Frank Corcoran

irish composer

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MAY 17 2006 FRANK CORCORAN ON HUNGARIAN RADIO

Frank Corcoran’s QUASI UN BASSO for Solo Bass

is performed on May 17 2006 in Magyar Radio/Radio Bartók’s Bela

Bartók Centenary Concert in Budapest)

Is cumadóir ceoil mé. I am an Irish composer. The pre-industrial, rural
Ireland of my childhood in the fifties was, in a way, not unlike the small,
agricultural Hungary of Bartók’s
youth and maturity. Dublin and Budapest were, for all their artistic
short-comings, vitally important cultural metropoles. (- For Hungarian and Irish
music-lovers they still are.) Small nations both, their surrounding
neighbours often seemed culturally omnivorous, omnipotent posing a real threat
that the identity and self-respect of both little emerging States would be
gobbled up by an all greedy neighbour.
Bartók ploughed the lonely furrow. Bartók said “NO!” to cultural
tyranny. Bartók took his stance.
Moral. Artistic. Not that he wanted to marry
folk- and art-music; you can’t.
But as a folk-collector and as a 20th c.
composer, forging and finding his individual composer’s voice, he refused to
let lazy indifference stifle musical diversity or musical courage. Courage –
that’s it. He discovered the unknown, hidden jewels of folk-art. He
composed his own mighty musical structures. Behind both of these, yes, heroic
stances was Bartók’s refusal to give in.
My own little Ireland in my 20th c. has gone an in many ways similar path.
With very mixed results.
My Irish language dies daily a thousand deaths.
Ireland, too, had a Renaissance, an explosion of Irish traditional music which
however by its very over-kill and over-exposure in the media is endangered.

As a composer in Ireland, an Irish composer, I had to plough my lonely
furrow. In my native Tipperary I had to overcome a still mightily hostile
indifference to the oldest layers of Irish singing and instrumental art. In my
youthful struggle to construct tonal structures at once private
and public, the enemy number one was Dublin’s very clearly post-colonial
dependence on a second-rate, hand-me-down, London-based music-pedagogy.
Even
bits of Bartók were misused in our musical curricula, his work contextlessly, lovelessly paraded without any real understanding of where Bartók was
coming from,
but shamelessly paraded as ‘‘our’’ apologia for contemporary music, as ‘‘our’’ bulwark against, say, the horrors of the Second Viennese School.
And my little Ireland , politically a ‘‘free ’’Republic, had in its early days of liberation psychologically and politically not succeeded in providing a climate of musical understanding and the respect for musical creativity
necessary to have, in its critical years, an Irish Bartók, Bartók na h –
Éireann.
My ‘‘Quasi Un Basso’’ for solo bass is my diptych for, as Bartók uses it, a mighty orchestra in a solo instrument.
(I am thinking of those – now sadly ubiquitous but then so fresh, so shocking Bartók pizz.s from his basses in
the orchestral works like his ‘‘Divertimento’’ for String Orchestra, the
extraordinary long legato lines near the end of his ‘‘Music For String Orchestra, Percussion and Celesta’’, the daring and brilliance of his orchestral imagination.) Mine are two fragmented pictures from my vanished Ireland.
Art-music today faces the most viciously anti-art global market known to
man. We have no place where wares are bartered. But YOU CANNOT BARTER BARTÓK!

– Nor indeed any music of lasting value. It is questionable whether the
folk-musics of either Hungary or Ireland will survive the market’s kiss of
death.
It is doubly questionable whether Hungarian and Irish composers will
survive our global village which today is swollen with the greatest ocean of
sonic rubbish known to man. Have we composers a place to be heard?
Where’s the silence? From which music is born and heard?

FRANK CORCORAN ON CZECH RADIO

Radioart a elektroakustická hudba z Irska #1
soundWave

soundWave

repríza ze 7. února 2009

Frank Corcoran:

http://www.frankcorcoran.com

Vítejte do no?ního éteru Radioateliéru, za?ínáme další z našich miniseriál? putujících po národních scénách akustických um?ní celého sv?ta. V následujících t?ech týdnech nás ?eká zastavení v zemi, kde lidé zpravidla slaví každý slune?ní paprsek … ?e?eno samoz?ejm? trochu s nadsázkou … ve t?ech následujících setkáních budeme poslouchat radiofonické kompozice a elektroakustickou hudbu pocházející z Irska.

První autor, u jehož tvroby se zastavíme, je skladatelem velice plodným, zabírajícím ve své tvorb? široké rozp?tí od komorní instrumentální hudby p?es symfonickou a sborovou tvorbu až práv? po radiofonické kompozice, jejichž vznik byl motivován zejmnéna redakcí Studia pro akustická um?ní Západon?meckého rozhlasu v Kolín? na Rýnem. Jmenuje se Frank Corcoran.
Asi bychom m?li ?íct, že sou?asným domovem Franka Corcorana je Hamburk, zdá se mi ale, že tato zkute?nost ani v nejmenším neupoza?uje velmi typické, dokonce bych ?ekl – velmi tradi?ní, mytologické, velice spirituální inspira?ní pozadní, které lze vnímat nap?í? jeho kompozicemi. D?kazem toho budiž i ob? kompozice, které dnes budou znít éterem Radioateliéru.

První z nich – ?ty?i minuty trvající miniatura – odahuluje jedno z oblíbenách témat Franka Corcorana, v n?mž se vrací k mytologickým ko?en?m své zem? na severozápad? Evropy… jedná se o postavu krále zvaného Mad Sweene (potrhlý sweene), který podle anál? zanechal všeho – tehdy v roce 632 po prohrané bitv? u Moyry – a sám bez manželky, majetku, královské koruny a p?átel strávil zbytek svého života o samot? jako pseudo-pták v korunách strom?… Frank Corcoran v této souvislosti hovo?í o fascinujících dialektických vztazích mezi um?ním a p?írodou, civilizací a sociálním chaosem, raným irským k?es?anstvím a tradi?ním pohanstvím (tento motiv ostatn? uslyšíme ve druhé z dnešních kompozic jako klí?ové téma)…

Frank Corcoran hovo?í o své skladb? Sweeney’s Farewell jako o nejkratší a nejpodivn?jší ze svých skladeb zabývajících se tematikou tohoto malého bláznivého mytologického krále… Byla realizována v Elektronickém studiu Technické univerzity v Berlín? a její podtitul “farewell” – ve?írek na rozlou?enou – ten odkazuje k tematice p?ítomnosti zvuk? v našem život? a jejich neopominutelnosti … Sweeney dává v této skladb? Franka Corcorana r?znými zvukovými projevy sbohem tomuto sv?tu… Sweeney’s Farewell.

poslech 1: Frank Corcoran: Sweeney’s Farewell

Dozn?la miniaturní kompoizice hlavního protagonisty našeho prvního zastavení nad sou?asnou irskou scénou akustických um?ní – jejím autorem je Frank Corcoran. Jeho druhá kompozice – tém?? osmnáctiminutová – se dotýká p?edevším (a velmi pozoruhodn?) už d?íve zmín?né tematiky jakéhosi antropologického pnutí mezi silnými pohanskými ko?eny a relativn? mladou k?es?anskou tradicí. Frank Corcoran zvolil pro akustické ztvárn?ní této tematiky formu skute?n? lapidární – sáhnul po p?dorysu ?ímského mešního ordinaria … Vznikla tak elektroakustická Quasi Una Missa – cyklus akustických emblém? s názvy Kyrie – Gloria – Sanctus – Agnus Dei, cyklická akustická kompozice, která jde jazykovým rozp?tím od starodávné keltštiny p?es st?edov?kou latinu až k sou?asné angli?tin?, od hudebních motiv? Josquina des Prés až k Johnu Cagovi a ve veliké materiálové rozr?zn?nosti t?žko p?ehlédnou (navíc autorem p?iznanou) inspiraci (nebo podv?domou dedikaci?) navazující práv? na fenomenální Irský cirkus Johna Cage z roku 1979. A není snad náhodou, že ob? tyto kompozice vznikly v úžasném klimatu Studia Akustických um?ní v Západon?meckém rozhlasu v Kolín? nad Rýnem…

Jsem rád, že Quasi Una Missa Franka Corcorana m?že dnes v noci znít éterem Radioateliéru a aby byl ten zvuk milý vašim uším, to vám od srdce p?eje Michal Rataj.

poslech 2: Frank Corcoran: Quasi Una Missa

použité CD:
Výrobce CD: col legno, N?mecko 2003
WWE 1CD 20214

1

Autor: Michal Rataj

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2018 BAVARIAN RADIO COMPOSER PORTRAIT FRANK CORCORAN

BAYERISCHER RUNDFUNK

Composer Portrait Ulrike Zoeller

Der irische Komponist Frank Corcoran

Von Ulrike Zöller

Die Klänge seiner Kindheit in der Grafschaft Tipperary am irischen
Fluss Shannon bestanden aus Flussrauschen, Naturgeräuschen und, wie
Frank Corcoran schmunzelnd erzählt, einem „Schweineorchester“, 100
Schweinen in vielen Tonlagen. Mit 21 Jahren hörte er zum ersten Mal ein
Streichquartett und begeisterte sich so sehr für die Musik, dass er
neben seinem Studium der Theologie und Philosophie auch Musik
studierte.

In den Studienjahren in Dublin, Rom und Berlin entdeckte der
Komponist bei sich die Fähigkeit, seine Faszination für alte Mythen,
die Erinnerung an die Klänge seiner Kindheit und seine literarische
Begeisterung in Musik umzusetzen.

An der Hochschule für Musik in
Hamburg lehrt der 1944 geborene Corcoran bis zu seiner Pensionierung
Komposition. Daneben schreibt er in vielerlei musikalischen Formen, für
verschiedene Klangkörper, Ensembles, auch mithilfe elektronischer
Mittel.
Immer wieder aber scheint bei seinen Kompositionen die alte
Welt der Druiden, der irischen Heiligen, der Feen, der Naturwesen und
weitsichtigen Literaten durch – ebenso wie die ersten musikalischen
Eindrücke seiner Kindheit:
Die archaischen Klänge der Totenklagen wie
auch das „Schweineorchester“ seiner ländlichen Heimat.

13 MARCH 2015 ORCHESTRAL CONCERT FRANK CORCORAN

RTÉ National
Symphony Orchestra

Martin Johnson cello

Kenneth Montgomery
conductor

Frank Corcoran
Cello Concerto [30’]

world premiere

Beethoven
Symphony No. 6 in F, Pastoral [39’]
RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra

2014–2015 Season

Patron, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra: Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland
Martin Johnson CELLO Kenneth Montgomery CONDUCTOR

Friday 13 March, 2015 / National Concert Hall Dublin

2019 NEW STRING QUARTET

>> Frank Corcoran on his new STRING QUARTET :
>>
>>
>>
>> After Bartok , Ligeti and Lutoslawski how can I write something hot and strange ?
>>
>> ( On May 1. I will be SEVENTY FIVE . My new quartet aims for tension, unity. How ?
>>
>> Easy.
>>
>> Difficult. )
>>
>> Everything must flow from
>>
>> the opening bar of Mov. 1. , ” Allegro irascibile ma nobile ” .
>>
>> Bar One’s motiv yells for an electric tautness from each instrument. Each uses from my Frank Corcoran Scale the same 4 notes ( G A flat C sharp and D ) .
>> My Leitmotiv provides the building-blocks for the first movement ;
>>
>> – each phrase, instrumental colour and tonal region, all my motivs ,
>> these musical protests or denials, – all come out of that Bar One .
>>
>> So my architectural ideal here is just that of the great string quartets , Stravinsky’s Three Pieces , Webern , Schoenberg ,Alban Berg
>>
>>
>> Movement Two is a play of pizzicati and arco celebration of the melodies which I weave out of the Frank Corcoran 7 -Note
Scale.
>>
>>
>> Movement Three is marked “Allegro Barbaro ” and ” feroce e ruvidissimo ” .
>>
>> The throbbing dyads of all four instruments intersect and interlock , descend or ascend,they saw ( a Saudi bone-saw ? ) the torture.
>>
High voltage. Kinetic art. Take your pick. Guantanamo or Gethsemane .
>>

2005 N.S.O. PREMIERE OF “QUASI UN LAMENTO” for Chamber Orchestra

QUASI UN LAMENTO Frank Corcoran

( for the N.S.O.I Premiere of this new work on March 8. 2005 )

If Orpheus had had three saxophones to hand, he, too, would have availed of their power- to mourn. Or an accordeon.

Still, it’s important to get rid of bleating, the whine the old cow died on.

Music can lament ( -though it should get rid of the merely private, merely biographical ) ;
it can bewail not so much any “Dies Irae” as the very passing of that time which our temporal art is made of.

Even without double reeds in a particular register, the composer’s plangency begins its unsettling task.

eg. In Vasari’s Corridor of the Florentine Uffizi is a fine Roman copy of the original Greek sculpture, “Marsyas Being Flayed Alive “; the string-player, God Apollo,takes his slow, awful revenge on Marsyas, an innocent oboist. Marsyas’s massive, bound torso is bursting with pain.

My short one-movement work,my musical sculpture, screams and moans. Its seven winds easily overpower anything the string-quartet may whimper or moan.
Percussion and piano add yet a third layer of violence. The accordeon at the close then whimpers its rising ” KYRIE ” from theGregorian Requiem Mass, its only five notes ( Doh, Re, Mi, Fa, Mi ) , the most fundamental of all the archetypes of Western music.

2019 THOUGHTS ON THE NEW “QUASI UN DITTICO” FOR 11 STRINGS

What will the last note of the high solo violin be ?

F Sharp !

Why ? – Because it’s also the first; also because I feel that 6-note descent of ” my” scale of F sharp, E flat, D, C sharp, A flat and G. ( Other tones also will
pull – eg. A ; and the G, F sharp ,- and then from my Frank Corcoran’s Scale Inverted, we have the extra tonal artillery of G, F sharp, C sharp, C, B natural, A flat and F ).
– All pulling towards G – or to its , well not dominant but contra-pole, C sharp.

Trying now to finishing the second movement ” Allegro ” after the first Slow Movement. It appears now as a slowing down from its
initial fast chord repetitions, fierce energy. It deccelerates to sweet collapse, to the lyrically rhetorical solo violin. Repeated chords ( 6- or 5-tone collections ) are both directed AND subtly re-coloured; yes, the full eleven strings – TERRIFIC. Reduce them to bare bones , to their own decay. Yet,

the final solo violin is also a tribute to the ” beauty ” of the cadencing – somehow ! – with that leader’s appoggiatura G onto that

deepest register fifth of A flat and E flat; then that rising sixth A – F sharp, hopeful ? Is this a historical relic ? A tiny chance ?

So semiotics on eleven strings ? ( My slow opening movement had to aim at economy, polyvalency, every sigh and interval and dotted rhythm and crossing lines and Wacky Walz idea and composed funeral-march, slowly hesitating last thoughts on lower strings … magnificent.

FRANK CORCORAN IN CONCERT DEC. 1 2013 HUGH LANE GALLERY / DUBLIN

MUSIC FOR THE BOOK OF KELLS for 5 Percussion And Irish Pianist :

My Fulbright year in the U.S.A. had been long and wonderful.In summer 1990 then the University of Wisconsin Library commissioned
my new work to mark its acquisition of a beautiful Lucerne facsimile edition of the
Book of Kells.

My ( one movement ) work is an imaginative sound-scape of Early Medieval
Ireland with all its saints and sinners and druids and shamaans and churches
and battle-fields, a world of Homeric heroes and Christian mystics,
monastic asceticism and worldly colour.
It is no mere programmatic work
but an ” abstract ” composition in its own right. Here is terse
musical discourse with the eternally fresh sounds of beaten bronze,
metal, wood and steel.

TRAUERFELDER / GOIRT AN BHRÓIN for 4 Percussion :

These five short chapters in my book of pain, my “Fields Of Sorrow”,
were born in 1995 when the Hamburg Culture Minister , Christine Weiß,
asked me to compose music to commemorate the 50 th. anniversary of the
Hanseatic city´s Jewish community´s liberation from Auschwitz.
I protested :
“I am neither German nor Jewish”…. Yes, we Irish have had our full of
fields of sorrow ; and yet the mystery of this particula Black Hole is
something quite other.
Can music express suffering ? Horror? Yes, it can – Orpheus´s music
did. Also there is that of Marsyas ( the wind-player ) being flayed alive by
Apollo (- the string-player ) .
My five short chapters tell their own, different stories: in the first
, bells and vibraphone insist on the drums´ horrible message. Chains,
police-whistle and wood-blocks in the second initiate the chase. In the
third crotales get their hard blows , anti-melody on the vibraphone. (
Music is always metaphor) . Triangles are bright spots of pain. In the
last chapter , all lights dim.
The dead, muffled timpani, are alone.

FRANK CORCORAN

25 AUGUST 2018

Festival of Families

25 August 2018 – Croke Park, Dublin

Mornington Singers was the featured choir in this event involving singers, dancers, performers and musicians from across Ireland and all over the world, with a musical score arranged and conducted by David Brophy.
21: anniversary concert

23 June 2018 – Trinity College Chapel, Dublin
Orla Flanagan, conductor

2018 marks the 21st anniversary of Mornington Singers. We celebrated this milestone and our twenty-one year history with a concert featuring some of our favourite music from over the years, and were delighted to have a number of our former members join us in an encore.

William Byrd: Sing joyfully
Colin Mawby: Alleluia, Christus resurrexit
Rhona Clarke: Regina coeli
Frank Corcoran: Caoine
James MacMillan: The gallant weaver