I interpreted his pt. another way, besides the influence KS had (studio as instrument etc.) .. the young lads simply "got it" .. and heard things in Stockhausen that they liked, as do so many (myself included). It's really not inaccessible.. total myth. It's inspirational. He's also tying things back to the source(s) throughout which is nice. I thought Service was direct, passionate, genuine & spot-on .. summing things up broadly quite well.
Well, the argument is still crap. "The Beatles heard something
in Stockhausen. The Beatles are accessible. Therefore Stockhausen is accessible."
Now even if we could agree on what a concept like "accessible" means (frankly, accessible is in the ear of the beholder - for better or worse), that's still not the argument as to whether (or why) Stockhausen is accessible. That's just the "Stockhausen is hugely influential" argument, which no one can deny. Stockhausen is accessible for his own merits (to the extent he is). It's only a side-show argument why, if he was so influential on others (Zappa is a much better example in any case, because Zappa's music is closer in spirit, playfulness, and occasionally complexity to KS than what my admittedly Beatles-ignorant ears hear in the Liverpudlians), we ought also invest some effort and await the eventual, possible surprise.
And then there's the thing where in your spirited defense of all things modern you begin to generalize and refuse to make concessions. I'm not sure if it helps your argument in practical terms if you seemingly insist that "all" avant-garde music has merit. Or even that all Stockhausen is similarly accessible (or good, which is an even trickier concept). Something truly mesmerizing like Gesang der Jünglinge
) or Mantra
which -- with the right setup live or even canned -- I could maybe get a dozen non-KS-predisposed classical music listeners out of a hundred to appreciate and enjoy) simply cannot be compared to the Wednesday Helicopter Quartet (which I couldn't get a dozen out of a thousand to enjoy in any meaningful sense -- that is: excluding enjoyment-as-conceit).
I think the argument should be re-framed as: Contemporary music is worth listening to
(especially for the 3rd and 4th time; a one-time listen often doesn't do anything. That it's worth exploring, and that it is worth at least some effort. Really the same arguments why we should listen to 'modern classics' like Schoenberg, Webern, Bartok, Weinberg, Birtwistle, Ives -- which are just as much a closed book to the vast majority of casual classical music listeners.
At the same time there's no point in not admitting that some of it will never yield, no matter the effort... that not all of it is for everyone. That much isn't worth the effort. But we can't know that until afterwards... a few exceptions apart. (If we knew how some works got composed, we could predict failure occasionally.)
Most, if not all the criticism voiced here, has some
merit and deserves being addressed, rather than flat-out denied. None of the criticism, as far as I am concerned, is sufficient to suggest that we ought not try to appreciate contemporary classical music. Especially since there are fewer and fewer excuses to do so, with the styles of contemporary music having unprecedented breadth... from the Zamfir-goes-Kenny-G style of Ola Gjeilo to complexity-for-its-own-sake Brian Ferneyhough.
A Salonen Piano Concerto, Jefferson Friedman Quartets
, the workd of the NOW Ensemble
, the super-gorgeous modern romanticism of Fabio Maffei
, Udo Zimmermann's Cello Concerto
(a conversion to consonance), much of Thomas Adès'
work, Avner Dorman Percussion Concerto
, Philippe Manoury
("Abgrund"), Daniel Brewbaker's Violin Concerto
, most anything by Kaija Saariaho
(Not everything perhaps ("Katja Saariaho’s Spins and Spells for cello ... sounded like creaking pipes in an old apartment building during winter. Or, as the modern music maven in me would want to exclaim: it explored in fascinating intricacy the resonant and textural properties of the cello (scordatura – custom tuned – no less!) while spreading a holistic sound-cloth, tightly woven of metal strands over the audiences’ audile receptors. Take your pick."
... but L'amour de loin
especially). Peter Lieberson's Neruda Songs
... Paul Moravec
is another of my favorites... ditto B.C.S.Boyle
and I love what Michael Nyman does with his de- and re-constructions of Mozart
All of these composers are alive, a lot of them are not scary at all... none are flawless (if Beethoven wasn't, why should they?), a few others are ostensibly 'difficult' and need a different approach (just like Bartok needs a different approach than Mozart, if one is to get anything from his music). I could, with some time and effort, and given willing ears, make a good case for all of them (not that they need me to do that) and they make a great case for the wonderful diversity there is. Point is: Much of this repays the investment of effort manifold... just like other music, too. And half of it doesn't take as much effort as Wagner does.