Frank Corcoran

irish composer


March 17 2008 Dutch Radio ” Mad Sweeney´s Shadow” Frank Corcoran Portrait including:



April 27 2008 Concorde Ensemble ( Hugh Lane Gallery Dublin ) ” THE LIGHT GLEAMS .

May 10 ” ( Cerkin Castle, Llubjana ) ” “

MAD MARCH HAIKUS – Variations On Issa

Matt, The Thrasher, gave
Her iron-dusted petals.
Their molecules kissed.

This mountain is sick.
Bird, beware all ferritin
Of a high recluse.

The mosquito blood
Sang in the shining syringe
Brown sultry music.

Na cuisleanna ag
Iompar ualaigh dearg na marbh.
Fear bréige órga.

E s´illumina
Il spaventapasseri.
Sera dei morti…

Hear that colour song –
Crimson wine, dark blueberry;
Insects have no blood?

Ease out that rice-plant .
How badly she planted it !
Slowly it rises, green.

Blossoms´ferrous pain
I am a sour-sweet cherry!
Big world now bigger.

Little mountain-bird,
Coo not; woo not my iron
In its thick sick blood.


This is ferrous thundering outrageous . I was not asked.To accept our recalcitrant gene C 282 Y which had mutated mutely enough in a West of Ireland bog, in let´s say ca. 550 B.C. with my neolithic bog-crowd of the blood which was up. This is on sanguine me as it is on my children´s boggy consanguinity, a haemo-outrage which rather makes a hames of plans for a quiet and holy life with the water-cress and the swine-herd´s heeled dinge in the mud of my forest-clearing, pink autumnal sun slanting .
This waste of iron in my body or yours was unheard of, cromatosis unsung at the field-day for Celtic leeches and the physicians of Old Ireland at Ould Ferrous Fair. Now for New Blooded Ireland. Bring down the Ferritin readings, and iron-levels in blue blood, your low-slung speed and slung-behind-you forest harp. And would you mind playing us a ” No grief is good grief ” planctus while the ferritinous outrageous is sucked out with phlebotomizing deceits for vacuum-bottles extracting our life-raspberry juices. Play us also that older harpers´ tune: ” Bring out the bright wine of your veins, missus! “.
I was mocked by the mute microcosmos of gene Cork 282 Yourself . Iron it is is in the blood, iron is in the man, iron the mark and marrow sometimes of somatic courage . A steely, cold eye , a ferocious friendship help while veins are bleeding, letting, releasing what was never wanted like that in that West of Ireland bog, our volcanoes scarcely muted, the Irish-speaking wolf co-habiting with the Great Elk. Blather on is another ploy of some leeches to distract from our amassing ferritinously unfunny minerals planning their comfy storage in thy life-blood till you´re a little older, a little bit colder, and ´tis then they´ll creep out and they´ll maxi-mushmake your organs´ music. Wait and feel ! ” Wei tan phöl “, is what she´d be bound and trussed to say, wrapped up in her unwashed mouse-droppings shroud, watching the needle seek the black-red wine, beaded bubbles winking in the syringe, in good strong bog-man veins. It flows, dietary iron overload, my ironic health, our paenchymal cells and all zygosity unwanted . Good ghosts of Trousseau and Professor Recklinghausen, leave the leeches snooze. Steely Sparta, we were not told, knew nothing of a cryptonite-overload in their warriors at The Hot Gates . Bronze and steel may break my bones but only iron will play my organ-music riotously, raucously , ferro-techno Rundlied a-pounding in scraggy pancreas , fat liver, fat life. It is because iron does not pity. Ferritin will not spare poor rich or poor sods in any West Irish bog , we are back in ca. 550 B.C. – the bog that embedded Our First Parents of all that harbour mutant C 282 Y for forty fat years and then twenty lean and then, if they don´t phlebotomize their big bloody red selves very quick, another twenty of funk , beflunked, organs shrunk and Down the Old Bog Road it shall be, surly sir. Prepare that vacuum-bottle, this our helping needle. Prick illusions, pray, prick our plans but leave us a beaded future, our liquid dark-blue bubble. ( Sterile, of course. ) Throw only then away what´s painlessly extracted, using vacuum and gravity and the vein´s own common sense. We will distinguish further between haemoglobulous and hobgoblin and we´ll let minerality and plain old anaemic being be, blood being thicker than iron-water, ion-blood being heavier than ferrous rinsings, the leavings of the blood-system´s butter-churn, the scum of the bog and iron-ore stores unattended till late in the day of the forest-clearing down by water-cress and cows´ milk sup in a mud-deli gouged by an unwashed swine-herd heel, the blood urging in pancreas, liver, deep heart´s core as well. Or consider the scarecrow and I this evening. In his veins no blood, no problem, no ruddy courage. No chromatic melody either. And yet remember his holy saw-dust , please, when the crimson clouds blow on. Do not forget sour blue-purple grape- and vein-juice nor yet your haemoferritin factory when we get to putting out the lights. Waste not, want not, pouring down the sink your vein´s beastings , not venery, yes pumpery; thus I muse as I bask in the anaemic dip in iron energy; only then leave aside her unwashed mouse-dropping shroud for some slight post-transfusionary hours , sailing out to the sun-set at the Great Red Blood-Orange Bar of Mr. Whistler. “Wei tan phöl”, “No grief is good grief” ” Bring out the bright wine of your veins, missus!” – all established traditional-veined ayres for the tuned-up harper couchant. Also his dance-tunes: ” Keep the bottle sterile”, ” Love thou a shiny syringe” or ” Mutant down the ould bog-road” , these consolations of the red badge of his courage, thin enough and slow to drip .


February 2008

ACOUSTIC TURN ( Wilhelm Fink Verlag. Petra M. Mayer Editor ) contains text and “Acoustic Turn” DVD of my May 4. 2006 illustrated lecture in Castle Salzau on ” Quasi Una Missa” ( 1999 West Deutscher Rundfunk commission; it won the 2002 Swedish E.M.S. Prize )


No bark ! ” I will never get enough recognition as a great singing hound ! I´ll never get what I desire and deserve and crave and readily yelp for and would kill for ;how I´d love to be rolled up in soft recognition, down recognition with Wolfie Good Gawdawg. I am now bloodily certain, the dog desires and he deserves and he craves and he yelps and he would kill for and he licks for and he would betray for exactly that quantity of recognition that a lollupadawgoddydawggy desires and craves and salivates and ruins and ravages and eventually rips himself apart for. ”
No bark! No deserve for whelps getting a just bit of tit for Tat, De Whinger. Nothing. When old Mother Hubbard got there, no bark ! The cupboard bare, pup ! No bark! A sheep-dog that has killed will die, he knows that . No bark! No four-legged chances in Hell of Dawg Redemption. No bark! Happy a bitch that won´t start whining again: ” I can´t get the love my doggy Ich needs, the love that drives the stars which our carnivores ravage for and ruin for. But if Dog is God, well, Gawd is Dawg as well .”
No bark! (The canine is an animal forever unclean, putrid, says the Prophet, notwithstanding his own unwashed desert background. ) Whinge how you will for your hope. Try higher up the octave, artful whine.
Art is not bark, yet consider Bishop Thomas Kearns´s holy doggerel , his EVENING DOG HYMN of 1705 : ” Teach me to live, that I may dread / The grave as little as my bed.” Surely this is not far removed from the hound-dawg´s dinner-song: ” I want recognition before I´m dead! I can´t get no ! ”
Bark! Save me from the grave and holy ! Eating dog chop is, regionally considered in South East Asia, not wrong. But to drown Gawd Dawg is always a grave sin.
Consider: it was the third day. Uneasy the chain of Lollupadawggie´s child-breaking, heart-wringing squeal : ” I can get no !” In the sack Dawg – Gawd floated a little, but then was held under; a hound and not a whimper!
No bark! Teach us to die under water in the sack which the two strong men held down for a long time, no ripping apart, no dog´s quarter, no recognition before Wolfie Lollup Dawgawdawg died; never get now what that hound desired and craved and was drowned for. No bark of recognition before wet agony was imposed, was initiated, took place, was meted out, was covered up, was sold to us children looking for a sign, a dog`s soft whinge or a few last bubbles from the now motionless sack – observing the dog´s water-boarding and that waterdeath, his water-justice and -cramp and -terror in all those who go down to the sea in a tied sack held under water for twelve bursting dog-minutes, seeing cynic suffering and doggerel suffering, and dogged agony, then that cosmic indifference ; and not a shout for gawddawg-lollopy “justice” or barked ” redemption” or snarled ” resurrection ” up out of six feet of drowning water in his heavy death-sack, to be untied only on the third day .
No bark! No strife! No struggle! All manner of watery deaths shall be well! All dawg-tears to be wiped from drowned eyes, full fathoms hounding ” I shall get no recognition. ” – To sleep in one´s trussed-up water-sack , awaiting the cosmic trumpets. For in that wet dream of dog-drowning what will waver in the wave for Wolfie Gawd Dawg or Tat De Puppy Whinger ? No bark ! Mute this : ” It is unknown. And was unknown. And never will be known. Es ist die ververborg´ne vinsternisser der ewigen Gotheit! Do not google Dagawd! ” Down, loppuppie ! Mother Hubbard´s arrived, dogs! Keep at a quiet hoarse bay all little craves and yelps and recognition to kill for and to lick for and, oh yes, to betray for. Salivating, ruining, ravaging and rip apart for. A dog´s life, a dog´s death: recognition is dormition, is all. All you can get. Bark! No bark! It is the unknown. And was unknown. And will be.


I´d asked for a fine shower of left hand pizzicati . Delicately silvery. Difficult. We rehearsed the new string quartet near Rodin´s bronze haunch in the central hall of the Hugh Lane Gallery. How much bow-hair for the ” col legnos” ? I was glad to be back in rainy Dull Bin ( – I quote a colleague; he shall remain nameless, his quip writ on sullen dock-waters ) from Burg Ham, seeing Jack Yeats and T.P.Flannegan and those Barry Cooke pictures again. The invernal, special luminosity of the afternoon prompted this: why was it that, heard in such an ambience, such a special art-gallery, my new quartet reinforced the fullness of time which all astonished ears will hear , the work´s reeking temporality , an ensemble´s narration of the stringy sections as they unreeled like a long fishing-line in the Georgian room ?
It´s derived from the opening clot, the tangled skein of four voices, a knot of strings, cat-gut, I was gravely telling my agogic audience next morning at The Composer Talks, He Shoots From The Hip , Belvedere Apollo Animates His Hearers. They nodded approval. Let us be moved by the cat´s suffering. The sum of its parts equals the whole screeching, sawing, amputating thing. A quartet of strings seeks a quiet ending after whose travail ? I did not trot out – once again – my Composer´s Breakfast Argument, how words move, music moves, but only in time. Rilke and Rodin and T.S.Eliot rustled a little. My four musicians started together. They knitted and joined and fitted and soldered, creating great arched lines, flageolet chorales, little solos and bits of tutti, gridded and non metric music. It became one drawn-out musical thought-process . What, O Hugh Lane Gallery Trinity, if there´s actually nothing behind the must- green Director´s Door ? What had I, composing the quartet, been thinking of ? Consider: A musical enough farmer successfully sold five pigs at the Borrisokane market. Pig number one he delivered to the buyer, then he drove home to bring the second pig into town; this he also delivered to the dealer ; likewise pig number three and then his remaining fourth and fifth . It was the five trips and the separate pig-deliveries which finally compelled the buyer to ask if this way of selling five animals wasn´t a terrible waste of time. ” Time”, our philosopher-farmer´s immortal answering twist to St. Augustine´s theme :” But , shure, what is time to a pig ? ” Zbigniew Herbert ( he was in great poverty at the end, the Polish poet returned to die “at home” ) would have laughed his philosophic guts out. No mean musician himself, his REPORT FROM PARADISE, the closing lines, would have fitted in at the Hugh Lane Gallery:
” As it is now every Saturday at noon / Sirens sweetly bellow / And from the factories go the Heavenly proletariat / Awkwardly. Under their arms they / Carry their wings like violins.”

So how does each new phase of life follow from the previous one? Logically, or through a sudden discontinuity? Do I draw strength from a false belief that I am changing and growing, when in fact I´m stubbornly staying the same? In the hall Rilke was silent as the grave. Eliot in the Gallery buried himself embarrassedly, a cluttered montage. Rodin´s bronze haunches stood in bronze stillness.
Yes, everything in that string-quartet was derived somehow from My Gesture One´s sounding material. The whole thing was writhing in rawls of left-hand pizzes and wood-taps and lyric phrases of high, beautiful pathos and prayer and sigh and yell. There is , as a point of fact, in this composition no Marsyas to be flayed alive ( he was a wind-man, a mind-blower, a doomed aulos-player of Sweet Grecian Blues ) , it´s all cat-gut sheen. The players could down- and up-bow third- and sixth-stoppings in the middle of my synchronized mess, lyric droppings , melodic curlicues, heart-stops and stunning stunts way up on the E-string, dark Rembrandteries on a low viola, a cello caoine.
I didn´t dare trot out My Unanswered Question: was the premiered work a reflection of , or derivement from, or reaction to , or expression of and metaphor for this composer´s breakfast ? For eg. leaves out of the chapters of my life ? Actually , I didn´t think so. What then, so ? For my belief in form ? For words´and tones´ tautological motion in time ? Smart thinkers lump mathematics, chess and music together because they do create their own auto-referential worlds and rules and discourse and solutions to sublimity, economy, daring, wordless courage . Will we here have to add to this short list the ” art” of fishing and cooking and driving while drinking vintage red and , maybe,composing a dream´s end or a story about five pigs and a farmer or an explanation why somebody would go at all to the Marsyas / Apollo trouble of writing a new string-quartet ?
Will we ? Chess, okay. Mathematics , too, is a closed shop. Music, however, gets in under layers of skin-cancer , affects breath and heart-beat and growing old in that rainy, wintry Hugh Lane Gallery of visual and musical arts, wringing withers , touching woe and ecstasy and, at least so it felt, timelessness. Odd. I was sweating. I was in the musical now. Yet it was definitely unreeling. A sequence of quartetish happenings. A skein unravelling at great speed. Rilke and Eliot hid further. Only Rodin´s haunches, fine bronze poured, remained. What was time and being to a pig ? Could Jack Yeats have painted that ? Had shining Apollo any answer ?
Zbigniew Herbert again: ” Marsyas / Howls ! / Before the howl reaches his tall ears / Apollo reposes in the shadow / Of that howl…. ” I see see them four now, my Quartet for the End of Time. St. Augustine plays a big cello line. Jack Yeats is washing a painted viola; the philosophical farmer plays the second violin and his fifth, sold, siderificated pig leads.

String Quartet No.3


After my ” MAD SWEENEY” generated works of the mid-nineteen nineties ( ” BUILE SUIBHNE / MAD SWEENEY” for Speaker and Chamber Orchestra , 1995, Text by Seamus Heaney ) , this is my ” Quasi Un Quartetto”, the last of the ” Quasi” series.
In the sense that today no composer can remain totally innocent. I write in full knowledge of what Beethoven and Kurtag, but also Berg, Lutoslawski and Ligeti have accomplished with this most fluid and polzphonic-polyvalent medium of music. Mine is in one surging , flowing movement, a kind of musical stream-of-consciousness, referring and feinting and discharging all the elements of fast / slow / violent/ lyrical/ dense/ thin / total stringiness of filigrane. As with Beethoven, everything is extracted out of the opening idea, a clotted knot of tones and intervals spewing out thousands of shapes, chords, soli and tutti. The non-sznchronized passages collide with and are controlled by the metrical music. By the end of this dense, dizzying flow of thirteen minutes , the whole musical argument is born. Quasi.





Sunday January 13th 2008

Callino Quartet

Frank Corcoran String Quartet No. 3 (2007) première

Gyorgy Kurtag Officium Breve In Memoriam Andreæ Szervánszky Op. 28

L. van Beethoven Quartet in E-flat major, Op. 74, “The Harp:”

Pre-concert talk 11.30am:
Frank Corcoran will speak about his new string quartet.

The Callino Quartet is an internationally successful string quartet formed in 1999. They regularly broadcast on Lyric FM and BBC Radio 3 and have also appeared several times on RTE television. They have toured in Norway and Holland several times and also appeared at festivals in Lithuania, Italy, Czech Republic, and have also performed several times in Canada.The Callino Quartet was awarded a Special Prize at the 2002 Paulo Borciani String Quartet Competition for their performance of Haydn and since then has enjoyed collaborations with such diverse artists as the Vanbrugh, Vogler and Belcea String Quartets, double-bassist Edgar Meyer, pianist Barry Douglas, the Paris-Bastille Wind Octet and jazz guitarist John Abercrombie.The Quartet has commissioned and premiered new works by Ian Wilson, Raymond Deane and Finnish composer Kimmo Hakola and worked closely with Edgar Meyer, Peteris Vasks and Franghiz Ali-Zadeh on their works for string quartet. Recent and forthcoming performances include appearances at the Cheltenham, Sligo New Music and Clandeboye Festivals, concert tours of Scotland as winners of the Tunnell Trust Award, concerts in Ireland and the U.K. and a Wigmore Hall debut performance. Earlier this year they released their first commercial CD of works by Irish composer Ian Wilson to great critical acclaim. The Callino Quartet’s own annual festival takes place over the Easter Weekend in Co. Cork, Ireland.

For further information contact
Gavin O’Sullivan
ph: +353-87-2456971

The Sundays @ Noon Concert Series is funded by Dublin City Council and grant aided by The Arts Council/ An Chomhairle Ealaíon.