Frank Corcoran

irish composer


Already it is swinging towards autumnal even if it is only the 18th.of July. Strange.

Sunsets now glorious, a degree colder the early morning. A year on, closed, wrapped up the Clarinet Concerto

and the Piano Trio with Viola/

The 8 Duetti are all ready for recording on October 17,

ditto my now half/ancient

” Rhapsodic Bowing for 8 Celli”

. And Malachy will get around to performing the delightful ” Piccolo Quartetto

Filarmonico ” with doublebass, cello, viola and violin on Nov. 1 2017 in Dublin.

For the stunning ( International Jury’s word…. ) choral ” 8 Haikus ” let us pray /

Painindearsery surrounds me.

And impatience.

Do the chores. Little enough.

The myriad beautiful details of that mighty Cello Concerto are now,

they exist.



( Delivered Nov. 26 2015 at the James Joyce Centre Frank Corcoran At Seventy Concert )

1. Pythagoras was the greater composer – il miglior fabbro.

2. Yet James Joyce was in many respects the greatest Irish composer.

3. Joyce chiselled and turned and fashioned his syllables and word-units and titles and bits of songs
as would a composing Irish artist. He thus achieved his emotional-semantic character-associations and the fragments of memories which he needed in composing those great sonorous passages in his own sound-world.

4. If he had so wished , he could have reached highest places in his singing, playing and composing of ( at least ) Lieder. He chose not to.

5. As I mentioned in my 2005 Trieste James Joyce Summer School lecture, Nora’s father , Tom Barnacle, was known in Galway by his nick-name “Gobar i Goney ” – Irish : ” Ag obair i gconai ” = “always busy “; – here is Joyce’s opening to Gabriel Conroy’s far-off West of Ireland
“native Doric”, the music of sean-nos song. At the same time we have Steven Dedalus’s Lestrygonian entry , ” Music is maths for ladies…. “. And then in the Trieste Notebook , Stephen Dedalus prefers the “ vigour of the mind ” needed in composing literature to any thought of composing music.
James Joyce, a great LISTENER, preferred the intellectual rigour of composing words to composing musical structures….

6. In 1917 in Zuerich the James Joyce family had as neighbour in the Seefelderstrasse 73 the composer, Philip Jarnach, who was the secretary of the great Ferrucio Busoni, a major figure in the revolution of musical language in the early decades of the 20th. century . ( Years later Philip Jarnach became President of the Musikhochschule in Hamburg . )
Did Joyce ever discuss the why and how of this revolution or the birth of the early atonal masterpieces of the Second Viennese School ? He did not . Did he show an interest in the compositional bomb that was Stravinsky’s RITE OF SPRING at its Paris premiere on March 31 1913 ? Was he at all interested in the Viennese “Skandalkonzert” with the premieres of Alban Berg’s “Peter Altenberg Lieder ” and Webern’s Opus 6 Six Orchestral Pieces in May of the same year ? Did he ? Had he ever asked himself why John Field was buried in Moscow’s Nevensky Cemetry but not in Leopold Bloom’s Dean’s Grange? Or why Stanford,” the Irish Brahms “, ended his days at Cambridge but not in Dublin ? Why there was no Dublin Bartok or Sibelius ?

7. Joyce had an intimate, urgent yet deeply split relationship with art-music, with any Irish concept of composition as an Irish art. He mirrored his native city’s colonial inheritage in this regard.
He was the perfect forerunner of our post-colonial – or non-reception- reception of Irish contemporary composing as art- up to this day.
As Irish art. Of Irish composers as on a par with Irish poets, Irish painters etc. Perfect.


Frank Corcoran

‘The loss of the culture in Ireland is why I am interested in mythopoetic remembrance and imagination.’

Born 1944 in Borrisokane, Tipperary, Frank Corcoran studied philosophy, music, ancient languages and theology at the National University of Ireland Maynooth, University College Dublin and the Pontifical Lateran University, Rome. Further studies in composition were undertaken with Boris Blacher in Berlin. In 1980, he took up a composer fellowship the Berliner Künstlerprogramm. In the 1980s, he taught in Berlin, Stuttgart and Hamburg, where he was Professor of Composition and Theory at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater. He was a Fulbright Visiting Professor and a Fulbright Scholar in the U.S. in 1989 and 1990, and has been a guest lecturer at, among others, CalArts, Harvard University, the University of Wisconsin (Madison), University of Wisconsin (Milwaukee), Princeton University and New York University. Corcoran’s output includes orchestral, choral, chamber and electroacoutic music. His Joycepeak – Musik won the Studio Akustische Kunst 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, the Crash Ensemble (Dublin), the Cantus Chamber Orchestra (Zagreb), Wireworks Ensemble (Hamburg), the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra, the Irish Chamber Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland and Antipodes (Switzerland), among many other ensembles and orchestras. He is a founding member of Aosdána and lives in Hamburg and Italy.

Kaleidoscope – Pananorama –
Wed 1st Nov 2017

Doors at 8pm, music at 8.30pm €10-14 at Bello Bar.

Albeit just the 3rd concert in the 2017/2018 season, the Kaleidoscope series is already shouting about its second world premiere, would you believe? On this occasion, the new work, “Piccolo Quartetto Filarmonico”, is composed by the internationally renowned Tipperary-born composer Frank Corcoran and will be performed by the Robinson Panoramic Quartet. Kaleidoscope’s 2014 Ensemble in Residence, the Panoramic is a different kind of string quartet, comprising violin, viola, cello and double bass. Of the work, Corcoran says “the exciting drama of the musical mayhem, where the four voices are not exactly synchronized, pitted against the grave chordal liturgy, where they are….at the end, sweetness and light have the last say”.


Well, I was ten years younger. I had not yet composed the Cello Concerto, the Violin Concerto, Four Orchestral Prayers, Quasi Una Fuga and several other Corcoran works. Nor had I yet learned serenit’a, calmness, accept it all. Nor written my recent Sc’eal Beag. Nor discovered wild garlic, thyme, basil or origano. Nor written certain focal Haikus. Nor even thought of publishing the Festschrift Frank Corcoran ( or indeed its sub-title : “An Irish Composer Invents Himself.” ) or presented my Seven Theses On James Joyce And Music in the Dublin James Joyce Centre.
So whose used-up yarn is this spinning ? How is this writing voyeur ? My own e – entrails? 2006 was no bad year.
New Anew

Posted on June 16, 2006 By Frank Corcoran. WHAT DID IT MEAN ?

Whose used–up yarn is this spinning? The voyeur is always in me? Which
looking–glass declares an interest? Whence all these e–entrails I see,
trailed around the mulberry–bush?
Evening–questions seldom going away, let my fine fingers sing it:
Take Euclidian parallels. Take: ‘‘Can music ever be completely
programme–free?’’ Now if your answer is ‘‘Yes’’, why can’t we make a case also for the
occasional, programme–free Musing? This here is one such: perhaps in the
whole flaming firmament, this e–mail might be only the second known case of
an Uncaused Cause (lower case, please). E–scutter floweth as it will,
meandering magma loitering, causing at least a civilized smile.
It’s not actually enough to fob off Our Great E–typing Author with
‘‘uncaused causation’’ or with
‘‘let–it–flow–if–or–where–it–magmatically will’’
either. Bad enough to be caught anywhere near this theory of
‘‘any possible programme’’ (– eg. Our Muser–Author’s ounds, the scrofulous breakfast, gene
versus Jane versus Holy Joe in early boyhood).
Much worse, oh woe, not to expect anything from an e–mail, no effect,
none. Nothing. If idle is as idle strives to be, if (as here) it be
meta–musing on and on how to see behind its own very behind, then, there, be the
art of comedy chided.
This e–centred, this I–centred e–thrust, swallowed up in victory, all very
well that ; – by the way, who’ll fork out the cheque–book when the
celestial nuptials for ‘‘I’’ and for ‘‘Me’’ draw nigh, this very night and all, oh my ‘‘Musing’’, my very sawl?
What be e–writing at all, mused or fused tohuwabohu?
Then suffices no ‘‘It’s only snorting self–expression’’.
As is the humble courtier’s microtonally tuned fart. And the humbler’s
(eaten well prior) white–beans for lunch after the early morning’s quartering
up at Hangman’s Square, a mere finch in the turnip–pie, causing this (then
this in its turn, then, further causes) uncaused exhuding, this very
I wasn’t it. He there. Master Magma himself, careful, boy.
Not every musing could keep up concealing the awkward given of the
e–mail reflexive, the e–mail at play, the e–mail confessional, Gödel’s E–mail,
the e–cry or the e–caoine, e–haiku and e–mourn. They’re on the prowl, our
dear anti – ‘‘Musing’’ police. Have to be. You couldn’t allow total e–licence to the e–plebs.
O Inner circle, sneak closer. Either a ‘‘Musing ’’ amuses or, in its musing, it bemuses. Either it’s an Uncaused Cause (– but ‘‘LOWER CASE, PLEASE’’)
or is eén now causing wryness, a dry throat, reach for red pencil, sure the
man’s mad as a muser? Exhausted WHO is emailing exhaustive whom the following
text: ‘‘This e–message is in love with itself’’?
What makes our homo e–scribens so different, we left the wall–paintings and
Sumerian crúisgín l´an behind a long time ago? Out with it, your cheap
attacks on e–courage! Beat intransivity, slash the e–knot of reflexiveness!
Quod scripsi non really scripsi, true or Gödel–true? Could it be that,
e–quill and e–ink put tranquilly aside, we never, never, never love
unselfishly? Who said you can’t be e–mailing ‘‘In Paradisum’’? Is Paradise my mode of
while I mutate into my own e–mail? All changed, changed utterly, I
now am subsumed in what I have written. I have become this e–text. Scared?
Naw… My actual existence is also virtuality. What is behind my behind,
then? How’ll I have a look?


Nov. 1 2017 Frank Corcoran PICCOLO QUARTETTO FILARMONICO Odessa Club, Kaleidoscope, Dublin.

Dec. 2 2017 NDR – KULTUR “Prisma Musik ” Frank Corcoran lectures on / analyzes Elgar CELLO CONCERTO
Frank Corcoran introduces the new Frank Corcoran CELLO CONCERTO.

Dec. 21. Christchurch Cathedral Dublin AN IRISH CHRISTMAS CAROL

Januart 27 2018 Hamburg – Blankenese : 2. Symphony Revisited. 5 HAIKU / Lieder

May 12 2018 Belfast Hard Rain Ensemble premiere
” 9 LOOKS AT “Pierrot ” for Pierrot Ensemble

And new STRING QUARTET 2018 ? ConTempo Quartet ? RTE

New 2018 Frank Corcoran Summer Concerts in Orvieto and Bolsena – premiere new HOT DIALOGUES for Viola and Piano. Chamber-works.

2018 Schott Verlag : a new Frank Corcoran Monograph by Hans-Dieter Gruenefeld

March 17. 2019 New York City. NorthSouthOrchestra / Cond. Max Lifchitz Premiere CLARINET CONCERTO
( Arts Council commission of 2017 )

” RE – MEM – BER ME “

“Remember me ! ”

– that age/old cry, piteous, imperious, born out of terror , oblivion being our threat….

Remember me in tones, in bronze, the name of a lousy street, a tomb as a clarinet concerto, what else ?

Motor of art, with death our motor of religion ( that which “binds us ). I chisel it in , I write it on water, in

the sky, all

orchestral trumpets blazing. Change the nib. Begin a new composition. Oblivion will lap. Of course it will. Stoics

and Epicureans and our Buddha and all the Celtic saints of the Burren and great or bad or indifferent workers in,

well, all of the arts yell quietly those four syllables. “R” and “M” and “B” enclose just those two vowels….

– A musical composition ? Not bad.