Mac Corcráin sept which belonged to Co. Offaly. I see also Corkerry, Corkery, ´O Corcra, Corcair, Composer etc.

Yep, it was Lothar Zagrosek who conducted the O.R.F.Symphony Orchestra ( Premiere : 10 November 1981 . Vienna ) in my Symphony Nr. 1 , ” SYMPHONIES OF SYMPHONIES OF WIND INSTRUMENTS”.

Hear, altogether other: NDR, WDR, HS, Radio Bremen, SFB, BR, ORF, RTE, BBC, CONCERTZENDER,
LYRIC FM, RTE, DLRBerlin, RAI TRE, RIAS, ORF, Croatian, National Public Radio USA, CDC, Spanish Radio, Belgian etc. etc.


February 9 2009 Czech Radio : Frank Corcoran ” Quasi Una Missa” ( WDR commission 1999 , it won
the Swedish EMS Prize 2004 ) and ” Sweeney´s Vision” ( WDR commission 1997,
it won the Bourges Festival premier prix 1999 ) .

February 22. NDR Choir and Ms. I. Psarewa : Frank Corcoran´s ” 9 Aspects Of An Irish Poem”
for Large Choir and Violin Solo .

Frank Corcoran was a member of the International Composers´ Jury Valentino Bucchi Prize, Rome, the Composition , Citta`di Trieste ( several times ) and also of the 2005 World Music Days / ISCM
hosted by CANTUS , Zagreb, Croatia.


In the October 2008 World Haiku Review Vol. 6, Issue 4, this, my little Pratoleva pearl miniature,

was awarded an ” Honourable Mention”:

Season of mellow

Yellow fruit; ripeness is all

Too tired to die

( Frank Corcoran 2008 )


The Swiss octet , “Antipodes”, with Egidius Streiffzug , violin, will premiere my new ” QUASI UNA
SARABANDA” for Clarinet, Horn, Bassoon and String Quintet ( 2007 ) on June 19 – 21 in Bern, Zürich and Basle.


1. Great gusts of air-stream

Roughly unravel my sleeve

A last butterfly

2. My young love, Buddha,

Came to softly sleeping me

And our sap rising

3. Issa and Buddha

Were lovers; – Lawd how they did

Swoon under a pine

4. It yaws and weaves and

Tacks now in the yellow air

My last butterfly

5. ” Who has ever seen

A poem lovely as this ?

-Our Spring pine-Buddha?

6. Soon it´ll be Easter ?

The speckled bean and pine

Burst, pulse and become

7. How tall young, new pines !

His Next Coming will be thus:

Thrusting. Up. Higher.

8 Does our Buddha pine ?

For Spring´s budding pine-trees´cones ?

Come Her / His Kingdom !

9. Fair daffodils ! He

Weeps not to see fine-hued ye!

Churn-butter yellow!


On February 22 2009 the North German Radio Choir under its new Chief Conductor, Philip Ahmann, will give the German premiere of Frank Corcoran´s

QUASI 9 ASPECTS OF AN IRISH POEM ( Gabriel Rosenstock ) for Solo Violin and Large Choir.

Nine times I set this little 3 -liner poem in Irish ( 1982 Migmars ed. ) which is as perfect as a 17th. c. Japanese Haiku. ( Basho “composed” his ” Winterreise” in almost Early-Irish nature-lyrics ).
“As tobar duaigh spéire / Líonann crain / A nguth. ”
My earliest Tipperary musical remembrance is of the ballad-singer, Paddy Reddan, bellowing his songs at the weekly fair-day, now long gone, in Borrisokane. Even as a child I mused over that age-old problem, what came first ? The music or the words ? Rosenstock´s poised poem both means and does not quite mean: ” From the ink-will of the sky / Trees / Fill their beaks!” Nine times I set it, I compose nine choral settings of my poet-friend´s elegant brevity; these are nine attempts to paint the vowel-colours of his gossamer syllabic construction, the solo and choral ” A” and ” As” and “Tob-” and ” -Ar”, etc. My solo violin´s prelude and interludes bow, pluck , become the choir´s colour-tones.


How , Lawny, will I handle the “I” of this once summerly Musing ? I am afraid the play´s the thing, the confessional stool, the stool straining . To play, to weep, yes, but a tad too personal, too weepy?
Suppose that I, sorry, just suppose that ” I ” attack that World Haiku Formula Nr. B25 which states that God plus the World are utterable, are controllable, within five, then seven, then again five syllables .
Consider this Haiku, my example one:
” The silver viper / Craves my ferritinous blood / Poison to poison.”

– Whoah ! Attic, lads, it´s a very beaut !
Still, I worry about that ” I ” , as in the above: ” I am afraid the play´s the thing. ”
We will play it anyway , even if that ” I ” doesn´t want the burden of a capital letter plus twinkling inverted commas. What do ” I ” say to all this? Apparently Pythagoras and lots of other Greeks were shoving quite other tones around long before ” five-plus-seven-then-five-again”. Consider next my next Haiku:

” Not enough Sake / This baby-monkey will die / See its dead mushroom! ”

Here the ” I ” with its twin inverted commas is simply claiming that a taoscán of Sake never did any mortal creature any mortal harm, neither mortal baby-monkey – obviously still alive – nor this now dead mushroom. The aforesaid taoscán of Sake might even have enriched the accordeon-music of I, then of ” I ” and then of MY ” I ” ( -But watch all tricky sentences such as : I will in my “I” ! ) .
The three-liner corsets Corcoran doubtful Reflexivity Theorem: I = ” I ” . Where there is peace there will also have to be the seven-syllabled line in the middle; the final five is then the capstone of our syllable-edifice.
Or maybe “you” see it different ? Well, I” certainly don´t.( We´ve moved on now to Corcoran´s Doubtful Arithmetic: if I plus me = us , then ” I ” plus ” I ” = “Us”. Soon you and I and “I” and “you” will have made clumsy trouble for all our inverted commas, all once innocent pronouns . Do “you” see that ? )

Is the following an improvement? -Does it face the music of reflexivity out of which we weave? eg.

” That monkey´s sake / Would yet waken a dead snake / Near this poisoned child. ”

Or would this one ?

” Give no child sake! / It´s poison´s more potent than / A viper´s tongued hiss. ”


” Sake for the child/ Bitten by that viper´s tooth / No more he´ll hear us!”

Also consider this last one:

“If I could be “I” , / The Sake firmly re-corked, / “I´d” face “my” music”.

November 27. 2008

PIANO TRIO . It was thirty years ago, my break-through year. I wrote that opening page for piano solo with bleeding fingers; it had to re-invent rhythm, to fight against 0ur Western tyranny of the period. I succeeded. Then comes the cello with its own tempo , gestures and persona. The violin is a different actor again. I had invented – for me – macrocounterpoint, no longer note against note, but layer or musical flow against layer or flow. ( I don´t necessarily ” like” the sound of the classical piano trio, the two strings having to compromise with the tempered tuning of their a powerful piano – only with this hard-won freedom of MY layered approach could I , I felt, accept the sonorities of this deeply compromised mini-orchestra ). Out of the boiling miasma erupted bits of that Brahms theme. Yet, before it takes over too powerfully, it´s gone again- quasi una visione . This early work of mine I love for its poised layers and polytemporal richness of sonorities and gestures and lines.

QUASI UNA MISSA , after ” Balthazar´s Dream ( Berlin 1980 ) and the Bourgs Festival Premier Prix-winning ” Sweeney´s Vision” ( West German Radio commission of 1997 ) , was my third electro-acoustic composition ( Commissioned by West German Radio 1999. It won the 2002 Swedish E.M.S. Prize ) . Like all my ” quasi- ” works of the late nineties and since, it is a composition of this composer who is musically no longer innocent; I know – sadly – too much world-music, too much music of our Western polyphonic tradition.
I wanted to use – for my four movements – ( – but they´re only ” Quasi” KYRIE, GLORIA – CREDO , SANCTUS, AGNUS DEI ! ) as my building-blocks two thousand years of Irish God-utterances from our Irish island , bits of texts from the Celtic god, Aimhirgín, up through Eriugena and Mac Giolla Bríde and Berkeley to Beckett and Joyce and God-only-knows what else, an Irish stew of Irish theology, a musical archaeology of 2000 yeras of religious tradition. My ” KYRIE” ( – abbreviated commas, please ! ) is my homage to Palestrina and to our Western chanted counterpoint, as my sacred syllables fugue towards magic ” Amen!” St. Patrick beats with bony wrist St. Patrick´s Bell. Quasi- GLORIA has the Wake´s Thunder-word and Glendalough bird-song ( – yes, authentic recordings ! Here , fetishism is all ! ) and a total theophantic eruption, Bronze Age Irish horns from the National Museum, halo and awe.
My Quasi- SANCTUS cooks a heady mix of 20th. c. God-statements plus 7th. c. St. Columbanus´s Latin ” Heia! ” – Chorus , his monks rowing backwards up the mighty Rhine from Cologne ( beside whose great Gothic cathedral I mixed my music ) .
Quasi- AGNUS DEI sums up : Irish sorrow, joy, the nunc stans, lullaby and dance and Aran Island keening old women , port- a-bh̩il , in short my Irish Circus ( РCiao ! John Cage ! No ! ! ! ) Quasi.

QUASI UNA PERLA is just that, my newly honed pearl 2008 for double-bass and piano, for that unique Basso Moderno
combination, Allan von Schenkel and his Kerstin in Washington. Three minutes . Fully packed fun and tragedy and yell and scream and prayer and vision, the whole lot; it flashes by in only three minutes. Allan and Kerstin have just played for the Pope at the United Nations plus a thousand other concerts in the Eastern States of the U.S. They have awakened many composers from South and North America to this, their rare combination ( – again, it is a mini-orchestra ! ) of piano and bass – with Allan´s unique tuning , all strings a fourth higher , capturing a totally new world of sonic possibilities.

November 15. 2008

N.D.R. Kultur broadcasts my Radiophonic Analysis of Beethoven´s Seventh Symphony.

” ” my Irische Mikrokosmoi for String Orchestra.

” ” my Second Symphony for Large Orchestra.