Frank Corcoran

irish composer

Home » Archive by category "Humble Hamburg Musings" (Page 4)

JUNE 2015

New works by Frank Corcoran

performed in Italy this summer

Frank Corcoran, who divides his time between Hamburg and Italy, will introduce two concerts in Orvieto in

Umbria and Bolsena featuring his work.

The performers are three of Frank’s friends from the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra – cellist Martin Johnson, violist Adele Johnson, and pianist Fergal Caulfield.

The programme will include piano trios from Schubert, Brahms, David Popper, and the first three movements from Frank Corcoran’s new work, 8 Irish Duets for Cello and Piano. Based on Irish slow airs, the composer describes them as being, “neither neo-romantic settings, nor neo-Bartok, nor neo-minimalist and yet neo-Corcoran.”

The concerts take place at the Teatro Mancinelli, Orvieto, on 31 July, and a similar programme in Bolsena’s Piccolo Teatro Cavour on 2 August.

In other news, a book on the composer entitled FESTSCHRIFT FRANK CORCORAN

and edited by Hans Dieter Gruenefeld will be launched this autumn in Dublin.



Frank Corcoran ( 2014 )

Five dogs or seven Fuenf Hunde, sieben,
Snarl in the cold April air Bellen im kalten April:
Barking: ” Kill the Spring !” “Toetet den Fruehling !”

Who goes here ? – Summer! Wer ist’s ? – Der Sommer.
My pen moves on white paper…. Stift schreibt auf weissem Papier.
Soft horns . Clarinets. Klarinettenmusik

Bits if sticky sleep. Der Schlaf noch klebend
( My eye tries to see itself ) Das Aug will sich selbst anglotzen
Morning-birds chitter. Morgenvoegel, zwitschert.

Suppose God is light ? Ob Gott doch Licht sei ?
A mountain’s shadow purple ? Ist der Bergschatten purpur ?
” Ciunas, a h-anaim !” Sei still, o Seele!

Whisper “Tramonto ” – ” that sunset” “Sonnenuntergang”
Tiptoes through this , my window. Wispernd durch mein Fenster
– Well, is this , then, death ? Ist dies dann der Tod ?



The trouble is the flute –

I’ve heard too many Flatterzunges of the ” avant WHAT ” of those sixties, Gazzeloni and other giants excellent

blowers of just WHAT for young

Stockhausen ( awful ! ) and breathy young Boulez ( wasn’t much better on the quick-ear ) and other fluted


My ” IT SOARED A BIRD” re-entered terrain I’d swore I’d never again .

So each of my 3 short movements must be unashamedly different, over-theatrical, yet keep the sigh in a tiny

interval, the memory of an archetype, a suggestion of sweet or sour.

No neo – anything ; my mighty flute phrases striding, my ( as usual ) orchestrally thought pianoforte.

Mov. 1 with its modest
Irish tin-whistle of my early Tipperary fifties and its Debussyan ” Tres Mod’er’e ”
My Alto Flute in Mov. 2 sobs and swings and startles with its still
fresh chromatic notes and appoggiaturas , its lows and highs.

In Mov.3 I ( once again ) have to conquer the Standard Bartokian Model with fast, driving, repeated
piano chords, the piccolo unleashed, high and cruel, its highest registers conquered.

“IT SOARED A BIRD” for Flutes ( including Tinwhistle ) and Piano.
No bad self-discipline at all, a few sleeplessnesses.


Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin

10–13 April 2019

Dublin Sound Lab is pleased to announce the Music Current 2019 festival programme is now online –

Considered as the ‘Fringe’ of Irish new music festivals, MUSIC CURRENT is a platform for the newest contemporary music, hosting five concerts over four days.

ow in its fourth year, the festival programme has a decidedly theatrical flavour

The festival opens with a double-bill programme: SWEENEY LIVES !

featuring three major ‘radiophonic’ work by Irish electronic music pioneer, FRANK CORCORAN , plus a trio of

composer/performers from German collective Stock11, one of the most thought provoking music groups performing



Dear God ,

– Anglosaxon , Celtic, Old-Turkish , okay,

Language buckles and bends as I pray : ” May Ulrich Leyendecker now rest – with Thee – at YOUR right shoulder

. his troubled life and his great

compositional vision and instrumental surge ( Oh YES ! )

existing now and ” Now ” for ever . With You, God ( – Capital letters , Si ! ) ”

Your old ( a ) theistic servant in the ( composers ) vineyard of the Lord…. ”


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



Sendungen in 2014 und 2015:

25.01.2014 I 20:00 – 22:00 Uhr
Kleine Schule des musikalischen Hörens
Frank Corcoran hört das Violinkonzert von Johannes Brahms

21.06.2014 I 20:00 – 22:00 Uhr
Kleine Schule des musikalischen Hörens:
Frank Corcoran hört „Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche“ von Richard Strauss

20.09.2014 I 20:00 – 22:00 Uhr
Kleine Schule des musikalischen Hörens:
Frank Corcoran hört die 9. Sinfonie von Antonín Dvoøák

01.11.2014 I 20:00 – 22:00 Uhr
Schuberts „Winterreise”
Eine Sendung von Frank Corcoran und Gerhard Müller


04.04.2015 I 20:00 – 22:00 Uhr
Kleine Schule des musikalischen Hörens
Frank Corcoran hört Mozarts Jupiter-Sinfonie


JANUARY 1 9 2010

National Concert Hall. Dublin . 13.00

“Horizons” Concert with the National Symphony Orchestra , Naomi O´Connell soprano, Conductor : Colman Pearce.

Featured composer : Frank Corcoran

( Composer´s Pre-Concert Talk at 12.30 SHARP ! )

Frank Corcoran: FOUR PRAYERS for Mezzosoprano and Orchestra . ( World-premiere )

In these four orchestral lieder, the orchestra, accompaning the singer, “sets” and sings and carries and colours the texts and, yes, prays them.
( Music has from the beginning had its role in the Eleusinian mysteries and, much earlier, in Old Babylon and Egypt ) .

Lied One fuses John Scotus Eriugena´s staggering God – text, ” Deus est. Non est. Superest.”
– ” God is. God is not. God is beyond ” IS” ” ) with the Irish saying, “Aithníonn súil liath saol liath” ( ” It is a grey eye which sees the world as grey”. ) .
Strings and wood-winds sing with the soprano-line; percussion washes it.

Lied Two treats Henry Lyte´s traditional Victorian hymn, ” Abide with me “. ( It was this melody which the band played over and over as the great ship “Titanic” sank to its icy Atlantic grave…. ) . What once might have been saccharine has become steel. Its intervals buckle and are chromatically crushed until, at the end, brake-drums and brass are also shrieking the singer´s “Abide!”

Lied Three sets an amazing, anonymous two-liner which I found over the Neo-Classical lintel of a Hamburg 18th. c. villa.
I use the German : ” Wir bauen hier so feste / Und sind doch fremde Gäste! Und wo wir sollen ewig sein /
bauen wir so wenig ein!”
– in my English it goes : ” We´re building here so free / Our jolly building-spree ! But where we should endure , there we´re so unsure!” with the Pauline: ” We´ve here no lasting city ! We build and build like mad – a pity ! ” which become a breathless, sardonic and bitter vocal Scherzo.

Lied Four composes Meister Eckhart´s ecstatic God – text . With its prelude , interludes and postlude of massed , muted brass it aims for the final rapt ” Ewig, ” ( – “Eternal” ) with deep pulsing harp, celesta and crotales.

Frank Corcoran. QUASI UNA FUGA . World-premiere of this revised version ( 2009 ) for full orchestra .

This is in no way a neo-Baroque or neo-Bach one-movement work.
It is and it is not a fugue for 56 strings.
It is ” quasi” a fugue; the ascending “soggetto” is there, also its accompanying counter-subject . All is counterpoint ; everything is built out of the interval of the second . Fragments and smidiríní of the “theme” ( really a major-minor 12-tone scale, nothing more…. ) are heard in hundreds of bits and pieces until at the end it all morphs
into the Early Celtic chant, ” Ibunt Sancti”.
Was this the hymn which St. Brendan The Navigator and his twelve merry monks sang before having dinner on the broad back of an Atlantic whale somewhere up there near Greenland, around the year 550 or so …. ?

NOVELETTE for Full Orchestra . Witold Lutoslawski ( 1978 -79 )

Fifteen times the mighty opening chord yells, announcing the five short movements of this orchestral narrative. The Polish master calls them simply ” Announcement, First Event, Second Event, Third Event” and the accumulative ” Conclusion”. His orchestral palette is , as always full of the most beautiful and refined instrumental colours.

( Composer´s Notes )


Yes, art can be defined.
but watch the context, the cultural and historical period.
Art or arts ? Which art ?
See also Horace, the Roman poet.
See also craft ( as in 19th. c. ” Arts and crafts” ) . etc.

Clear the decks.

Where we do the defining is also important. eg. Take Ireland and, say, the contemporary art of composed music.
Why do I insist that in Ireland still today there is hardly a concept, a definition, or the possibility of defining composed musical works – composed by Irish composers – as art, indeed as Irish art, an art on a level with eg. Irish poetry, film, painting etc.

What are the causes of this blindness, this prejudice, this exclusion of this definition ?

Is it lazy thinking? Could it be lack of experiencing New Irish Music, is that it ?
Mull this over.

There have in the past been many definitions of art, of musical composition.
It´s also worth reflecting a moment on some of the things we still today could define composing as:
it is sicut fumus, like smoke, ethereal.
It is a temporal art, indeed THE time-art par excellence.
Time-bending, stretching, sculpting, stitching, overlapping, deluding, defying, conquering.

( See G. Rosenstock´s ” Buailim bob ar bhás! ” )

Composing is hope, utopian, mythic, fighting the good fight.
If “cinis aequat omnia”, still a Frank Corcoran composition will yell and shout and erect its own resistance

to John Montague´s ”
Sea of history / Upon which we all turn / Turn and thrash / And disappear… ”

Music keens, protests, praises a fightin´ transcendence beyond the grave.

Certainly, music can be defined.
Art can be defined.
Irish contemporary music fights for its place in defining Ireland, Irish art, Irish artists.



North/South Consonance


On Sunday afternoon February 15, the North/South Chamber Orchestra

under the direction of Max Lifchitz will

introduce New York audiences to five recent works by composers from Ireland and the US.

Sunday February 15, 2015 @ 3pm
Christ & St Stephen’s Church, 120 West 69th Street (between Broadway and Columbus)

New York

Admission is free – no tickets required


Frank Corcoran Quasi una storia (Nearly a Story)

Max Lifchitz Brightness Aloftfb