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> Karlheinz Stockhausen, Detailed information about his music
Ramiro Delforte
post Feb 11 2009, 05:33 AM
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This is the first post of the onces I've mentioned about great modern composers. I'm going to try to describe the characteristics of his music and leave tons of links and information to keep searching in case you find it interesting.

22. 8. 1928 – 5. 12. 2007

He lived 79 years and composed over 350 works for any group of instruments and soloists and he's got many aparent different aesthetics for his works. I think that once of the factors of the greatness of Stockhausen lays in his comprehension of the works through his music and not having a particular reference of style (he's got a personal style but not at first sight). He says on the book "Stockhausen on Music" (a book made of a series of lectures that he gave in London around 1971)

quote: "It happens every once in a while, in music as in other fields, that you find people specializing in one new aspect of musical forming, and becoming famous because they just specialize. A composer like Ligeti specialized for years in microstructures, the detailed composition of textures; or Xenakis, who has concentrated on stochastic distributions; or Penderecki, who was the cluster specialist for a long time. In another context we can see Feldman as being the specialist in music that is as slow, and as soft, as possible. Every once in a while music produces its sepcialists, people who go very deeply into their narrow specializations, and vary them all the time. This is something we take for granted in painting, more than in music. Everyone has his so-called personal style. By which is meant that he has narrowed down his field of activity so completely that it only akes a fragment of a work for you to say, ah, that's so and so".

This quote is very interesting because Stockhausen sees himself as a universalist, a composer that don't leave any posibility behind.

I leave here the Amazon link to the book from I've got the quote.
http://www.amazon.com/Stockhausen-Music-Ka...4229&sr=1-1

And I also have read "The music of Stockhausen" by Jonathan Harvey but I don't like it as much as the other.
Also I leave the Amazon link http://www.amazon.com/Music-Stockhausen-Jo...4229&sr=1-8

Here is the Wikipedia entry that I think that would provide lots of data about where he studied and a list of works.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karlheinz_Stockhausen

His personal site: http://www.stockhausen.org/

Now I'm going to give you a view of his work and try to give some details about them.

Many of you may know that the world of the academic composers in the XX century embraced the technology and that is the electroacustic media.
The experimentation with electronic musicby many many composers started around the late 30's. John Cage has some electronic works with radios for example.
The Cologne radio was a big center of experimentation and was there where Stockhausen used to spend a lot of time composing and working with the timbre*.
*The timbre of the orchestral instruments is always the same but with the electronic media the composers realized that they could manipulate this to their will. And one of the conquest of the XX century is that the composers minds sometimes think in terms of timbre and not pitch or rhythms.

So, with that introduction here there is the Gesang der Junglinge (Song of the Youths) (1955-56). Is an electronic piece that works with the voice of a child.


The klavierstuckes are a series of pieces made for solo piano that starts about 1952 with the first five and reaches up to the 19th in 2003. This one that I'd leave here to give the example was made in the late 50's and in that period of time there was a series of composers that were radical about their writing because the pieces were extremely hard to perform because of their irregularity in the rhythm. As you may listen the piece (if you've never heard something like this) seems to be a baby playing the piano with all wrong notes and many many dissonances*. But as you see in the sheet is all written and nothing is up to the improvisation.

*The concept of the emancipation of the dissonance that Schoenberg introduce into his music at the begining of the XX century then developing the atonalism that evolve into the serialism (that period of time where Stockhausen wrote the Klavierstucke X) is the inevitable consecuence of the expansion of the XIX century chromatic harmony. The atonalism is the common language for most of the modern academic composers as it was in the medieval time the plain chant or the consolidation of the harmony in the barroque.

Here is the piece:


In this period also enters the piece for three simultaneous orchestras Gruppen. This work obviously is worried about the space. Stockhausen is not the first composer worried about the acoustic space. In the renaissance some composers placed the choir in front of the public and behind there was a brass section or sometimes another choir.
Here is the link to the famous video of the performance.


As I've said, Stockhausen is a composer that has a diversity like no one else.
Here is a piece for a little vocal ensemble that could be thought as a minimalistic work (although that's not true).
The piece essentially is a chord and the interesing part of the piece is that the singers modulate the timbre with some indications that are in the score.


Stockhausen also has a more intuitive part of his work where he plays with a degree of indetermination. Those pieces in Aus den Sieben Tagen are something like an indication or steps to follow rather than a written score.
Here there is one


For those who understand some spanish I leave you a link to a great article about this stage of Stockhausen.
http://esculpiendo.blogspot.com/2008/05/ka...cionalismo.html

Also check the whole blog because there are some interesting things there, it belongs to one of my teachers.


At last there is the biggest piece of Stockhausen that took him 25 years to complete, the opera Licht. That's divided into 7 days (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday).
The only link that I've found is this.


I leave you also the link to the photos of some of the scenarios of the opera to picture the size of this work.
http://www.stockhausen.org/licht_photos.html


I hope you enjoy this post. I'll be making more posts like this in order to give some information about the contemporary composers of our time.


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Gabriel Leopardi
post Feb 11 2009, 08:54 PM
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What a great post! I studied some of his music at the University but I've never heard his music in a deep way. I'll do it after this post. smile.gif

Thank you Ramiro.


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Ramiro Delforte
post Feb 12 2009, 06:50 PM
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You're welcome Gabe, I'm really glad if this post encourage anyone to listen to more and new music biggrin.gif


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