Stockhausen

Essays on the Works



by Albrecht Moritz

My other composer pages:
Wolfgang Rihm
Peter Maxwell Davies
Richard Barrett

Stockhausen today and tomorrow
by composer Richard Barrett
(external link)

Latest addition (May 2014):
KATHINKAs GESANG (1983)
for flute and 6 percussionists

Introduction to the essays

Since the inception of this project in 2000 I have steadily added new texts to this site, and my final goal is to write essays on the complete recorded works of Stockhausen. Thus, this site will be regularly updated with new texts over the years.

These texts address musicians and general listeners likewise. The essays are mainly the result of just listening (and studying the informative CD booklets of course), and closely observing what the music I heard told me. They intend to raise interest in the works from any potential listeners, listeners with either advanced or basic musical background, and they intend to facilitate listening once the music is experienced. The texts are addressed to all music lovers; all should listen to Stockhausen's music and enjoy its greatness.

I am deeply satisfied and excited to experience that the more recent output of Stockhausen continued the amazing quality and innovativeness of his well-known classics, and that works like ENGEL-PROZESSIONEN and LICHT-BILDER are not only among the very best of the music of the last 50 years but also among the best music ever written. I truly mean it, while I dearly love the music of Bach, Beethoven, Bruckner, Hindemith, Bartok and so many others before, in between and after. My essays on these and other more recent works – including electronic ones – therefore were a great pleasure to write, as were the others.

The music is all at Stockhausen-Verlag to be acquired, CDs and scores. No worry about deletions of works from the CD catalog (to how many frustrations these can lead with other composers I do not need to tell anybody) – Stockhausen's output can be heard practically in its entirety. Only few of the works have not been recorded thus far.

What amazes me is that Stockhausen not only continued to write fantastic music until the end, but that he also kept creating new sound worlds with every new work. Stockhausen did not repeat himself or others, settling into a "style", but instead continued to always create new excitement in unique sonic textures. That during his long career as a composer he always managed to do that according to his motto, which he formulated with KREUZSPIEL from 1951, amounts to a staggering lifetime achievement.

Many thanks to Kathinka Pasveer, a close collaborator of Stockhausen, for taking the time to read the "Introduction to Stockhausen", my first six essays (Gruppen, Carré, Mixtur, Ylem, Montag aus Licht, Welt-Parlament), the essay on Tierkreis (Trio version) and, after 2007, several other essays, including the texts on KATHINKAs GESANG. Some revisions were made by me according to her comments.

I am especially grateful to Stockhausen for his interest shown by reading all my other texts until he passed away in 2007, a generosity very much appreciated in my quest for musical accuracy. I incorporated minor corrections or additions suggested by the composer. I thank both Stockhausen and Kathinka Pasveer for answering several specific questions regarding the music.

Many thanks also to Jerome Kohl, music theorist and a leading expert on Stockhausen with long experience as managing editor of Perspectives of New Music, for editing my texts on HYMNEN, HARLEKIN, DER JAHRESLAUF, WELTRAUM, as well as most of the texts on SAMSTAG aus LICHT, and for numerous invaluable musical discussions.

All older texts were edited in 2005 by me for language and style. Novel information on the form of MOMENTE and KURZWELLEN, which the composer communicated in letters to me, was quoted and incorporated into the respective texts. Other than this, content was not changed, with a handful of minor exceptions. For a later stage of the project, substantial extensions of the discussion of the music in some of the first essays (e.g. Gruppen, Carré, Montag) are planned.

I hope that these texts convey my genuine enthusiasm for Stockhausen's music, and I wish that this enthusiasm may be reflected, at least to some extent, in the reader's listening experience.

Further acknowledgments

In Memoriam

A change of opinion

© Albrecht Moritz 2000 – 2014

An Introduction to Stockhausen

My journey through Stockhausen’s music


*****


ELECTRONIC MUSIC 1952–1960:

ETUDE (1952)
STUDIE I AND II (1953/54)
GESANG DER JÜNGLINGE (Song of the Youths), 1955/56
KONTAKTE Electronic Music (1959/60)

GRUPPEN (1955–57)
for 3 orchestras

KONTAKTE for electronic sounds, piano and percussion (1959/60)

CARRÉ (1959–60)
for 4 orchestral and choir groups

MOMENTE (1962–64/69)
for soprano solo, 4 choir groups and 13 instrumentalists

MIXTUR (1964)
for orchestra, 4 sine-wave generators and 4 ring modulators

MIKROPHONIE I (1964)
for tam-tam, 2 microphones, 2 filters with potentiometers (6 players)

HYMNEN (ANTHEMS), 1966/67 –
Electronic and Concrete Music

(text edited by Jerome Kohl)

Introduction

Detailed Guide through the work

Notes to the text

Appendix I

Appendix II


KURZWELLEN (1968)
for six players
(here for piano, electronium, large tam-tam with microphone,
viola with contact microphone, 2 filters with 4 faders, 4 short-wave receivers)

YLEM (1972)
for ensemble of 19 players

INORI (1973–74) – Overview and Detailed Guide
for one or two soloists and orchestra

HARLEKIN, Der Kleine Harlekin (1975)
for clarinet
(text edited by Jerome Kohl)


SIRIUS (1975–77)
for electronic music and trumpet, bass clarinet, soprano, bass

LIBRA (1977)
for bass clarinet and electronic music

TIERKREIS (ZODIAC) Trio Version (1975/83)
for clarinet, flute and piccolo, trumpet and piano (3 players)

DER JAHRESLAUF (1977)
for 4 dancer-mimes, an actor, 3 mimes, little girl,
beautiful woman / Gagaku orchestra, tape / sound projectionist

(text edited by Jerome Kohl)

DONNERSTAG aus LICHT (1978–81)
Opera

UNSICHTBARE CHÖRE (INVISIBLE CHOIRS), 1979
choir music for tape

SAMSTAG aus LICHT (opera), 1981–83:

(texts edited by Jerome Kohl)

Introduction

LUZIFERs TANZ (1983)
for bass voice, piccolo trumpet, piccolo flute / stilt dancer,
ballet (or mimes) / wind orchestra (symphonic band) of ca. 80 players

KATHINKAs GESANG (1983)
for flute and 6 percussionists

LUZIFERs ABSCHIED (1982)
for male choir, organ and 7 trombones

_____________________

KATHINKAs GESANG (1983)
for flute and electronic music

MONTAG aus LICHT (1984–88)
Opera

AVE (1984/85)
for basset-horn and alto flute

WOCHENKREIS (Circle of the Week), 1986/88
for basset-horn and electronic keyboard instruments

OKTOPHONIE (1990/91)
(Electronic music of TUESDAY from LIGHT)

WELTRAUM (OUTER SPACE),
1992/94 –
Electronic music of FRIDAY from LIGHT:

(text edited by Jerome Kohl)

Introduction

Detailed Guide through the work



WELT-PARLAMENT (1995)
for a cappella choir

MITTWOCHS-GRUSS (Wednesday Greeting), 1998
(Electronic music of WEDNESDAY from LIGHT)

BASSETSU-TRIO (1997/98)
for basset-horn, trumpet and trombone


SONNTAG aus LICHT, 1998–2003:


LICHTER-WASSER (LIGHTS-WATERS), 1998–99
for soprano, tenor and orchestra with synthesizer

ENGEL-PROZESSIONEN (ANGEL PROCESSIONS), 2000
for a cappella choir with four soloists

LICHT-BILDER (LIGHT PICTURES), 2002/03
for basset-horn, flute with ring modulation, tenor, trumpet with ring modulation,
synthesizer, sound projectionist, light pictures

_____________________


HIMMELFAHRT (ASCENSION), 2004/05
for organ or synthesizer, soprano and tenor


*****

Other articles by the author:

My Amazon.com review page

The Origin of Life

(published at the evolution website Talkorigins.org)

Cosmological arguments for the existence of God
(A philosophical perspective on findings of science)

How can a scientist believe in God?

"Naturalism is true": A self-contradictory statement