Philip Cogan

Philip Cogan (1750 – 3 February 1833) was an Irish composer, pianist, and conductor – the most important Irish piano composer before Field.


Cogan was born in Cork, where he was a choirboy and vicar choral at St Fin Barre's Cathedral. In 1772, he was appointed a stipendiary at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, but left the post a few months later due to ill health.[1] From 1780 to 1806 he was organist at St Patrick's Cathedral. He also conducted the orchestras of the Smock Alley and Crow Street theatres "to the detriment of his church duties".[2] In fact, Cogan's compositions for the stage outnumber those for the church by far. He not only wrote operas himself (The Rape of Proserpine, 1776; The Ruling Passion, 1778; etc.), but also collaborated with other Dublin composers, as in The Contract (1782, with John Andrew Stevenson, Tommaso Giordani, and one Laurent).

In 1787, Cogan was a co-founder of the Irish Musical Fund Society. He was an active participant in Dublin's musical life for many years including performances in the annual "Commemoration of Handel" festivals at the Rotunda and at various charity concerts in both Catholic and Protestant churches. Cogan was a much sought-after teacher and counted among his pupils a number of noteworthy names in Irish musical history such as Michael Kelly, Thomas Moore, P.K. Moran, William Michael Rooke and, most likely, Thomas Augustine Geary. In 1817 he conducted a concert, which also marked the first public appearance of the young Michael William Balfe. He was often called "Doctor Cogan", but there is no evidence that he ever studied at Dublin's Trinity College. Cogan enjoyed a long and prosperous life; he died at the home of his son-in-law, Patrick Clinton, at 14 Dominick Street, Dublin, and is buried in Glasnevin cemetery.

Today, Cogan's reputation rests on his keyboard music, which compares well with that of most of his better-known contemporaries. His music falls into the period of the development from the harpsichord to the piano, and, in time, his compositions fully exploit the sonic and technical possibilities of the grand piano. His best music can be found among his piano sonatas and the piano concerto op. 5 (1790).




Chamber music

Piano music


Modern edition


Cogan's music is as yet largely undiscovered by the recording industry. One piece only is available:



  1. Barra Boydell: Music at Christ Church before 1800: Documents and Selected Anthems (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1999), p. 119–20.
  2. Ita Beausang: "Cogan, Philip", in: The Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland, ed. H. White & B. Boydell (Dublin: UCD Press, 2013), p. 212–3.
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