Frank Corcoran

irish composer


1. A lightening bolt fortissimo this afternoon nearly killed me.

2. The kitten was savaged the day after you left.- Two gigantic
magpies sharpened surgical beaks.

3. My music makes “sense” of cosmic indifference, of early
childhood Hell AND Heaven /

4. It “explores” my “Ireland” – an onion, my salami slices .

5. See Beckett´s “The light gleams an instant -and it is gone “.

6. Yes, my now for ever silent GILGAMESH YEARS were 1985 – 88 ;
yes, death in life and life in death.

7. Henry Vaughan´s “They are all gone into the world of
light / And I alone sit lingering here ” which I quote in my TRAUERFELDER )

8. My 7th. c. Iron Age Ireland ( with its druids and shamanic saints )

9. If German had been my language , I´d long ago have had a go
at writing ” Experimental Theatre “.

10. Yet several orchestral works of mine have – unbeknownst to me -long
become just that.

11. My most violent works fight against , cajole, wish to bamboozle,
YELL against ( my ) DEATH !

12. And yet ,not withstanding, it is true also that the best music HAS TO ( Boulez and
Mozart et al.) get rid of ” Ich” …. How’ll I achieve this ?

13. The best work at the same time also PRAISES glory, “Quasi Una Visione”.

14. Ditto ditto fights against ever-present and never sleeping

15. Yes, also Stability v. dizzying chaos /

16. Ten years ago I HAD NOTHING !

17. My music can mock, can grin at or CELEBRATE THE GLORIOUS BEAUTY of a
tone, of three, of a motiv, a phrase…

BELFAST THE CRESCENT May 12 2018. 19.30 Hard Rain Soloists

For larger forces, two of the HRSE commissions
for this season appear here.
Greg Caffrey’s
..for peace comes dropping slow
, takes
inspiration from one of Yeats’ most famous
poems. The other newly commissioned work,
A Battuta
, is the latest creation coaxed from
the pen of Derry born
Kevin O’Connell
. It is
fitting that a “Pierrot format” ensemble such
as HRSE should give the world premiere
performance of
Frank Corcoran’s
” Nine
looks at Pierrot ”


Prisma Musik

Kleine Schule des musikalischen Hörens

Samstag, 03. Dezember 2016, 20:00 bis 22:00 Uhr

Frank Corcoran hört das Streichquintett C-Dur von Franz Schubert

Der irische Komponist Frank Corcoran im Porträt.
Frank Corcoran hat unter anderem auch an der Hamburger Hochschule für Musik und Theater Komposition und Musiktheorie gelehrt.

Das Werk gehört zu seinen letzten und gilt Kennern als Gipfel dessen, was in dieser Kunst überhaupt möglich ist. Generationen haben sich den Kopf darüber zerbrochen, wie Schubert zum Beispiel die magische Stimmung des Adagio-Satzes erzeugt hat.
Der irische Komponist Frank Corcoran versucht in der Kleinen Schule des musikalischen Hörens den Geheimnissen dieser Musik auf die Spur zu kommen, die einem unbegreiflichen Schaffensrausch auf dem Kranken- und schließlich Sterbebett entsprang.


An Irish Carol, Christmas Trees, and a Rose
St Canice’s Roman Catholic Church, Kilkenny
8 December 2017 7:30pm

Book Now
Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin
9 December 2017 8:00pm

This Christmas, join Chamber Choir Ireland for An Irish Carol, Christmas Trees, and a Rose, a very special seasonal concert taking place in Kilkenny and Dublin.

For this years programme, we present the wonderful Christmas Story by the German composer Hugo Distler. Distler (1908-1942) is one of Germany’s finest 20th-century composers outside the modernist tradition, and his music is still much performed there. The fact that it remains less well known elsewhere is puzzling, as it is beautiful, tonal, subtle, and very well written by a composer with a clear voice of his own. The Christmas Story is one of his best pieces, closely modelled on the music of Schütz at the time when that composer’s music was in full revival. The Christmas narrative is told in chant-like solos with choral interventions (as in Bach’s Passions), while threaded through the whole work are a series of choral variations on the lovely Christmas hymn ‘Es ist ein Ros entsprungen‘.

This work is joined by a beautiful grouping of carols by contemporary Irish composers; Rhona Clarke, Gerald Barry, Frank Corcoran, Eoghan Desmond and Eric Sweeney.

O Tannenbaum—Gerald Barry
Lullay My Liking; Make We Merry—Rhona Clarke
When Christ was Born of Mary Free—Eric Sweeney
Coventry Carol; A Babe is Born—Eoghan Desmond

An Irish Carol—Frank Corcoran

The Christmas Story—Hugo Distler
Chamber Choir Ireland
Paul HillierConductor


We try to treat time
As if it were just butter
Hand me the bread-knife !

A Happy New Year !
Yesterday’s not tomorrow
– Or indeed is it ?

I always liked it,
Our myth of the brave new world…
New, butter-golden

No ! Time’s not flying.

Not quite yet up, gentle folks.

My corkscrew’s singing…


A new British label (new at least to the US), Black Box Music, has come up with an interesting hook, as independents must if they’ve a hope of surviving, which its executive producer and recurrent recording engineer Chris Craker entitles 20th Century Irish Series.
The first to arrive at the editorial aerie is the work of Frank Corcoran, born 1944 in Tipperary his distance from which the soldier-singer regrets in the song of 1912. The CD, bbm1026, Mad Sweeney, takes its title from an elegantly crafted piece in a modernist, pointillist style for narrator and chamber ensemble setting Seamus Heaney’s translation from the Gaelic about a local king whose fortunes have taken an ill turn. Heaney, one of our period’s great poets, is well served: the music is splendid and the teckies of North German Radio positioned the able speaker — it’s himself, Frank Corcoran — in the acoustic midst of the instrumentalists.
Many such productions (I report with knowing chagrin) would have stifled Corcoran’s narration in a separate booth. I don’t make a frivolous point. Music is an art, but so is recording, albeit on a lesser plane. In two words, well done, which applies as well for the players of Das Neue Werk NDR Ensemble, Dieter Cichewiecz conducting. Mad Sweeney opens the program.
The closer, Sweeney’s Vision, is an electronically synthesized soundscape rich in rolling surf as an expression of the mad king’s surroundings. The first time I played Sweeney’s Vision, my wife declared, Do not get rid of that disc! Calm yourself, dearest, it stays. (We’re city folk. Storage is a problem.)
A work handsomely performed by Stuttgart Wind Quintet — “the piece is about wind” — though Corcoran’s note neglects to say so, takes its thematic kernels from Stravinsky’s Le Sacre, not as a mugging, rather an homage.



‘I came late to art music; childhood soundscapes live on. The best work with imagination/intellect must be exorcistic-laudatory- excavatory. I am a passionate believer in “Irish” dream-landscape, two languages, polyphony of history, not ideology or programme. No Irish composer has yet dealt adequately with our past. The way forward – newest forms and technique (for me especially macro-counterpoint) – is the way back to deepest human experience.’

Frank Corcoran was born in Tipperary and studied in Dublin, Maynooth, Rome and Berlin (with Boris Blacher). He was the first Irish composer to have his ‘Symphony No. 1’ (1980) premiered in Vienna.

He was a music inspector for the Department of Education in Ireland from 1971 to 1979. He was awarded a composer fellowship by the Berlin Künstlerprogramm in 1980, a guest professorship in West Berlin in 1981, and was professor of music in Stuttgart in 1982. Since 1983 he has been professor of composition and theory in the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst, Hamburg. During 1989-90 he was visiting professor and Fulbright Scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and he has been a guest lecturer at Princeton University, CalArts, Harvard University, Boston College, New York University and Indiana University.

His works have been performed and broadcast in Europe, Asia, USA, Canada and South America. He has been commissioned by NDR, RTÉ, the Arts Council, U.W.M., Sender Freies Berlin, W.D.R., Deutschlandfunk, North South Consonance New York, Dublin Living Music Festival, Cantus Chamber Orchestra Zagreb, Dublin Festival of Twentieth Century Music, AXA International Piano Competition, Wireworks Hamburg, Slí Nua, RTÉ lyric fm, Now U Know Washington, New Music Boston, Carroll’s Summer Music, Book of Kells U.W.M., Crash Ensemble, Hamburg Ministry of Culture, Tonhalle Düsseldorf, Stuttgart Bläserquintett, the Irish Chamber Orchestra and the National Chamber Choir of Ireland.

Awards include Studio Akustische Kunst First Prize 1996 for his ‘Joycepeak Music’ (1995), Premier Prix at the 1999 Bourges International Electro-acoustic Music Competition for his composition ‘Sweeney’s Vision’ (1997) and the 2002 Swedish EMS Prize for ‘Quasi Una Missa’ (1999). He was also awarded the 1972 Feis Ceoil Prize, the 1973 Varming Prize and the 1975 Dublin Symphony Orchestra Prize. More recently he won the Sean Ó Riada Award at the Cork International Choral Festival 2012 for his ‘Two Unholy Haikus’. His ‘Eight Haikus’ for large choir won first prize outright in the 2013 International Federation For Choral Music. CDs of his music have been released on the Black Box, Marco Polo, Col-Legno, Wergo, Composers’ Art, IMEB-Unesco, Zeitklang and Caprice labels. Frank Corcoran is a founding member of Aosdána, Ireland’s state-sponsored academy of creative artists.
Eugene Langan
Four Orchestral Prayers

Concerto for String Orchestra

Quasi una Storia

My Alto Rhapsodies

Nine Looks at Pierrot

Cello Concerto

A Dark Song

In the Deep Heart’s Core

Four Pieces for Two Clarinets

Rhapsodic Bowing


Eight Haikus

Five Lieder for Tenor and Pian…

Songs of Terror and Love

Two Unholy Haikus

Clarinet Quintet

Quasi un Preludio

Quasi una Perla

Quasi una Sarabande

Violin Concerto

Nine Pratoleva Pearls

The Light Gleams

Quasi una Fuga

Quasi un Basso

Súil – Saol

Tradurre Tradire

Quasi un Concerto

Quasi un Lamento

Quasi una Missa

String Quartet No. 3

Buile Suibhne

Ice – Etchings No. 2



last »

Composer Website

Frank Corcoran
The Light Gleams: a portrait of Frank Corcoran

Terms & Conditions


At last, Frank Corcoran who contributed to the beginning of this presentation will contribute to the end as well.

Corcoran relates to the term ‘tone poet’ for a composer to Joyce and concludes that “Joyce was our first Irish composer, on one level our greatest.”
Corcoran’s ” Joycespeak-Musik” dates from 1995 and is an electro-acoustic collage of words read by Corcoran himself and pre-recorded musical quotations heavily indebted to John Cage’s ” Roaratorio” . The recurring melody in this collage is ” The Last Rose of Summer “, one of the famous Irish Melodies by Thomas Moore of the early nineteenth century, and its adoption in the German opera Martha by Friedrich von Flotow.

As such, the music could just as well be entitled ‘Moore-speak’ or ‘Flotow-speak’, but the literally spoken words are of course by Joyce.

Corcoran has been choosing words focusing on ‘Oh’ and ‘Ah’ sounds, thereby referring to the end of the last chapter of Ulysses with its many recurrences to the ‘O’ in Molly Bloom’s monologue and the “A last a long a …” in Finnegan’s Wake. I also cannot help making references to the name Bloom in the Last Rose which is “left blooming alone”.
” The Last Rose of Summer” does occur in many guises in ULYSSES , which have indeed all been found out by American literature professors, most comprehensively by Zack Bowen. So, if Joyce was indeed our first Irish composer I am, firstly, glad to have mentioned him all through this talk and, secondly, that Corcoran has been a faithful disciple by exploring the many Joyce phonemes and musical allusions
and what the composer has called “those knots of synaesthetic associations that transcend the logos-myth divide.”


Alles van Frank Corcoran


zo 30 jul 2017 18:00 uur

Rhapsodic Celli. Muziek van Frank Corcoran.
zo 9 jul 2017 18:00 uur
Rhapsodic Celli. Muziek van Frank Corcoran.
Hedendaags | Eigentijdse muziek

zo 17 jan 2016 17:00 uur
Portret van de Ierse componist Frank Corcoran ( 1944- ).
Hedendaags | Eigentijdse muziek
zo 19 apr 2015 17:00 uur

Muziek van Frank Corcoran en Witold Lutoslawski.
vr 1 feb 2013 16:00 uur
Nieuwe cd’s met Nieuwe Muziek. Vandaag o.a. de Nederlandse radio première…

ma 25 apr 2011 23:00 uur
Muziek van Frank Corcoran, Gavin Bryars, Martijn Padding en Zhou Long.
De Ochtend: Nieuwe muziek

ma 17 mrt 2008 07:00 uur
St. Patricks Day! Op 17 maart vieren de Ieren feest. Overal…

Nieuw Verschenen
ma 12 feb 2007 07:00 uur
Nieuwe muziek.

Nieuwe Muziek Actua
ma 25 dec 2006 18:00 uur
Nieuwe Muziek n.a.v. Actuele gebeurtenissen. Contemporary Music from Ireland.

Composer Portrait for Concertzender . FRANK CORCORAN

“It’s a long way to Tipperary ” goes the old song. And it is a long way from Tipperary in southern Ireland where I was born to ( at that time still West ) Berlin where 1980 – 1981 I spent a year as an invited guest of the Berliner Kuenstlerprogramm.

I had had my First Symphony premiered in Vienna in 1980, a work for wind alone. No strings. No percussion.
I began my Second Symphony for Large Orchestra.What was the motor-idea for this large work ; how bend time ? What form or shape ? music cannot exist for me without form. As a young composer I wanted to shape and control my vast colour forces . I had the idea of two contrasting movements , the first ( “Soli” )
concentrating on the individual solo lines of , eg. the trombones, the gongs and deep percussion of the opening, the solo double basses and celli and higher strings,
my music not synchronized metrically – as a contrast then to the second movement , ” Tutti ” , which would use the same material but barred as ” normal”, synchronized music.
So two twin movements ; the first a vast movement of smeared chorales and instrumental masses, but with no clearly heard lines and the second then as more “normal” as the lines scurry and hurry towards their end.

The opening of this first movement of my Second Symphony does in fact achieve a hieratic ” chaos versus order ” quality, a shifting carpet of kinetic art . : Mahler famously said that a symphony must become itself “a world”, a different world from our everyday world.
Here you hear the first movement, “Soli”, my symphonic world which I composed in 1981 in West Berlin.
( Could I re-create this work like that today ? No, impossible ! )

MUSIC 1. Frank Corcoran 2. Symphony. Mov. 1. All. ( RTESO Dublin . Conductor: Colman Pearce . Marco Polo 8.225107 )