Frank Corcoran

irish composer


Dec. 3 2016 .


20.00 – 22. 00

Frank Corcoran ” hears ” Schubert’s last ( im- ) mortal composition, his String Quintet in C Major.

Two ear-hours…. Listen .

Then Frank Corcoran’s 4. Symphony ( N.S.O. of Ireland / Dir. Colman Pearce )


Celebrating Frank Corcoran at 70

Forthcoming concert includes world premieres performed by Alan Smale and Martin Johnson.

A concert celebrating the work of composer Frank Corcoran will take place at the James Joyce Centre in Dublin

on Thursday 26 November at 8pm.

Beginning with an introduction by writer Barra Ó Séaghdha, composer Benjamin Dwyer will then deliver a keynote

talk on the composer’s work and its connection to Joyce.

The second part of the evening will begin with a short public interview with the composer, followed by the

world premiere of his Rhapsodietta Joyceana performed by cellist Martin Johnson.

This will be followed by performances of Variations on A Mháirín de Barra (1995) performed by Adèle Johnson (viola), Seven Theses on Joyce and Music presented by the composer, and Joycespeak Musik (1995) for tape. The concert concludes with the world premiere of Seven Miniatures for violin performed by Alan Smale.

Born in 1944 in Borrisokane, County Tipperary, Frank Corcoran studied philosophy, music, ancient languages and theology in Ireland and Rome and took further studies in composition with composer Boris Blacher in Berlin.

His output includes orchestral, choral, chamber and electro-acoustic music. Corcoran’s Joycespeak Musik won the Studio Akustische Kunst in 1995, Sweeney’s Vision won the Bourges Festival Premier Prix in 1999, and Quasi Una Missa won the 2002 Swedish E.M.S. Prize.

Two Unholy Haikus took first prize at the Cork International Choral Festival in 2012 and his Eight Haikus was awarded first prize at the International Foundation for Choral Music in 2013.

Corcoran’s music has been performed by the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, Crash Ensemble, Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra, Irish Chamber Orchestra and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra among many others, and has been recorded on the Marco Polo, Wergo, Composers Art and Black Box labels.

Recent large-scale works include a Cello Concerto, written for Martin Johnson, and a Violin Concerto, composed for Alan Smale, both premiered with the RTÉ NSO. Corcoran is a member of Aosdána and lives in Hamburg and Italy.

A book dedicated to the composer’s work was recently published. Frank Corcoran – Festschrift at Seventy – Old and New – Sean agus Nua: An Irish Composer Invents Myself is edited by Hans-Dieter Grünefeld and includes contributions from Benjamin Dwyer, Roger Doyle and Jane O’Leary.

The book is available from the Contemporary Music Centre here.

For more on the concert on 26 November, visit
Published on 12 November 2015


Frank Corcoran

NDR 3 KULTUR ( PRISMA MUSIK ) hört die 9. Sinfonie von Antonín Dvo?ák

„Ich soll auf 2 Jahre nach Amerika fahren“, berichtet Antonin Dvo?ák am 20. Juni 1891. „Es wird mir die Stelle

eines Direktors am Konservatorium und die Leitung von 10 Konzerten eigener Kompositionen angeboten und als

Entgelt jährlich 15.000 Dollar, d.h. über 30.000 Gulden.“ Gewichtige Argumente, die den international

renommierten Meister des tschechischen Nationalstils dazu bewogen, seine böhmische Heimat für eine Weile mit

der Neuen Welt zu vertauschen. Auch hier war er auf der Suche nach dem unverwechselbaren Nationalkolorit, das

einfloss in seine 9. Sinfonie.

25.11.2017 NDR-KULTUR RADIO PRISMA MUSIK Frank Corcoran Broadcasts

Elgars vor dem Ersten Weltkrieg entstandene Musik spiegelt diesen Glanz wider wie keine andere. Ganz anders

sein Cellokonzert: Mit verhaltenen und sparsamen Mitteln markiert es gleichsam den Gegenpol zum imperialen

Pomp früherer Zeiten und ist eine Musik des Abschieds. Kurz nach dem Ersten Weltkrieg entstanden und voller

Trauer, hat man diese Musik einmal die “Elegie auf eine untergegangene Zivilisation” genannt.

“Elgars langsame Passagen zerreißen mich innerlich”, gestand die Cellistin Jacqueline du Pré, die wohl

bekannteste Interpretin dieser Musik, sie sei “wie das Destillat einer Träne”.

Eine Sendung von Frank Corcoran

NDR Kultur Livestream
Jan Wiedemann © NDR Foto: Mathias Heller
Klassisch in den Tag
06:00 – 08:30 Uhr
Live hören
Jetzt: Violinkonzert d-Moll – Larghetto (2. Satz) – Myslivecek, Josef (1737-1781)
Stimmgabel und Noten © Foto: rossler
Prisma Musik

“Prisma Musik” widmet sich spannenden Fragen aus der Musikwelt – natürlich mit viel Musik. mehr


The Afganistan

Buddha, smiling, said: ” explode

Me and my smile now !”

Under a low sun

Evening on the battlefield

All dirty, all dead.

The Afghan Buddha

Blown up by unshaven men

Smiled for one last time.

As I lay dying

On the battlefield, Buddha

Was dying with me

Sullen evening sun,

You mock my dying soldiers,

All their wounds stinking

In Afghanistan

The dirty evening sun dies

Jihadists groaning

Watch their broken jaws

Lie with the battlefield flies,

The dying sun low. * Frank Corcoran 2013 (

grian íseal…

scáileanna ar a dteitheadh

thar mhachairí an áir

a low sun …
shadows flee
across battlefields * Gabriel Rosenstock 2013 (


Rhapsodic Celli: The Music of Frank Corcoran

CD Release June 2017 – Available for Review Now

Rhapsodic Celli will be launched at The Hugh Lane Gallery Sundays@Noon concert, Parnell Square North, Dublin 1 on 4th June.

Soloist Martin Johnson explores Frank Corcoran’s writing for cello in all its nuances, from the swagger of a concerto and the rhapsodic polyphony of his work for eight cellos through to the composer’s arrangements of folk tunes for cello and piano informed by the rhythms of the Irish language.

Frank Corcoran has lived and taught in Germany for most of his professional life but has retained a profound connection with the literature and traditional music of his native country. The CD features his Cello Concerto, a rhapsody for cello octet and eight miniatures based on traditional tunes for cello and piano.

Corcoran’s Duetti Irlandesi for Cello and Piano pay homage to a distant musical ancestor, the master harper Floirint Ó Corcorain. These traditional melodies would originally have been played on the Irish harp and the Composer says, “…have been haunting me since my rural childhood in Tipperary. I had long been appalled by the settings of old Irish melodies attempted by Beethoven, Haydn, Britten, Harty and too many other well-meaning composers: their often saccharine harmonies, their rhythmic iron corsets or indeed the foursquare form too often adopted.” Instead, Corcoran has incorporated the freer sean nós or old-style singing rhythms and grace notes into his classically informed settings of these tunes so they become “… historical miniatures of my vanished Ireland.



25 November 2011 (Friday)

4:00 pm

venue: Royal Irish Academy of Music , Dublin 2, Ireland

composer: Frank Corcoran

work: CLARINET QUINTET (premiere . RTE Commission )

and ( 2011 ) A DARK SONG ( Bass Clarinet Solo )

performer(s): Fintan Sutton ( cl. and bass cl . ), RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet.

( note: The composer will be present and will talk about his newest work. )


Yes, art can be defined.

Yet watch the context, the cultural and historical period.

Art or arts ? Which art ?

See also Horace, the Roman poet. See also ” craft ” ( as in 19th. c. ” Arts and crafts” ) . etc.

Clear the decks.

Or are we attempting a definition in this 21 st. c. ?

Where we do the defining is also important. eg. Take Ireland and, say, the contemporary art of composed

music. Why do I insist that in Ireland

still today there is hardly a concept, a definition, the possibility of defining composed musical works –

composed by Irish composers – as art,

indeed as Irish art, an art on a level with eg. Irish poetry, film, painting etc.

What are the causes of this blindness, this prejudice, this exclusion of this definition ? Are they dogmatic

? Is it lazy thinking? Could it be lack of

experiencing New Irish Music, is that it ?

Mull this over.

There have in the past been many definitions of art, of musical composition. It´s also worth reflecting a

moment on some of the things we still

today might define composing as:

sicut fumus, like smoke, ethereal – a temporal art, indeed THE time-art par excellence. Ti

me-bending, stretching, sculpting, stitching, overlapping, deluding, defying, conquering.

Composing is hope, utopian, mythic, fighting the good fight.

If “cinis aequat omnia”, still a Frank Corcoran composition will yell and shout and erect its own resistance

to John Montague´s ” – The sea of history /

Upon which we all turn / Turn and thrash / And disappear… ”

Music keens, protests, praises a fightin´ transcendence which potentially can live beyond the grave.

Certainly, music can be defined. Art can be defined.

Irish contemporary music fights for its place in defining Ireland, Irish art, Irish artists.