HYMNEN / ANTHEMS (Third Region)
Electronic Music with Orchestra

My work HYMNEN exists in 3 versions:

The first version, HYMNEN Electronic and Concrete Music (1966–67) is realised as 4-track tape (duration 114 min.). A stereophonic recording of this version has been released by the Stockhausen-Verlag on Compact Discs 10 A–B. There is also a special study score.

The second version is entitled HYMNEN, Electronic and Concrete Music with Soloists (ca. 126 min.). With the tape, 4 soloists play: electronium (or trumpet and synthesizer), electric viola (or electrochord or electric clarinet or trombone with euphonium and synthesizer), tam-tam and other percussion instruments, piano (or synthesizer with piano). The version with soloists has been played hundreds of times since the world premiere (1967).1 The recording on Compact Discs 10 C–D was made in 1969 with the soloists Harald Bojé (electronium), Johannes Fritsch (electric viola), Alfred Alings and Rolf Gehlhaar (tam-tam), Aloys Kontarsky (piano).2

The third version is entitled HYMNEN, Electronic and Concrete Music with Soloists and Orchestra (circa 126 minutes). The part with orchestra was composed in 1969, commissioned by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and the world premiere took place on February 25th 1971 in New York with this orchestra under my direction. This part by itself lasts 45 minutes.

The version with soloists and orchestra has three parts and two intermissions: the first and third part are performed with 4-track tape and soloists only, the second with 4-track tape and orchestra.

The second part entitled HYMNEN (Third Region) Electronic Music with Orchestra, is published in the present score and may also be performed independently. It starts in the Second Region with the centre of African anthems, mixed and alternating with the beginning of the Russian anthem. A so-called Russian Bridge (an orchestra solo) follows, lasting circa 6 minutes. It leads into the actual Third Region.

The Third Region has three centres. It begins with the slow, now unmixed continuation of the Russian anthem, which is the only one made entirely from electronic sounds, with the largest harmonic and rhythmic expansion which I had composed until 1966. The American anthem follows as second centre, having the most colourful relations to all other anthems – in fleeting collages and pluralistic mixtures. The final short wave sound whistles “in a few seconds across the ocean” and leads into the exalted centre of the Spanish anthem.

National anthems are the most familiar music imaginable. Everyone knows the anthem of his own country, and perhaps those of several others, or at least their beginnings.

When familiar music is integrated into a composition of unknown, new music, it is possible to hear especially well how it was integrated: untransformed, more or less transformed, transposed, modulated, etc. The more self-evident the what, the more attentive one becomes to the how.

Naturally, national anthems are more than national anthems: they are “charged” with time, with history – with past, present and future. They accentuate the subjectivity of peoples in a time when uniformity is all too often mistaken for universality. One must also make a clear distinction between subjectivity and interaction among subjective musical objects on the one hand and individualistic isolation and separation on the other. The composition HYMNEN is not a collage.

Many-sided interrelationships have been composed among the various anthems, as well as between these anthems and new abstract sound shapes, for which we have no names. Numerous compositional processes of inter-modulation were employed in HYMNEN. For example, the rhythm of one anthem is modulated with the harmony of another; this result is modulated with the dynamic envelope of a third anthem; the result of this is in turn modulated with the timbral constellation and melodic contour of electronic sounds; finally such an event is given a specific spatial movement. Sometimes parts of anthems are allowed to enter the environment of electronic sounds in raw, almost unmodulated form; sometimes modulations lead almost to the point of unrecognisability. There are many degrees in between, many levels of recognisability.

In addition to the national anthems, other “found objects” have been used: scraps of speech, sounds of crowds, recorded conversations, events from short wave radio receivers, recordings of public events, demonstrations, a christening of a ship, a Chinese shop, a state reception and so on.

The large dimensions of time, dynamics, harmony, timbre, spatial movement, total duration and openness of the composition arose in the course of work, out of the universal character of the material and the breadth and unlimitedness which I myself experienced in my encounter with this project – the unification and integration of seemingly unrelated old and new phenomena.