Frank Corcoran

irish composer


Irish Composer FRANK CORCORAN Awarded Top International Choral Prize by International Federation for Choral Music


Imagine the gargantuan task facing five leading international composers on the jury, working their way through 637

choral compositions from every corner of the globe, to select a First Prize in the International Federation for

Choral Music’s Second International Competition for Choral Composition?

After the jury’s lengthy deliberation, Irish-born composer Francis Corcoran was selected and awarded First Prize for his stunning choral work Eight Haikus.

The large number of submissions displayed the vast growth in the competition and interest in new choral music from the composition community. The judges were Olli Kortekangas (Finland), Graham Lack (Uk/ Germany), Libby Larsen (USA), John Pamintunian (The Philippines) and Paul Stanhope (Australia).

Fulbright scholar, Frank Corcoran was born in 1944 in Tipperary, and studied at Dublin, Maynooth, Rome and Berlin.

His considerable musical output includes chamber, symphonic, choral and electro-acoustic music, through which he particularly explores Irish issues such as language and history. Frank Corcoran has worked with several recognized poets and received numerous national and international awards for his compositions.

He is a founding member of Aosdána and currently lives in Hamburg.

Recognized by UNESCO, the International Federation for Choral Music (IFCM) is the world’s only not-for-profit global choral organization. Every year a team of motivated volunteer choral musicians mobilise to create choral singing projects across the world in order to connect the world through this community-binding, soul-rejuvenating artform. Choral music is unique in that everyone can sing and everyone can participate at a level that is suited to skills and experience. It builds bridges between peoples, communities and nations.

IFCM International Composers Competition is a project that connects choral musicians with the most exciting and innovative composers of our time.

Francis Corcoran’s winning choral work EIGHT HAIKUS will receive a premiere performance by the multi-award-winning Philippine Madrigal Singers later in 2013.


FRANK CORCORAN CONCERT ” Hearing The Picture, Seeing The Tones ”

” Music AND Picture “.

Hamburg Blankenese ( Culture Centre ) .

January 27 2018

Die Synaesthesie hat bei beiden, Malern wie Komponisten,in Europa, wenigstens seit Mussorgsky ´s “Bilder einer Ausstellung”, eine hervorgehobene Bedeutung.

Farben und Töne sind häufig näher beieinander,als wir erwarten.Man denkt an Klee und Kandinsky auf der einen Seite und Skriabin und Messiaen auf der anderen.
Titel wie “Der gelbe Klang” (Kandinsky 1909) oder “Couleurs De la Cite Cèleste (Messiaen 1919),erzählen ihre eigene Geschichte.

2014 hörte der Hamburger Maler, Heinz Gellrich, die 2.te Symphonie des irischen Komponisten Frank Corcoran.

Während vieler Monate im Jahr 2015 malte er das zentrale Bild, das später zum “Corcoran Tryptichon” erweitert werden sollte.

Er “übersetzte” tiefe, ozeanische Töne und Linien und Rhythmen des ersten Satzes der Symphonie in seine eigene abstrakte Komposition, mit eigenerTextur, Dichtigkeit und Bewegung.

In diesem Blankeneser Konzert präsentieren die beiden Künstler, Frank Corcoran UND Heinz Gellrich, ihre zwei

Kunstformen mit ihren beiden Werken. Ein EINMALIGES Konzert und Konzeption .

Corinna Meyer-Esche(sopran) und Jennifer Hymer (Klavier) illustrieren musikalisch. Beautiful. Molto.


As found in the

Oxford Music Online encyclopedia :

FRANK CORCORAN has developed a distinct and complex language of aleatory macro-counterpoint in which sound layers are

superimposed polyphonically but retain independence through distinctive polymetric, agogic and dynamic indications.

This technique is evident from the early Piano Trio (1978) to Ice Etchings no.1 and Mad Sweeney (both 1996).

His many cultural interests are reflected in the texts of his vocal works; the opera Gilgamesh (1990), for example,

is based on a Sumerian epic. The Irische Mikrokosmoi for piano (1993) are based on traditional Irish melodies and





3. Dezember 2016

Prisma Musik

Thema: Kleine Schule des musikalischen Hörens:

Frank Corcoran hört das Streichquintett C-Dur von Franz Schubert

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.

Danach Frank Corcorans

4. Sinfonie aus dem Jahre 1996 ( National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Cond, Colman Pearce )



For years I´d wanted to compose a Concerto for Cello and big orchestra – my singing David against its mighty Goliath . But I didn´t trust myself to face what

is, yes,

a mighty challenge until I´d first composed my Violin Concerto which Christopher Warren-Green premiered with the NSO and great soloist, Alan Smale, in

Nov. 2012.
I worked closely with Alan as he prepared his Concerto ; his advice to me , the composer, was ” Frank, SING IT !”

And this same advice was vital

as, one year later, I began work on this even bigger Corcoran Concerto for the mighty cello- bow of Martin Johnson.
This four movement work has even greater proportions ; this

solo instrument has to face an even bigger orchestral battle .

It sings and soars, somewhere between Dvorak ´s and Lutoslawski´s epic works. The opening reveals a broad gesture for trumpets and brass which will
return several times , quasi a ” motto” theme.
My Slow Movement would tear the heart out of you, the cello´s beautiful cantilena weaving, sobbing,

The searing Scherzo, with its huge battery of percussion is the most violent music I ever wrote….

The music winds down then in the last, meditative



Old Latin poem:

” Non fui. Fui. Non sum. Non curo. ”

That’s what he chiselled on the tombstone . ( Was he still alive during this activity ‘s what I’d just like to know…. ? – Lying even as he chiselled ? As he lay there ? )

His disembodied voice from the grave then claims ” Non Sum ” – so why should I believe then his blythe ” Non Curo” , I ask myself .
No answer because ” Fui” ( therefore “Non sum ” ? Correct ? )

Only then he boasts ” Non sum ! ” , so

his next line, his last line’s ” Non curo” has just lost him every atom of respect, belief, even of being an interesting tease – we are tempted to react with our own ” Non curo , CULO ! ” .

After all we can all try asserting ” Non fui”
so what’s great about that ?

That out of
his ( bleated ) ” Non fui” emerges his ( bloated ) ” Fui “.
Ever heard of Miss non Sequitur, wise guy ? And how prove that ” Non curo” is not an empty boast ? His grave not empty ? His swan’s song all ended ?
And yet. And yet. His grave ( ouch !) courage , his challenge hurled at Who ?
These three Promethean syllables have something grave (ouch ! again )

– Their ” 0 ” and ” u ” and their ” oo ” .
Yes, that’s it.

Vocal music. . Grave music.

Now suppose he’d got more poetic symmetry into his sepulchral poem ? – like eg.

” Non fui. Fui. Non sum. Sum. Non curo. Curo. ” – Or some other such fun ? eg.

” Non fui. Sum. Non sum. Curo. ”

More later….

MY 8 DUETTI IRLANDESI for Cello and Piano

It-s in the Annals Of the Four Masters – the entry for the year 1498 records the death of a distant ancestor of mine, Floirint O
Corcorain, ” saoi cruitire ” , a master harper. How many of these eight melodies, or their melodic prototypes, were already in his repertoire ?

I wrote these 8 miniatures for cello and piano in 2016 and 2015. These traditional “sean nos ” melodies 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, by their often saccharine harmonies, the rhythmic iron corset or indeed the four-square form too often adopted….

In these 8 settings I have to respect the fundamentally monodic nature of each song, to take great care of its modal intentions and linear ornamentations – and its rock/solid architectural form ( normally an arched A B B A structure ) .
Their rhythm is normally that of the Old Spanish sarabande, a heavy three in the bar / but how the sarabande came so strongly to impregnate the Irish harpers and the music they played or recited since the 16th. century is anybody’s guess. So I “set” a traditional Irish air and the cello has to sing its plaintive song while the piano remains orchestral with its myriad colours and short phrases and echoes and motivs.

SEAN O DUIBHIR AN GHLEANNA I learned with six years in my rural Borrisokane school, this Jacobite lament by John O-Dwyer from Aherlow who with the downfall of Catholic King James at the hands of Protestant William of Orange has lost his lands, his everything. Fine nature lyricism in its text >

” On my rising in the golden morning with its resurgent sun I heard the sounds of the hunting horn, the distant guns and an old peasant woman lamenting the loss of her geese. ”

PRIOSUN CLUAIN MEALA, “The Prison Of Clonmel” , another Tipperary tune, dating from the revolution year 1798, is certainly older. Again, the words of its lament / with their Mahlerian ” Des Knabenwunderhorn ”
quality are very fine.
This young prisoner will be hanged next Friday….
” My Kerry friends, pray for me, your voices are soft to my ear. I did not think that I would never return to ye. Our heads they’ll place upon spikes to make a grand spectacle. The snows of the night and all harsh weather will bleach us…. ”

In the myxolydic love/song A MHAIRIN DE BARRA the singer curses his lover, his Mary Barry who has got between him and God.
There are at least two versions of that great Romeo/and/Juliet Co. Roscommon song ” A UNA BHAIN “. Tomas Mac Coisdealbha was drowned in his nightly swimming across lovely Lough Key to visit
his fair Una ” you were a candlabra on the festive table for a queen…. ”

and still today on Trinity Island in lovely Lough Key you can visit the two intertwined trees growing from their two graves.
In the first version, piano harmonics echo the cello-s wild high line. In the second version it is the cello’s primitive pizzicati on the open strings which punctates the piano’s vain attempt to imitate the ululations of Connamara folksinger, legendary Joe Heaney, from those distant fifties of my childhood.

Ever since the film/music of Irish composer, Sean O Riada, in the sixties achieved iconic status, fiery ROISIN DUBH has become for many the Song of Revolution , indeed almost an Irish “Finlandia” . Its huge melodic ascent and its incandescent leaps strain to express the folk/ poet-s inexpressible vision:
” The ships are on the ocean deep. There will be wine from the royal Pope for my Dark Rosaleen,” symbol of a little nation,s political Rising.

These eight settings of eight traditional Irish melodies are of course also eight historical pictures of my vanished Ireland .



Philip Casey

wrote about composer, Frank Corcoran, in 2014 :

thinking back on his sublime ” Music for the Book of Kells ” and 2 Trauerfelder/Goirt an Bhróin/Fields of Sorrow ”
at the Hugh Lane Gallery last December, which reduced members of the audience (including this scribe) to tears, I

really think his international recognition should be more widely known in Ireland.

Yes, it’s ‘Art Music.’ Yes, it may take a few listens to adjust the ear. But the rewards are great.

I’m rather proud he’s my third cousin!

He will be 70 this year,
so it’s no better time to discover him if you haven’t already.

Frank Corcoran awarded prestigious IFCM choral composition prize

“TRADURRE TRADIRE ” 2002. Frank Corcoran DEUTSCHLAND Commission.

TRADURRE – TRADIRE ( 2001 Frank Corcoran . Electronic work, commissioned by Deutschlandfunk. ca. 25′. )

Bhuel. D’ ‘eag Roibeaird ‘O Darroll 2014. Fuair s’e b’as uaigneach, ‘e go h- uaigneach – in oispid’eal uaigneach i gCathair uaigneach Berlin. N’i neart go cur le c’eile.

Bhi an-ghra agam don KOREAN TRILOGY – na 3 saothair go gleoite, rithim an udair mar pheann an chumad’ora.

Na siombail ag damhsa. Go spiorad’alta .

( – Swounds ! an cacfhocal seo , sea, t’a an ceart agat, a Roibeaird. CEAD SL’AN ! )

Bhuel , .

My TRADURRE TRADIRE of 2002, I listened to Robert Darroll.

“Visual music. ” cad is ? “Geometric shapes and patterns ”

– conas a chumtar iad i mo cheol nuachumtha ?

Mar shampla mo ” TRADURRE TRADIRE ” ?

Cork International Choral Festival

43rd Seminar on New Choral Music

Saturday 5th May 2012

10.00 John.Fitzpatrick: Opening address

10.05 R.C. Introductions (Paul & choir, & Frank Corcoran)

10.15 NCC Performance of ” Two Unholy Haikus ”

10.20 Frank Corcoran on Two Unholy Haikus

10.35 Paul Hillier and National Chamber Choir on performance perspective

10.45 Open discussion