Short Biography of
Karlheinz Stockhausen

Stockhausen-Verlag © 2004

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Karlheinz Stockhausen, Composer (* August 22nd 1928 in Mödrath, near Cologne).

To date (2004) he has composed 313 works, published 10 volumes of TEXTE zur MUSIK / TEXTS about MUSIC, comprising sketches and explanations about his own works (Stockhausen-Verlag).

His first 36 scores were published by Universal Edition in Vienna and, since its establishment in 1975, the Stockhausen-Verlag (51515 Kürten, Facs. 0049-2268-1813) has published all of his works. In 1991, the Stockhausen-Verlag began to release compact discs in the Stockhausen Complete Edition which comprises 116 compact discs to date, and all Stockhausen scores, books, videos and CDs may be ordered directly by mail order from them.

Since 1998, the Stockhausen Courses Kürten for composers interpreters, musicologists and auditors take place annually.

In 1977, Stockhausen began to compose the music-scenic work LICHT (LIGHT) The Seven Days of the Week. To date (2004), 5 of the days have had their staged world premières: DONNERSTAG aus LICHT / THURSDAY from LIGHT in 1981, SAMSTAG aus LICHT / SATURDAY from LIGHT in 1984, MONTAG aus LICHT / MONDAY from LIGHT in 1988 (all at La Scala in Milan), DIENSTAG aus LICHT / TUESDAY from LIGHT in 1993 and FREITAG aus LICHT / FRIDAY from LIGHT in 1996, both at the Leipzig Opera. The world premières of the 4 individual scenes of MITTWOCH aus LICHT / WEDNESDAY from LIGHT (WORLD PARLIAMENT, ORCHESTRA FINALISTS, HELICOPTER STRING QUARTET and MICHAELION) took place between 1996 – 1998, but the opera has not yet been staged in its entirety, as a whole.

The world première of the first part of SONNTAG aus LICHT / SUNDAY from LIGHT, LICHTER – WASSER (SONNTAGS-GRUSS) / LIGHTS – WATERS (SUNDAY-GREETING) for soprano, tenor and orchestra with synthesizer was conducted by Stockhausen in October 1999 during the Donaueschingen Musiktage. The world première of the 2nd scene, ENGEL-PROZESSIONEN / ANGEL-PROCESSIONS for a cappella choir, performed by the large choir of the Dutch Radio, took place on November 9th 2002 in Amsterdam. The world première of the 5th scene, HOCH-ZEITEN / MARRIAGES for 5 choral groups and 5 orchestral groups (choir and symphony orchestra of the WDR) took place on February 2nd 2003 in Las Palmas, and the world première of the 4th scene, DÜFTE – ZEICHEN / SCENTS – SIGNS for 7 vocalists, boy’s voice and synthesizer took place on August 29th 2003 during the Salzburger Festspiele.

LICHT-BILDER (LIGHT-PICTURES) of SUNDAY from LIGHT has been composed last and finished on December 31st 2002 in Kürten. It was commisioned by the studio C.C.M.I.X. Paris, and will be premièred on October 16th 2004 at the Donaueschingen Music Festival, Germany. The world première will take place on October 16th 2004 at the Donaueschingen Music Festival, Germany.

LICHT with its Seven Days of the Week lasts about 29 hours of music: THURSDAY from LIGHT 240 minutes; SATURDAY from LIGHT 185 minutes; MONDAY from LIGHT, 278 minutes; TUESDAY from LIGHT 156 minutes; FRIDAY from LIGHT 290 minutes; WEDNESDAY from LIGHT 267 minutes; SUNDAY from LIGHT 298 minutes.

Already the first compositions of “Point Music” such as KREUZSPIEL (CROSS-PLAY) in 1951, SPIEL (PLAY) for orchestra in 1952, and KONTRA-PUNKTE (COUNTER-POINTS) in 1952/53, brought Stockhausen international fame. Since then, his works have been opposed to the extreme by some and admired by others. Fundamental achievements in music since 1950 are indelibly imprinted through his compositions:

The “Serial Music”, the“Point Music”, the “Electronic Music”, the “New Percussion Music”, the “Variable Music”, the “New Piano Music”, the “Spatial Music”, “Statistical Music”, “Aleatoric Music”, “Live Electronic Music”; new syntheses of “Music and Speech”, of a “Musical Theatre”, of a “Ritual Music”, “Scenic Music”; “Group Composition”, polyphonic “Process Composition”, “Moment Composition”, “Formula Composition” to the present “Multi-Formula Composition”; the integration of “found objects” (national anthems, folklore of all countries, short-wave events, “sound scenes”, etc.) into a “World Music” and a “Universal Music”; the synthesis of European, African, Latin American and Asian music into a “Telemusic”, etc., the vertical “Octophonic Music”. From the beginning until now, his work can be classified as “Spiritual Music”; this becomes more and more evident not only in the compositions with spiritual texts, but also in the other works via “Overtone Music”, “Intuitive Music”, “Mantric Music”, reaching “Cosmic Music” in STIMMUNG (TUNING), AUS DEN SIEBEN TAGEN (FROM THE SEVEN DAYS), MANTRA, STERNKLANG (STAR SOUND), INORI, ATMEN GIBT DAS LEBEN (BREATHING GIVES LIFE), SIRIUS, LICHT (LIGHT).

In a spherical auditorium conceived by the composer, most of Stockhausen’s works composed until 1970 were performed at the Expo ’70 world fair in Osaka, Japan: for 51/2 hours daily for 183 days by twenty instrumentalists and singers, thereby reaching an audience of over a million listeners.

Stockhausen is the perfect example of the composer who has participated at nearly all world premières and in innumerable exemplary performances and recordings of his works world-wide – as conductor, performer, musical director or sound projectionist.

In addition to numerous guest professorships in Switzerland, the United States, Finland, Holland, and Denmark, Stockhausen was appointed Professor for Composition at the State Conservatory in Cologne in 1971, in 1996 was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Free University in Berlin, and in 2004 was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Queen’s University in Belfast. He is a member of 12 international Academies for the Arts and Sciences, was named Honorary Citizen of Kürten in 1988, became Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, received many gramophone prizes and, among other honours, the German Medal of Merit, 1st class, the Siemens Music Prize, the UNESCO Picasso Medal, the Order of Merit of the State of North Rhine Westfalia, 7 awards from the German Music Publisher’s Society for his score publications, the Hamburg BACH Prize, the Cologne Culture Prize and, in 2001, the Polar Music Prize with the laudation: Karlheinz Stockhausen is being awarded the Polar Music Prize for 2001 for a career as a composer that has been characterized by impeccable integrity and never-ceasing creativity, and for having stood at the forefront of musical development for fifty years.