Frank Corcoran

irish composer

A MEDITATION ON LIGHT

In einer eMail vom 09.04.2006 16:33:59 Westeuropãische Normalzeit schreibt FBCorcoran:


after Beckett’s line in ‘‘GODOT’’:
“The light gleams an instant”

Tiocfaidh ár lá, yes, do try to hang on to this always, but especially in
the fight for The Faith against all tonight’s Benedictine blandishments.
They, I was there, tunnelled upwards from Norcia’s grand Lower Chapel,
painting their genitalless Gesù at the third curve of the tufa in (their)
eighth century. All is not lost. Lab – ora!

So therefore: Light = Dante’s ‘‘Prime Mover’’

(-Beckett’s, too, as
it so happened).

It gleams. My violin, bass-clarinet and cello must paint that ‘‘gleeeeeee’’
in full flight and its full-mouth stop.

Genuflecting as profoundly as a Luciferian will ever now, can ever click
the knee-muscle’s innate need to worship. – Now hang on! – WHY? Why
worship? WHICH super-knee’s what’s behind much Dantesque dishonesty, trickery,
archery? Precisely Whose knee? You may laugh. It is forbidden.

What cuts off its gleaming? After, after all, one instant? We
supposed it’s His Prime Mover, – okay? Now watch, ye Benedictines! – Either:
1. its ‘‘gleaming’’ (still gleaming …. ?) is cut off after it has gleamed a full instant, remember; – but by WHOM, pray?

– or: 2. Supposing the light supposes it is worth
only supposing that it gleameth for a mere nothing, a nano -nothing ,
God’s mosquito-inspiring ‘‘instant’’? This our light therefore decides to
cease now its gleaming, mother? Whist would you stop all your gleamin’? –
A kind of Old Hebrew – Irish, you guess: ‘‘I gleam that which I shall
gleam?’’

MAGYAR RADIO/Radio Bartók Concert of May 17 2006

(Frank Corcoran’s QUASI UN BASSO for Solo Bass is performed on May 17 2006 in Magyar Radio/Radio Bartók’s Bela Bartók Centenary Concert in Budapest)

In einer eMail vom 05.04.2006 09:45:02 Westeuropãische Normalzeit schreibt FBCorcoran:

Is cumadóir ceoil mé. I am an Irish composer. The pre-industrial, rural
Ireland of my childhood in the fifties was, in a way, not unlike the small,
agricultural Hungary of Bartók’s
youth and maturity. Dublin and Budapest were, for all their artistic
short-comings, vitally important cultural metropoles. (- For Hungarian and Irish
music-lovers they still are.) Small nations both, their surrounding
neighbours often seemed culturally omnivorous, omnipotent posing a real threat
that the identity and self-respect of both little emerging States would be
gobbled up by an all greedy neighbour.

Bartók ploughed the lonely furrow. Bartók said “NO!” to cultural
tyranny. Bartók took his stance. Moral. Artistic. Not that he wanted to marry
folk- and art-music; you can’t. But as a folk-collector and as a 20th c.
composer, forging and finding his individual composer’s voice, he refused to
let lazy indifference stifle musical diversity or musical courage. Courage –
that’s it. He discovered the unknown, hidden jewels of folk-art. He
composed his own mighty musical structures. Behind both of these, yes, heroic
stances was Bartók’s refusal to give in.

My own little Ireland in my 20th c. has gone an in many ways similar path.
With very mixed results. My Irish language dies daily a thousand deaths.
Ireland, too, had a Renaissance, an explosion of Irish traditional music which
however by its very over-kill and over-exposure in the media is endangered.
As a composer in Ireland, an Irish composer, I had to plough my lonely
furrow. In my native Tipperary I had to overcome a still mightily hostile
indifference to the oldest layers of Irish singing and instrumental art. In my own
youthful struggle to compose and construct tonal structures at once private
and public, the enemy number one was Dublin’s very clearly post-colonial
dependence on a second-rate, hand-me-down, London-based music-pedagogy. Even
bits of Bartók were misused in our musical curricula, his work contextlessly, lovelessly paraded without any real understanding of where Bartók was
coming from, but shamelessly paraded as ‘‘our’’ apologia for contemporary music, as ‘‘our’’ bulwark against, say, the horrors of the Second Viennese School. And my little Ireland , politically a ‘‘free ’’Republic, had in its early days of liberation psychologically and politically not succeeded in providing
a climate of musical understanding and the respect for musical creativity
necessary to have, in its critical years, an Irish Bartók, Bartók na h –
Éireann.

My ‘‘Quasi Un Basso’’ for solo bass is my diptych for, as Bartók uses it, a mighty orchestra in a solo instrument. (I am thinking of those – now sadly ubiquitous but then so fresh, so shocking Bartók pizz.s from his basses in
the orchestral works like his ‘‘Divertimento’’ for String Orchestra, the
extraordinary long legato lines near the end of his ‘‘Music For String Orchestra, Percussion and Celesta’’, the daring and brilliance of his orchestral imagination.) Mine are two fragmented pictures from my vanished Ireland.

Art-music today faces the most viciously anti-art global market known to
man. We have no place where wares are bartered. But YOU CANNOT BARTER BARTÓK!
– Nor indeed any music of lasting value. It is questionable whether the
folk-musics of either Hungary or Ireland will survive the market’s kiss of
death. It is doubly questionable whether Hungarian and Irish composers will
survive our global village which today is swollen with the greatest ocean of
sonic rubbish known to man. Have we composers a place to be heard?
Where’s the silence? From which music is born and heard?

‘‘The light gleams an instant’’

(See my Beyond Beckett 2006 Beckett Centenial Commission for the National
Gallery’s Centennial Concert, April 23, 2006, 12.30 to 17.30)

In einer eMail vom 03.04.2006 16:35:38 Westeuropãische Normalzeit schreibt FBCorcoran:

Tiocfaidh ár lá, yes, do hang on to this, especially in the Fight For The
Faith against all of tonight’s Benedictine blandishments. They tunnelled, I
was there, upwards from Norcia’s Lower Chapel, painting a genitalless
Gesù at the third turn of the tufa screw in their curved eighth century. Lab.
Ora. All not lost.

Light = Dante’s ‘‘Prime Mover’’?
Beckett’s?

It gleams, violin and bassclarinet and cello paint ‘‘gleeeee’’ in its full flight, its gob then stopped with my ‘‘mmmmms’’.

A Lucifer genuflecting, suppose with me, clicks a knee’s innate need to
worship, but, hould:
What then did cut off the Light’s gleaming? After its nano-second? After
its decent (- but please, define. Two hundred words.) ‘‘I gleam,
therefore I am and I definitely do have value’’?

It doesn’t matter now.

Will it? Happen to me in my sun-crazed head’s babbling fluids? – As I am
bending to whet which servant-girl’s heel-dinge? Or what impaled serpe,
perfectly harmless, milkless, no laughing lunge, will topple my guilt at the
drop of Corbianco milk? My robust belief that I’ll knit up the rent sleeve
of down-Milky-Lazio-Way streaming Cristo?

That’ll be Act Three. Let’m come. And they will; I bought hearth and
heart-history with Corbianco cows’ stalls’ shadows (- never a suicide in the best of families) in last winter, comfy by late April, would explore ould eye-balls
by the first week o’July. Act Two was consolidated by buying worms, their
wood. No dinge in sight then. Late love can mature before their impalement,
before my sixty cows’ whinge comes to shove the proprietario, well.

They calve gletchers. Great delight in just what my? We impaled St.
Augustine, we done a Dan Flyin’ Tipperary Breen Ould IRA rub-out (- not enough .
It doth behove) on: Middle Italian Rabbis and South-North Kill-joy and The
Unwashed Armpits Of Dopey Depression.

Sail high; flail; hail my highest and freshly purchased medlars. Ho-ho.

1999 ‘‘komponierte’’

In einer eMail vom 03.03.2006 09:22:02 Westeuropãische Normalzeit schreibt FBCorcoran:

1999 ‘‘komponierte’’ ich mein WDR-Auftragswerk ‘‘QUASI UNA MISSA’’. Ein
Konzept mit ‘‘strenger’’ oder ‘‘weicher’’ Strukturgebung? Wieso ein ‘‘Kunstwerk’’? Mit welchen
‘‘real Presences ’’(George Steiner)? Mit welcher Genealogie
irischen religiösen Ausdrucks ? Welche Opfertheologie lauert da im Werk?
Warum nur ‘‘quasi’’? ‘‘Wieso ist die Kunst eine Möglichkeit, der Welt um das Böse und Chaos zu verzeihen’’ (Leslek Kolakowski)?

‘‘With an open mind the composer of QUASI UNA MISSA uncovers traditional
and concrete images and linguistic material and places this maybe-higher
power in the middle of an Irish stew ’’ ( -Begründung des schwedischen EMS
Preises 2992) – aber ist es wahr?

Ich wollte immer ein Klang-Panorama machen, in dem ich das gewaltige
Rauschen der Gottes-Stimmen aus 2000 Jahren Geschichte meiner irischen Insel
verwenden konnte.

My heart is white

In einer eMail vom 16.01.2006 22:15:09 Westeuropãische Normalzeit schreibt FBCorcoran:

My heart is white. Croí Bán. Them Corbianco cows will be my medal, my matins.
They’re now lowing that our garden is ‘‘classical’’?
Serpents keep insisting, though, on the ‘‘Romantic’’ character of red-ochre-peperino play, a higher symmetry resulting from the play of the up-close
drunken trip-up on a magic garden’s railway-sleeper or a stopped Georgic sewer with,
say, my Croí Bianco’s Stent blanching at the death of music since Verdi’s letter to
Giulio Ricordi.

I did try to couple stippled (- why ‘‘stippled’’?) madness with the
non-raving, wavy line.

Keep to things of the white heart. Even before we get into Trakl’s
‘‘Die ungebornen Enkel,’’ ‘‘Clann clainne nár rugadh,’’ your and yere and ours.

Mine is bluish, a purple ventricle about its proper business in North
Lazio’s cow-world. Neither Narcissos nor Hiakinthos is what’s comin’ through on
the Corbianco cows’ internet this tender – is- indeed – the- blue-black
Montefiascone night, not a Grodeck in sight.

Your Poor Sweeney

In einer eMail vom 16.01.2006 22:14:09 Westeuropãische Normalzeit schreibt FBCorcoran:

Your poor Sweeney, we now know, was impaled. He’d hunkered for drink
(fresh Corbianco sixty cows’ milkings, actually) out of the (actually a
servant-girl’s) heel-hollowed dinge in a saint’s cowshit. It doesn’t
matter now.

Will it? Happen to me in my microcosmic Paradise, the sun-crazed head’s
fluids babbling?

As I bend to whet? What dinge? An impaling Serpe, perfectly harmless,
is no laughing lunge, will it topple me, given in to hubris or guilt or the
drop of Corbianco golden milk? Or to my robust belief that I can restore the
rent mystical body of down-firmament-streaming Christ?

Have I not bought more than I’ll learn to chew? Ho, coraggio impale
thyself! Hah, don’t then be lowering the copper-head?

That’ll be Act Three. We began with the curtain-calls, let’m come and they
will, we bought the hearth and heart’s history, those Corbianco
cows’ stalls long shadows (- there was never a suicide in the best of families that
I can recall) in the winter, I’ll be comfy by late April, would explore
the ould eye-balls by the first week o’ July. Act Two consolidates, buys
wood-worms, flogged antiques from back Viterbo, ho-ho, delights.

Understandably. No saint’s dinge in sight. Ho-ho. Late love can mature, can heal
(before the impalement, that is), can dream and plan, allow delight over whinge:
and when shove comes to sixty cows’ push, well.

Take proprietor myself atop my proudly, recently purchased medlar-tree
( – too thin these wan, sun-baked branches); shall I juggle my delight and
the dinge? Cop myself on, mate?

Corbianco cows, I’ll be happy enough with that, have very little time for
Serpe or serpent babies. These my sixty beauties (half are as calving
gletchers; half just secrete) keep those at bay. Come down from my medlars?

Do I dare delight, great joy in just what?

We have, granted, just now impaled Augustine, we gored St. Paul, we done a
Dan Flyin’ Tipperary Old IRA rub-out job on the Rabbis and the Kill Joys and
on both unwashed armpits of Dopey Depressioni.

I flail, I sail, I hail my highest and freshly purchased medlars. Ho-ho.

Roaring: Eternal Rest

In einer eMail vom 17.12.2005 16:59:17 Westeuropäische Normalzeit schreibt FBCorcoran:

Roaring : “Eternal rest ; now I would like to change your nappies ONE LAST TIME.” Twould pull your pickled heart out. So it would.

And grant to him our perpetual light-bulbs. Indeed, may their mythic light shine upon our now long dead lad. Grammar, be gentle, gentle. WHERE IS our lad now? You can’t say, can’t even ask; language is not fitted out for this.

So many years, his molecules blowing in his wind. ‘Tis I’d changed his nappies plus drove him so often around our mountain. “NOT QUITE READY FOR YOUR GRAVE’S STEADY TEMPERATURE” is my roar. Is that it? The mystery of the pluperfect. An, at best, shaky hold on the supposed time and space of supposed common-sense. Yet it is this age-old November question I forgave myself at Samhain, when in is out and the other side, you’d imagine, might just show itself a shy little. Where IS his split molecules? Nobody’s monosyllablic: “dead” will fool this fool as November snow-flurries and mutinous waves slide towards whose Christmas? Towards whose well-attested break-down of
lingo, as I hereby remember, recall and call and roar my “NEIN!” into a bad night.

TEXTS of FOUR ORCHESTRAL PRAYERS

In einer eMail vom 29.11.2005 02:15:36 Westeuropäische Normalzeit schreibt FBCorcoran:

for Mezzosoprano and Orchestra. 2005.

1. ( from John Scotus Eriugena PERI PHISEON ca. 857. A.D. Plus Irish “seanfhocal” from the common demotic usage up to, say, today )

Deus est. Non est. Super est. Aithníonn súil liath / Saol liath . Súil.
Saol. Liath. Super. Deus . Súil. Dé.

2. (from Henry Francis Lyte 1793 – 1847)

Abide with me. Fast falls the eventide. The darkness deepens. Lord, with me abide. When other helpers / Fail / And comforts flee, Help of the helpless, Abide with me.
Swift to its close / Ebbs out life´s little day. Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away.
Change and decay / In all around I see . O Thou Who changeth not / Abide with me.

I need Thy presence / Every passing hour. What but Thy grace can / Foil
the Tempter’s power? Who like Thyself / My guide and stay can be?
Through clouds and sun-shine, Abide with me.

I fear no foes / With Thee at hand to bless. Ills have no weight and tears
no bitterness. Where is death’s sting, where grave, thy victory ? I
triumph still / If Thou abiiiiiiiiiiiiide , abiiiiiiiiiiiiii, abi , bide, abide,
ab,

3. Text from an anonymous ( ? ) twin-liner over the 1792 lintel of English merchant , John Blacher, on his Late-Classical house at Goslar’s Park, Hamburg.

Wir bauen hier so feste / Und sind doch fremde Gäste! – We´re building
here so free / Our jolly building-spree! But where we should endure / There
we’re so unsure! / Und wo wir sollen ewig sein / Bauen wir so wenig ein!
– We´ve here no lasting city / We build like mad / A pity! / We’re
building here so free / Our jolly building-spree!!/ We build like mad, a pity / No lasting city ! /
Wir bauen hier so feste / Und sind doch fremde Gäste / Und wo wir sollen ewig sein / Bauen wir so wenig ein !

4. (Meister Eckhart. His irons blue-hot.)

As when a man has wine in his cellar / And has neither drunk nor nipped it
/ So he cannot know / That it is good.
It is eternal darkness of Eternal God / And is unknown. And was unknown.
And never will be known.

And God remains , in God’s Self, The Unknown.

Es ist die verborgen vinsterniser / der ewigen gotheit / Und ist unbekannt
/ Und wart nie bekannt / Und enwint niemer bekannt.

Got bliebet da / In im selber unbekannt.

It is the hidden darkness / Of the Eternal God / And is unknown / And
was unknown / And never will be known