Donnacha Dennehy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Donnacha Dennehy
Donnacha Dennehy at the 2012 Mizzou International Composers Festival.jpg
Donnacha Dennehy at the 2012 Mizzou International Composers Festival
Background information
Born (1970-08-17) 17 August 1970 (age 43)
Dublin, Ireland
Occupations Composer

Donnacha Dennehy is an Irish composer. Born in Dublin, he studied Music at Trinity College, Dublin, and received his master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Upon returning to Dublin in 1997, he founded the Crash Ensemble, which focuses on the performance and recording of contemporary music.

His first work for the group Junk Box Fraud was a breakthrough in his output and marked a new style in Irish contemporary music. Subsequent works for the ensemble have included Derailed, For Herbert Brun and most recently Grá Agus Bás (premiered in February 2007), the latter featuring the Irish vocalist Iarla Ó Lionáird and incorporating music from the sean nós tradition. These works have established his reputation as one of the leading Irish composers of his generation.

Dennehy's music could be classified as post-minimalist. It features energetic rhythms, hard-edged sounds (both acoustic and electronic) and an infectious sense of melody. Major works include pAt for piano and tape; Paddy for mixed percussion; ensemble works Glamour Sleeper, Streetwalker, and Disposable Dissonance; and, for orchestra, The Vandal, O, the violin concerto Elastic Harmonic and, most recently, Crane, commissioned by RTÉ and premiered in September 2009. His 2005 work for chorus and orchestra, Hive, displays his developing interest in microtones and harmonies based on harmonic spectra, an interest that resurfaces in his piano trio Bulb, Stainless Staining (for piano and tape), Overstrung (for violin and tape) and other works.

His music has been called "viscerally thrilling" (New York Times), "most spectacular" (De Volkskrant, Amsterdam), "gripping" (Journal of Music in Ireland), and a "love-affair with the very anatomy of sound" (Times, London). NMC Records in London released the first portrait CD devoted to his music, Elastic Harmonic (NMC D133), in June 2007.[1]

In the spring of 2011, Nonesuch released his song cycle That the Night Come with the American soprano Dawn Upshaw.[2] He is currently collaborating with Upshaw and the American new music ensemble Alarm Will Sound on The Hunger, an evening-length music theatre piece about the Great Irish Famine.

Since 1997, Dennehy has been a member of the composition faculty at Trinity College, Dublin. In the fall of 2014, he will join the faculty of the music department at Princeton University. He is a member of Aosdána, Ireland's state-sponsored academy of artists.

List of works[edit]


Orchestra / chamber orchestra[edit]

  • Junk Box Fraud (1997)
  • The Vandal (2000)
  • O (2002)
  • Elastic Harmonic (2005); violin and orchestra
  • Hive (2005); voices and orchestra
  • Aisling Gheal (2007); voice and chamber orchestra
  • Grá agus Bás (2007); voice and chamber orchestra
  • Crane (2009)
  • That the Night Come (2010); soprano and chamber orchestra
  • If he died, what then (2012); soprano and chamber orchestra
  • Disposable Dissonance (2012)
  • The Hunger [(parts I - IV) 2013]; soprano and chamber orchestra
  • Three Sean Nós Settings (2013); voice and orchestra
  • Dirty Light (2013)
  • Turn (2014)

Small ensemble with voice[edit]

  • Two Yeats Songs (1993); soprano and flute
  • Hinterlands (2002); two female voices and backing track
  • To Herbert Brun (2002); voice, saxophone, trombone, double bass, and live electronics
  • The Weathering (2004); soprano, recorder, percussion, violin, and video
  • Swift's Epitaph (2008); countertenor and percussion

Instrumental ensemble[edit]

  • Pluck, Stroke, and Hammer (1997); piano quintet
  • The Traces of a Revolutionary Song (1998)
  • A Game for Gentlemen Played by Thugs (1999)
  • Severance (1999)
  • Ecstasis, full stop (1999); string quartet and backing track
  • Counting (2000); string quartet and backing track
  • Derailed (2000)
  • Composition for percussion, loops, blips and flesh (2002); percussion sextet
  • Glamour Sleeper (2002)
  • Streetwalker (2003)
  • The Pale (2003); saxophone quartet and percussion sextet
  • The Blotting (2004)
  • Table Manners (2004); percussion quartet
  • Mild, Medium-Lasting, Artificial Happiness (2004); saxophone quartet or any quartet of like-sounding instruments
  • Tilt (2006); electric guitar quartet
  • Bulb (2006); piano trio
  • Pushpulling (2007); string quartet
  • Fold (2008)
  • STAMP (2008); string quartet
  • As An Nós (2009)
  • An Irish Process (2009)
  • Céad Slán (One Hundred Goodbyes) (2011); string quartet and backing track


  • Work for Organ (1992)
  • GUBU (1995); tape
  • Begobs I-IV (1995); piano
  • Metropolis Mutabilis (1995); tape and optional video (by Hugh Reynolds)
  • Voitures (1996); oboe and tape
  • Curves (1997); amplified harp and tape
  • Swerve (1998); flute and tape
  • FAT (2000); flute and tape
  • Mad, Avid, Sad (2000); organ
  • pAt (2001); piano and tape
  • [H]interlands (2002); two female voices and tape
  • PADDY (2003); percussion
  • BRAT (2000/5); recorder and tape (arrangement of FAT)
  • North Strand (2007); piano
  • North Circular (2007); piano
  • Reservoir (2007); piano
  • Stainless Staining (2007); piano and backing track
  • Overstrung (2010); violin and backing track
  • Misterman (2011); music for a play by Enda Walsh (released on Heresy Records[4])

Open ensemble[edit]

  • Blips and Static (2002); multiple boomboxes
  • Flashbulb (2006); three melody instruments and one struck instrument
  • A Fatal Optimist (2008); for any instrumentation


  • Elastic Harmonic. NMC, 2007 (includes Glamour Sleeper; Paddy; Junk Box Fraud; Elastic Harmonic, pAt, Streetwalker)
  • Grá agus Bás. Nonesuch, 2011
  • Stainless Staining. Canteloupe, 2012 (Lisa Moore, piano Stainless Staining; Reservoir)


  1. ^ "WorldCat: Elastic harmonic". 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Dennehy, Donnacha. "Works". 
  4. ^ Misterman released on On the Nature of Electricity & Acoustics by Heresy Records, CMC link

External links[edit]