Author Topic: Stockhausen's Spaceship  (Read 424529 times)

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Offline aukhawk

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Re: Stockhausen's Spaceship
« Reply #1420 on: June 09, 2021, 05:57:41 AM »
Concerning Montag aus Licht....

Quote from: Cato
    I have translated an article from the German magazine Der Spiegel from around 1987.  (Exact issue date is gone.)

    Note it is written by the editor himself.


    "With Hitler and a Bow-Wow into Cloud-Cuckoo-Land

    Spiegel Editor Klaus Umbach on Karlheinz Stockhausen’s new opera Montag aus Licht

    Like a lord, with curly hair down to his shoulders, he sits enthroned in the glow of spotlights 5 meters above the earthly stage.  His bright shirt is colorfully knitted, his trousers blossom white.  You cannot help but look at him: Karlheinz Stockhausen, 59, a figure of En-Light-enment for the contemporary electronic music scene.

    With big eyes full of transfigured delight, this composer on the podium of the Cologne Philharmonic, a man who spiritually is able “to leave my body and observe it as if it were an automobile,” pursues a kind of neocreation of creativity: his work.  And he saw, that it was good.

    Among “21 musical performers,”, small ensembles of singers, children’s choirs, traditional and electronic sound generators, among the cries of babies, goats bleating, and the beat of a cuckoo clock, 3 women named after the primeval mother Eve shriek through a squadron of giant loudspeakers “Huvva Luhudens” and “Akka Aditi”, at which point a choir, after a hymn to God as an “immeasurable Intelligence” monosyllabically chants a response: “Michi Michikiki niminimi.”

    Then a “Birthday Aria” (“Parrot aye Parakeet Bow Wow!”) is to be understood, according to a published exegesis by Stockhausen himself, that Heaven has bestowed Life to 7 “Animal boys” and to 7 Dwarfs: “Luci-cat, Wee-wee-grimace, Penis-treasure, Birdie-boobs, Johnny Top, Manny-Tickle-Deer, and Little Brat.”

    In grateful joy: 3 sailors gargle – according to the score – the sounds “a---öäua aö oöa oa ua” and then “ruketu Urt Werdani,” spitting out the water in high arches.

    Up until then it had been a really colorful evening!

    But then Hell bursts out in Stockhausen’s Eden.  Luci-Polyp steps out in the forms of 2 Beelzebubs and rattles down the alphabet “from A-fa and Be-fa to Upsilon-fa and Zee-fa.” Then an alarm clock goes off, and Adolf Hitler snores an historic O-tone, so that “we shoot back to 5:45 A.M.,” a crowd of men shout “Hail!” and a toilet flushes from an 8-track tape directed by 40 channels of sound.  Aha!  Creation is excrement, the miscarriage must go through the toilet back to a mother’s lap.

    On to something new: a flock of lovely maidens prophesies “sea Samudra Ice,” apparently the code of an exotic genetic technology.  Because immediately a pair of rough chords occur on Eva’s Steinway (“Fertilization with Piano Piece”), the birth proceeds (“frai dai dai vae”) crazily fast, and already they are in the world of Karlheinz Stockhausen: “seven boys of the days,” “healthier and more beautiful human beings,” monstrosities of a composing visionary, who long ago lifted off into the cloud-cuckoo-land of his own crazy-quilted private philosophy.

    So (“sonono nononono no”) this is the way things have been screaming with birth-pangs since 1977, and it will continue in installments until the next century, if the powers of inspiration remain whole for the creator.  Then it shall completely enlighten mankind: Stockhausen’s LIGHT, the most monumental and monomaniacal undertaking in Western Musical History, a cycle of operas structured and named after the days of the week, 5 times greater than all of Beethoven’ symphonies together, and at more than 30 hours a Colossus of Time, compared to which Wagner’s Ring tetralogy is a “a cute little chamber opera” (the newspaper Kölnische Rundschau).

    At the beginning of April Stockhausen oversaw at the control panel the concert premiere of his latest piece Montag aus Licht.  On Saturday of this week Michael Bogdanov, Hamburg’s designated theater director, is arranging a premiere at La Scala of Donnerstag aus Licht via his previous London staging.

    For over 4 hours this syllabic and sibylline  “Play of Light” winds around out of the incense from Poona and Oberammergau, from the Bible, legends, the vocabulary of children’s books, and the coffee grounds of Erich von Däniken (Note: a pseudo-scientist who claimed he had evidence of extra-terrestrial landings in ancient times), leading to the heights of the Bergisch Land and Kürten 5067 (Note: Stockhausen’s town and zip code), where Stockhausen has his center, a man who claims “not to be necessarily identical to Stockhausen the composer.”

    Here at the address of Kettenberg 15, a green hill of electronic music astrology, he could listen in on “the 12 melodies of the zodiac”  as well as perceiving the vibrations of Sirius, the “central sun of our area of the Universe,” over 8.7 light-years away, “the highest form of oscillations,” under whose influence he went from new-sound revolutionary to a new-age softie, and from a philharmonic terror of the middle-class to the supernova of a messianically turned community.

    Whether as a pioneer at the podium or the music mixer or as Heaven’s loudspeaker, he always stood at the center.  His work Kreuzspiel caused a scandal in 1952 at the Darmstadt New Music Festival.  His Gesang der Jünglinge almost became a classic.  He created by his won estimation the first works of purely electronic music in 19534 at the WDR studios.  The Beatles even honored him with his portrait on the album cover of Sergeant Pepper.  The Distinguished Service Cross Winner of the Republic of Germany once represented the brotherhood of the musical avant-garde in Bonn’s Villa Hammerschmidt and in Lebanon for a German cultural exposition.  During Expo 1970 in Osaka 21 soloists offered his new German sounds in a round auditorium for 5 1/2 hours per day over 183 days, and more than a million fair visitors listened enchanted to this new kind of permanent wave from Germany.

    In Amsterdam, as late as 1985, according to a Stuttgart newspaper, “Stockhausen would draw more people than Karajan.”  And last year the composer’s son and trumpeter Markus even promoted his father in East Germany.

    But the more frequently Stockhausen has directed ear into the Universe from his high throne his artistic sense to ideas on salvation, the more persistently he has destroyed his regular position as Germany’s #1 composer, which he quite rightly deserved as a revolutionary of the new and as a grandiose craftsman.

    To be sure, even in the 3-act Montag aus Licht there are still some trace elements of his sonic inspiration in evidence, especially in the exquisite mixture of voices, synthesizers, and noises, even in the songs without words, which the bassett-horn player Suzanne Stephens and flautist Kathinka Pasveer perform with virtuoso elegance.

    But unpleasantly there is nothing else of interest in this score, and it even becomes unsettling to realize: when it gets loud, it sounds like Orff, and when it gets soft, it moans like Cats, and if it keeps going like this, if Sonntag aus Licht is to be expected in the year 2002 as developing this trend, we can expect the world to beam in C major!

    This whole musical-theatrical spectacle becomes embarrassing first through its “text-action-stew” (quote from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) with which “total artwork creator” (Gesamtkunstwerker) Stockhausen waters down his musical message, and it makes no difference, as composer and critic Dietmar Polaczek wonders, whether “lower Rhine peasant Buddhism” or “tantric-lamaistic monastic Catholicism” is befogging Stockhausen’s sensibilities.

    In any case, his community of believers can be seized by the metaphysical smoke from Kürten, and even the Hamburg newspaper Die Zeit ("The Times") gives the prayer wheel a spin: this work LICHT, said the newspaper in all seriousness about the unfinished work, might be a new type of evangelization, a type of Apocalypse of Karlheinz, and between Hitler, Bow-Wow, and a parakeet (“who attempts to whistle the Marseillaise” according to the score) arises “the art of composing as a new sacrament of the new human in a new, transformed Universe.”

    There, in this new ivory-tower full of thoroughly senseless “Times-liness”, the Guru from Bergisch Land “would like to be allowed to make music with planets and moons and roaring groups of planets and suns and moons.”

    Really, it’s almost tragic: while Karlheinz Stockhausen, the searcher for God, treks down the Milky Way of the Cosmos with his retinue, the composer of the same name has been going down backward on the wrong road for a long time."

One can debate whether Klaus Umbach's negative review, not just of this opera, but of Stockhausen's later career and intention to create 7 such operas, was on target.

Thankyou for dredging up that hilarious review for our entertainment.

Here is my own more positive account of a Stockhausen concert, would have been 1972 or 73 so nearly 50 years ago now, but still a vivid memory ...

The occasion was a late-night Prom at the Royal Albert hall - in the early '70s possibly the first-ever experiment with 'out there' Prom programming, which has now become a commonplace.  You did have to wonder how the audience in a sold-out Albert Hall were expected to get home, from a concert finishing well after midnight - but night-time public transport in London was better then than it is now.  The main event was a recital of Indian music by the acclaimed 'next generation' sitar player, Imrat Khan.  He was also known to play the surbahar - a larger, lower-voiced type of sitar - so this was a very rare opportunity to see and hear this very unusual and exotic musical instrument played by the acknowledged world master.  The hall was packed, with a mostly Indian audience who had dressed in their best finery in honour of the occasion - the many and vibrant colours of the ladies' saris making the grand old hall seem like an aviary full of birds of paradise.  Joss-sticks and other incense-burners had been smuggled in and the atmosphere was getting heavy.

The prelude to the main event - rather a substantial prelude lasting over an hour - was a performance of Stockhausen's Mantra (for 2 pianos) by the Kontarsky brothers.  Looking around me at the audience before the 9pm start, I wondered what inspired - or deranged - impresario had imagined that this could ever work.

Stockhausen himself appeared on the front corner of the stage and, as was his habit, delivered a short talk in explanation of what was to come.  He was disarmingly dressed-down, in what looked like an old pair of gardening trousers.  He explained that the piece was in 12 parts with each part centred on a note in a 12-note tone row, that each pianist used an inverted tone row relative to the other, that each pianist had control over a 'ring modulator' which was to be re-tuned to match the 'key' note in each section - and so on.  The audience listened politely.

Then the pianists arrived on stage - Aloys and Alfons Kontarsky could easily have been taken for twins (they were not) especially in their strict formal piano-virtuoso dress code.  The visual symmetry was striking - the auditorium, the organ, the stage, the pianos, the pianists, their assortments of 'toys' (chimes and wood-blocks, arranged above each piano) and, beside each pianist in easy reach, a second piano stool supporting the ring modulator.  This was an electronic gadget very much 'of its time' - unheard-of before the mid-60s and sunk without trace by the start of the '80s.  Without going into too much detail - if used sensitively it could make a concert grand piano sound horribly out-of-tune - used insensitively it would simply sound horrible.   In this case a lot is down to the balance - between the direct sound of the pianos, and the processed sound via microphones, black boxes and speakers.  In the DG recording that the Kontarskys made of Mantra, the electronic element is kept well under control, with the direct sound of the pianos predominating - it's really not a difficult listen at all.  Live in the RAH, the balance was more in favour of the electronics, and the overall effect more ... challenging.   :o



Between each of the 12 sections of the music - played as a continuous whole - the performers would solemnly strike a chime to announce the next 'key' note (different for each piano remember), then lean over to re-tune, via a fat knob, their ring modulator to match that key.  Sometimes there was an audible glissando effect reminiscent of tuning into a space opera on an old 1940s valve wireless set.  As an audience, we were all spell-bound.  Around the middle of the piece, where the two tone rows converged, there was an entertaining 'ping-pong' between the two performers, trading identical licks like jazzmen.  At one point, the two pianists in unison leapt to their feet, shouted "Neeeaaaaargh - HAH!" and struck their wood-blocks.  This caused a palpable frisson around the hall.  After the eventual climax the audience reaction was prolonged, heartleft and genuine - a truly great time had been had by all.

Suffice to say that the remainder of the concert was no anticlimax - many of the Indians left their boxes in the interval and came down to get closer to the platform, a more intimate and interactive setting for the performer, which he clearly appreciated.  Joss-sticks were replenished and re-lit, and we continued on into the night.

« Last Edit: June 09, 2021, 06:07:24 AM by aukhawk »

Offline CRCulver

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Re: Stockhausen's Spaceship
« Reply #1421 on: June 11, 2021, 01:35:11 AM »
I recently got ahold of the Contemporary Music and Spirituality collection of papers edited by Robert Scholl and Sander van Maas (Routledge, 2017). The contributors deal with such figures as Gubaidulina, Vivier, Ustvolskaja, Cage, Takemitsu, etc. and the book would probably interest many on this forum.

But the chapter on Stockhausen, contributed by the late Konrad Boehmer (himself one of Stockhausen's students) is extremely biting and acerbic. Boehmer looks at the sources for Stockhausen's spiritual works from the late 1960s on and notes how much of an unoriginal hodgepodge his worldview was. He writes more about Stockhausen's troubling views on race than I had been aware of. This is also the first scholarly writing on late Stockhausen that I am aware of, that assumes that the composer was mentally ill in the later phase of his career.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2021, 01:38:03 AM by CRCulver »

Offline steve ridgway

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Re: Stockhausen's Spaceship
« Reply #1422 on: June 11, 2021, 06:56:23 AM »
beside each pianist in easy reach, a second piano stool supporting the ring modulator.  This was an electronic gadget very much 'of its time' - unheard-of before the mid-60s and sunk without trace by the start of the '80s.  Without going into too much detail - if used sensitively it could make a concert grand piano sound horribly out-of-tune - used insensitively it would simply sound horrible.

Ring modulators have perhaps been used more in "rock" music, where horribly out-of-tune has its place, and I certainly remember them being included in synthesisers.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Stockhausen's Spaceship
« Reply #1423 on: June 11, 2021, 08:31:26 AM »
I recently got ahold of the Contemporary Music and Spirituality collection of papers edited by Robert Scholl and Sander van Maas (Routledge, 2017). The contributors deal with such figures as Gubaidulina, Vivier, Ustvolskaja, Cage, Takemitsu, etc. and the book would probably interest many on this forum.

But the chapter on Stockhausen, contributed by the late Konrad Boehmer (himself one of Stockhausen's students) is extremely biting and acerbic. Boehmer looks at the sources for Stockhausen's spiritual works from the late 1960s on and notes how much of an unoriginal hodgepodge his worldview was. He writes more about Stockhausen's troubling views on race than I had been aware of. This is also the first scholarly writing on late Stockhausen that I am aware of, that assumes that the composer was mentally ill in the later phase of his career.

Sample here

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=5krUDAAAQBAJ&pg=PT237&lpg=PT237&dq=boehmer+stockhausen+spirituality&source=bl&ots=v-72O06wXF&sig=ACfU3U3_xKbI_biYaEoLOGcmjW_Tqvmw2g&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiVl_S2jZDxAhWDDGMBHcObDlEQ6AEwBHoECBsQAg#v=onepage&q=boehmer%20stockhausen%20spirituality&f=false
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Stockhausen's Spaceship
« Reply #1424 on: June 11, 2021, 08:35:40 AM »


Listened to Jahreslauf the other day - Japanese influenced, fun but somehow too static. There’s a harpsichord in there and the tracks with it made me think of the Barraqué concerto - but in going back to the Barraqué it’s obvious that the French musician wrote more complicated, less lyrical, music.  I got the impression that the music is better that the Stockhausenverlag performance but another performance on record is, I guess, unlikely to happen in the near future.

There’s another Jahreslauf in Dienstag aus Licht - wacky stuff that is, like it.

I want to say this about Jahreslauf (1977) - Stockhausen was really good at polyphony (or is it heterophony, I can never tell the difference by listening!)
« Last Edit: June 11, 2021, 08:50:20 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Cato

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Re: Stockhausen's Spaceship
« Reply #1425 on: June 12, 2021, 03:53:50 AM »

One can debate whether Klaus Umbach's negative review, not just of this opera, but of Stockhausen's later career and intention to create 7 such operas, was on target.


Thank you for dredging up that hilarious review for our entertainment.

Here is my own more positive account of a Stockhausen concert, would have been 1972 or 73 so nearly 50 years ago now, but still a vivid memory ...


]

Greetings Aukhawk!

Great story about the Kontarsky/Stockhausen/Khan concert. !  Yes, a 9 P.M. start?!  When did that concert end?!
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Offline steve ridgway

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Re: Stockhausen's Spaceship
« Reply #1426 on: June 13, 2021, 05:55:45 AM »
I guess this is a good place to start with Stockhausen. ;)


Offline Mandryka

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Re: Stockhausen's Spaceship
« Reply #1427 on: June 13, 2021, 12:57:19 PM »
I guess this is a good place to start with Stockhausen. ;)



Strangely enough I listened to something this morning and I thought of you, I thought you may like it. This

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/4bHnGorNTT0&amp;ab_channel=GhostCapital" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/4bHnGorNTT0&amp;ab_channel=GhostCapital</a>
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Offline aukhawk

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Re: Stockhausen's Spaceship
« Reply #1428 on: June 14, 2021, 01:26:56 AM »
Greetings Aukhawk!

Great story about the Kontarsky/Stockhausen/Khan concert. !  Yes, a 9 P.M. start?!  When did that concert end?!

Hello Cato from across the pond. 
Oh - about half-past midnight.    ;D   Stockhausen spoke for a few minutes, then Mantra is about 65 minutes, then the interval, then Imrat Khan played two Ragas, one on sitar and then one on surbahar, for about 2 hours or perhaps a little less.  As I recall there was also a mainstream Prom the same evening in the RAH, and that was brought forward to a 6 p.m. start to allow time for the hall to reset between concerts.  As I say, an early experiment by the Proms people in the sort of 'alternative' programming that is now commonplace.  I'm not really much of a concert-goer but that was certainly a most memorable occasion.

Offline steve ridgway

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Re: Stockhausen's Spaceship
« Reply #1429 on: June 14, 2021, 05:24:15 AM »
Strangely enough I listened to something this morning and I thought of you, I thought you may like it. This

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/4bHnGorNTT0&amp;ab_channel=GhostCapital" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/4bHnGorNTT0&amp;ab_channel=GhostCapital</a>

Thanks Mandryka, I enjoyed Bird Of Passage. :) I must say I missed that among all those other Chrysalis Records 1976 releases - David Bowie, Gentle Giant, Jethro Tull, Robin Trower, Rory Gallagher, Steve Hackett, UFO, Bonnie Tyler, Lulu, Leo Sayer, James Last, Steeleye Span…. and Karlheinz Stockhausen. :laugh:

Offline Cato

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Re: Stockhausen's Spaceship
« Reply #1430 on: June 22, 2021, 04:37:47 PM »

Hello Cato from across the pond.
 
Oh - about half-past midnight.    ;D   Stockhausen spoke for a few minutes, then Mantra is about 65 minutes, then the interval, then Imrat Khan played two Ragas, one on sitar and then one on surbahar, for about 2 hours or perhaps a little less.  As I recall there was also a mainstream Prom the same evening in the RAH, and that was brought forward to a 6 p.m. start to allow time for the hall to reset between concerts.  As I say, an early experiment by the Proms people in the sort of 'alternative' programming that is now commonplace.  I'm not really much of a concert-goer but that was certainly a most memorable occasion.


Greetings Aukhawk!

Thanks for the memories!


I guess this is a good place to start with Stockhausen. ;)




Webern's dream of having his works whistled has been quasi-usurped by Stockhausen and the marketing guys and gals at DGG!   :D
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Stockhausen's Spaceship
« Reply #1431 on: June 22, 2021, 10:56:54 PM »


Started to explore this interesting collection - a piano transcription of Tierkreis, a version of Plus Minus for piano, some klavierstucke, all played rather lyrically, as Stockhausen in later years would have wanted I guess.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2021, 02:59:16 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Cato

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Re: Stockhausen's Spaceship
« Reply #1432 on: June 23, 2021, 01:21:41 AM »



Does anyone else think that Hoffnung sounds a bit like Janacek’s 2nd quartet?





I will need to visit the latter work!  I have never heard it, so I will report eventually!

Things have been beyond hectic and exhausting!!!



Concerning this comparison (or contrast, depending on your point of view):


<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/wabWqD4f0vA" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/wabWqD4f0vA</a>


I can find nothing about 3-D glasses for a light show on the Stockhausen website, but I suspect he would not have been against it!   8)


<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/FOSFulkl4o0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/FOSFulkl4o0</a>


Whether Janacek was an influence on Stockhausen or whether the latter knew anything much about the former at all, I have never heard.


The many trills in the Janacek String Quartet #2, the quick, extreme contrasts, and the extended solo lines do sound somewhat like a presage of the Stockhausen KLANG - Hoffnung..
"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

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Offline Alek Hidell

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Re: Stockhausen's Spaceship
« Reply #1433 on: June 23, 2021, 05:33:29 PM »
I've yet to warm to Stockhausen (and may never), but I must say I'm glad to see some serious, respectful discussion of his work here as opposed to the derision he often gets. ::)
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Stockhausen's Spaceship
« Reply #1434 on: June 23, 2021, 11:27:15 PM »


Plus Minus was a sort of framework for composition which Karlheinz wrote as an exercise for students to complete as part of his teaching of total serialism. There’s a famous realisation on record by Cornelius Cardew and Fred Rzewsky but I’m enjoying this more recent one this morning, by Ming Tsao. There are moments in it which almost sound like Stockhausen, it is melodic like late Stockhausen - but it is also it’s own thing, Ming Tsao is very much an interesting composer in his own right. What Tsao brings are passages of great interiority, tension and complexity.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2021, 11:39:14 PM by Mandryka »
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