Frank Corcoran

irish composer

SUMER IS ICUMEN IN

The Swiss octet , “Antipodes”, with Egidius Streiffzug , violin, will premiere my new ” QUASI UNA
SARABANDA” for Clarinet, Horn, Bassoon and String Quintet ( 2007 ) on June 19 – 21 in Bern, Zürich and Basle.

HUMBLE DECEMBER HAIKUS FROM HUMBLE HAMBURG ! RECITE OUT LOUD !

1. Great gusts of air-stream

Roughly unravel my sleeve

A last butterfly

2. My young love, Buddha,

Came to softly sleeping me

And our sap rising

3. Issa and Buddha

Were lovers; – Lawd how they did

Swoon under a pine

4. It yaws and weaves and

Tacks now in the yellow air

My last butterfly

5. ” Who has ever seen

A poem lovely as this ?

-Our Spring pine-Buddha?

6. Soon it´ll be Easter ?

The speckled bean and pine

Burst, pulse and become

7. How tall young, new pines !

His Next Coming will be thus:

Thrusting. Up. Higher.

8 Does our Buddha pine ?

For Spring´s budding pine-trees´cones ?

Come Her / His Kingdom !

9. Fair daffodils ! He

Weeps not to see fine-hued ye!

Churn-butter yellow!

SUNLIT 2009 IS JUST AROUND THE SNOWY CORNER

On February 22 2009 the North German Radio Choir under its new Chief Conductor, Philip Ahmann, will give the German premiere of Frank Corcoran´s

QUASI 9 ASPECTS OF AN IRISH POEM ( Gabriel Rosenstock ) for Solo Violin and Large Choir.

Nine times I set this little 3 -liner poem in Irish ( 1982 Migmars ed. ) which is as perfect as a 17th. c. Japanese Haiku. ( Basho “composed” his ” Winterreise” in almost Early-Irish nature-lyrics ).
“As tobar duaigh spéire / Líonann crain / A nguth. ”
My earliest Tipperary musical remembrance is of the ballad-singer, Paddy Reddan, bellowing his songs at the weekly fair-day, now long gone, in Borrisokane. Even as a child I mused over that age-old problem, what came first ? The music or the words ? Rosenstock´s poised poem both means and does not quite mean: ” From the ink-will of the sky / Trees / Fill their beaks!” Nine times I set it, I compose nine choral settings of my poet-friend´s elegant brevity; these are nine attempts to paint the vowel-colours of his gossamer syllabic construction, the solo and choral ” A” and ” As” and “Tob-” and ” -Ar”, etc. My solo violin´s prelude and interludes bow, pluck , become the choir´s colour-tones.

NOVEMBER HAS GONE TO WHERE NOW ?

How , Lawny, will I handle the “I” of this once summerly Musing ? I am afraid the play´s the thing, the confessional stool, the stool straining . To play, to weep, yes, but a tad too personal, too weepy?
Suppose that I, sorry, just suppose that ” I ” attack that World Haiku Formula Nr. B25 which states that God plus the World are utterable, are controllable, within five, then seven, then again five syllables .
Consider this Haiku, my example one:
” The silver viper / Craves my ferritinous blood / Poison to poison.”

– Whoah ! Attic, lads, it´s a very beaut !
Still, I worry about that ” I ” , as in the above: ” I am afraid the play´s the thing. ”
We will play it anyway , even if that ” I ” doesn´t want the burden of a capital letter plus twinkling inverted commas. What do ” I ” say to all this? Apparently Pythagoras and lots of other Greeks were shoving quite other tones around long before ” five-plus-seven-then-five-again”. Consider next my next Haiku:

” Not enough Sake / This baby-monkey will die / See its dead mushroom! ”

Here the ” I ” with its twin inverted commas is simply claiming that a taoscán of Sake never did any mortal creature any mortal harm, neither mortal baby-monkey – obviously still alive – nor this now dead mushroom. The aforesaid taoscán of Sake might even have enriched the accordeon-music of I, then of ” I ” and then of MY ” I ” ( -But watch all tricky sentences such as : I will in my “I” ! ) .
The three-liner corsets Corcoran doubtful Reflexivity Theorem: I = ” I ” . Where there is peace there will also have to be the seven-syllabled line in the middle; the final five is then the capstone of our syllable-edifice.
Or maybe “you” see it different ? Well, I” certainly don´t.( We´ve moved on now to Corcoran´s Doubtful Arithmetic: if I plus me = us , then ” I ” plus ” I ” = “Us”. Soon you and I and “I” and “you” will have made clumsy trouble for all our inverted commas, all once innocent pronouns . Do “you” see that ? )

Is the following an improvement? -Does it face the music of reflexivity out of which we weave? eg.

” That monkey´s sake / Would yet waken a dead snake / Near this poisoned child. ”

Or would this one ?

” Give no child sake! / It´s poison´s more potent than / A viper´s tongued hiss. ”

Or:

” Sake for the child/ Bitten by that viper´s tooth / No more he´ll hear us!”

Also consider this last one:

“If I could be “I” , / The Sake firmly re-corked, / “I´d” face “my” music”.

November 27. 2008

PIANO TRIO . It was thirty years ago, my break-through year. I wrote that opening page for piano solo with bleeding fingers; it had to re-invent rhythm, to fight against 0ur Western tyranny of the period. I succeeded. Then comes the cello with its own tempo , gestures and persona. The violin is a different actor again. I had invented – for me – macrocounterpoint, no longer note against note, but layer or musical flow against layer or flow. ( I don´t necessarily ” like” the sound of the classical piano trio, the two strings having to compromise with the tempered tuning of their a powerful piano – only with this hard-won freedom of MY layered approach could I , I felt, accept the sonorities of this deeply compromised mini-orchestra ). Out of the boiling miasma erupted bits of that Brahms theme. Yet, before it takes over too powerfully, it´s gone again- quasi una visione . This early work of mine I love for its poised layers and polytemporal richness of sonorities and gestures and lines.

QUASI UNA MISSA , after ” Balthazar´s Dream ( Berlin 1980 ) and the Bourgs Festival Premier Prix-winning ” Sweeney´s Vision” ( West German Radio commission of 1997 ) , was my third electro-acoustic composition ( Commissioned by West German Radio 1999. It won the 2002 Swedish E.M.S. Prize ) . Like all my ” quasi- ” works of the late nineties and since, it is a composition of this composer who is musically no longer innocent; I know – sadly – too much world-music, too much music of our Western polyphonic tradition.
I wanted to use – for my four movements – ( – but they´re only ” Quasi” KYRIE, GLORIA – CREDO , SANCTUS, AGNUS DEI ! ) as my building-blocks two thousand years of Irish God-utterances from our Irish island , bits of texts from the Celtic god, Aimhirgín, up through Eriugena and Mac Giolla Bríde and Berkeley to Beckett and Joyce and God-only-knows what else, an Irish stew of Irish theology, a musical archaeology of 2000 yeras of religious tradition. My ” KYRIE” ( – abbreviated commas, please ! ) is my homage to Palestrina and to our Western chanted counterpoint, as my sacred syllables fugue towards magic ” Amen!” St. Patrick beats with bony wrist St. Patrick´s Bell. Quasi- GLORIA has the Wake´s Thunder-word and Glendalough bird-song ( – yes, authentic recordings ! Here , fetishism is all ! ) and a total theophantic eruption, Bronze Age Irish horns from the National Museum, halo and awe.
My Quasi- SANCTUS cooks a heady mix of 20th. c. God-statements plus 7th. c. St. Columbanus´s Latin ” Heia! ” – Chorus , his monks rowing backwards up the mighty Rhine from Cologne ( beside whose great Gothic cathedral I mixed my music ) .
Quasi- AGNUS DEI sums up : Irish sorrow, joy, the nunc stans, lullaby and dance and Aran Island keening old women , port- a-bh̩il , in short my Irish Circus ( РCiao ! John Cage ! No ! ! ! ) Quasi.

QUASI UNA PERLA is just that, my newly honed pearl 2008 for double-bass and piano, for that unique Basso Moderno
combination, Allan von Schenkel and his Kerstin in Washington. Three minutes . Fully packed fun and tragedy and yell and scream and prayer and vision, the whole lot; it flashes by in only three minutes. Allan and Kerstin have just played for the Pope at the United Nations plus a thousand other concerts in the Eastern States of the U.S. They have awakened many composers from South and North America to this, their rare combination ( – again, it is a mini-orchestra ! ) of piano and bass – with Allan´s unique tuning , all strings a fourth higher , capturing a totally new world of sonic possibilities.

November 15. 2008

N.D.R. Kultur broadcasts my Radiophonic Analysis of Beethoven´s Seventh Symphony.

” ” my Irische Mikrokosmoi for String Orchestra.

” ” my Second Symphony for Large Orchestra.

November 23 2008 HERE WE GO AGAIN AFTER A SHORT ABSENCE IN HEAVEN

After I was killed in Iraq last year, I dreamed that I heard that drake quacking once again at the castle-moat.
Thus:
” What a social surd it´s been, quaak, my last quarter of a century earning a duck-family´s crud. How finely unartistic and unmusical my fine crust-earning conservatoire years; all for my drakes, the ducks; ´twas a social desert, ´twas, an inter-draked dump; the house lacked any normal duck-love in its foyer, yeah, quack, we had yellow-eyed envy in the arty-farty toilets . The shadow of 1945 was cast still over our Duck-President´s music-office . What a fitting successor to the Gestapo torture-chambers ( where they had turned the musical screw in that corner ) was our Duckschule´s professors´ aviary lunch-cum-pissoir corner which I had to frequent in them dark quack-eighties. It was a very casino musicale with all poultry birds´ feathers feathering all musical nests, all vanities and inanities and major-minor turds and performing eejits and composing midgets and duck theorists. No defence, drakes, for such an architectural,atonal, acoustic and aesthetic monstrosity. Yes, a hide-out for Moovietone civil servants of sounding necrophilia. Quick! Quack! Quake! Slake!”
He paddled. He dived! I could hardly believe this splatted castle-moat bilge that drake was moaning out in his filthy moat-water. Slaking his beak he dropped silvery droplets, his water-tones. He drearily draked on:
” So I waddles shyly in to just no waiting reception-committee, – Hey! ” collegiality” is not a duck-word. So I stumbles over the President´s threshold as he was sticking on his most drakish smile . ” I´m sorry, Herr Guest Drake, but I can´t help you out at all with your unfortunate case of Herr Crutch´s Phelt!” sez he.
So I was out at sea on the holy moat-water for the best part of the next twenty five years. Prof. Crutch´s Phelt, get this, had wanted my professorial drake´s chair for his then unmusical mistress ; her professorial appointment , mine had obviously blocked hers, would have halved the distance ( it was snickered ) from her class-room to his feather bed-room. See? So in retaliation Crutch´s Phelt syphons off all compositional young hope from my teaching-load for the rest of his crutch´s phelty reign at our High Duck-Shed. And to this day he, too, uses our professors´ eat-corner-cum- pissoir. So it was only then it slowly dawned on this drake, ducks, and hen-eggs : what I treated of in class was of not the slightest interest to that arch-drake nor to the ducklings´s doctorates ; it was only my teaching load at Crutch´s Phelp Musictone-University that was quantifiable. Which was all that mattered. Quick! Quake! Quack, pay any lip-service to reforming that irrelevant dodo of a Hogs Skool? Yes, there was simply no Disney interest in the pitiable hog-wash we´d dish up to dem young, suffering ducklets .
No colleagues greeted – Disneys don´t do greeting, we do not web-shake. Our Good Chief Duck Architect had wetted his paddle-feet; he made sure that this wasn´t ever, ever, ever going to grow into a real Hochschule; eg. he forgot to plan for it, so we had no drakes´corner where you´d ever have a human intercourse. Let not duckish humanity soften a High Hog Skool´s Rule of the knife or be knifed for their high table. Do not tink tunes! No sing! No quacked doodle! Quick! We have not a second! Clock up de dying hours! Flap! Quaak! Thus did I, drake, see my drake-decades crawl till I´d be finally pensioning off the water of this castle-moat from both my webbed feet, I swear to Great Poultry . Meanwhile some colleagues, a few loving drakes died ; but some were replaced by Quack Again!”
His moated drakespeak had ended on, for a musician of sorts, his flat note. Sour or surly. I risked a parting : ” But surely there was something, anything at all, golden in your twenty five years at the Ducks´Shed? You mean to say you learned nothing? From musical youth ? From young lovely ducks?” But he had already dived . The dark-green moat closed over his brown drake-backside, leaving an unpleasantly grey smudge on the castle-waters. So I went beck to being dead after my own Iraq service….

November 23 2008. Sorry, it´s December 11 next at the Festival Mondain in Bucharest, then December 13 in Kluj, premier by Duo Moderno of my ” Quasi Un Duo” for doublebass and piano.

CHORAL SATISFACTION

22 February 2009 North German Radio Choir in das neue werk Festival: German premiere of Frank

Corcoran´s ” 9 ASPECTS OF AN IRISH POEM” for Violin and Large Choir.

23 August 2008 Futura Festival, Crest, France : French premiere of ” QUASI UNA MISSA” ( 1999

W.D.R. commission. 2002 Swedish E.M.S. Prize ) .

JUNE, TOO, BEARS HAIKU-GOODIES

Dec. 8 2008 Meridian Festival, Bukarest : Basso Moderno premieres my new “Quasi Una Perla”. Thus:

A last alone the

Long day writhing into night

Moon-shine is my love

René Magritte was

Off on his French hobby-horse:

“I am NOT my pipe!”

Age-old Greek river,

Was unwashed Heraklitus

Ever smelled again?

TWENTY YEARS A-GROWING

In 1987 I pared the quill and wrote: ” Two Hardy Referentialists And The Debate On Expression In
Music”. ( International Review Of The Aesthetics And Sociology Of Music IRASM 18, 2, 237 – 245 )

In this bee-loud glade

My nine and fifty plum-trees

They and I blooming