Commissioned by the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, and premiered by them on 25 September 2009 at the National Concert Hall Dublin. Recommended by the International Rostrum of Composers in June 2010.

Unavailable for performance.

  • 3(2pic).3.3(bcl).3/4331/timp.3perc/
  • 25 min

Programme Note

Related Works:
   Crane Version II (shorter)

Composer Note:
The creative spark for Crane was an ambitious collaborative concept, entitled Crane Ballet — an urban/industrial ballet, to involve a live orchestral performance and the choreographed movement of cranes located at various building sites across Dublin skyline during the apex of Dublin's construction boom. Although the costs and practicalities of the choreography eventually proved insurmountable, it happily set the conditions for the birth of this stand-alone piece.

A lot has changed in the meantime. Liberated from the potential restrictions of such an involved collaboration, the music itself is significantly more ambitious and far-reaching than anything I first imagined. All the same, many of the monolithic gestures it contains are bound up with my poetic thinking about cranes (I was obsessed for about a year). I have acknowledged that debt in the title of what is now essentially an abstract piece of music.

One connection between the early vision and the final piece is, for me, particularly poignant. During research for the original concept, I visited a school for Crane operators in Blanchardstown, on the outskirts of Dublin, accompanied by the wonderful Indian/English choreographer Shobana Jeyasingh, who was to choreograph the crane movements. There we meta crane operator who was a fascinating character. Something he said never left me. I asked him what he enjoyed about being a crane operator and he said it was that when he ascended the massive collection of ladders to reach his cabin high up in the sky, he left all the worries and troubles of his life down on the ground and could “watch the whole world go by.” The gentle crux of this often extremely energetic, intense piece, at the very end, is a kind of a musical translation of such an oasis in the sky.

Special thanks are due to Jonathan Reekie and Cerys Shepherd of Aldeburgh Music for lending me a house to work in during my hour of need in the summer of 2008.

— Donnacha Dennehy 2010

Originally choreographed by George Williamson for the Dutch National Ballet, and premiered at the Holland Festival in 2016.


Composers of Ireland- Series No.9


  • Donnacha Dennehy: Music for Dance
    • Donnacha Dennehy: Music for Dance
    • The music of Donnacha Dennehy is subversive and poetic. His distinctive style reflects a wide range of musical influences, including minimalism, spectralism, and traditional Irish sean-nós (“old style”) singing. This curated playlist of Dennehy’s music highlights the possibilities for new dance creations.

More Info