Frank Corcoran

irish composer


Consider, okay in its splendid self, the quickie, the ” quasi un haiku” . Breve and semi-breve, no bad ally in these bad, bad times.
The repertoires shiver ever more, together . For the ( few remaining ) biggy music-agencies in London . Ever more orchestras are ( made ) prepared ( ? ) to perform ( ? ) ever ( ? ) less composers. Whisper. I tiptoe. Suffer.
No, it is neither ” inevitable ” , nor was it always so . ( Suffer me at this e – moment to remain silent about an everpresent “musical” charlatanerie in “our” European music-map this , on ” our” ” arts´” brittle November Hamburg night .


I see the “Well, then, who´s is the actual art-work ? ! ” brigade are back.
Is it the artist´s ? Her music-copyist´s ? The perception of all its potential / actual audiences ( shaky mathematics here; slobbery metaphysics ) till the end of Time ( when´ll that be, Saint John Wayne ? ) ? What then of the author´s rights ? Writes?
Rite and reason conflate and conflict , surely, in the musical composition, whether it is the concept, the score or the sounding brass ? Is that it ? Right so.
Hafiz sings ( sounds ? ) it well:
” Come – the Palace of Heaven rests on pillars of air.
Come – and bring me wine; our days are wind. “


I see it differently. The same questions keep cropping up.
What is a musical composition ? One of mine , say ? 1. Old chestnut, is it my thought out concept , my scribbled and messy score, a bloody awful or sublimely musical performance ? Or what ? Could it be the sum total of all that mental time I spent with my obscure intuitions, my dreamed up intervals, synaesthetic colours and all ? ( Surely not ? ) Is it perhaps the sum total of all its performed performances ( are there others ? ) , actual or potential ? The score as a list of sound-possibilities , whether sound or not ? – Sound gerrul that you are …. And then , why ” my ” ? Surely, when it´s finished, it is – like any child of mine – then launched into the world of others, fighting its own corner, offering possibilities and interpretations each time different ? No longer ” my ” then ? Or still, for ever ” my ” ?

I blow on my cold fingers. twice, thrice. Is this music ?


So am I my tones ? My eg. “feeling-tone ” ? Well ? If, it´s well-known, after all, that ” Cadenza = Death ” ? See what I might say or see ? )

Yes, these last five or six years were rich. Very. We recorded the hay-results. Backing our, at that time, Killavalla black mare and the switch now had become a, my , poor, little diagonal – pull a handle tripped hay-car , I was still very young, it was very precious . Certainly, this world would become my Swiss ” Alm ” , my rescue from this desert I trod. Yes, I
did reason. ” Who´ll love me ? In this, my idyllic Irish North Tipperary bog infinitely killing ? Me ?


I do so love my wastepaper basket; so airy-light ; so kenotic. He who empties himself should.
Certainly nowadays, every new Corcoran work is an obsession. My remaining years, yelling at the Second Law Of Obsessed Thermodynamics, must. Obsession with a motiv, a few intervals, a hidden text or texture. New SONGS OF TERROR AND LOVE ( March 14 2011 New York Premiere – watch this space ) to texts in Umbran and English by Jacopone da Todi are obsessed by the opening motivs of his ” Stabat Mater ” and Tommaso da Celano´s ” Dies Irae ” . Quite apart from various spins off from these great Medieval Latin Hymns ( are they hymns ? ) I react also to spins off his texts, I know.
My new Violin Concerto ( premiere 2012 in Dublin – again, watch this space ) is certainly obsessed with the four open strings of the soaring violin ( – how could it be otherwise ? ) , but also with the lightness of being and bow, the linearity of all my sung song, occasionally plucked, too . “RHAPSODIC BOWING ” for 8 Celli ( 2011 premiere ; again, this space …. ) as my title announces its obsession with deep or high cello strings. ” SYMPHONIES OF SYMPHONIES OF WIND ” for 23 Wind ( 1981 Vienna premiere by the O.R.F.S.O. / Lothar Zagrosek ) is a different obsession again, eg. with the deepest B Flat of the Double Bassoon ( fff ) at the end. Blown obsessions also obsess.
Or take the ” EIGHT HAIKUS BY FRANK CORCORAN ” for Double Choir ( again, it will be 2011 ) and my obsession there with vowel music, sung colours .


Again, why ? A double white martyrdom , flight from which precise address was the question that wanted no smarty pants answer ( a bit like the desired ” Why Don´t The Irish Understand Non Improvised / Traditional Music ! ? ” – well, why don´t we ? – ) like ” shure, the ould sow sulks now ! ” or such like. It was a great grace. Oisín i ndiaidh na Féinne had the grace of an Early Celtic ( poor John Wayne ) birth ; his fleeting steer hung on to this long harp ( tuned, as it happened , in E Flat . It did. ) . Fair enough the German blonde locks; and long after Fianna father´s tears had morphed into a holly sprink. With this, its ink now blog this: we build and build – a pity ! And have not here a lasting city ! But where we should endure , Sure there we´re SO unsure ! Why is this ? Watch tomorrow .


Well we got over them Alps , all things and great mountain tunnels considered, and no shortage of fresh snow above ground. So what is it that shaped this double exile ? From the land of ” Jawohl!” to that of ” Si! Magari! ” , I now wonder, the viaticum passed ? Was it the usual cunning and distance and getting the other angle ? I wonder about fate or design that shapes our ends, as the bags are silently unpacked for a while anyhow. Here it´s ham in the burg, snug as a rug, air-cured. ” A mighty burg ist unser Gott !” “Burg” is ” Buirgheas” , surely ? – As in ” Buirgheas
Uí Chéin” , englished poorly into ” Borrisokane” where ´twas far that I was, an unwashed lad, from Alpine tunnels and choral haikus ( more later on the 2011 premiere of ” EIGHT HAIKUS BY FRANK CORCORAN” for S S A A T T B B Choir ) .


That tree-riding snake I wrote recently enough about has now ( I do hope – for it and me ) entererd its winter langour. The walnut-hamstering brown squirrel was not seen since ; our wind, this bone -cutting tramontana, whistles its Lazio Caoine for this good year, all nibs hung up to dry, like the fishermen´s nets at the lake shore in Marta. There´ll be no boat going out to our islands this wintry November. No place on troubled , post-volcanic waters. Cross the mighty Alps ( how did Hannibal bring along enough hay for his elephants , enough supplies of matches and vinegar to fire – split Alpine pass rocks, I do wonder as I blow on my fingers ) . Move on up. Bring one nib along. Music note-paper. On the off chance that.. I never know how the wind will change its icy tune.


Dawn just snuck up now to shake cold birds awake to their modest enough October song, just a motive or phrase repeated, hardly a melisma to be heard among them . Burn the summer´s waste wood today, certainly. Batten hatches down for five months. ( I will. ) Composed the FIVE TENOR LIEDER, RHAPSODIC BOWING for 8 Celli, FOUR PIECES FOR 2 CLARINETS, whil I prepare the Violin Concerto for its 2012 premiere . And The Tones Were Made Tunes, its orchestral birth ; other, sundry, good 2010 works, too. I saw the long snake disappearing up the Birds´Choral Tree very fast, spelling dreadful , avian disaster for some.
The rabbit family failed to penetrate their fence. Tomatoes exploded, ditto vegetable marrow. Space-time behaved itself. Felice tu !


Each year , including this one, I have to buy a new sun-hat. Why ? A lone squirrel is pinching now from my walnut tree. And all parturitioning vipers keep about their invisible business as the nights get really cold here . Two hens, like dogs , answer the call of old Maria-Rovensa , next garden. Morning birds chitter alright after the rapidly dying heat. While thinking of the New York premiere ( early in 2011 ) of newest ” SONGS OF TERROR AND LOVE ” ( I englished Jacopone Da Todi´s great shout ! ) I scribbled this October Haiku:

Grease this chalice, grace !

“E lucevan le stelle” ….

Basho hiccups twice.