Frank Corcoran

irish composer

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Frank, 4 Movements from Frank Corcoran QUASI UNA MISSA ( it won the 2002 Swedish E.M.S. Prize )

Thanks so much for sending these over. I feel that these fit our show very well, and we would like to broadcast them next week, Thursday May 5 at 1am EST. There are also periodic rebroadcasts that will take place at the station’s discretion of select Saturdays throughout May and beyond. You can find more information and tune in at:

They will also archive the show soon after the broadcast. If you are interested, you can hear past broadcasts on the website.


In 2014 for NDR, North German Radio, I made the following ” radiophonic ” analyses ( PRISMA MUSIK ) plus broadcast accompanying Corcoran orchestral works :

25.1.2014 Brahms VIOLIN CONCERTO plus Corcoran VIOLIN CONCERTO

21.6.2014 Strauss TILL EULENSPIEGEL plus Corcoran 3. SYMPHONY

20.9. 2014 Dvorak 9. SYMPHONY plus Corcoran QUASI UNA FUGA

1.11. 2014 Schubert WINTERREISE plus Corcoran 4 ORCHESTRAL PRAYERS

4.4.2015 Mozart 2 SYMPHONIES plus Corcoran CLARINET QUINTET

22.1.2016 Dvorak CELLO CONCERTO plus Corcoran CELLO CONCERTO

9.12.2016 Schubert STRING QUINTET plus Corcoran 4. SYMPHONY


I am , in a way, banjaxed; back to square one:

The birthday ( May 1, ) came and went. So I existed. But he who had last Sunday his birthday is no longer he who writes this lofty codswallop, hoofing it again backwards ( – me as a film- ) at great speed or hurtling forward with even greater speed ( ? ) in the time remaining to me ( – me as spaceship- ).
Can I grasp me as existing in time ? Not really. So use the time . Make a few more musical constructions of instinct and emotions and , yes, intellect and , well, musical crafting . eg. Suppose I want to write a new work for 13 strings and clarinet – to whom should I turn ? What’ll I listen to and marvel at ? Not so much bend or weld/ wield which particular tones to shape my melodic lines and accompanying string masses but why ? At what end aim ? Then there’ll have to be aura in it, composed breathlessness, catastrophe, ecstasy or, indeed, serenit’a .

So how’ll I do all this ? And listen to intervallic stuff surfacing from, say, sleep or dreams or chance ? Melodic bits of youthful flotsam ? Add play, crafty fun ?

I’ll have enough to do this hot summer. Bygum. Without even considering yet the stochastic , macrocounterpoint, the whole rhythmic thing.


” Non fui. Fui. Non sum. Non curo. ” Four lines. These.

That’s what he chiselled on his tombstone.( Was he still alive during this chiselling activity ‘s what I’d just like to know…. ? – Lying as he chiselled ? As he lay there ? )
His disembodied voice from his grave bravely claims” Non Sum “- so why believe his blythe ” Non Curo” , I ask myself . No answer because he’d chiselled ” Fui” ( therefore “Non sum ” ? – Is that it ? ) But then he boasts ” Non sum ! ” , so his following on ” Non curo” now has just lost ‘im every atom of our respect; inded we are tempted to react angrily with our very own ” Non curo ,CULO !”. After all, we can all easily assert ” Non fui” – so what’s great about that ? – That out of his( bleated ) ” Non fui” emerges his ( bloated ) ” Fui “. Ever heard of Miss non Sequitur, grave chiseller ? And how can he go about proving that his hurled ” Non curo” is not empty ? His grave is not empty. His swan’s song is all ended ?
And yet. And yet. That grave( ouch ! ) courage ,that hurled challenge to Who ? These three Promethean syllables do have something grave ( ouch ! again )…. Their ” 0 ” and their ” u ” and then their” oo ” .
Vocal music. Grave music. Well now, suppose he’d got just a little more poetic symmetry into his tombstone dirge, something like eg.
” Non fui. Fui. Non sum. Sum. Non curo. Curo. ” – Or some such ? – we write it out in a verse:
” Non fui. Sum. Non sum. Curo. Culo.”
More chiselling later….

The Association of Irish Composers, the Contemporary Music Centre and soundSCAPE Festival are delighted to announce Benjamin Dwyer as the 2016 Irish Artist-in-Residence at the festival in Maccagno, Italy.

soundSCAPE Festival is a contemporary music festival and summer school which takes place over two weeks each year in the beautiful town of Maccagno in the Italian Alps. The festival features daily concerts and seminars from faculty, students and guest artists. Students of the summer school receive regular one-to-one tuition in contemporary music performance and composition. Most importantly, artists from all over the world meet to exchange ideas and become part of a growing international network of composers and performers. In 2016, the festival will take place from 1st – 14th July.

Benjamin Dwyer is a composer, musicologist and performer, who is dedicated to studying, performing and presenting contemporary Irish music at home and abroad. At the festival, he will present talks on his large-scale work Umbilical, and on Joycean Aesthetics in the music of Frank Corcoran.


Four weeks now since I fled Humbug City for southern climes. Climbing, the aircraft waggled its tail….
Here all is ” Paletti”, great April dawns still washed by pink as the Spring weather struggles to be born. A green explosion of wild flowers, vast Lazio sheep-herds, peasants’ chat.
Same as last year – the hunt is on for musical form, forms, symmetric and as- , the relationships of the composed parts to the imagined total, the whole hog, finished and baked new work.
Until the summer recordings of the Cello Concerto and “Rhapsodic Bowing” for 8 Celli , the new “Irish Duets” for Cello and Piano and the January 2016 spawned Piano Trio ( with Viola ) , there’ll be the inevitable suspension of flow as expectancy rises. A good buoyancy, the musical pen poised and pared . For what new work ?
Ah. And, yes, the old questions will remain this golden – Hellish summer : why ? For whom ? How ?


Well, it was after America and things were now very bad. Well, we were in the last stages. But how could I ever prove to the Court that she was starkers ? Raving ? Well, luckily the Judge ordered it. Well, he commissioned Hantel-Quittmann , the Court’s psychologistman. Well, Hantel – Quittmann wrote for the Court his
Report. Well,with this we nobbled her.
Well, you’d have thought that stopped injustice for the family . Well, no.Well, Hantel – Quittmann had written an enormously bloated Court’s Nobble Report .
Out of the thirty pages that the Court needed to nobble her( we’ll call them the Thirty Nobble Pages ) , well, Hantel-Quittmann had blown and bloated it up to make a hundred and thirty nobble pages for his Court
Psychologist’s Nobble Her Report . Well, of course, this quadrupled the Court Psychologist’s nobble fee which he demanded for
writing ( and for bloating ) that blown up Nobble Report .
Well, the Court demanded I pay Hantel-Quittman’s enormous Court Nobble Fee ( call it C.N.F. for short.
Well, broke, I bleated.
Well,broken, I took down a measuring instrument from the Court-walls and in a jiffy I had no trouble at all in demonstrating how good old Hantel -Quittmann had
out of the Thirty Nobble Pages made his hundred and thirty pages .

Well, he had just repeated himself without blushing. How well he’d padded out the thirty pages. our noble nobbler . How well he had doubled and quadrupled his nobble-material

so as, without wink or blush or grin, to swell the C.N.F. enormously. .
Well, I pointed this out first to the Judge and then to the Court ” Revisor” ( – over in Altona he was , I remember ) – I protested that our noble Nobble Report had been swollen to over a hundred andthirty pages whereas its kern needed only thirty nobble pages.
Well, the Court Revisor claimed that all the Nobble Pages were necessary and he

denied that Hantle-Quittmann had blown up his pages out of all proportions, that Hantel-Quittmann had been, well, engaged in a bit of very
expensive fiddling. I’d just have to pay by thenobble page.

Well, I refused to pay a C.N.F. more than for thirty pages. Well, they insisted I pay the C.N.F. in full, Hantel-Quittmann’s grandiosely fiddled hundred and thirty noble pages. Well, I
to my guns.
Well, the Court then ruled that for each C.N.F. due on each unpaid nobble page I’d just have to sit in jail, – for a nobble, noble page a day.
Well, I then went to jail in Altona. Well, I sat exactly one hundred days (a page a sat day … ). Well.
And that , well, taught me?
Well, it did not. Well, if it had to be done again, would I etc. etc.

Well, I would. Well, no, it’s never easy to nobble. To be noble….
Ah well….


Pavel Burda was easily the best conductor ever of my MUSIC FOR THE BOOK OF KELLS for Five Percussion And

Piano. At the Milwaukee premiere, we are now talking summer of 1990, his reading was startlingly right – a deft and

moving tempo, nimble conducting, the Early Irish argument flowing, sound-explosions properly controlled and

leashed till the exact moments of highest dramatic tension. Great power brandished and wielded with Burda’s gongs

and tam-tam and rhythmic canon with the two big drums and the timps.

Magisterial . Pavel Burda. Immensely moving. Getting on twenty six years now. But that Milwaukee percussion premiere

still sounds. Mighty.