It's a long way to Tipperary and it's a long way away now from Tipperary where I was born in 1944.
Intense sounds, sights and smells from my rural childhood live on. Also my intense interest in mythic Ireland, its two languages and its tortured history.
My music explores this Irish consciousness (though not in any self-consciously pastoral pastiche).
Then an early reading of Thomas Mann's "DOCTOR FAUSTUS" led me to the world of Germanic music, composition as a pact with the Devil.
In our world today which is saturated by so much sonic rubbish and musical junk overkill, creating new art / music must aim for highest concentration, plus the artist's ironic awareness that others have gone this way before. (See all my "Quasi " series ). Yet good art is autonomous. It is about itself.
I studied in Maynooth, Dublin, Rome and Berlin (Boris Blacher), literature, philosophy, theology and music. 1971 to 1979, I was a Music Inspector in Dublin.
1980 DAAD Berlin Artists' Programme and Guest Professor. 1982 Professor at Stuttgart and from 1983 at Hamburg.
1989 - 1990 Fulbright Professor in the USA; many guest-lectures including at Harvard, Princeton, CalArts, Boston, NYU, Indiana, etc.
Member of AOSDANA, the Irish Academy of the Arts, since its inception in 1982.
My First Symphony was premiered in Vienna in 1981 (O.R.F.S.O., Lothar Zagrosek).
The lonely great composers of the 20th. c. paved my way, the Second Viennese School, Stravinsky, Bartók and others. As a student in Dublin I learned to despise what I saw as our neo-colonial cultural situation, with London musical pedagogy often appeared compromised, weak and cowardly. My Berlin studies with Boris Blacher had already opened my interest in musical rhythmic and colour freedom.
In the seventies I was greatly influenced by the strength of New Polish Music, foremost among the new Polish composers the gigantic figure of Witold Lutoslawsky. At the Zagreb Biennale 1976 and the Warsaw Autumn 1977, I was dazzled by so much creation.
My output includes chamber, symphonic, choral and electro-acoustic works. I have also worked with texts by Irish poets, incl. Seamus Heaney in English, andGabriel Rosenstock in Irish.
My works have been performed and broadcast in Europe, Asia, USA, Canada and South America. Commissions from , among others, NDR, RTE, Irish Arts Council and Arts Council of N. Ireland, SFB, WDR, DLF, New York North-South Chamber Orchestra, AXA International Piano Competition, Wireworks Hamburg, Sli Nua, Musica Viva Boston, Lyric Fm, Cantus Zagreb, RTE , National Symphony Orchestra, Concorde, Antipode, Crash, UWM, Living Music Dublin, Irish New Music Festival, Zagreb Biennale, etc. etc.
Prizes include Dublin Symphony Orchestra, Varming, Studio Akustische Kunst, Bourges International Festival, Swedish E M S Prize, I. F. C .M. Premier Prix, Sean O 'Riada.
What does all this add up to? In a world which has never before experienced such an immense ocean of musical rubbish as we have today, the aesthetic challenge remains the same.
There is an ethics of composing; any Corcoran composition aims to become a closed piece of creative imagination, enfolding, welding and polishing itself in Mahler's phrase "A world of its own!" Horace's "Ars est celare artem", yes. Good art conceals so much. There really is no room for the vacuous, pretentious or bloated.
Stringency is all.