Frank Corcoran

irish composer

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I honour and mourn for Patrick Creagh . He died last week in Tuscany. His eighty two years were full of words, literatures,
poets and poetry, his own and others, his translations of his beloved Leopardi and of so many. A gentleman and a scholar and a grand man, Irish and English roots in his “Brasier-Creagh” of North Cork, Oxford, Radda-in-Chianti. The ´O Cré s were fiddlers and pipers and sheriffs and racy gentry and Old Irish and New. Patrick inherited so much, passed it on, crafted the right word and the well-crpentered phrase and tittle . How honour and mourn for him ? Respect that legacy? How keep my, his respect for language ? For the pared down pen? He shall not go gentle. A tone or three , too, to sing his praise, I would think, a finely jewelled work for Flute and Viola and Guitar , their sighs and tuttis and solos, legato upon staccato, Juan Gris browns and the brighter colours, of course, also. Music has been at this for so long now in our cultural history, crooning or keening our beloved dead. Praise a good man, Patrick! MOLADH!


Does travel broaden my mind ? My musical mind? Or narrow it ? Imbibe, engorge sound-impressions for a short while before the drawbridge rises protectively once more?
Dunno. Is location a Lockian secondary accident , almost irelevant to the substantial,onion-skinned ME ? How shall , who shall adjudicate this? I mostly incline to the ( surely surly? ) opinion that to stay put concentrates the energy. That my flying around airports and traipsing around tourists and walking de feet off in foreign halls, academies, museums or galleries uses limited time, ceteribus paribus, unseriously. “I move therefore I am” is weak enough, a feeble enough proof that I exist, have value, craft anything worth talking or singing about.
Today´s sky is mercifully clouded, not dappled, Italy as North European. But tomorrow !

The Crane Bag Vol. 6. Nr. 2 1982

Frank Corcoran ” I´m A Composer ! You´re A WHAT ! ? ”

Times have changed since then. Since 1982 in Ireland. Have they ? They have not. No !

21. September 2012 at the Contemporary
Music Centre OPEN NIGHT :


A short electro-acoustic work from them lost nineties, it´s one of the strangest pieces I ever made – bits of flotsam and jetsam, ocean-bed choruses and marine-land, animal-human cries and clicks and zounds as poor Sweeney, the little mad King who went schizophrenic at the Battle of Máigh Rath in 632 A.D., must bid farewell to the world, to his world of Late Iron Age, Celtic Ireland. Bizarre.


I´ve been asked to write a line on Art and Surliness.
I suppose it´s in the sense of ” the personal emotion”, ” the composer´s mood-swings”, her ” self”. He´s depressed ? Has money-, family-, meaning- and value-worries? ( – whether surly or sunny is here surely a moot point; ” surly” is as much colour as attitude ). Behind this lurks a much bigger question – how transmute ( at a minimum ) good art into
gold freed from SELF ? Into sheeny silver , a la, say, Horace ? I do believe that great ( and great er) art has lifted itself further, higher if you will ( you will ) by its own sublime bootstraps than the composer´s autobiographical swill. How so ? Form, Vollendung, perfection of poise, surely that´s it , the crafted and the crafty ( not shifty ! ) art of making at the highest level. Aim high, surly toonsmith.


They buckle, suffer,
High melting Umbran mountains.
Listen! The frog´s plop!

In the hay-barn
Sleeps my Cello Concerto,
Its tones are still still.

Music is hot air,
Dipped in Orvieto White,
My cigar dying.

Basho´s frying frog
Beside this pool where we languish,
Hot. How long, Oh Lord?

In the deep blue pool
Three generations swimming,
She and he and I.

FALLING STARS NIGHT August 10 has been ´n gone.

That´s right. Someone slapped up on YouTube Frank Corcoran´s CONCERTO FOR STRING ORCHESTRA ( David Robertson conducts the New Irish Chamber Orchestra. It is my year of 1982 ).”Corcoran´s beyond brilliant. It´s about the negative space as much as colour”.
Hmmm. Still, this is better than “He uses Rock root-position progressions and florid Qawwali music” which wins this week´s Pseuds´ Corner Prize.

August Hot , Not Wicked

“It was bought on the morn / Of the day that he was born / It was always his treasure and pride / But it stopped short, / Never to go again / When the old man died… ” ( THE GRANDFATHER CLOCK )

This is art. Folk-art. Strong accentuated the first and second beat in each line, sense and stress and rhythm in fine fettle and synch with each other, those first ( seemingly ) naive four two – accents lines and then a third three – footed line, perfectly matched by the three Titan blows of the last Sibelian : ” Old” / “Man” / “Died” !
No “high” art; but very high quality folk-poetry. And I watch its melodic line, too: you could well argue for the ubiquity of that three-note melodic cell in the first half of our song´s verse , the rhythmic assymmetry of “It was always …. pride”. In the second half then we find again that very cell plus a very few ( well, to be exact, three ) expressive leaps in the melos of our ( getting ) remarkable song-composition.
Enough ? Hold on your horses a minute: a different rhythmic parsing is also thinkable : suppose we take the cheap option and we follow the opening three lines` – – / – – / – – / – with the unfortunately thinkable banality : – – / – – – / ( then a silent / ) to
mirror as it were, an equally fatuous but boringly symmetric final ” — / / / ” plus our added silent, you remember, extra ” / ” .

. Well ? May we ? Might we ? Thinkable but worse ? Why ? Because it damn well does destroy the high charm of my first assymetry, those TWOs and then a Sibelian THREE.
Proves what ? Humble folk-art ( Appalachians? Castlecuffe ? ) works on and solders and joins carpentered assymmetry , but subtle, subtly, the big hammer-blows plus the Sibelian.

So? Need I needle more ? This study has of course ignored the assonantal whacks, great end-rhyme, those carefully chosen initial ” b” s, ” d” s, ” p” s and so on, the one-syllabled mighty whacks and blows of its woes, our anonymous ( ! ? ! ) poor ( ? ) poet´s choice of inner ” o” s or of finely and finally high-lighted ” ie” s.

Art does come from artifice, from artificial, Artemisia, arterial, Artery, archery and arch-engineering, sym- and assymetrical, the fine play of often fine details, rhythmic, melodic etc. etc. Plus the artist´s breakfast- eg. this our tonight´s delightfully poised play with phrases ´n melody of our songster´s childhood memory of a GREAT song:
” The Grandfather Clock” . A minor masterpiece . Finely composed. Mighty.


September 5 2012. Odessa Club Dublin Kaleidoscope Concert :
Andreja Malir premiers my Solo Harp “IN THE DEEP HEART´S CORE.”
Ditto. ditto Isabel Moreton in
Hannover, High Germanee…
October 25 Dublin. Martin Johnson premiers my SNAPSHOT for Solo Cello.