Frank Corcoran

irish composer

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The tradition of music I salute has long had in Ireland a Cinderella-like position,

an invisibility that can seem like the airbrushing into non-existence

of a major Irish art form.

Yes. Composers have felt the slight acutely.

‘I’m a Composer’—‘You’re a What?’

was the title Frank Corcoran gave an essay he contributed to The Crane Bag ( – way back in 1982 ) .

Yes. It was his way of explaining that Irish people simply didn’t see being a composer as a serious or full-time


The composer’s lot, it is true, is rarely easy.


This winter I have once again had to catch myself on…

Among my tender young composer’s works and pomps from my 1970 ( I was 26 years old, now c’mon ! ) to 1990 ( I eventually became 46, bruised butnot bowed ) there are

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

– So how come I had so long ignored, mistrusted, forgotten even and was

uncomfortable with, even 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 those seventies and eighties. I

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

Take the early choral MEDIEVAL IRISH EPIGRAMMES of 1973 – here is a crispl and fresh handling of delightful Early Celtic texts ; and that choral HERR JESU CHRIST

of a few years later tackles the Baroque poetry of Paul Eber, with dark spirituality. – it breathes a quasi Black Death-terror of the 16th. century plague in Europe .

Again, I see / hear fresh and courageous colours, quasi instrumetal.. ). The orchestral

THREE SYMPHONIC PIECES ( ” Pictures From My Exhibition ” ) of 1975 explores just that, the instrumentating pencil as my paint-brush
in these dramatic movements .

Only now in late reflection do I see how that young Irish composer’s lonely struggle against a vicious ocean of

snobbery, ignorance and anti-art

prejudice and a general bankruptcy of spirit in my Dublin weakened continuously a brave young composer coming from

the Outer

Yoblands. Yes. -Out there 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; to understand me as a

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

Invincible ignorance weakens.

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 new macro-counterpoint was an extraordinary victory over both my

musical material and that dreadful “musical” ( ! )ambience.

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 the opening bars for those fresh , leaping upper

woodwinds ) .
No, it was no fun to have to fight national dopyness or intellectual laziness, to have to persist in a lonely composer’s microcosmos .

The fight could have snuffed them out, the creative energies . And yet those three works which I carpentered and

crafted in that first Berlin ” annus mirabilis ” . my Symphonies Of Symphonies for 23 Wind, the

2. Symphony and “Balthazar’s Dream” which was 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 attempted since.

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

“Gilgamesh” I comosed entirely alone in

the domestic, mental insanity of 1986 – 1989.

Time to stop listing here any jousts nd catastrophes and recoveries, I suppose.

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 its musical images.

Still. The lesson which I forgot for many decades since was : head down, forward fighting; never for an instant give in to the barbarians and Yahoos.

Reply Reply All Forward


An Irish Carol, Christmas Trees, and a Rose

Venue: St Canice’s Church, Dean Street, Kilkenny

Dates: Friday 8th December

Time: 7:30pm

Price: €15/€10

On the 8th Chamber Choir Ireland will visit Kilkenny’s majestic St Canice’s Church, with An Irish Carol, Christmas Trees, and a Rose, a very special seasonal concert celebrating carols old and new.

In this unique Christmas programme, Ireland’s leading chamber choir present the wonderful Christmas Story by one of Germany’s finest 20th-century composers, Hugo Distler. The Christmas Story is one of his best pieces, with the Christmas narrative told in chant-like solos with choral interventions, while threaded through the whole work are a series of choral variations on the lovely Christmas hymn ‘Es ist ein Ros entsprungen‘. This work is joined by a beautiful grouping of carols by contemporary Irish composers; Rhona Clarke, Gerald Barry, Frank Corcoran, Eoghan Desmond and Eric Sweeney. Chamber Choir Ireland’s annual Christmas performance is a festive highlight for many and is the perfect way to celebrate the Christmas season with loved ones. Early booking is advised to avoid disappointment! Chamber Choir Ireland is delighted to bring this programme to Kilkenny as part of the Music in Kilkenny programme.


O Tannenbaum — Gerald Barry

Lullay My Liking; Make We Merry — Rhona Clarke

When Christ was Born of Mary Free — Eric Sweeney

Coventry Carol; A Babe is Born — Eoghan Desmond

An Irish Carol — Frank Corcoran


Prisma Musik
Thema: Kleine Schule des musikalischen Hörens

Samstag, 25. November 2017, 20:00 bis 22:00 Uhr
Pomp and Circumstance
Der Komponist Edward Elgar © public domain
Edward Elgars wohl populärstes Werk ist der “Pomp & Circumstance March No. 1”

Der 1857 geborene Elgar war der wohl berühmteste englische Komponist seiner Generation. In seinem knapp 77-jährigen Leben regierten drei Monarchen über das Land: Königin Viktoria, ihr Sohn Edward VII. und dessen Sohn George V., der bis 1936 auf dem Thron saß. Vor 1918 war das eine Zeit imperialen Glanzes gewesen, in der das Land seine politische und wirtschaftliche Stärke aus seinen vielen Kolonien bezogen hatte.
Destillat einer Träne
Der Cellist Steven Isserlis im Porträt. © Jean Baptiste Millot Fotograf: Jean Baptiste Millot
Von dem Cellisten Steven Isserlis interpretiert hören Sie in den “Variationen zum Thema” das gesamte Werk.

Elgars vor dem Ersten Weltkrieg entstandene Musik spiegelt diesen Glanz wider wie keine andere. Ganz anders sein Cellokonzert: Mit verhaltenen und sparsamen Mitteln markiert es gleichsam den Gegenpol zum imperialen Pomp früherer Zeiten und ist eine Musik des Abschieds. Kurz nach dem Ersten Weltkrieg entstanden und voller Trauer, hat man diese Musik einmal die “Elegie auf eine untergegangene Zivilisation” genannt.

“Elgars langsame Passagen zerreißen mich innerlich”, gestand die Cellistin Jacqueline du Pré, die wohl bekannteste Interpretin dieser Musik, sie sei “wie das Destillat einer Träne”.

Eine Sendung von Frank Corcoran




20.05 – 22.00 Uhr

Prisma Musik

Thema: Kleine Schule des musikalischen Hörens

Frank Corcoran hört die 9. Sinfonie von Antonín Dvo?ák

„Ich soll auf 2 Jahre nach Amerika fahren“, berichtet Antonin Dvo?ák am 20. Juni 1891. „Es wird mir die Stelle eines Direktors am Konservatorium und die Leitung von 10 Konzerten eigener Kompositionen angeboten und als Entgelt jährlich 15.000 Dollar, d.h. über 30.000 Gulden.“ Gewichtige Argumente, die den international renommierten Meister des tschechischen Nationalstils dazu bewogen, seine böhmische Heimat für eine Weile mit der Neuen Welt zu vertauschen. Auch hier war er auf der Suche nach dem unverwechselbaren Nationalkolorit, das einfloss in seine 9. Sinfonie.

Phonurgia Nova
Prix Pierre Schaeffer
Prix Phonurgia Nova
Atelier Kaye Mortley
Experimentelles Radio

CORCORAN, Frank Irisch

Der Komponist Frank Corcoran, 1944 in Irland geboren, lebt in Italien und Hamburg, wo er sei 1983 Komposition unterrichtet. Er schuf zahlreiche Orchesterwerke und erfolgreiche elektroakustische Kompositionen. „Joycepeak Music“ wurde 1995 vom Studio Akustische Kunst des WDR ausgezeichnet. Für „Sweeneyâ’s Vision“ erhielt Corcoran 1999 den ersten Preis des Internationalen Wettbewerbs für elektroakustische Musik in Bourges. Mit „Quasi Una Missa“ gewann der 2002 den EMS Preis in Stockholm.



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Corcoran, Frank

… KDG Frank Corcoran Geburtstag: 1. Mai 1944 Nation: … Annette Kreutziger-Herr und Axel Klein Frank Corcoran –

Biogramm Stand: 01.04.2006 Frank (Francis B.) Corcoran, geboren am 1.Mai 1944 in …

Record, Self Help 101 (LP 1980) Frank Corcoran – Bibliographie A.?Selbstzeugnisse Corcoran, Frank: Musings on our

School’s Music, … The Cranebag 6.1982, H.1, 52–54

Corcoran 1984a: Not really there … Kinderszenen. Frank Corcoran reviews a highly individual novel …

13.März 1992, Harvard University, Cambridge/Mass.

Corcoran 1992a: Some thoughts on my music, Hamburg 1992

(Manuskript) Corcoran 1994: Stair an Cheoil Geschichte …


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 ( on CD Frank Corcoran …. )
Sweeney’s Vision 1997 comm. WDR ( won the 1999 Bourges Festival PREMIER PRIX )
Quasi Una Missa 1999 ” ” ( won the Swedish 2000 E.M.S. Prize )
Sweeney’s letztes Gedicht, Sweeney’s Farewell 1997/98
Tradurre – Tradire 2004 comm. DeutschlandRadio 2002


Today , Dec. 17, I trained out to fair Hamburg – Blankenese where Thomas Sello, Hamburg Kunsthalle art-historian

and art-critic EXCELLENT blessed my friend, Heinz Gellrich’s TRIPTYCHON and my 2. SYMPHONY , its

“primogenitor ” …

Bemused Blankenese good-burghers smiled and bathed in our harmlessness . The sun shone winterly but strongly into

our concert-hall.

Brahms Lieder were thrashed.


Huge sorrowful eyes
Misted over as horses
Discuss damp sorrow

– Frank Corcoran 2010

lá ceobhránach
is iad ag cabaireacht …
capaill sa ghort

– Gabriel Rosenstock, 2012

on a misty day
they chat…
horses in the field

-Issa, 1812