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Subject: Stockhausen dead at 79

Written By: MaxwellSmart on 12/07/07 at 5:13 pm

August 22, 1928 -- December 5, 2007

German Composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, a pioneer in electronic, aleatory, and serialist composition,  last Tuesday at age 79.  Cause of death has not yet been disclosed.

The Wiki article sums up Stockhausen's bio. 
He studied music and humanities at the University of Cologne after World War II.  In 1951 Stockhausen participated in the Darmstadt International Summer Courses for New Music, a creative hotbed for modern music.  Other composers affiliated with Darmstadt included Olivier Messiaen, Edgard Varèse,Milton Babbitt, Luciano Berio, Pierre Boulez, John Cage, György Ligeti, Bruno Maderna, Luigi Nono, and Iannis Xenakis.  Among Stockhausen's own teachers were Olivier Messiaen and Darius Milhaud.

Stockhausen also taught at the University of Pennsylvania, UC Davis, and the National Conservatory of Music in Cologne.  In the 1960s he took up residence in Kurten, a suburb of Cologne where he brought up his family.  Stockhausen had six children, four by his first wife and two by his second.  His son Markus (b. 1957) became a renouned composer and trumpet player in his own right, and often collaborated with his father.  Simon Stockhausen (b. 1967) is also well-known as a musician and collaborated often with his father and brother.  His second wife, Mary Bauermeister (b. 1934, Frankfurt)  is a painter and one of the originators of the Fluxus movement. 

Some of my favorite works of Stockhausen include:
Etude (musique concrete) 1952
Expo (for 3 performers and 3 shortwave transmitters) 1970
The "Klavierstuck" piano music series
Mikrophonie I & II (for amplified sounds, loudspeakers, ring modulator, and various instruments) 1965-1966
Helikopter-Streichquartett (for string quartet and helicoptor) 1993
Mantra (for 2 pianists, percussion, and electronics) 1970
Ceylon (for electronics, percussion, modulated piano, and sound projection) 1975
Bird of Passage (for electronics, wind instruments, feat. Markus Stockhausen: trumpet, fugelhorn) 1975
Telemusic (electronics, musique concrete) 1966
The "Licht" opera cycle 1977--2003

In 2001 Stockhausen was embroiled in controversy due to misunderstood statements he made regarding the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center buildings.  The press quoted Stockhausen as saying the destruction of the buildings were "the greatest work of art imaginable for the whole cosmos." Stockhausen extensively used archetypes of good and evil in his operas, including "Lucifer" as a loveless destroyer of creation; thus, Stockhausen connected the atrocity in New York City with the spirit of his "Lucifer." Stockhausen clarified thusly:
After returning from Hamburg I find false, defamatory reports in the press.

I am as dismayed as everyone else about the attacks in America.

At the press conference in Hamburg, I was asked if MICHAEL, EVE and LUCIFER were historical figures of the past and I answered that they exist now, for example Lucifer in New York.

In my work, I have defined Lucifer as the cosmic spirit of rebellion, of anarchy. He uses his high degree of intelligence to destroy creation. He does not know love.

After further questions about the events in America, I said that such a plan appeared to be Lucifer's greatest work of art. Of course I used the designation "work of art" to mean the work of destruction personified in Lucifer. In the context of my other comments this was unequivocal.

I cannot find a fitting name for such a "satanic composition". In my case, it was not and is not my intention to hurt anyone. Since the beginning of the attack onward I have felt solidarity with all of the human beings mourning this atrocity.

Not for one moment have I thought or felt the way my words are now being interpreted in the press.

The journalist in Hamburg completely ripped my statements out of a context, which he had not recorded in its entirety, to use it as a vile attack against my person and the Hamburg Music Festival.

This whole situation is regrettable and I am deeply sorry if my remarks were misconstrued to offend the grieving families of the brutal terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington D.C. I will continue to keep the victims of this outrage in my prayers.

Karlheinz Stockhausen
September 19, 2001

Unfortunately, the Hamburg Music Festival cancelled his concerts, which were to be the focus of the festival the week after.  Stockhausen made his remarks while the wreckage was still smoking and the death count was still thought to be as high as 6,000.  There simply was no way for Stockhausen to amend his remarks and make them the least bit palatable to a shocked and grieving public.  Ironically, Stockhausen's infamous 9/11 commentary was one of just a few times the general press gave him any publicity in a music career that lasted over half a century!

To me, Stockhausen ranks with composers such as Arnold Schoenberg, John Cage, Pierre Schaeffer, Iannis Xenakis, Anthony Braxton, Pauline Oliveros, Alvin Lucier, and Harry Partch as a larger-than-life  figure who expanded the possibilities of music is and what music can be.  I shall miss his presence on the world stage. 

Subject: Re: Stockhausen dead at 79

Written By: Reynolds1863 on 12/07/07 at 6:36 pm

A great composer gone.  They don't make them like that anymore. :\'(

Subject: Re: Stockhausen dead at 79

Written By: Philip Eno on 12/08/07 at 4:54 am

I have just read his obit online, and sadden to read this news.

Another sad lost to the world of music.


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