Saturday, March 18, 2006

Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928- )

I'm happy that you Masterfaders like Stockhausen and want more music from the late 20th century, but the truth is, none of our libraries have enough of it to devote that much time to Stockhausen, Cage, Litegi, etc. I'll post what I have, which isn't a lot. But don't despair... there is a new music blog that seems to have what you want. Check out for some good modern stuff.

One of the weirdest composers out there is also one of the most influencial in recent history. I believe that anyone who uses electronics in music is directly influenced by and indebted to Karlheinz Stockhausen. Stockhausen began composing in the early '50s with avant-garde compositions influenced by Stavinsky and Webern, and just kept getting more experimental. Among his eccentricities is a distaste for gravity; he arranges for performers to be swung from the recording studio ceiling when they record his works and he has written a string quartet to be played with each member in his own helicopter. And of course, you can't be avant-garde without being controversial. The latest row over something Stockhausen did was when he called the September 11th attacks "Lucifer's greatest work of art".

Stockhausen has always been able to pick up on technological developments very quickly. He was among the first composers to arrange for his works to be recorded on CD, but more importantly, he was the first major musical figure to take advantage of the advent of electronics. The first noteworthy work of classical music that involves electronics is his Kontakte (1959) for piano, percussion and electronics. Not only does he successfully utilize tape loops to make otherwordly sounds that pan in and out, seemingly randomly, but he merges it with the acoustic instruments in such a way that it doesn't seem forced at all. The keyless, meterless, 34-minute piece has very sparse and unpredictable writing for the piano and the percussion; the electronics are certainly the star of the show. And it is amazing what sounds he was able to produce from such primitive equipment. Listen around 27 minutes through for a majorly intense electronic freak-out moment. If you are a fan of the avant-garde to any degree, or even if you want to learn more about the only composer that the Beatles put on the Sgt. Pepper's cover, please check out this highly important work of music.

Kontakte: James Avery-Piano, Steven Schick-percussion, Jaap Spek- electronics engineer
Spek has collaborated with Stockhausen so he knows what he's doing.

Feedback? Requests? Feel free to leave a comment.


At March 19, 2006, Anonymous slut said...

...thx...more please!!!!

At March 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It will be very interesting to see a blog dedicated (or partially dedicated) to classical avantgard
There are many records now out of print of important composers.
Stockhausen "kontakte" is a good beginning (I hope).

At March 19, 2006, Anonymous Korpus said...

hola happy boy from Argentina
i never tought something like Stockhausen show up here.good suprise!!
si si si more!

At March 19, 2006, Blogger marxbert said...

Very nice to see Stockhausen here!

I will upload some Stockhausen to put on the blog I share with another music enthusiast, found here:

This blog is partially dedicated to contemporary classical music. Although we've just started, the interests of the owner and I range from baroque to electroacoustic. My favorite genre personally is 20th century classical and the movements which dominated the second half of the century.

At March 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for the link, marxbert. I'm definitely gonna check it out.


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