Frank Corcoran

irish composer

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Robert Darroll, the animated film artist, died this May in Berlin. In the nineties I got to know him; I loved his “Korean Trilogy”,  (  Gestating “Moe´s Field” , then, portended a wholly new departure , a new filmic revolution )  their tens of thousands of little hand-painted pictures  individually filmed, composed, sequenced, kineticized, It was Darroll´s special play of images: a dot became a line, a fish, a bird, a bud, a flower, a pool, a stream, a river, an ocean . Movement as poetic, directed by the artist´s narrative and Gestalt-psychological logic. Each of his films was a poem, in the best sense a Horatian hymn to mutation.

Robert Darroll´s departure in 2001 from Hamburg to Tokyo did hurt; and his May death this year brought no closure, no peace, only the Unanswered Question. Yet I, too, plod on. To search is to find, certainly,  form, musical forms, as you solder and bend motivs, ideas, colours, lines and masses in rhythms. Pure play as pure delight. No bad thing, Robert Darroll. Back to self-delight, poet Horace. Kinetic excellence, Herr Hanslick.

It is a fish. Is it ?


A word before I slide even more sidewards into  oblivion : Is my new work some kind of Conversation With Myself ? Why ever not ? My ( gestating, low cooking )  ALL MY ALTO RHAPSODIES` converses ( with me, certainly ,  ) “all about “  the Contralto´s layers, her registers, her orchestral accompaniment, her eating / swallowing / in- and digesting and uttering my texts; they are lovingly masticated, savoured ,  soothed, sung by her whole body. Forty years ago I was worrying : ” Prima la parola e poi la musica.” -  That´s now gone. Now  it´s all complete cheeks´and glottals , glossolalia and throat´s / lung`s  / diaphragm´s  pumping, forming, moulding my very lovely text-tone-text-phrase lovingly shaped by me long before ; my shards and shoots and shapes (  and, of course, my shadows. ) Oh.  Yes. Before oblivion,okay. Okay, no hysterics in this e-column…  I´ll be damned if I play over coy : ” Is this then death”  vocal clownery, rather cast-iron forms.


Hot June horse-manure

Binds human flesh with humus

Too tired to die ?


Hot June moon, moan.

Sappho´s thighs dancing like that ?

Steps hot, music light.


Skellig Rock´s weak monks

Saw God in their rheumatism

Please, my God, no more.


Noble Saint Kevin,

His arms outstretched and praying,

Felt no thing, no God



Strange indeed.

This icy wind ( ” Tramontana ” ) blows straight across our lake from the  snowy Apenines; it´s whining storm-force. It chills the bone, though the  April sun is warm ( where there´s shelter ) . Here on the West Bank, medieval Gradoli, enormous waves are whipped cold. Never saw the likes of it. As soon as the Tramontana stops blowing and freezing us, we´ll be baked, of course.

Tweaking my texts for my new work, ” MY ALTO RHAPSODIES”. Must contain sharp, arresting pictures plus soaring syllables and high rapture,

quillspilling, windhoverish. Over the top. Like this Tramontana. It will.

Frank Corcoran at 70 Frank Corcoran at 70 To celebrate Irish composer Frank Corcoran’s 70th birthday in 2014 CMC is producing a short portrait film on the composer. The film, The Light Gleams: a portrait of Frank Corcoran, is directed by filmmaker Mark Linnane and features concert footage and interviews with Corcoran on his life and music recorded earlier this year. The film will be screened as part of Concorde’s 70th birthday tribute to Frank Corcoran, which takes place at the ensemble’s Up Close with Music event at the RHA Gallery, Dublin on 27 April from 2.30–4.30pm. The concerts also includes the Irish premiere of Corcoran’s work for solo bass clarinet, A Dark Song, as well as new works by Rhona Clarke and Marie Hanlon, Judith Ring, and Ed Bennett.

I WILL REVISE MY OWN TEXTS TO ” My Alto Rhapsodies “


Yes, it gets harder. All the time. eg.

For the new ” ALL MY RHAPSODIES “   for Alto and ( Brahms ) Orchestra :


1.  I  will use my own five Corcoran texts. ( See below )


2.  I will watch Brahms´s tessituras ;  eg. he approaches a top of E flat / E    by a composer´s stealth.  – The low Brahms limit is around A or A Flat But  I´ll need a dark, erotico, rough-pressed approach to her absolutely lowest F.  ( ” Well, is this , then, death ? “  )
How ?

Frank Corcoran Texts – for new ALTO RHAPSODY :

1.  “  Alto Rhapsody    /   High, pure, soaring , searing line    /    My orchestra snores.  ”

2.  “  For the womb the seed sighs  /   Thresh and turn and disappear  /  The high silence drowned….  ”

3.    ( – Thus I translated my beloved 1778  Tipperary folksong  ” The Prison Of Clonmel ”   /   ” Priosún Cluain Meala”   – a stupendous,  Mahlerian / ” quasi militare ”   vignette, to be repeated four times by my Contralto and Orchstra , each time  with my rhythms,  colours,
orchestration, etc.  a little changed….  )

“  One short year ago /  I strutted to Ardpatrick  /  To put lace on my bonnet  / /     Next Friday evening  / they´ll shove my head on a pike /  It will be snowing  on my soul…  ”

4.  “    Suppose God is light ?  /   My eye tries to see itself  /   Soft horns , clarinets.

5. “    Whisper, whisper  ” tramonto “  /     Tiptoes through my dark window .  /  Well, is this, then, death  ?


What is history ? What is Papal history ?  e.g.  does a stop-the-traffic-and-ALL-other-visitors to these Viterbo Bagni ( Terme dei Papi  Papal visit of a Culo Papale in eg. Dante´s time or even today ( yes, it still happens )  constitute history ?

History of the particular Culo Papale ? Of its Pope? Of his entourage ? Of his times and pomps and fears ?  Of theirs ? Whose Cosmic Indifference ( I intend these capitals )  can help our historian here ? Sulphur , noble and healing friend of all our culi, of our scabies and our soul´s gout and skin´s rabies and scurvy worse , was misused, apparently,  by John Milton and Co.  ( the Jahwist ? From which King James´s ” brimstone “, then ? ) to hot up our hots and to lave our sodomies and our Papal differences and superbic self-lacerations  for all of, ahem, recorded time ; I pondered as I raised my own humble(d) culo out of  these hot and healing and laving  waters of our Thermal Culo Bath.

Maybe it now helps me to compose my newest  ALTO RHAPSODY, that chalumeau – Brahmsian , superb and flowing line, my ( Brahmsian ) orchestral chording and voice-accompanying , a melting Satz. Singing the High Song. Ecstasy pure.


April 27 2014


Dublin Royal Hibernian Academy   14.30  to  16.30


Concorde Concert  including Irish Premiere of Frank Corcoran´s  ” A  DARK  SONG “  for  Solo Bassclarinet  ( Paul Roe )  and  – for  Frank´s

Seventieth Birthday -  the first screening of C.M.C.´s  commissioned  Frank Corcoran film  (  Mark  Linnane  )