Frank Corcoran

irish composer


GPA GROUP LTD. Jan. 30 1989. Executive Vice-President
Seán Donlon to the ( then ) Irish FULBRIGHT Commission:
” I have known Professor Frank Corcoran since etc. and have followed his career etc. etc.
not least because he has succeeded in breaking new ground abroad for Irish musical achievement…. ”

20.Feb.1990. BOSTON COLLEGE. Prof. Mícheál ´O Súilleabháin.

” Dear Professor Corcoran, We would be delighted if you would visit us here in BC to give a seminar in composition…. ”

JOHN HARBISON ” Dear Frank, There is a kind of job-search going on at the New England ….. ” 1990 .

PARIS June 2. 1975 : RTE and the International Rostrum of Composers UNESCO: Frank Corcoran: ” Medieval Irish Epigrammes ” for RTE Radio Choir ( then the ” RTE Singers “. Cond. by Hans Waldemar Rosen. )

Roma 1968 . Prof. Roberto Masi della Università Lateranense : 26.9.68.
” Ho il piacere di presentare e raccomendare lo studente FRANCIS CORCORAN che ha seguioto i miei corsi alla Università lateranense , negli anni 1964-67 …. alla Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst. ”

Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg-Austria . The Director:
” Frank Corcoran was a Fellow at Session 189 ( ” Musical Ideas and Musical Institutions” – 22. April till 5. May. 1979 ) of the SALZBURG SEMINAR IN AMERICAN STUDIES.

Romae 28. Sept. 1968. Prof. Ferdinandus LAMBRUSCHINI , Ordinarius Theologiae Moralis in Pont. Universitate Lateranensi ROMA ) :
” Admodum Reverende Domine Francisce Corcoran, Litteris die 20 sept. datis, commendationem a me petisti ut ab adsociatione , vulgo Deutschen Akademischen Austausch ( – sic ! ) stipendia studiorum habere valeas ad curriculum theologicum in Germania perficiendum. proh dolor tantummodo hesterna die litteras tuas accepi, at spero responsionem meam tempestivam adhuc ese. Revera perlibenter testimonium tibi reddo de tuis qualitatibus intelligentiae ac voluntatis simulque de optima scientifica actuositate in addiscentis theologicis disciplinis, prout potui constatare perdurante quadriennio 1964 – 67 apud nostra Pontificiam Universitatem Lateranensem….. ”

IRISH INDEPENDENT . 1. May 1981, ” Vienna to hear Irish symphony: Tipperary-born composer, Frank Corcoran, who will in the space of a few days lecture on contemporary Irish music at the International Symposium of the WORLD MUSIC DAYS AT BRUSSELS and have two of his works played at concerts on Sunday and Tuesday at Brussels…. ”


It is the push. Or touch. Flesh of finger-tip unused. Forty years did not seek here joy. Muscular, ” thinking” down from the high point of the shoulder.

The gesture . Marry with the intention. Thus will I push, parry, point, pen and ponder, don´t stop my finger on the cool ivory now. Apparently you fight against Solera Carlos Uno. Reserva. You lose. But the best of piano music is ( seldom ) one-fingered.
How then, two ( or nine ? ) fingers ? Both trained hands press while listening to each other? No grab, not a grasp. Fingers sidle to play which music?
a. to sing my song of my seventies and of my children and ups and downs.

b. to shape for ( great ) Saint Horace the legato line plus arpeggiato chord – to liberate its arching which your ” ODES” wished to formulate ? Our Horace will have nothing of the composer´s biographical boiled egg. Art. Artfulness and artifice and great curved arches and melodic spaces and dense , massed low chords and a lot , or a little action on eighty eight , your present ivories , got it thus , you´d type up Horace thus?
One double-space lower, we´ll have to come to suffering. Here suffice it to recall Horace´s Grandiosity. Construct on GREAT piano-sculptures, with finger-flesh! Tip-toe.
“My” suffering is ” mine ” ? ? Ten fingers now desist. They rejoice in their keys´ polyphony. Very beautiful ( muscle-flab ) artifice.
Marry gesture with intended shoulder push. Sculpt through the not yet quite melodious air its illusions ( ! ) as Horace´s percussive tones are worked as wicker-basket, you see. Melody as a trick.


Suppose the sandal had been on the other frozen foot, doctor ? The scream a mere whimpered whim ? I did win the 1974 Varming Prize for Irish Composers. I did win the 1975 Dublin Symphony Orchestra Prize ( with , as it happened, ” Three Orchestral Pieces – Pictures From My Exhibition” ).
Only supposing that symphonic pat on the back had not come , the scream never to be unleashed at the nod of a redenned dudeen ? My orchestral roar against cosmic indifference?
Hide the truth; my four horns are singing it out now ! Trumpets´ dialogue between smoke and screen. ( I smell burning ) There is the loneliness angle, too. ( On his Death Certificate, par. 3., his neck after they cut him down, sore but unbroken. )
Unbowed the strings. – I meant, as in ” unbowed their backs “…. As for the percussion section, well, how right was Richard Strauss: ” never, never even dare to look in THAT direction; otherwise your tom-toms and your timp.s and all your faithful gongs and tam-tams and myriad drums will ruin her vocal line. Believe! ”
My time is short. How´ll I translate her Scream´s Shadow ? Into something more interesting ? More durable and ( subcutaneously ) more riveting ? Deeply disturbing and deploring end exploring ?


It was the year 1982. Paris in June. International Rostrum Of Composers. My programme-note to my ” THREE PIECES FOR ORCHESTRA ” ( ” Pictures from My Exhibition” ) was:
” These 3 pictures were composed over six years ago, 2´., 4´. and 6´. Tiny intervallic cells growing, expanding, dying. ” Easy.
I had in ” HIS LANGUAGE , SO FAMILIAR AND FOREIGN, as it happened just written about James Joyce´s ( ” il miglior fabbro” , cinnte ! – The best Irish composer of them all…. ) May 1907 lecture on Irish literature at Trieste University : ” Irish Literature” , lectured he, ” is divided into five chapters and two major divisions, Irish literature in Irish and Irish literature in English.”
I´ll find an echo of this in my own Muthesius Kunsthochschule 2006 Lecture on my ” QUASI UNA MISSA” ; it´s published in 2007 ” Acoustic Turn” ( Fink-Verlag ) . Easy.
“A NEW HISTORY OF IRELAND” ( O.U.P., Ed. D. ´O Cróinín ) has,
in Vol. VII, Joseph Ryan ( ” Music In Ireland”, p. 647 ) on Frank Corcoran.


Keep this to yourself ; we´ll issue a combined statement to the effect that history is bunk. Oh yes, I see, but on the other hand , surely, there was once upon a time.
Begin again, he puffing strongly, late 18th. c., cropped, no joke, felt a bit poorly after his recent hanging at the hands of harsh British yeomen.
Consider my Death-bed Argument, sez he. A good art-work is, well, good. A well-made musical composition is good. It is , has to be, good, no matter how it´s performed, whether it´s performed, whether and how it has ever been performed, whether it ever will be played, sung, hung. Its “goodness” is independent of the sum of all its performances, see what I´m getting at ?
Sicut fumus, his dudeen was reddened. ( I couldn´t help thinking, suppose that hempen rope had not broken under the turning weight ? Would his Goodness Argument remain eternally true, supposing it were even true, even if he were not there to utter it ? To have uttered it? – ever have uttered it ? Was his hanging rope good for anything ? Good for him…. )
So, he rumbled on, no stopping, got that ? So you´ll want to do your bit to have written the odd good musical work before you reach the afore-said death-bed. Yours. Whence ” Death-bed Goodness Argument”.
But what is good? I was shy. – Easy, he puffed: your good piece of music announces its initial conditions; then it teases these out to develop the maximum amount of cogent derivates from that initial question, statement, your positing of your musical starting-point. Then you stop. Easy. That is form. Good form. The relations between the parts and etc., we´ll take as proven. A good piece of work. Quod erat. Would you mind getting the cork-screw going?


March 14. New York . North South Consonance / Max Lifchitz / David Salsbery Fry , Bass : world-premiere of ” SONGS OF TERROR AND LOVE”.
March 15. New York. The Gregg Smith Singers record my new
March 30. Dublin ( National Concert Hall. Kevin Barry Room. At 6 o´clock sharp. ) Prior to her U.S. tour Theresa Fahy plays ” NINE PRATOLEVA PEARLS” for Piano.


More shy, wee Feb-Scribbles today, it seems:

1. Once they were pine-trees.
That morning came that Great Wind.
They are now no more.

2. Old tides rush in where
No hovering white angel
Dares begin its tale.

3. My hovel, my cave
Remains the same this new year
Does not it, too, age ?

4. Around Greenland
White spume of cold breakers
White noise, cold music.


It´s still shy February. Time to polish the frozen pen: well, what about ” THE FOUR SEASONS” or some such ? Let´s scribble un po´ :

1. The lark is larking
Sparkling quavers and crotchets
Its whole life-long day.

2. As the day is long / A hungry crow´s beak open /
Caws : ” I am a crow !”

3. For the womb the seed
Sighs. For light the eternal
Dark Polar midday.

4. New Year born today.
Birthday gay. But I am aged
Many years new-born.


Stop hinging! Unhinged ? ! Fact was (and still is ) that the 2010
„ FOUR ORCHESTRAL PRAYERS „ for Soprano and Orchestra ( in January 2010 , N.S.O. /
Colman Pearce, Soprano : Chloe Hinton ) with sublime God-texts by eg. Our Old Tipperary Neo-Platonist, Johannes Scotus Erigena – hey, you´d really prefer this to our post-colonial discourse ? – Okay, “my” Eriugena sank without a trace in Dublin, dear, dear
Unesco Literature Capital City.
I believed that I did continue the goodly fight; it was thru fire and dungeon. – Believe in what ?
Long after all was gone up the Killavalla chimney, ah, I did still yearn for it. Something Beyond ; desperately some Justice, somehow beyant. Mythic ironing out. Somehow. Beyond the stars. Kissing tears away from all blinded cheeks, all those just victims. Shure I did ! Beyond cosmic indifference, in a yet Friendly Albeit Just Indifference.
Believed? And in music ? I had to compose. To bend those poor tones to my will, yerra, a mere child.