Frank Corcoran

irish composer


This winter I have once again had to catch myself on…

Among my tender young composer’s works and pomps from my 1970 ( I was 26 years old, now c’mon ! ) to 1990 ( I eventually became 46, bruised butnot bowed ) there are

certainly some strong, extraordinary gob-smackers and musical ear-whackers among my. Certainly.

– So how come I had so long ignored, mistrusted, forgotten even and was

uncomfortable with, even silent about these creative achievements ?

Today, late in the day , I got my hands again on a catalogue of the young Frank Corcoran’s long-forgotten

compositions from those seventies and eighties. I

was knocked sideways … So I must ask again : Why so long my lack of ” appreciation” of some of my own best works which I’ll mention here.

Take the early choral MEDIEVAL IRISH EPIGRAMMES of 1973 – here is a crispl and fresh handling of delightful Early Celtic texts ; and that choral HERR JESU CHRIST

of a few years later tackles the Baroque poetry of Paul Eber, with dark spirituality. – it breathes a quasi Black Death-terror of the 16th. century plague in Europe .

Again, I see / hear fresh and courageous colours, quasi instrumetal.. ). The orchestral

THREE SYMPHONIC PIECES ( ” Pictures From My Exhibition ” ) of 1975 explores just that, the instrumentating pencil as my paint-brush
in these dramatic movements .

Only now in late reflection do I see how that young Irish composer’s lonely struggle against a vicious ocean of

snobbery, ignorance and anti-art

prejudice and a general bankruptcy of spirit in my Dublin weakened continuously a brave young composer coming from

the Outer

Yoblands. Yes. -Out there was not only Irish total depression or economic hopelessness

but a – far worse- moral failure in our “middle class ” to accept good Irish art or artists; to understand me as a

composing artist on my Irish island ; to ever dare to imagine my extending of the boundaries of the musically permissible.

Invincible ignorance weakens.

I did not compromise; I decided not to give in in my composing to cheap solutions. Forge strong musical forms and don’t repeat yourself…

The Piano Trio, my break-through ( in 1978 ) to a new macro-counterpoint was an extraordinary victory over both my

musical material and that dreadful “musical” ( ! )ambience.

Before withdrawing to Berlin in 1979 on a Berlin Artist’s Scholarship, the Wind Quintet of that same

year shows highest qualities of, I’ll say it again and again , imagined compositional courage ( see the opening bars for those fresh , leaping upper

woodwinds ) .
No, it was no fun to have to fight national dopyness or intellectual laziness, to have to persist in a lonely composer’s microcosmos .

The fight could have snuffed them out, the creative energies . And yet those three works which I carpentered and

crafted in that first Berlin ” annus mirabilis ” . my Symphonies Of Symphonies for 23 Wind, the

2. Symphony and “Balthazar’s Dream” which was the first piece ever which I created in the electronic studies of the

Technical University are as huge as any orchestral, chamber or computer-works I have attempted since.

Many times I faltered, I nearly let that dreadful indifference and lack of resonance take over. The opera ,

“Gilgamesh” I comosed entirely alone in

the domestic, mental insanity of 1986 – 1989.

Time to stop listing here any jousts nd catastrophes and recoveries, I suppose.

By 1990 in distant America, I had crafted “Music For The Book Of Kells”,

my sounding portrait of Early Iron Ireland. Hmmm, I suppose I had won through , bloodied but unbowed. gone strange in my head and in its musical images.

Still. The lesson which I forgot for many decades since was : head down, forward fighting; never for an instant give in to the barbarians and Yahoos.

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