Karlheinz Stockhausen has died at 79

by on December 7, 2007 at 4:44 pm in Music | Permalink

Here is one balanced appreciation.  The Wikipedia page is patchy but offers lots.  If you’re only going to buy one or two, I say start with Mantra and then move on to Stimmung.  The hard cores should seek out SpiralGesang der Jünglinge is perhaps the most influential and seminal work, or perhaps Hymnen, order them here.  The junk includes the Helicopter Quartet, Tierkreis, anything with an American Indian theme, and most of material from the operas.  Gruppen you probably had to hear live.  Momente has compelling parts but it makes me giggle.  The piano music was good, although for me never a highlight.  It’s easy to take potshots at his pretentiousness and stupid politics, but he created more memorable and distinct sound worlds than any other twentieth century composer, except possibly John Cage.  It’s hard to imagine music without him.  Miles Davis and the Beatles would agree, and they were pretty smart guys.

Addendum: Here is a YouTube of Kontakte.  Here’s a bit of Gruppen.  Here is a bit of Hymnen.  But without real sound or live performance it mostly just sounds stupid.

1 Caped Crusader December 7, 2007 at 7:14 pm

“…but he created more memorable and distinct sound worlds than any other twentieth century composer, except possibly John Cage. ”

You might want to give George Crumb a listen.

2 Barkley Rosser December 7, 2007 at 11:00 pm

A great composer, if one difficult to deal with one for many listeners.
RIP, Karlheinz.

3 Lee A. Arnold December 8, 2007 at 10:48 am

Mantra is my favorite, also. It is piano music — for two electronically-modulated pianos. It produces transcendent moments that catch me unawares.

4 Anonymous December 8, 2007 at 11:17 pm


shrug?
how cool does a human being have to think they are to
‘shrug’ at the work of another??
we should all be so lucky to get ‘shrugged’ at!!

5 Anonymous December 11, 2007 at 6:43 am

As the founder of the Stockhausen Society, I am often asked what Stockhausen’s music is about. The first answer has to be that it is about music – all composers are in the same trade as Mozart. Great composers are as innovative and ground breaking as Haydn.

Secondly, I am asked how to approach this music, how to ‘understand’ it. My reply is to sing it – as a person tries to copy the sounds as they hear them by singing as near as possible to what they hear, the form and construction of the music becomes more and more apparent. Often, one can sing more of a Stockhausen work than say Bach fugue. Of course, this does not apply to electronic music.. or does it? A good try may bring suprising results.

Thirdly, the music is about the various strands of Stockhausen’s own life. His wartime experiences
led him to believe that the world can only acheive peace through music and unity is the basis of works such as Hymnen, Telemusik, Stimmung and in Light this is expressed in many ways – the Eflat note that runs throughout the second act of Tuesday – Octophony – is said to be the pitch of the Flying Fortress bomber engines which he must have heard with trepidation in Cologne. Pieta, for soprano and flugel horn, is one of the most moving as well as one of the greatest works for voice ever written (the wrote others of the same calibre). The Helicopter String quartet, in spite of its many humorous aspects, is also about unity – however high we fly, however far apart we are from each other, we can communicate through music and when we come down to earth we have to meet and join with our fellow men.World Parliament is a work that expresses the idea of many writers for such a dream.

It is also about love, every aspect of it, so to speak and often not for the prurient.

But for the writer, these are secondy concerns. Music cannot change lives, make someone a better person or give hope for eternal life: music can only speak of itself. As someone once said ‘Do not confuse a composer’s mind with his music’. Stockhausen is a truly great composer – the greatest of the last century and at this moment in time, perhaps for the next century. Listen to the music, how the notes and the form produce music that ‘hauls the souls from men’s bodies’ and be grateful to the muse that it exists. Ivor Morgan

6 花蓮租車資訊 August 8, 2009 at 1:47 am

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: