Frank Corcoran

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Hamburg-based Irish composer Frank Corcoran’s new RTÉ Lyric FM CD, Rhapsodic Celli, (inset)

was officially launched at a concert of his music at Dublin’s Hugh Lane Gallery on Sunday.

Corcoran is a composer who has always seemed at his best when being a kind of a musical badass.
But the music on the CD and the selection at the concert sound like him turning over a new leaf, showing an intentionally more mellow side of his musical character.

Sadly, I was not persuaded by the concert and have not yet been persuaded by the CD.


Soloist Martin Johnson
explores Frank Corcoran’s writing for cello in all its nuances, from the swagger of a concerto and the rhapsodic polyphony of his work for eight cellos through to composer’s arrangements of folk tunes for cello and piano informed by the rhythmic patois of the Irish language.

Frank Corcoran has lived and taught in Germany for most of his professional life but has retained a profound connection with the literature and traditional music of his native country.
It is this distance from and relationship with Ireland that informs so much of his music: directly, as in the case of his short Rhapsodietta Joyceana for solo cello and, more subtly, in the tensile interplay between soloist and orchestra in his first Cello Concerto.

Nowhere is this sense of place more evident, however, than in Corcoran’s Duetti Irlandesi for Cello and Piano which pay homage to his distant musical ancestor, the master harper Floirint Ó Corcorain.
These traditional melodies would originally have been played on the Irish harp and the Composer says, “…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: their often saccharine harmonies, their rhythmic iron corsets or indeed the foursquare form too often adopted.”
Instead, Corcoran has incorporated the freer sean nós or old-style singing rhythms and grace notes into his classically informed settings of these tunes so they become “… historical miniatures of my vanished Ireland.”

CHAMBER CHOIR IRELAND 8. Dec. Kilkenny 9. Dec. Christchurch Dublin


Frank Corcoran
An Irish Carol

Gerald Barry
O Tannenbaum
Eoghan Desmond
Coventry Carol
Eoghan Desmond
A Babe is Born


Hugo Distler
The Christmas Story

The first group of carols will be
sung as a sequence so please
reserve applause to the end of
the section when it will be very
The concert will run without an

Frank Corcoran
Frank Corcoran was born in Tipperary and studied in Dublin, Maynooth, Rome
and Berlin (with Boris Blacher). He was the first Irish composer to have his
‘Symphony No. 1’ (1980) premiered in Vienna.
He was a music inspector for the Department of Education in Ireland
from 1971 to 1979. He was awarded a composer fellowship by the Berlin
Künstlerprogramm in 1980, a guest professorship in West Berlin in 1981, and
was professor of music in Stuttgart in 1982. Since 1983 he has been professor of
composition and theory in the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und darstellende
Kunst, Hamburg. During 1989-90 he was visiting professor and Fulbright
Scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and he has been a guest
lecturer at Princeton University, CalArts, Harvard University, Boston College,
New York University and Indiana University.
His works have been performed and broadcast in Europe, Asia, USA, Canada
and South America. He has been commissioned by NDR, RTÉ, the Arts
Council, U.W.M., Sender Freies Berlin, W.D.R., Deutschlandfunk, North South
Consonance New York, Dublin Living Music Festival, Cantus Chamber Orchestra
Zagreb, Dublin Festival of Twentieth Century Music, AXA International
Piano Competition, Wireworks Hamburg, Slí Nua, RTÉ lyric fm, Now U Know
Washington, New Music Boston, Carroll’s Summer Music, Book of Kells U.W.M.,
Crash Ensemble, Hamburg Ministry of Culture, Tonhalle Düsseldorf, Stuttgart
Bläserquintett, the Irish Chamber Orchestra and the National Chamber Choir of
Awards include Studio Akustische Kunst First Prize 1996 for his ‘Joycepeak
Music’ (1995), Premier Prix at the 1999 Bourges International Electro-acoustic
Music Competition for his composition ‘Sweeney’s Vision’ (1997) and the
2002 Swedish EMS Prize for ‘Quasi Una Missa’ (1999). He was also awarded
the 1972 Feis Ceoil Prize, the 1973 Varming Prize and the 1975 Dublin
Symphony Orchestra Prize. More recently he won the Sean Ó Riada Award at
the Cork International Choral Festival 2012 for his ‘Two Unholy Haikus’. His
‘Eight Haikus’ for large choir won first prize outright in the 2013 International
Federation For Choral Music. CDs of his music have been released on the Black
Box, Marco Polo, Col-Legno, Wergo, Composers’ Art, IMEB-Unesco, Zeitklang
and Caprice labels.
Frank Corcoran is a founding member of Aosdána, Ireland’s
state-sponsored academy of creative artists.

An Irish Carol 2014

( Translation : Frank Corcoran from the Irish of Aodh Mac Aingil )

You’re God’s blessing, holy child,
In the manger oh, so mild.
It’s yours, dazzling gold bright
Your glorious home and palace here tonight.
Babe so small, whom we behold.
Babe so young, yet aeons old!
This manger here you cannot wholly fill.
And heavens halls you’re occupying still!
I will fetch my water pail.
I will brush this lowly stall.
I’ll kindle fire in my heart, so cold.
I’ll purify my body into gold.
Lend your eyes, now, nature blind.
See who’s here for us, mankind.
Now I believe all things God foretold.
Almighty, ageless, young and old.
You’re God’s holy child.
In the manger, oh so mild.
It’s yours, dazzling wealth like gold so bright,
Your glorious home, a palace here tonight.


Frank Corcoran

Since 1983 Frank Corcoran has been Professor of Composition and Theory in the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst, Hamburg.

His CDs include Mad Sweeney (BBM 1026) and Symphonies Nos. 2, 3, & 4 (Marco Polo 8.225107).

Frank Corcoran is guest composer and artistic director at the Sligo Contemporary Music Festival, full details of which appear on the back cover of The JMI. Since 1983 Frank Corcoran has been professor of composition and theory in the Staatliche Hochschule fur Musik und darstellende Kunst, Hamburg.

His CDs include Mad Sweeney (BBM 1026) and Symphonies Nos. 2,3 & 4 (Marco Polo 8.225107)




From the ink-well of the sky trees enjoy now and again a pint in interdendric peace.
They slurp, imbibe, quaff that blue-stuff . Great blossomers fill their gobs with heavenly dark juices which angels ( with nothing better to do ) have been quietly brewing for some time now. Trees sate their selves. They grow heavy with clotted goblets . A pint of sky´s your only man, oaks, winking at each other over beaded brims of ink-wells. Californian grand boles let down that liquid, a litre of sky-ooze. Your European dendron´s not far behind as the elms fill parched, treey orifices with watery white-blue on certain days we´ve all had, as a contrast to chlorofilled greens and their woody atmosphere, forests smelling of harmless mushrooms or harmless animals´ spoor in their gloaming.
Out of heavenly vessels that once were on village-children´s pre-Famine desk-tops my trees do drink. A lot.

Their boles and blossom and fancy foot-work need the dancer´s drought, its satiation.

Enough is not enough of the high atmospheric. They enjoy oral and labial quenching, sloughing and guzzling down Heaven’s ink-wells´liquid. Yup !
Trees´ beaks love. Trees are deep-down more skim-milk blue than greenish sap. From tap-room to toe-lips rhey crave and slaver.
Tiny trees ape their giants´ bibulosity, From high pots trees accept injected true-blue.
I thirst.
An elder was heard; a high birch inclined in order to dabble in the real ould mountainy sky-dew. An enormous sky-watcher, perhaps a dinosaur-tree,would go insane for even the lighter stuff, easier to pour, mixed in with skim-milk . Injest, trees. Digest these oaks´ beastings. Make pleasurable drink-smacking up there near your heavenly buckets of this potage. Sip please! No gulping, we´re trees, all arboreality , sylvan or heavy drinkers.
Hear the ground-swelling of this oceanic swilling. Look skywards, trees anonymous. From these troughs and those stratospheric wells of ink a mantle of blue for their botanic brewery. Trees tongue their ink as a swaddling child its clouds´ooze.
Out of this rarified high air the foggy dew is trees´due.
Trees do, yes. Wooden beaks pleasured. Unsawn branches soar towards the bursting amniotic. They empty ink-wells , their very inner veins now very fullish with pan-treey superfluity, almost sick with this heavenly milk.

Noble trees, a grá for blob and droplet, the blue dropped note.


Frank Corcoran

* 1944 Tipperary

Biographie Diskographie [1] Werke [5]


geboren in Tipperary (Irland). Studium in Dublin, Rom und in Berlin bei Boris Blacher.
Music Inspector beim irischen Kultusministerium.
Stipendiat des Berliner Künstlerprogramms.
Gastprofessur in Berlin.
Gastprofessur in Stuttgart
Professur (Komposition) an der Staatl. Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Hamburg.
Dozent im Rahmen der amerikanischen Fulbright Stiftung in den USA.
Auszeichnung mit dem 1. Preis beim Intern. Elektro-Akustischen Musikwettbewerb in Bourges für die Komposition Sweeney’s Vision.Das Label Marco Polo (Vertrieb: Naxos) veröffentlicht Orchester- und Kammermusik des Komponisten.
Auszeichnung mit dem schwedischen EMS Preis für Quasi una missa.
Das Label col legno veröffentlicht Kammermusik des Komponisten.
CD-Veröffentlichung mit Sweeney’s Sithereens, Tradurre – Tradire, Concert for String orchestra u.a. auf dem Composer’s Art Label der Edition Zeitklang.


I´ve done my own collaging, Umbran and English; ecco, here´s my heady brew:

SONGS OF TERROR AND LOVE Frank Corcoran ( 2009 ) . Texts by Jacopone da Todi :

1. Chi pro Cristo v ´empazzato / Pare afflitto e tribulato.
Chi pro Cristo ne`va pazzo / Alla gente si par matto.
Chi vole entrare in questa danza / Trov´amor désmesuranza !

2. Allegom´en sseppultura / Un ventr´i lupo envoratura .
E l´arliquie en cacatura / En espineta e rogarìa !

He who raves for Christ´s insane / Most afflicted, his great pain .
Who for Christ loses his mind / He looks lost to all mankind.
But he who begins this dancing / Measureless love he´s sure to find….

I chose as my last tomb and shroud / A wolf´s belly after he´s devoured
Me; my remains that wolf´s shit / In among thorns in a deep pit !

3. Che farai, Fra Jacovone ? Ei venuto al paragone !
Well, what now, Fra Jacopone ? Now you´re come to your trial !
The lodging that they gave me / ´S a hole under ground – no denial
La presone che m´è data / Una casa sotterata !
Arèscece una privata / Non fa fraga de moscone !
Here a stinking jakes disgorges ; it won´t smell of perfumed roses !
They placed my legs in leg – irons ; now they rustle like sirens.
Porto jette i sparvèri / Soneglianno nel mio giro .
Nova danza ce po´ odire / Chi sta apresso mea stazzone .
Listen above ! – Hear askance ! Can you hear my new dance ?

4. O Papa Bonifazio , molto ´ai jocato al mundo.
Pensome che iocondo non te porrai partire ….
Per subita ruina / Ei preso en tua masone !
E null´ om se trovone / A poterti guarire .

O Pope Bonifazio / With this world you played ” Peek Oh! ”
Yet I judge that your dying / Will be more than mere sighing !
Your ruin has reached you / In your palace it breached you !
No doctor can heal you ! No nurse dares to feel you !
El mondo non n´è cavallo / Che sse lass` enfranare ,
Che ´l pòzzi cavalcare / Secondo tuo volere !
This world´s not a race-horse / To goad on with your spurs
To rein in at your whim / Till with your desire it concurs
Dell´ aneme redente / Par che ne curi poco .
La ´ve t´accunci ´l loco / Saperai lo al partire !

– It´s not all souls´ salvation / It´s you´ve reaped your damnation .
At your parting, self-chosen / You will find out your destination !

( Now : See Frank Corcoran´s radio-essay in RTE November 2009 publication, ” Ten Years Of THE QUIET CORNER” , published by New Island Press.


Posted on July 15, 2009 By Frank Corcoran )

We were sitting to tea under a cool peach-tree near Maria Rovenza´s fence when out – through it – shot a lizard at high speed ( quite near my quiet feet ) pursued by a very long snake, it also at high speed. The lizard accelerated even more.
Ditto the snake ( – ignored us completely – ) , her head held high, jaws wide open for imminent dinner. Very long and thin and mean and hungry and super-fast! Up on its
high horse, it lepped, swayed, danced, undulated, bucked and then SPRANG after the little victim which was streaking across flower-beds and terrace, hoping against hope to reach the road-gate. I grabbed a stick and, yelling, chased the chasing Schlanknatter ( Coluber Najadum ) chasing its speeding morsel. Only as I got near enough to attempt a whack did it slow down, eye me malevolently; it then dived into the roses. Where it no doubt still is, sulking, hungry.
Little lizard lucky.

I´ve been asking; nobody here has ever heard of a snake speeding so fast and with the whole body bicycling up and down like something in a Disney nature-film.

This was ” Quasi Una Visione” alright . Some snake´s hunger.
Not a viper. ( – Franco killed a huge ” Viperone” down in Maria´s long grass last week. )

No hysteria ; but still it´s foot it on the cautious toe. And it´s back to shnake shticks , so it is.

More snake stories as this long, hot summer enfolds. I hope not vipers. No.


DUBLIN Kaleidoscope – Pananorama –

Wed 1st Nov 2017

Doors at 8pm, music at 8.30pm €10-14 at Bello Bar.

Albeit just the 3rd concert in the 2017/2018 season, the Kaleidoscope series is already shouting about its second world premiere, would you believe?
On this occasion, the new work, “Piccolo Quartetto Filarmonico”, is composed by the internationally renowned Tipperary-born composer FRANK CORCORAN and will be performed by the Robinson Panoramic Quartet. Kaleidoscope’s 2014 Ensemble in Residence, the Panoramic is a different kind of string quartet, comprising violin, viola, cello and double bass. Of the work, Corcoran says “the exciting drama of the musical mayhem, where the four voices are not exactly synchronized, pitted against the grave chordal liturgy,
where at the end, sweetness and light have the last say”.

Dieter Cichewiecz

Conductor at Frank Corcoran inc

Frank Corcoran inc

Last Updated 5/10/2016

Web References

works | Frank Corcoran

Percussion Modern, Frank Corcoran(pf), conductor Dieter Cichewiecz. NDR Ensemble, Frank Corcoran (speaker), conductor Dieter Cichewiecz Das Neue Werk NDR Ensemb… Read More
works | Frank Corcoran

Percussion Modern, Frank Corcoran(pf), conductor Dieter Cichewiecz. NDR Ensemble, Frank Corcoran (speaker), conductor Dieter Cichewiecz Das Neue Werk NDR Ensemb… Read More
works | Frank Corcoran

Percussion Modern, Frank Corcoran(pf), conductor Dieter Cichewiecz. NDR Ensemble, Frank Corcoran (speaker), conductor Dieter Cichewiecz Das Neue Werk NDR Ensemb… Read More