Frank Corcoran

irish composer


Dear Dad,

Would you now trot down to me, outta your Heaven and into my splendid Garden, Dad . Praise it and de viper here, you are “a man and not a whinger” , Dad ; laud its lithe, green-and-yellow neck up for divilment , Dad. If that tongue strikes, no more the bittern will cry in my Italian Garden nor will they find lamb or lion in the wild sky. Nor a whinge out of us little five, Dad, no whimper.( I was offered on two altars at one time , I just had to. I had . To. ) .
Cry and we weep alone to a thick barytone smather of God´s rich Italian harmonium : ” Sick est qui tantum ergo “. So c´mon down, Dad, and just accept a little glass of Italian love, a small nip of limoncello to our tangible, yellow success at husbanding and husbandry, Dad , with ripening neighbours; the purple plums may even heal worse, little-known woes.
Dad, ” I hate the sun! ” – will I save this ? Sick were our ” Tantum Ergo”s on the family´s modest harmonium . So, Heavenly Dúidín, it´s our wish, we little five, that you climb down to us in this Magic Garden. We´ll , our turn, be wanting to shin up out of this Italian-balmy air , to glide up from a barytone´s lawn-mower-pride and his sickle and clippers and leather gloves and heavy viper-boots with your jaw-bone in our hand , Dad, as a warning to life and limbo, to five mites´ hopes and fears .
Often was your agathology dressed up, marinated angelology; this garden would like to know how often . In this Lazio evening-glow . Really and truly. Dad, it´s your silence. But my garden. You´re STILL lonely up in that stellar Nunc Stans ? Dad, you gotta be tough to stick that for ever. Up there alone ?
Here I´m alone with our evening-viper. Hello, viper alone, hallo, hallo, alone Dad ; what about The Bonaventuran Light Which Created My Snake ? Not, Dad, that you ” hate the light” ? ( – Bonaventura was a reasonable my-stick, si, sic, and all these boreens of his Jacoponean- Franciscan un-sandled foot-work lead thither et whither and thence nunc. Surely, he was reared under Bagnoregio´s burning, thermonuclear sun.
No sun shone into Tullamore Jail. You told little us nothing. C´mon down now on a sun-ray, Dad, sliding into my viper-garden and forgive ( you have ) your first-born treble singer. Is it Heavenly loneliness gives a little gardener sunny pause. How awful our saintly isle is becaming , Dad, how awe-less its Second Coming, your Hibernia . You sought for Bonaventura, Happy Fra of Happy Light, up above your sunless jail-window, Da, in ( meantime, it was procreate, procreate, procreate, procreate, procreate ) Tulach Mór Jail.
So you don´t miss us five mites.You never did? On occasion – that viper flashed – I miss you, yes. – Dad, suppose YOU are my Heaven fair. Suppose It, You, equals the lonely pain, no Nirvana for Nathair Nimhe in No One´s Heaven, our Dad; it´s Our Total Flop. And yet I´ll put my Seven Last Questions to you, Dad. For a start: 1. Where have all the pixels gone ? Wo sind sie geblieben? ” An bhfaca daoinni´sliabh riamh? ” 2. Who is typing these here questions here on this snowy screen anyhow ? 3. Is Bonaventurean Light even whiter than white ? 4. Who shall ever dare judge the Judge ? 5. Are His daughters beautiful ? 6. Are you allowed to answer these questions, Dad ? – Who´s there stopping you ? 7. Supposing I did get back from you seven answers, Dad, what then ? Would it allow me to compose haptic music ? Would it ? With an inane title like : ” All The People I´ve Slept With Since 1969″, now would it ?


The leading Swiss New Music group , Ensemble Antipodes of Basle, has commissioned a new
Corcoran Octet, ” Quasi Una Sarabande” . Premiere November 30 2008 in Basle.

KUNSTMUSIK Köln ( Spring 2005 Issue ) has Frank Corcoran´s ” It´s A Cold Wind Blows On An Irish Composer”.


August 23 – 26 Ireland Weekend at Schloß Gaismar, Kassel, will feature the music of Frank Corcoran, inc. “Joycepeak Music “, ” Quasi Una Missa”, ” Sweeney´s Vision” .


Dear Jacopone,

stop twitching those toes!

Gentleman, certainly, mighty odd giullare, toady of God. Your shocked fingers fingered her ( way too ) young, ( way too ) limp hair-shirt.

Musical lawyer in Todi of the very finest stone, you saw her fatal dance, then the floor collapsed ? It was your “self ” – or hers – was meant in not-quite-yet Pope Honorius´s slim paper-back ” On Contempt Of The World ” in Todi´s only book-shop ?
Knots and thorns mixed into your she-less Umbran grallya, in your dirt you recalled it , your dancing giggles for Cristo. Fancy foot-work and the wrong side of Bonifatius, gets you into San Fortunato dungeon´s dung, lauding and lalling and crooning and moaning and keening not HER but Her Church Incontinent, My Young Bride´s Robber, A Her – Him Swindle, The Big Key To What If Not Real Walls Of Palestrina, Real Music All Lost, Bony Fazius As Well As Well Crowned , Todi´s Cristo -Debt Stopped Short , Never To Go Again, And All Our Transcendental Spam Sent Awry .
You wished to burst asunder HER onion-self , her childhood piano-lessons in “The You and I Walz” , still much stuck in C major. Why so late fingered that lovely hair-corset , her Franciscan stays and her tears? You´d not nightly ? Pope Honorius dictated in the bedroom ? You despised her hair-shift and -drawers and -shirt and -blouse and -slip and -tanga and all de dainty tings made for delight ? Poetic form was thrn for you as toads dancing in Umbria .
” Jacopone” = “Famous Séamus Dauncing”, ” Hairy Trot In Todi”, ” Her Stays Stayed A More Heavenly Knickers”, ” Bony Fazius The Worst Curse” . What morphed you at all ? That dance-hall floor or her falling hair-shirt began your ” rinnce le ceol” , best done around Todi. But how eg. despise all of “my” world ? ” All ” ? ” My” ? ” World” ? Why should you ? She ? -that rickety dancing-area collapsed on her hair-underclothes ? Her stays, your moment, jabberwocked Jim ?


21. May ( 04 Bealtaine ) . Lyric Fm Radio at 19.00 – 20.00

A rogha ceoil le Frank Corcoran . It includes ” QUASI UNA MISSA”, ” SWEENEY´S VISION” and VARIATIONS ON ” A MHÁIRÍN DE BARRA”.


These are among my bigger canvases for varying sizes of orchestra. They straddle more than thirty years of inner struggle with this composer´s ear and ounds .

The THREE ORCHESTRAL PIECES are for middle-size orchestra ( I do insist on the sub-title: ” Pictures From MY Exhibition” ) . They are my three expanding time-pictures, ca. 2 minutes, 4 minutes and 6 minutes. I was thirty years old . This work won the 1975 Dublin Symphony Orchestra Composer´s Competition.

Five years later I had left Dublin for Berlin . SYMPHONIES OF SYMPHONIES OF WIND was premiered by the O.R.F.Symphony Orchestra in Vienna 1981. Of course it is “about” more than Stravinsky´s masterpiece for 23 wind-instruments ( – at its premiere in 1918 his grave caoine on the death of Debussy was a flop with the audience , a salutary reminder to still young me as I went about stealing his ” Russian Chord” ) ; my symphony is very much “about” great masses of air , sounding wind, time shaped slowly into an enfolding 24 minutes of musical argument.

What separates QUASI UN LAMENTO , then, from the SYMPHONIES ? Well, twenty five years of a lived life, three other symphonies, many sound-sculptures, instrumental and electro-acoustic. I´d written the MAD SWEENEY series ( – better: collection of works triggered off by my 1996 setting of Seamus Heaney´s English version of ” Buile Suibhne / Mad Sweeney” . By 2005 I was coming to the end of my ” Quasi ” series , pieces of many different sizes and shapes, all of them mindful of towering musical works composed in at least these last 200 years . This ten-minutes essay for a small orchestra including three saxophones and accordeon is as much
my protest as my lament.

At around the same time I composed QUASI UN CANTO for the Zagreb Philharmonic . Here the orchestral forces are vast. My short Prelude, central Argomento and short Postludio present a big picture.

March 2007 NEWS

Bourges Electronic Music Centre has deposited all of Frank Corcoran´s electro-acoustic works in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. These include:
” Balthazar´s Dream” Berlin 1980.
” Joycepeak Musik” Studio Acoustic Music prize 1996
” Sweeney´s Vision ” WDR commission; premier prix , Bourges 1999
” Quasi Una Missa” WDR ” Swedish E.M.S. Prize 2002.
” Sweeney´s Farewell” and
” Tradurre – Tradire” DLRadioBerlin commission 2004.


It was an intolerably humid summer-night at Lake Michigan , 1990 in Milwaukee. My drained year as a Fulbright Guest-Professor in the U.S.A. was ending ; two shadows lay over the family, my wife´s insanity and the violent death of my oldest son, Rory, shortly before. The University of Wisconsin Library purchased a facsimile edition of the Book of Kells in Lucerne. It commissioned me to compose a work for this event. My soul´s flood-gates opened then. This one-movement canvas for a vast array of percussion and , at the end,
Irish pianist ( – I was he- ) paints my Early Medieval Ireland, that strange interfacing of Celtic monastic Christianity and pagan tribal forces, war , peace, prayer, cattle-stealers and saints and druids and kings…. Quiet opening bells and gongs give way to deep drums, later timpani and brake-drums, an great ocean of sound-associations .


All that we saw was his shadow under his shield

5 perc pf MS13′
Commissioned by Book of Kells Committee
of the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.
Premiere: 27 May 1990. University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, USA.
New Music Ensemble, Frank Corcoran (pf), conductor Pavel Burda.
Mad Sweeney. Percussion Modern, Frank Corcoran(pf), conductor Dieter Cichewiecz.

Black Box 1999. BBM1026

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