Webmasters note: There are over 60 graphics that Suzee included with this report. In the interest of releasing this
report as soon as possible, I will process and add the graphics over a period of time. Suzee has written a report that
is SO IMPORTANT to the modern music community it merits contiunous study over the many years into the future.
Dear Jim Stonebraker and visitors to the Stockhausen Home Page,
Ten years ago, at Christmas 1991, the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit conducted a survey among Germany’s prominent citizens, asking which words were “The ten most important words.”(Die zehn wichtigsten Woerter)
Stockhausen’s answer was
(Illustration 1: Drawing of “The ten most important words)
GOD – SPIRIT – LIGHT – MUSIC – HEAVEN – MICHAEL – ANGELS – CHILDREN – LOVE – UNIVERSE
written to the tune of the Michael formula of the super formula for LICHT (LIGHT) and in the shape of a Christmas tree.
Even small personal crises, but especially turning points in the history of humanity – such as the present one, which can be considered a collective crisis of all of mankind – always force us to search our souls, reassess our priorities and possibly change our “ten most important words”.
Dunkel wird Licht (Darkness becomes Light), is the predominant text in the opera FRIDAY from LIGHT, the concert version of which was performed in Stuttgart in September, London in October, and Amsterdam and Forbach (France) in November 2001, following two performances in August in Kuerten during the Stockhausen Courses Kuerten 2001. Perhaps it is a fitting consolation for all of mankind in these times of the widespread suffering caused by ignorance, which is just as widespread, and which will only disappear when we all are capable of and willing to “change our brains”.
Especially poignant in this context was the introduction to HYMNEN which Stockhausen gave in London preceding the opening concert of a festival with four programmes of his electronic and instrumental music which took place at the sold-out Barbican Centre in mid-October 2001. This introduction in its entirety and Stockhausen’s introductions to the other concerts may be found elsewhere in both audio and written form on this homepage. Here are excerpts:
“In my childhood – from my first school days until the end of the war (when I was ten to sixteen years of age, i.e. six years of the war) – I was told as a child and a boy that the French were our enemies and the English were our enemies and the Italians were our friends and the Spanish were the friends and the Japanese were the friends and the Russians were the friends (but that changed a year later; then the Russians were enemies as well). And the Finnish were friends, etc. I did not know what to do with this.
In the war I then met – because at the end I worked in a war hospital directly behind the front – also English, young people who were wounded, and I treated them. And my mind changed.
Then came the time of the so-called Cold War. That meant on the one side the Soviet Union, which was Communism, and on the other side, what they called Capitalism. And again I had my ideas because I lived in a student house in Paris for a whole year at the end of my studies and there were a lot of students from Africa, and the near East, and we were friends.
So I changed. And in 1958 I travelled to the United States. I was invited to lecture on electronic music in 32 universities. And I remember when I explained the music in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I had said that electronic music is not produced by performers in the traditional way – and that the music included all the noises – and that the main obstacle to the progress of this kind of music were the people who only wanted to hear the traditional music of the traditional composers. Then suddenly a woman got up and shouted at me: “and I am sure he is also a Communist”, she said.
So I didn’t know – I didn’t know how to answer this. But it is true that for quite a while artists who were quite unusual in the way they used material and the way they produced artworks were accused. In particular if they did not follow the rules that were the general rules of art of their particular field – like me, in music, the rules of harmony, melody, rhythm, orchestration – then they would easily attack such artists with such words, which had to do with ideology. Again I was quite puzzled.
And I bought a short wave radio. I became very interested in the other nations. With the short wave radio I listened many times, in particular in the late evening, to programmes of all the radio stations. I just faded from one station to the next. How it sounded. And I recorded a lot of those events. You will hear quite a few of these integrated in HYMNEN.
In particular at midnight on many stations I could hear the national anthems. And I could very clearly detect that the most popular or the most common music that exists are national anthems […]
I was invited for concerts, then later in the early 60s for lecturing but also performing, to the United States, and the first experiences being in New York were extraordinarily important to me. I spoke about the melting pot of mankind many times. I experienced all the races, all the religions, all the tastes, characters, and I realised this is the family of man.
We had a fantastic series of exhibitions in Germany – and it moved all over Europe at that time – in the early 60s –“The Family of Man” and you could see whole new museums full of pictures of all the people of the planet, of the different types of human beings. So this was very important.
There was a counter-movement against the terrible split of the Cold, Cold War between the East and the West. And on the other side an enormous desire to study the unity, to learn as much as possible about the others. And HYMNEN I think is born out of this. Not only with the short wave receiver and my travelling […]
So I did not believe in this terrible antagonism that the world was split in two. And as a matter of fact in our country there was an enormous propaganda that there would come an atomic war […] The people were terribly afraid and the papers were full of the Indo-Chinese war. Every day headlines.
The French lost at Dien Bien Phu – I don’t know if you still remember that, some of you. And then it was transformed immediately into the Vietnamese war. The Vietnamese war really marked my life through the daily news and also through my travel, later on, to Japan. I passed, as a matter of fact, on the way, through Saigon and Cambodia and then India, Persia, and then to Turkey and finally Greece, Israel, back home. So I got a feeling about the Far East.
This is all decisive for the spirit which I had when I decided to compose HYMNEN with all the national anthems. So what I did is, I ordered – I was working in the radio – over 150 recordings of different national anthems. I analysed them one by one. Noted what are the tonalities, what are the main tempi. What are the main formal subdivisions for each anthem. And I got an idea about the different anthems. I must say that they are not very different. Or, not as different as I had expected.
For example, all of a sudden at that time – exactly at that time – every year there were half a dozen new African countries born. Colonialism came to an end. And these African hymns I know very well now, because I used a lot of them. You will hear quite a few in the second region. (I will explain something about the regions later on.) They all sound like compositions of English conservatory professors who had written hymns which you usually sing in church, you know. It is amazing how similar they all are, musically speaking.
But there are enough differences, and I emphasise the differences through recordings of scenes from daily life from all these countries, which are also represented in HYMNEN through their national anthems […]
Now – I forgot one thing. I also had the chance to buy small flags of all the countries. I think almost two hundred. And I hung them up on the wall of my working room and there they still are. All the little flags. And they remind me everyday of the Family of Man […]
[detailed explanation of compositional techniques and of the various regions]
And then comes the last region which begins with the Swiss anthem in several tonalities, and at the end I bring the anthem of Harmondy, which is a name I invented. But Switzerland has something to do with it, because there are so many people speaking many languages. It is very characteristic for mankind where people speak many languages and many races live together. And I have used in Harmondy, which I call the Hymnunion, the “hymns” and “union” combined to a new country. Hymnunion in the Harmondy and the ruler is Pluramon. You hear his name twice towards the end of the piece. Pluramon is a person who is at the same time a pluralist and a monist, who likes the many but who concentrates also at the same time on the one.
It ends with the breathing and it sounds – many people have said that – like the breathing of all mankind, as if all were breathing together. And it is, as a matter of fact, a development in durations, lengths and colour of breathing. With a few memories which fly by. So the whole HYMNEN – you will hear that very soon – is a space music, a music in which we fly or are overflown by sounds. The sounds move around us and it has this character as if we were watching mankind, the planet, and travelling in an airplane around, all around the globe.
And hearing the music of all people from afar. It is making contact for a short time, then we go on. Meeting people and go on. So that Family of Man is musically maybe the main character of HYMNEN. When you hear it tonight I recommend – as you will not see anything (I will bring down the lights), I just project a little moon for the people who are afraid to be in the dark … well, that happens sometimes – I really sincerely recommend that you close the eyes and remain comfortable…”.
On October 12th 2001 in The Independent newspaper in London, Robert Worby wrote the following as preview for the elektronic festival which, in addition to Stockhausen, featured the music of, among others, Irmin Schmidt (of Can) & Kumo, DJ Prichard.G. Jams PKA Aphex Twin, Talvin Singh + Jon Hassel, and William Orbit :
“This whole festival is about changing perceptions and bringing down the boundaries that used to separate high bourgeois culture from mass culture. In 1967, at the time his gargantuan work HYMNEN was first being performed, Stockhausen wrote: ‘What I am trying to do, as far as I am aware of it, is to produce models that herald the stage after destruction. I am trying to go beyond collage, heterogeneity and pluralism, and to find unity; to produce music that brings us to the essential one. And that is going to be badly needed during the time of shocks and disasters that is going to come.’ A prophetic text given the times through which we are currently living.”
In January 2002, the third region of HYMNEN with orchestra was performed in Paris at the Cité de la Musique, by the Ensemble Intercontemporain together with students of the Paris Conservatory and conducted by Péter Eotvos.
(Illustration 2: Programme notes of HYMNEN Electronic Music and Orchestra from the score)
Eotvos is the only conductor capable of conducting this work besides Stockhausen and Ingo Metzmacher (now musical director of the Hamburg Opera and Hamburg Musikfest, who previously performed as pianist in the version of HYMNEN with soloists in the Stockhausen Ensemble).
The work was performed twice, with an intermission between the performances. When Stockhausen walked on stage to give a brief introduction (this time in French) before the second performance, the audience wouldn’t stop clapping. When they finally did, he said, “It sounds like you liked it!”. (It also was a demonstration of solidarity for Stockhausen personally – as were the standing ovations in London and Amsterdam last fall – but he did not realise it.) He then went on to explain a few aspects of the compositional process and the general ideas behind the composition. He closed by saying that he was very grateful to the organisation of the Ensemble Intercontemporain which, for special projects such as the performances of CARRÉ and GRUPPEN in 1997 and 1998, invites the students of the Orchestra of the Conservatoire Nationale Supérieur de Musique et Danse to participate, because that way – as special project outside of the usual planning – sufficient rehearsal time was made possible and the young generation of musicians can be exposed to this music. After his introduction, HYMNEN Third Region with Orchestra was performed a second time.
The American national anthem is the second centre of the third region of HYMNEN, which is why Stockhausen chose it for the orchestra version when Leonard Bernstein wanted to commission an orchestral work from Stockhausen for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in 1969. In the programme notes for the world première of HYMNEN Third Region for Orchestra on February 25th, 1971, at the Philharmonic Hall in New York, Stockhausen had written (excerpt):
“What more can a composer do than create musical worlds which do not merely mirror the human world as it is today but which offer visions, intimations of better worlds, in which projects in the realm of sound, of fragments, of objets trouvés become mutually compatible and grow together to realize the divine mission of ONE united world? If even a hint could be caught, could be understood of the cause to which I give myself in HYMNEN, this work would have a meaning. I have no illusions that the wars with all their sufferings are going to stop tomorrow. On the contrary: I see terrible trials ahead of us. I understand the infinite slowness of growth from the subconscious to the conscious human being, from the lethargic animal in us to the enlightened being that really knows why it is alive and what kind of future it wants. […].
America – land of refugees, of exiles, of the melting-pot: this music is made to measure for you. You could become a model for the whole world, if you would live as this music prophesies – if you would set a good example…!
(Illustration 3: The programme and programme notes of the world première)
The enthusiastic final applause of the audience at the end of the HYMNEN performances in Paris was an expression of gratitude not only for the excellent performance, but also for the vision of a harmonious humanity as made musically audible in HYMNEN.
The next day, the leading French newspaper Le Monde reported that the audience had been “captivated by Stockhausen’s charm”. In the monthly magazine Diapaison, a music critic later wrote that his only criticism of the concert was that it had not been repeated seven times, because even if it had been repeated for a whole week the hall would have been full every evening.
While at the Cité de la Musique, Stockhausen was asked to give an interview about music and gesture because an exhibition with this title was soon to open at the Cité de la Musique, which has its own libraries and museum. Since he composed INORI Adorations for one or two soloists and orchestra (1974), Stockhausen has been precisely composing the gestures and movements for many of his works. Therefore, this is a topic which could not be spoken about in depth in a fifteen-minute interview. Nevertheless, although the idea that music and gesture as equally important parameters can form a unity is new for Western classical music (in which gesture either accompanies music or music accompanies gesture), it is self-understood in other cultures of the world, for instance in Indian classic dance. For those of you who read French there is an excellent book by Katia Légeret-Manochhaya, a French woman who spent many years in India studying Indian sacred dance Bharata-Nâtyam. It is entitled Esthétique de la Danse Sacrée: Inde Traditionnelle et art contemporain in which she describes, among other things, the similarities between Stockhausen’s use of gesture and that of Indian dance. (ISBN 2-7053-3693-3)
The Cité de la Musique is also preparing an exhibition about Music and Space, which will open next year in October and which will run until 2004. They are particularly interested in building and exhibiting a 1:50 scale model of the spherical auditorium which was built by the German government for the world fair EXPO 70 at Osaka, during which Stockhausen and his group of musicians performed his music daily for 183 days for a total of over a million listeners.
(Illustration 4: Photograph of the interior of the spherical auditorium at EXPO 70)
We have helped them to find the source material which they requested, including contact with the architect Prof. Fritz Bornemann who collaborated with Stockhausen on the design and construction of the spherical auditorium.
(Illustration 5: the plans of the spherical auditorium [pp. 24, 25 and 26 of the booklet of CD 15: SOLO and SPIRAL])
Meanwhile Prof. Bornemann has responded that he could participate only if Stockhausen was willing to collaborate with him once more. Thus the two of them are now in contact again. Prof. Fritz Bornemann, now over 90 years young, built both the Deutsche Oper and the Volksbuehne in Berlin. MICHAELs JUGEND (MICHAEL’S YOUTH), Act 1 of DONNERSTAG aus LICHT (THURSDAY from LICHT), was staged for the first time in Germany in March 2002 at the Volksbuehne, where a series of Stockhausen concerts will take place in September 2002. (For more information see the concert list elsewhere on the homepage, or contact: Berliner Festspiele, Tel. ++49- 30-254 89 100 Facs. ++49  30-254 89 230, e-mail: email@example.com)
When Stockhausen was in Berlin on March 9th and 10th 2002 to attend the première of the new staging of MICHAEL’S YOUTH , he briefly met with Prof. Bornemann and together they tried to find a solution for the loudspeaker placement in the Volksbuehne for the concerts this fall. Although Bornemann – as a result of his experience planning the spherical auditorium with Stockhausen – included numerous hanging points for loudspeakers in the auditoriums of both the Volksbuehne and the Deutsche Oper (although they are unfortunately seldom used) the Volksbuehne has a balcony, which means that the rear loudspeakers have to be doubled for the upper and lower levels, and the octophonic (cubical) set-up required for the ORCHESTRA FINALISTS is especially problematic.
Bornemann suggested placing the loudspeakers beneath the floor of the Volksbuehne, but this is however not really comparable in efficiency, because there is not enough space surrounding the loudspeakers and thus their projection would be inhibited. In MONDAY from LIGHT Stockhausen placed “at least” 16 small loudspeakers underneath some of the seats in the stalls to make the sound scenes especially present, but the signal was mono and served only to softly support the eight-track signals coming from the larger speakers in the hall. Nevertheless, Prof. Bornemann did show Stockhausen’s technician where he would allow additional hanging point plugs to be drilled below the balcony (for the loudspeaker doubling). Later, André Hebbelinck, who is responsible for the organisation of the concerts in the fall (Berlin Festival) informed me that this was a minor miracle because the entire building is classified as a historical monument and therefore Prof. Bornemann usually does not allow it to be altered in any way.
This discussion took place on location just before the première of the new staging of MICHAELs JUGEND began. After they had solved (almost) all of the problems for the loudspeaker set-up for the fall concerts, Prof. Bornemann asked Stockhausen about the measurements of the mixing console used in Osaka and, for the Paris model, proposed lowering the grid for the audience by 5 metres. Stockhausen said this was not a good idea because that would mean that the audience would be too close to the lowest ring of loudspeakers and to the sub-woofers, and said that the model should correspond exactly to the Osaka auditorium in which the audience was seated just below the equator, though even that did not exactly correspond to Stockhausen’s original wish that the audience be seated exactly at the equator of the spherical auditorium.
Who knows – once the model is built, maybe someone will have the bright idea to build the auditorium again. When the EXPO 70 was over, Bornemann had proposed to Berlin that they bring it back to Berlin and Stockhausen had proposed to Cologne that they bring it back to Cologne, but no one was willing to pay the 200,000 DM it would have costed at the time. Of course, the reason for the negative decision were the long-term maintenance costs and not the purchase price or even the transportation costs. But when one considers the construction and maintenance costs of the conventional concert halls being built these days, and that most of them (like the Volksbuehne) are completely inappropriate for concerts of electro-acoustical music or for works of new music in which the audience and musicians are not seated in the conventional way, then the short-sightedness of smashing the spherical Osaka auditorium (including loudspeakers, mixing console and everything else it housed) soon after EXPO 70 was over – Stockhausen saw it happen – , probably did not save much money in the long run.
Back to Paris: the Cité de la Musique was built with new music and electro-acoustic sound projection in mind, thanks to the influence of Stockhausen’s friend and colleague, Pierre Boulez who greatly influenced its construction. Hanging loudspeakers, positioning the mixing console, the flexible seating and even the placement of the stage (including no stage at all) is normal for the personnel there, all of whom Stockhausen enjoys working with very much and vice versa, it seems.
Since January 23rd 2002, Stockhausen has been composing the next-to-last scene of SONNTAG aus LICHT (SUNDAY from LIGHT), DUEFTE – ZEICHEN (SCENTS – SIGNS), a commission by the Salzburger Festspiele, which will have its world première, God willing, on August 29th 2003.
Upon hearing about the cancellation of the world première of MITTWOCH aus LICHT (WEDNESDAY from LIGHT) in Bern (more about that later), Dr. Peter Ruzicka, artistic director of the Salzburg Festival – who had been corresponding with Stockhausen about organizing concerts to celebrate Stockhausen’s 75th birthday (to no avail because 2003 was full with rehearsals for MITTWOCH, including a recording of the last scene of MITTWOCH, MICHAELION) – asked if there were any scenes of SONNTAG aus LICHT (SUNDAY from LIGHT) which had not yet been commissioned. There are two scenes left to compose: the next-to-last (4th) scene DUEFTE – ZEICHEN (SCENTS – SIGNS) for 7 singers (coloratura soprano, soprano, alto, counter tenor, tenor, baritone, bass), boy soprano, and synthesizer, and the other one is the 3rd scene, LICHT – BILDER (LIGHT – PICTURES), the contents of which have to be kept secret until it is commissioned. Dr. Ruzicka chose DUEFTE – ZEICHEN.
I just discovered the following text (with which Stockhausen is not yet familiar) in the book Osmologische Heilkunde, Die Magie der Duftstoffe (Osmological Therapeutics, The Magic of Scents) by Dr. Arnold Krumm-Heller (Verlag Richard Schikowski, Berlin, 1955):
“Den heiligen Hauch oder Odem, der die ewigen Wesenheiten untereinander ausgleicht und zur wahren Ruhe bringt, soll man sich nicht als einen tatsaechlichen Hauch oder Luftzug vorstellen, sondern als den sanften Duft einer Salbe oder eines aus vielen Stoffen gemischten Rauchwerkes. Es ist eine durchdringende Kraft von einer unbeschreiblichen Gewalt des Wohlgeruches, schoener als man es denken oder aussprechen kann.”
(Aus einem gnostichen Katechismus)
“The holy waft or breath, which balances the eternal essences among each other and makes them truly calm, should not be imagined as a real breath or current of air, but rather as the gentle fragrance of a salve or of smoke from a mixture of many substances. It is a penetrating strength of an indescribable power from the pleasant fragrance, more beautiful than can be imagined or expressed.”
(from a gnostic catechism)
For years Stockhausen has wanted to compose scents into his works. I remember him talking with stage director Michael Bogdanov during the stagings of DONNERSTAG aus LICHT (THURSDAY from LIGHT) at The Royal Opera House Covent Garden (London) in 1985 and MONTAG aus LICHT (MONDAY from LIGHT) at La Scala (Milan) in 1988, because he would have liked to include the emission of scents in the stagings. The problem which could not be solved was always how to “stop” the scents, once emitted. This problem has not yet been solved, but Stockhausen is going to now use scents anyway. If anyone knows of a noiseless scent “air” cleaner…
In the composition SCENTS – SIGNS, one fragrance is assigned to each of the days of the week and to the singers who predominate on those days: Cuculainn (Celtic) to Monday (coloratura soprano), Kyphi (Egyptian) to Tuesday (tenor and bass), Mastic (Greek) to Wednesday (soprano, tenor and bass), Rosa Mystica to Thursday (counter tenor), Tate Yunanaka (Mexico) to Friday (soprano and baritone), Ud Wood Aquilaria Agarlocha (India) to Saturday (bass), Frankincense (Somalia) to Sunday (coloratura soprano and counter tenor). Those of you familiar with the various operas of LIGHT will immediately understand how the singer (s) correspond to the individual days. For those of you who would like to get in the mood for DUEFTE – ZEICHEN, the various scents chosen by Stockhausen for this work may be ordered from: Light of Nature GmbH & KG, Lanzenhainer Str. 5, D-36369 Lautertal, Tel. ++49- (0) 6643 - 918682, Facs. ++49 (0) 6643-918683, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.light-of-nature.de.
The first problem which had to be solved for the world première in August 2003 was to find a performance venue in Salzburg, in which it would be possible to set up the podia for the singers in a horseshoe shape around the audience.
(Illustration 7: set-up for DUEFTE – ZEICHEN)
The hall could not be too large, otherwise the audience could neither partake of the various scents being emitted by the various materials being burnt nor see the drawings of the signs (one for each day of the week as can be seen on the various published scores and CDs of the seven operas) which hang behind each podium. In addition, it will be necessary to rehearse there for several days preceding the world première, therefore it cannot be used for other performances during that time.
Therefore, Dr. Ruzicka retracted his original proposal to perform DUEFTE – ZEICHEN at either the large or small Festspielhaus and sent plans of other halls which seemed appropriate. Stockhausen then selected the Perner Insel which, although not perfect, will do.
The singers have not yet been confirmed, but most probably all three singers who performed in MICHAELs JUGEND this March in Berlin (tenor Hubert Mayer, soprano Ksenija Lukiç and baritone Jonathan de la Paz Zaens) will participate, as well as Nicholas Isherwood (bass), Isolde Siebert (coloratura soprano), Susanne Otto (alto), and Bernhard Gaertner (tenor). The boy soprano has not yet been selected. Hubert Mayer, as you know from my last report, was the solo tenor in LICHTER – WASSER. Nicholas Isherwood has performed as bass in LICHT since 1985. Isolde Siebert will sing one of the solo roles in the world première of ANGEL PROCESSIONS in Amsterdam on November 9th 2002.
On new year’s eve (31. 12. 2001) Stockhausen had finished composing the 5th and final scene of SONNTAG aus LICHT (SUNDAY from LIGHT), HOCH-ZEITEN (MARRIAGES, but literally, HIGH-TIMES) for choir and orchestra performing simultaneously in two different, electro-acoustically connected, halls. As you know from previous reports, the texts are love poems in 5 different languages: Indian, Chinese, Arabian, English, and Swahili. The world première will take place on January 28th 2003 in Santa Cruz Tenerife during the Festival de Musica de Canarias. The second performance will follow on January 31st 2003 in Las Palmas Canaria. (For tickets, contact: Festival de Música de Canarias, e-mail: email@example.com, tel.: ++34-928 24 74 43, facs. ++34-928 27 60 42).
The work will then be performed in Cologne on February 14th 2003 at the Philharmonic Hall and the grosse Sendesaal (large broadcast auditorium) of the WDR (West German Radio), simultaneously. All performances and a studio recording will be played and sung by the choir and symphony orchestra of the WDR. The choir and orchestra are each divided into five groups of singers, respectively instrumentalists, seated on podia at the left and right of the audience and on stage. The choir groups are rehearsed and – during a few moments of the performance – conducted by Rupert Huber, the orchestra groups by Zsolt Nagy. Each group is synchronised by one member who hears a click-track over an earphone.
The five groups perform in different tempi, with changing tempi (of course), and the groups are synchronous – briefly – only three times. In HOCH-ZEITEN, the indications for the metronome tempi are even more differentiated than in previous works by Stockhausen, sometimes resulting in two digits after the decimal point, which have to be rounded off to 95.6, 71.2, 53.4, 93.7, 52.5, etc. Since all of the groups have different tempi, this is the only way for the five groups to pace themselves and to arrive at the “meeting points” exactly when they are supposed to. Luckily, the click-track – which will be produced using a computer according to a scheme worked out by Stockhausen – will keep the groups “in tempo”.
(For years, Stockhausen has recommended the manufacture of “chromatic” metronomes having 12 chromatic tempi numbered 1 to 12 within each of the temporal octaves 15 - 30 - 60 - 120 - 240. A friend has just managed to produce a prototype which fills all of Stockhausen’s requirements – and now this!)
In addition, Stockhausen developed a special notation for HOCH-ZEITEN, because the pitch changes occur so slowly and because the tempo is constantly changing. In addition, the inner articulations and rhythms of each different language requires a different kind of notation to convey their various natures.
Above the section for HOCH-ZEITEN in a sketch of the super formula for SUNDAY from LIGHT, Stockhausen wrote “marriages in 2 worlds” and “interpreters from hall to hall”. The choir performs in one hall and the orchestra in the other, and occasionally the sound of the choir is faded into the hall where the orchestra is performing, and vice versa. In the intermission, choir and orchestra switch halls. Originally, Stockhausen had envisioned that the audience would change halls, but since the two halls on all three occasions are very different in size, and since concert subscribers prefer to have their habitual seats, this would create logistical problems, so he has agreed to do it this way.
The choir of the WDR has to sing in five different languages, four of them phonetically notated, and they have already asked for the translations of the texts into German, just to make sure that they are singing love songs and not something else. These days, such caution is understandable, of course. Stockhausen is making every effort to make sure that the phonetic transcription (made by linguists in each of the languages) is exact, and he is double-checking all of the texts with other linguists at several German universities, just to make sure.
For tickets, please contact: KoelnMusik GmbH, Bischofsgartenstrasse 1, D-50667 Cologne, www. koelnmusik.de, telephone ++49 - (0) 221- 280 280; or WDR, Appellhofplatz, D-50600 Cologne, www.wdr.de, Tel. ++49 - (0) 221-220-1).
ENGEL-PROZESSIONEN (ANGEL PROCESSIONS) for a cappella choir, Scene 2 of SUNDAY from LIGHT, which Stockhausen finished composing on Christmas Eve 2000 is sung in seven different languages. In addition to the five mentioned above, there is also Spanish and German. (For the complete texts, which were written by Stockhausen, see my report of August 2000.) Each of the texts is addressed to one of seven groups of angels, each of whom, in turn, is assigned to a different day of the week:
of Music –THURSDAY from LIGHT
Angels of Heaven – SATURDAY from LIGHT
Angels of Water – MONDAY from LIGHT
Angels of the Earth – TUESDAY from LIGHT
Angels of Light – FRIDAY from LIGHT
Angels of Life – WEDNESDAY from LIGHT
Angels of Joy – SUNDAY from LIGHT.
Its world première will take place at 15:00 on Saturday, November 9th 2002 at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, sung by the large choir of the Dutch radio. For tickets: VARA-Matinee, Sumatralaan 49, 1217 GP Hilversum. Tel.: ++31 (0) 20 671 8345 or ++31 (0) 35 6711911, Facs. ++31 (0) 35 6711309.
In March 2002, with the help of our faithful musicology student helpers, we photocopied the choir parts, which are now being bound. 40 members of the choir (6 groups of 6 singers each and one group of 4 singers) move around and along cross-shaped aisles through the audience and make gestures while singing. Therefore, they need smaller parts (each part has 89 pages) which can be held in one hand. The other 48 members of the choir (the “tutti” choir) stand at the walls, surrounding the audience. Their parts can be larger, because they have music stands. Four solo singers perform also on the balconies at the left, right and behind the audience.
As spatial music, ENGEL-PROZESSIONEN could be considered as the next development after LICHTER–WASSER (SONNTAGs GRUSS) / LIGHTS–WATERS (SUNDAY GREETING) for soprano, tenor, and orchestra with synthesizer player (1999), in which 29 orchestra musicians stand around the eight groups of listeners, and in crossed and diagonal aisles through the listeners.
(Illustration 7a: set-up for LICHTER–WASSER. For further information see the score of LICHTER–WASSER and CD 58 of the Stockhausen Complete Edition.)
In that work, individual notes travelled through space pointillistically, because the musicians were stationary, with the exception of the solo tenor and soprano, who moved while they sang. Now, in ENGEL-PROZESSIONEN, the sounds and the singers move through the audience, along aisles arranged in a similar way. In INVASION – EXPLOSION with FAREWELL, the second act of TUESDAY from LIGHT, “troops” of musicians enter the auditorium three times, cross through the audience and exit at the other side, playing along with the octophonic, constantly moving, electronic music of TUESDAY from LIGHT. (For more information about the complex electro-acoustic movements of the sounds in the tape and of the singing and playing of the “mobile” musicians, see the preface of the score INVASION–EXPLOSION with FAREWELL of TUESDAY from LIGHT). But ENGEL-PROZESSIONEN is even a further development of that, because in this work, there is no electronic music and thus all of the polyphonic spatial movements are made by the choir!
In terms of choral spatialisation, ENGEL-PROZESSIONEN is the next development following WORLD PARLIAMENT (the first scene of WEDNESDAY from LIGHT). In WORLD PARLIAMENT, the singers enter and exit singing, but only the choir soloists move on stage (with the exception of a few surprises which embrace the entire auditorium). In MICHAELION (the fourth and final scene of WEDNESDAY from LIGHT), the choir members and instrumental soloists are constantly moving in and out of the stage area and on stage until the final sextet, for which 6 choir members walk into the hall, and surround the audience, singing. At the end of MICHAELION, they leave the hall, singing, and can be heard still for a long time singing in the distance in the surrounding corridors and foyers.
After the 85-member “large choir of the Dutch radio” has been prepared musically by their choir director, James Wood, Stockhausen will participate in the final rehearsals and will supervise the studio recording which will be made before the world première.
Following the performances in Amsterdam (the work will be repeated in the same concert), two performances will take place in Berlin on November 12th 2002 at the Heilig-Kreuz-Kirche in Berlin as part of the series of 7 Stockhausen concerts which are going to take place during the Berlin Festival in September. For more information: Berliner Festspiele, Tel. ++49 - (0) 30 - 254 89 100, Facs. ++49 - (0) 30 - 254 89 230, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is now high time to pick up where I left off at the end of my report written in August 2000.
I had promised to begin my next report with the Stockhausen Courses Kuerten 2000, which is where my last report ended.
In the meantime, however, Stephen Truelove and Thomas Connally have written an excellent report, and therefore I have decided to concentrate on a few details concerning the performance practice of SIRIUS, which was performed three times during the courses and which was the subject of Stockhausen’s composition seminar in 2000.
I will start the chronology on July 19th 2000, the day the four soloists (Annette Meriweather, soprano, Markus Stockhausen, trumpet, Nicholas Isherwood, bass, Suzanne Stephens, bass clarinet) began to rehearse SIRIUS.
We had not performed the work since April 1990, when SIRIUS was performed three times at the beautiful Claustro do Convento do Beato in Lisbon to open a festival of Stockhausen’s music at the Gulbenkian Foundation.
Thus – in July 2000 – we were hoping that, despite the relatively short preparation time, we would be able to relearn this extremely complex and demanding work. My personal experience has been that – once a work has been learned well – it “comes back” fast, regardless of how much time elapses between performances. But SIRIUS must function perfectly as an ensemble; therefore the perfection of each member of the ensemble is dependent on the perfection of the other members of the ensemble.
Our rehearsals with Stockhausen were to start on Monday, July 24th 2000, so by that time we had to achieve perfect synchronicity with the tape and with each other, which includes remembering who to follow when etc. In short, the rehearsals were for getting to know the complete work again instead of just our own part with the tape. The rehearsals with Stockhausen were to dynamically balance the soloists among each other and with the tape, and to polish the work. This is, of course, impossible from a soloist’s position acoustically, because we cannot hear the total sound. Therefore, the function of a sound projectionist in SIRIUS – and in all other works which are projected over loudspeakers – is predominantly a musical one. This is described in the prefaces of all scores. Even for earlier works, such as GRUPPEN or CARRÉ (in which a sound projectionist does not have a central role), it is necessary to have at least one person, or preferably more than one, who is responsible for helping the conductors balance the whole. See the performance practice supplement for GRUPPEN and my report about CARRÉ in Kiel in 1999.
(Illustration 8: performance practice supplement for GRUPPEN)
For the preliminary rehearsals (when the four soloists rehearse alone without sound projectionist), subsequent rehearsals with the sound projectionist, and for the performances, each of the soloists needs to wear earphones in order to hear the tape and the other soloists directly enough. Otherwise, since their positions (surrounding the audience) are separated by up to 30 metres, the delayed acoustic singing and playing of the other soloists interferes with hearing the details of the tape. It is essential to hear even the softest details in this electronic music, because in some sections of SIRIUS, each soloist is playing / singing synchronously with a different polyphonic layer of the tape. In addition, it is necessary to hear the other soloists loudly enough (different soloists during different sections) to ensure synchronicity and intonation with each other. This is a delicate problem which can only be solved by giving each soloist – from the mixing console in the auditorium – a different balance of tape and, if desired, certain soloists over his earphones.
For instance, on his earphones, Markus wanted to hear the tape, plus himself and the other soloists softly, with the soprano slightly louder than the others (since he has so many synchronous passages with her), and with the bass softer than the others. He wore both earphones (which are not closed) over his ears, but removed the copper cups (part of the costume) which in all previous performances and rehearsals had decorated, but effectively closed the earphones. This time, he found that it interfered with hearing the acoustic sound of the other soloists and the tape, which was not as disturbing as usual (due to delay between the earphone and acoustical sound), since the distances separating the soloists in Kuerten were not too large.
Nicholas wanted a mixture of tape and bass clarinet, since we have to be synchronous so often.
Annette wanted a mixture of the tape and trumpet, because she is so often synchronous with the trumpet, plus bass clarinet (softly).
Annette, Markus and Nicholas all wore their (open) earphones over both ears.
I had only the tape on my earphones, and completely turned off the left earphone, using the individual volume controls for each ear on the earphone cable (necessary for all soloists for adjusting the dynamic level of the earphones during the performance). In order to hear the other soloists acoustically, I wore the left earphone so that the auditory canal was not covered, but both sides still looked symmetrical from the front. Thus I could hear the tape loudly (mono) in my right ear only, and at the same time I could clearly hear the other soloists acoustically, and thus assess our ensemble playing.
Using the individual left-right volume controls on the earphone cables, we could discreetly adjust the dynamic level of the signal on our earphones during the performance whenever necessary. In addition, each of us had an earphone amplifier next to or beneath our podiums to set the basic level coming from the mixer, so that the volume controls on the earphone cable were only for the fine adjustments which had to be made in the course of the performance.
These days, click-tracks are in wide use, but it is not possible to use one in SIRIUS, due to the numerous chamber music like sections, in which we have to be perfectly together as a quartet but not precisely synchronous with the tape. In some sections it is exceedingly difficult to play synchronously with the tape, and it takes weeks and months of practice individually even before reaching the point where it is possible to start playing with the others. Stockhausen has had to use click-tracks in other works, such as for the HELICOPTER STRING QUARTET, but in that work there is no choice because the musicians cannot hear (or see) each other.
We also have click-tracks for learning or recording various works, such as MICHAELs GRUSS (MICHAEL’S GREETING) in which the tempo changes are extremely difficult for the conductor. This click-track is to be used only for learning the tempi but not for performing the work. Stockhausen also used a click-track for recording the multi-track work UNSICHTBARE CHÖRE vom DONNERSTAG aus LICHT (INVISIBLE CHOIRS of THURSDAY from LIGHT), and a click-track is also used for performances of GEBURTS-FEST vom MONTAG aus LICHT (FESTIVAL of BIRTH of MONDAY from LIGHT). For practising FREITAG aus LICHT (FRIDAY from LIGHT), the soloists had click-tracks for all of the scenes, and the children of the choir and orchestra had cassettes on which there was the music by itself, and the music plus click-track, for learning and memorising the difficult tempo changes in the scenes CHILDREN’S ORCHESTRA, CHILDREN’S CHOIR, CHILDREN’S TUTTI and CHILDREN’S WAR .
Back to SIRIUS: During the preliminary rehearsals from July 19th –23rd 2000, which took place in the school auditorium in Kuerten, we sat / stood (without podia) about 12 metres apart as compared to the circa 25 metres of separation which we would have when the rehearsals with Stockhausen began on July 24th in the Suelztalhalle. Therefore, we rehearsed with a reduced electro-acoustic set-up, using a stereo CD of the electronic music played over four loudspeakers, a 16-channel mixer, and earphones with earphone amplifiers. (The individual earphone mixes described above were not entirely possible during that time.) We were all slightly amplified using a normal dynamic microphone on a stand. (For performances, each soloist has a cable microphone and a transmitter. The advantage of a normal cable microphone for the singers and trumpeter is that the distance towards and away from the microphone is variable, which is necessary in SIRIUS. The transmitters are used especially for the section in CAPRICORN when we all go the the middle of the hall, directly in front of the mixing console.)
Sunday evening, July 23rd, the soloists met with Stockhausen and the sound and light technicians in the Suelztalhalle, in which the podia (1.6 metres high) and sound and light equipment had been installed. The purpose of this meeting was to set the individual earphone levels and mixes, to check if the lighting was sufficient to see each other, and to check other technical aspects, to avoid losing time during the rehearsals which were to begin the next day with Stockhausen. This took several hours. The first hours of actual rehearsal in a large set-up are always a shock anyway, because everything sounds different at first and one loses ones bearings.
The rehearsals took place daily from ca. 10–13 and 16–18:30. This is arduous, especially for the singers, because they sing almost constantly during the entire 90 minutes of the work. The range of the soprano is that of a dramatic coloratura, sometimes going up to a high F.
If you are beginning to get curious about SIRIUS, listen to it on CD 18 and read about it in the informative booklet which accompanies it. In addition, extensive sketches and other information about SIRIUS have been published in the textbook Composition Course about SIRIUS (used for Stockhausen’s composition seminar during the Stockhausen Courses Kuerten 2000), and of course in the score of SIRIUS, all of which may be ordered from the Stockhausen-Verlag.
Monday, July 24th, we rehearsed the sections PRESENTATION and CANCER (the first section of THE WHEEL). Tuesday we got through LIBRA, Wednesday we worked on CAPRICORN and on Thursday we rehearsed ARIES and Bridge after ARIES, (thus finishing THE WHEEL), and the ANNUNCIATION. Friday morning, July 28th, we rehearsed sections, and Friday evening we had a run-through followed by Stockhausen’s corrections. Saturday morning we briefly rehearsed the problematic sections of the dress rehearsal, and on Saturday evening, July 29th, was the opening concert of the courses.
As of Wednesday, July 26th, the first 30 course participants had arrived to attend the rehearsals. Since the first courses in 1998, we have invited the course participants to attend the rehearsals with Stockhausen which precede the week of courses and concerts, because in the more relaxed atmosphere of these preliminary rehearsals he can often take the time to explain technicalities.
During the week of preliminary rehearsals, several instrumental course participants arrived for final preparations of the works they had prepared for the courses: Barbara Bouman was finishing her work on HARLEKIN for clarinet in one of the large rooms of the school (she had been able to practice on the large stage for a few days before the technical set-up for SIRIUS); Karin de Fleydt and Michele Marelli had arrived for final coaching by Kathinka Pasveer and myself on ELUFA for basset-horn and flute, and the infamous anthos percussion ensemble, which in 1998 and 1999 had won the first prizes for their interpretations of MIKROPHONIE I and MUSIK IM BAUCH (MUSIC IN THE BELLY), both for 6 percussionists, was arriving and depositing their strange instruments for KATHINKAs GESANG in the school auditorium, where the percussion seminars are held.
As of Monday, July 24th, Dettloff Schwerdtfeger and Lilly Fritz, who are responsible for the organisation of the courses, were getting the school ready by setting up their office to welcome the first participants. Their “crew” included wonderful helpers, all of whom are musicology students at the University of Cologne:
Sandra Huckenbeck was running errands like picking up the SIRIUS costumes, unpacking them and hanging them in the dressing rooms, and helping Maria Luckas (usually the archivist of the Stockhausen Foundation for Music) to transport and set up the magnificent exhibition of prayer gestures which comprises 152 photographs of prayer gestures of all ages and all cultures of the world, ranging in size from 46 cm x 33 cm to 125 cm x 97cm.
Marco Boehlandt was helping to install the video and audio equipment in the different seminar rooms and helping with the installation of the sound and lighting equipment in the Suelztalhalle.
Florian Zwißler and Michael Oehler were assisting Bryan Wolf, Stockhausen’s sound projection assistant, with both the installation of the MANTRA equipment in the community center, which is where Ellen Corver holds her piano (and MANTRA) seminar, and with the set-up in the Suelztalhalle.
Our neighbour boy, André van Herpt, who has been helping us during the courses since he was 16 (1998), was painting the railings for the soloists’ podia, the stand for the large INORI formscheme which Kathinka was going to use for the Lecture on HU, retouching the gold paint on my earphones, hanging the Stockhausen Courses Kuerten 2000 banner at its traditional place on the main street near the school complex, sticking the concert posters on small billboards and attaching them to the lamp-posts on the main street running through Kuerten, driving around on his motor scooter trying to find a longer track for the sliding music stand on Stockhausen’s mixing console because it kept falling off the tracks, finding the right kind of small metal sheets to put in front of the spotlights to project a starry firmament onto the ceiling during SIRIUS, and fixing a flat tire on our car – to mention a few of the things which had to be done before the courses could begin.
The friendly and industrious janitors Peter Bruehl, Heribert Eichler and Hans Georg Kohlgrueber were also working around the clock, transforming the Suelztalhalle , which is actually the school gymnasium, into a concert hall: taking down the baskets, covering the backboards with brown felt, blackening the windows, bringing the partitions and vitrines for the exhibition from the main school building. The week before, they had built the 9 x 14 metre main stage, and the 6 meter by 2 metre wings at each side for the piano and percussion and other requisites. They laid the dance floor, hung the 14 metre x 7 metre curtain at the back of the stage, set up the podia for the soloists, set up the 400 chairs facing the centre of the hall (for SIRIUS), prepared all of the classrooms, and moved the 30 tables from the auditorium to the area outside of the auditorium where the little Italian restaurant is set up during the courses.
On July 28th, the 2 Fagioli grand pianos for MANTRA and the Steinway concert grand arrived from Holland. The 4 upright pianos and 1 concert grand for the practice rooms (all sponsored) which had arrived from Music City in Cologne and from Franz-Josef Bartmann’s home (also the official piano tuner of the courses), plus the 2 pianos owned by the school, were moved into the practice rooms. Mr. Bartmann started tuning and did not stop until the courses were over on August 5th.
Then it stopped raining, and the sun came out. So the courses were officially opened on July 29th 2000 at 6 p.m. by Stockhausen and the new mayor of Kuerten Ulrich Iwanow, who welcomed the 130 participants from 22 different countries and 5 continents. He spoke in three languages: German, English, and French.
BBC television had also arrived and discreetly set up 2 cameras to film the opening of the courses and the second and third SIRIUS performances, as well as the world premières of 3x REFRAIN 2000, COMET for percussion, COMET as PIANO PIECE XVII, and one of Stockhausen’s composition seminars. This material has been used in a film about Stockhausen which is one of a series of documentaries about composers of the 20th century, entitled Music Masters. David Thompson, the director of the film, told me on the day following the courses – when they made an interview with Stockhausen for use in the film – that they were sorry they couldn’t have filmed the courses in their entirety. Due to the intensity of the activity and the amount of the information to be consumed, there would have had to be several teams filming simultaneously. We have been very selective about the kind of media coverage which we have invited to the courses, because any kind of camera movement can detract from the experience of the concert for the listeners present. Therefore, if we allow a concert to be filmed, then it has to be agreed upon that the cameras are fixed in a discreet position, and that there can be no extra lighting etc. The BBC team was very cooperative and sensitive to what was going on, and said they were very inspired to have been able to get a “taste” of the Stockhausen Courses Kuerten.
The following Supplement to the preface of the score of SIRIUS resulted from the experience gained from the SIRIUS rehearsals and performances during the Stockhausen Courses Kuerten 2000 (the page indications refer to the preface of the score of SIRIUS):
Podien – Lautsprechertuerme – Bestuhlung (S.16–17) / Podia – Loudspeaker Towers – Seating (pp. 40–41)
Usually, a podium for the mixing console and chair of the sound projectionist is needed only in performances outdoors.
To avoid feedback and to avoid that the loudspeaker emission is too loud for the soloists, it is recommended that the lower edges of the loudspeakers are about 5 m in height, i.e. the loudspeaker towers must be higher than 3 m. The height of the podium (ca. 1.6 m) + microphone on stand (ca. 1.6 m) = ca. 3.2 m.
Tontechnik (S.17) / Sound Equipment (p. 41)
In addition to the 4 cable microphones for the soloists, 4 transmitters are needed. Therefore, a mixing console having at least 16 inputs and 9 outputs is necessary. Each soloist has a different mix on his earphones: electronic music (mono) PLUS 0, 1, 2, or 3 other soloists, all at various levels. Therefore the mixing console should have different outputs for each earphone output.
Instead of 1-inch 8-track tapes and stereo tapes, 8-track tapes for Tascam DA-88 (or DA-98) multi-track tape machines (or compatible) are used. The durations of these tapes (one tape for each version) is long enough for the entire work; therefore tapes do not have to be changed, and thus the 2-track tape machine is not needed, nor are the light signals for stopping and starting the tapes.
The four earphones are integrated into the costumes and are thus furnished by the Stockhausen-Verlag and / or the soloists. Adapters (every possible variation, please) are necessary for the earphones so that they can be plugged into the XLR (Cannon) sockets attached to the railing of the podia.
Earphone amplifiers with control knobs are needed at each soloist’s podium so that the soloist can set the basic level of the earphones. Some of the soloists’ earphones have cables with volume control, some do not; therefore it may be necessary to inconspicuously place the earphone amplifier with control knob next to the soloist so that it may be easily operated during the performance.
Beleuchtung (S. 19–20) / Lighting (pp. 43–44)
In addition to the two 500-watt spotlights which shine on each soloist from below at the sides, he / she should be lit from the upper front by spotlights at the ceiling. If not performing from memory, the soloist should be able to read his / her music (without shadows). This is why 200-watt lighting from above may be necessary, although this is not optimal visually, and also tends to overheat the head of the soloist. Its function is for reading the music but not lighting the soloist, and if this can be resolved in another way, this light may be omitted.
Four 500-watt spotlights from above for lighting the audience and for the procession to the middle during CAPRICORN is not sufficient. Therefore, additional lighting should be forseen for this. Four passages to the middle for the soloists (see drawing on page 40 / S. 16) must be gradually faded in and out, as described in the preface.
Last, but certainly not least: The projection of a starry firmament has seldom been resolved satisfactorily, except in planetariums, or beneath the “real thing” in outdoor performances. This takes a lot of reflection and preparation, and if this is done in time, a beautiful result can be obtained such as in Den Haag in 1982 : a net on which tiny little lights forming the constellations of the Den Haag sky at the dates of the performances was stretched across the entire ceiling.
In addition to the three performances of SIRIUS in the 9 concerts of the Stockhausen Courses Kuerten 2000, there had been 4 world premières (3x REFRAIN 2000, COMET for percussion, COMET as PIANO PIECE XVII, and the first complete performance of Vortrag ueber HU [Lecture on HU] in English). 3 of the 9 concerts were participants’ concerts which included excellent, surprising performances by the participants. The flutist Claire Genewein together with the anthos percussion ensemble received a prize of 7,500 DM for their performance of KATHINKAs GESANG for flute and 6 percussionists; Stuart Gerber, percussionist, and Michael Fowler, pianist received a prize of 5,000 DM for their performance of KONTAKTE for electronic sounds, piano and percussion; Barbara Bouman, clarinetist, received a prize of 2,500 DM for her performance of HARLEKIN for clarinet, and special prizes of 1,000 DM each were awarded to Karin de Fleyt, flutist, and Michele Marelli, basset-hornist, for their performances of ELUFA for basset-horn and flute, SUSANI for basset-horn and ZUNGENSPITZENTANZ for piccolo flute and synthesizer.
Once again, as in the 2 preceding years, the atmosphere had been one of friendship and understanding, even though many of the participants could not communicate with each other in words. As the President of Germany, Johannes Rau, said in his congratulatory message to Stockhausen when he received the Polar Music Prize in 2001 “music needs no translation” and “there is a voice extending out into the world from Kuerten serving peace and sending music which is worth listening to in this often so turbulent world”.
Further details about the Stockhausen Courses Kuerten 2000 may be found in the programme book of the courses. The booklet of sketches and other material which was used as textbook for Stockhausen’s composition seminar on SIRIUS is entitled Composition Course on SIRIUS. Both may be ordered from the Stockhausen-Verlag.
As I wrote in my report of August 2000, immediately following the courses 3x REFRAIN 2000 and both versions of COMET were recorded at Sound Studio N in Cologne.
3x REFRAIN 2000 is now available on CD 61, with Stockhausen’s lecture in either German or English, and COMET as PIANO PIECE XVII has been released on CD 57. The percussion version of COMET has not yet been released on CD.
On September 9th 2000, during the 18th Koethener Bachfesttage, MANTRA was performed by Ellen Corver and Sepp Grotenhuis at the St. Agnus Church in Koethen. This is the church which Bach attended (and in which he sometimes played his music) when he lived in Koethen from 1717–1723 as Kappellmeister (conductor / musical director) at the Court of Leopold of Anhalt-Koethen. As recipient of the Hamburg Bach Prize in 1996, Stockhausen was invited by Dr. Hermann Backes, head of the music department of the MDR (Middle German Radio) in Leipzig, to give an introduction to this performance, which was entitled “Bach and the Modern”.
Every now and then, Stockhausen has an incentive to delve more deeply into the details of Bach’s life. In 1996 during the prize ceremony in Hamburg for the Bach Prize, he spoke in detail about Bach’s musical craftsmanship and his profound spirituality, both of which have greatly inspired Stockhausen. And now again, to prepare himself to be in Koethen, in Bach’s presence, he read a new Bach biography (Johann Sebastian Bach by Christoph Wolff, S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 2000; original American title: Johann Sebastian Bach. The Learned Musician, W.W. Norton, New York and London, 2000), which I have also now used to fill in the details of my report.
On the day before the concert was to take place, September 8th, Stockhausen rehearsed MANTRA with Ellen and Sepp at the St. Agnus Church. Upon being introduced to the pastor of the church, the latter offered to show Stockhausen the book in which Bach, as a member of the congregation, had to register for Holy Communion. He told him the following story: The name “Anna Magdalena” (the singer who later became Bach’s second wife, after his first wife Maria Barbara died in July 1720), appeared for the first time in this register on June 15th 1721. About three months later, on September 25th her name also appeared in two different baptism registers of the St. Agnus Church. It is interesting to note that Bach’s name appears in the same documents on the same days. Before this, his name appears in the Holy Communion register only four times in the period between October 1718 and August 1720. Therefore, it can be assumed that when the two names appeared at the same time, it was not just a coincidence. On the first of these two dates (June 15th 1721), however, their names appear far apart (married couples appear one after another). In the baptism register of September however, their names directly follow one other, and probably means that they were engaged.
The next morning, on September 9th (2000), as Stockhausen was making the sound check with the musicians for the concert of MANTRA, which was to begin at 11 a.m. with Stockhausen’s introduction, “Reflections on Bach”, the pastor entered holding a Holy Communion register dating from 1722, and showed Stockhausen Bach’s signature which was followed by “Bachin” (the feminine form of “Bach”). They had been married on December 3rd 1721.
(Illustration 9 : Holy Communion register of the St. Agnus Church for 1722)
Then, the pastor showed Stockhausen the chalice from which Bach, as member of the congregation, had taken Holy Communion. Stockhausen was even allowed to hold it.
(Illustration 10: Stockhausen seated at the piano, on which the chalice, out of which Bach took Holy Communion, is standing. Ellen Corver and Sepp Grotenhuis are standing behind him. The pastor of the St. Agnus Church is showing Stockhausen the register for Holy Communion from 1722, in which Bach had registered, together with his new wife Magdalena Bach (“Bachin”). Photo: Kathinka Pasveer.)
Soon, the audience began to arrive, and at 11 a.m. Dr. Hermann Backes of the MDR Leipzig stepped forward to greet the audience. He said that it was a great honour to welcome Stockhausen, recipient of the Hamburg Bach Prize, to Koethen.
Stockhausen began with his usual, “Dear Listeners…”, first thanking Dr. Backes for inviting him to Koethen to speak and to perform MANTRA.
He then outlined what was going to take place (which was not exactly clear in the printed programme). First of all, he was going to briefly speak about Bach and especially about the works for clavier which he composed in Koethen. This would be followed by an introduction about “formula composition” and MANTRA, with a few musical examples from MANTRA played by Ellen Corver and Sepp Grotenhuis at the end of the introduction. Following a short intermission, MANTRA would then be performed in its entirety (circa 70 minutes).
Stockhausen pointed out that, due to the over-acoustic nature of the church, the audience would have to listen in a very concentrated way in order to be able to follow the polyphony of this very polyphonic work. (He also commented that the traffic outside the church did not help matters, but that he had been informed – after complaining about the traffic noise during the rehearsal the day before – that it would be detoured around the church for the duration of the performance.)
He began his “reflections on Bach” by telling about the experience of that morning: seeing Bach’s signature in the register and holding the chalice out of which Bach had taken Holy Communion. He said that an experience like that “gives you goose bumps”, and then he had to stop talking for a moment, biting his lip.
He continued by saying that Bach’s geniality is reflected in the opulence of interrelationships and the unified structures in his works. For Stockhausen, something which further distinguishes Bach’s music, historically speaking, is that he composed compilations “for learning” to play, to hear, and to compose.
Then he spoke about some of the works for clavier which Bach composed while he was Kapellmeister in Koethen.
In 1720 he started composing the Little Clavier Book for Wilhelm Friedemann, his son who was 10 years old at the time. It comprises 15 Preambles and 15 Fantasies, and 9 plus 11 Preludes in different keys, including difficult ones like C-sharp minor and E-flat minor. These compositions are preceded by a brief (3-page) survey about the tonal system (clefs, scales and registers), embellishments and fingerings.
Then, in 1722, he started to compose the Little Clavier Book for Anna Magdalena, his new wife, who had just turned 20 years old. It was an album in which Bach would, every now and then, write a composition for her. She practiced the pieces to improve her clavier playing, or Bach would play the pieces for her. She wrote the title page, but Bach wrote all of the music. It comprises 5 short, but very difficult cembalo suites (BMV 812–816), which are the first versions of the pieces which would later become the six so-called “French” suites. The album also contained the choral prelude “In Jesus, my Trust” (BMV 728) and the easy to play (incomplete) Fantasia pro Organo in C Major (BMV 573), because Bach probably wanted to familiarize his wife with his own original instrument. Their relationship was therefore not only that of man and wife but also that of composer and his student.
The Wohltemperierte Clavier, already composed before Bach’s Koethen period, expanded the limits of musical composition further, resulting in 24 different structures of musical logic with homogeneous nucleii. Bach’s formulation in 1722 of its title page reflects his motivation to both systematically demonstrate how the well-tempered system worked and to educate the zealous musician:
“The Wohltemperierte Clavier or Praeludia and Fugues through all major and minor tonalities, arriving at and involving both major thirds (C–E) and minor thirds (D–F). Drafted and composed for the benefit and use of musical youth who are eager to learn, and – in addition – for those who are already advanced, as a constructive way to spend their time.”
Stockhausen commented that MANTRA is also this kind of composition: In the course of two simultaneous cycles of 12 tonalities or “regions” (one cycle for each pianist: both begin on A , then inversely progress through their 12 “tonalities”, and meet at the end on A again), it not only systematically demonstrates the new “vertical tonality” which results from the use of two ring-modulators in connection with the two pianos, but it also instructs “zealous” pianists, young and old, how to play using this new technique and it also teaches them and their audience how to hear these new tonalities and how to listen to the formula as it evolves in the course of this 70 minute formula composition.
The effectiveness of discoveries are thus exemplified in representative works.
At about that time, Bach was preparing his credentials – and himself – to apply for the position of Thomas Cantor in Leipzig, which meant that he not only would be composing “occasional” music but he would also be a music educator, which meant, among other things, giving piano lessons every day.
Therefore, in 1723 he composed the Aufrichtige Anleitungen (Honest – or Heartfelt – Guide): 15 inventions and 15 symphonies. On the title page he wrote:
clearly demonstrate to those who love to play the clavier – but
especially to those zealous ones – how to 1) learn to cleanly play 2
parts, also in advanced progressions and
2) play three obligato parts correctly and well, while also not resting with good inventions but rather developing them well, but most important of all, to arrive at a cantabile manner of playing, and along with this to convey a strong foretaste of the composition.”
And on the title page of the Orgel-Buechlein, composed in Koethen in the same year, Bach sums up his pedagogic credo in two lines:
only to God , the highest
but by which others can learn.
Both the Orgel Buechlein and the Aufrichtige Anleitung, each by itself a guide for composition, are concerned with the invention, development and working out of a precisely delineated musical idea.
In the Aufrichtige Anleitung, Bach demonstrates in two cycles of fifteen contrapuntal pieces each, how a coherent musical composition can be formed out of a single and clearly demarcated, but freely developed idea (inventio).
Stockhausen noted that this kind of unified compositional thinking first recurred in the 20th century with serial composition, and this developed further into what he calls “formula composition”. This, in turn, is nothing else than the musical equivalent of the unity formula which Einstein knew existed, but could not prove. (Meanwhile, Stephen Hawking has said that scientists are now on the verge of uncovering this formula.)
In an interview on November 8th 1991 with the Danish Radio, Stockhausen said the following:
“In Kunst der Fuge, Johann Sebastian Bach attempted to develop a large work out of a single theme, using all possible manipulations and combinations. Near the end of the 20th century, this principle is applied to many more parameters than was conceivable at the time of Bach, namely to all of them. To all of them, if possible. To the movements of dancers, to the costumes, the colours, the fragrances, the spaces – everything. That is an evolutionary fact.
Therefore, it is true that formula composition is a differentiated development of serial composition because it includes the intermediary stages, namely the aleatoric and the indeterminate, or variable terminism reaching the most advanced conceptions of parameters which we never would have considered before: composition of the degrees of surprise, the degrees of destruction, the degrees of renewal and so on.
All of these criteria now belong to the numbers, to a numerical compositional technique. That is typically late 20th century in consensus with the modern technology: extremely important!”
Stockhausen closed his “reflections on Bach” by mentioning other abstract works composed by Bach during the next 20 years in Leipzig, such as Die Kunst der Fuge, all of which are distinguished by the organic coherence resulting from the cyclic compositional techniques which Bach had devised for pedagogical purposes in Koethen: Goldberg Variations, Volume 2 of Das Wohltemperierte Clavier, Variations on Zum Himmel hoch, The Musical Offering.
Stockhausen then spoke about how MANTRA was composed. (His complete introduction to MANTRA has been published in Volume 9 of TEXTE ZUR MUSIK, and is presently being translated into English.)
Seated at the piano, he first played the formula of MANTRA, which lasts one minute. The 13 notes of this formula, stretched over a duration of 70 minutes are decisive for the durations, character and “tonality” of the 13 “regions” of the work.
(Illustration 11: MANTRA formula)
In the course of the 70 minutes, all the parameters (durations, pitch, dynamics, timbre, etc.) of this formula are transposed, stretched, and compressed according to the process delineated by the formula. All of these terms, which reflect an eternal process, were also in use at the time of Bach.
Stockhausen then explained how a ring modulator interacts with the sound of the piano, and how this results in a “vertical tonality” of each pitch. This “vertical tonality” of the pitches is different for each of the 13 regions of the work, and the pianists change it by changing the pitch frequency on their ring modulators (different for each pianist). As in Bach’s music, in MANTRA too there is “major” and “minor”, but unlike Bach’s “linear tonality”, in which longer sections remain in a tonality before modulating, “vertical tonality” results in constant modulation, due to the superimposition of “major” and “minor” in every pitch.
Finally, Stockhausen asked Ellen Corver and Sepp Grotenhuis to play an example of a section during which two processes were taking place simultaneously: a monophonic one and a polyphonic one. First he had them play the monophonic one, which constantly shifts back and forth between the pianists, but is quite easy to follow. When he then said to the audience, “And now you really have to pay attention” , they laughed, but paid attention as the pianists played the two processes together.
Then Stockhausen suggested that there be a short intermission before MANTRA was played in its entirety.
(That morning at the church, upon being asked by the concert organisers how long the intermission should be between his introduction and the performance of MANTRA, Stockhausen asked them where the public toilet was for the audience. Come to find out, there is no public toilet in the vicinity for the audience, so the pastor was asked if it would be possible to make one of the toilets in his house available to the audience. Therefore, the intermission was longer than usual, to accomodate the 50 metre queue of people in front of the pastor’s house.)
The performance went very well, the audience was very attentive, and there was no traffic.
(Illustration 12: Stockhausen taking applause with Ellen Corver and Sepp Grotenhuis in the St. Agnus Church following the performance of MANTRA).
In the Bach biography mentioned above, Christoph Wolff writes:
The atmosphere in Koethen was especially conducive to Bach’s increasingly intellectual disposition, which was inspired by his exploratory urge whose goal was no less than to develop his very own way of cultivating “musical knowledge”. […]
For him, striving for musical superiority meant much more than extending the limits of performing and of composition techniques. It meant the choice of a systematic disposition when embarking on new paths in a multi-layered labyrinth of 24 keys, innumerable kinds of compositions, a multitude of styles, an immense number of techniques, melodic and rhythmic mannerisms, vocal and instrumental peculiarities. And above all, it meant setting up the canon of compositional principles, which he had established especially in the Aufrichtige Anleitung and the Wohltemperierte Clavier, and moreover not only to teach others, but also to challenge himself. Only in this way, could Bach be sure of remaining up to date and to never fall back behind what he had already accomplished in his search for new solutions.”
Before leaving Bach and Koethen, there are a few more things I would like to note about Stockhausen and Bach:
When we were at the Leipzig Opera for the world premières of DIENSTAG aus LICHT in 1993 and FREITAG aus LICHT in 1996, we visited the Bach Museum in Leipzig which is directly across from the Thomas Church where Bach was Thomas Cantor for 27 years. He had been allowed by Prince Leopold to leave Koethen to take this job, and he was the selection committee’s third choice after Telemann (1st choice) had turned down the job because it did not pay enough and after Graupner’s (2nd choice) employer, the Count of Hessen in Darmstadt would not release him to go to Leipzig.
Obviously, when Stockhausen visited the Bach Museum in Leipzig, he was touched by certain aspects of Bach’s life which others may find less interesting. For instance, he was fascinated by the practical aspects of Bach’s life, such as the fact that Bach hand-engraved his own scores, and that his family helped to copy the parts for the Cantatas each Sunday!
Stockhausen was also impressed by the fact that Bach always tried out everything which he composed with the musicians, and sometimes even had to first teach them how to play their instruments. This is something Stockhausen only sometimes has had to do, but he has had to teach instrumentalists other things, such as not being afraid to dance while playing or not being afraid to try doing other “strange” things with their instruments; in general, not to be afraid of “changing their brains”.
Another thing which their biographies have in common is that both Bach and Stockhausen left Hamburg before performing: Bach in November 1720 and Stockhausen in September 2001, both because of the political corruption of the city.
But despite the many personal hardships and professional obstacles they both have had to overcome, neither of them let that interfere with their composing, their communion with God.
On September 29th 2000 (the day I had promised to continue my report), I was sitting in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam observing Stockhausen as he was adjusting the loudspeaker positions and heights for HYMNEN Third Region with Orchestra before the orchestra rehearsal with the Dutch Radio Chamber Orchestra (Hilversum) began, conducted by Péter Eotvos.
Preliminary rehearsals had taken place in Hilversum, where the studios of the Dutch radio are located. The sectional and tutti rehearsals necessary for a performance of HYMNEN are as follows:
(Illustration 13: rehearsal plan of HYMNEN Third Region with Orchestra, p. XIII of the score)
On September 28th, the first rehearsal in the Concertgebouw had taken place:
microphone check for strings,
12–13 microphone check for winds,
A lot of time had been lost, because the seating of the strings on the stage of the Concertgebouw was different than it had been in Hilversum and therefore the microphone numbering got confused, which was discovered in the course of the sound check with the musicians. That is why I then noted in my Performance Practice Supplement to HYMNEN:
1) Make sure that the musicians are seated according to the seating plan in the score (the order of the winds within their sections is reversed in comparison with the traditional seating);
2) check the microphone numbering acoustically before the musicians arrive;
3) microphones should be positioned as close as possible to the instruments to avoid leakage from the other instruments.
Following the rehearsal on the 28th, all the sound equipment had to be removed because every evening there are other concerts in the Concertgebouw. Then, after the concert was over, the sound technicians for HYMNEN (Jos Mulders and Bart Mesman, together with Bryan Wolf, Stockhausen’s sound projection assistant) had to set up the equipment again from scratch and be ready by 9:30 a.m. on the 29th, so that the loudspeakers could be positioned again, the microphones checked again, tape and mixing console tested again by Stockhausen before the orchestra rehearsal could begin.
In addition, that morning Stockhausen had to resolve a problem he had had on the preceding day, namely that he could not amplify the orchestra enough in relation to the level of the tape without getting feedback. The Concertgebouw is rather resonant which makes feedback more of a problem than in drier halls. To be able to amplify the orchestra sufficiently, and thus to have a high enough general level, Stockhausen put the orchestra also on the front loudspeaker groups III and IV, which are normally for tape only.
(Illustration 14: Loudspeaker set-up for HYMNEN Third Region with Orchestra, p. XI of the score)
In the Concertgebouw, the loudspeakers for the orchestra were suspended above the orchestra slightly further to the back than midstage (NOT in front of the orchestra). They were equidistantly separated from each other, not pair-wise at the left and right as in the plan in the score preface. Loudspeakers should never be in front of the musicians (even though it is easier to avoid feedback), otherwise the amplified orchestra sound is louder than the acoustic sound (for the audience), and the conductor cannot hear the orchestra loudly enough (due to the conductor’s monitors of the tape).
On September 29, the orchestra rehearsed tutti from 10:30–16:30, then all of the sound equipment had to be removed again from the hall for another concert that night and set up again in the night following the concert to be ready in time to be tested before the dress rehearsal the next day (September 30th), which took place from 11 a.m.–1 p.m. The concert was at 3 p.m.
As I said before, Péter Eotvos, permanent conductor of the Dutch Radio Chamber Orchestra, is one of two people (including Stockhausen) who is capable of conducting HYMNEN. Eotvos became one of Stockhausen’s collaborators in the Studio for Electronic Music of the WDR only after Stockhausen had finished the production of HYMNEN in the studio (1965–1967). But then, as one of the soloists in the version of HYMNEN Electronic and Concrete Music with Soloists, Eotvos performed the work many times. That is why he knows the electronic music so well. In addition, his conducting technique is considered to be one of the finest in the world, and therefore he could master the extremely difficult job of not only being able to conduct perfectly synchronously with the tape but to help the musicians of the orchestra be exactly synchronous with the tape from beginning to end of the 45 minute work. He often has a group of his conducting students with him when he rehearses and performs difficult works. One of these students, Wolfgang Lischke, did an excellent job in helping Péter to prepare the Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris in January 2002.
On September 30th 2000 HYMNEN (Third Region) Electronic Music with Orchestra was performed twice at the Concertgebouw for a full house. Following the intermission, Stockhausen gave a short introduction before HYMNEN was performed for the second time, giving a general explanation of HYMNEN, pointing out a few details of the orchestra version and complimenting Péter and the orchestra for having performed so well. The second time was even better, of course.
There is always a very appreciative audience in Holland, especially in Amsterdam. After all, this relatively small country is one of the most informed ones what concerns Stockhausen’s music, even though music is not subsidised nearly as well as it is in Germany. Nevertheless, all of the LIGHT operas have been performed there at least in a quasi concert version. This particular concert was organized by Jan Zekfeld who is responsible for the VARA Matinee series, which takes place every week on Saturday afternoon. Jan also organised the performance of FREITAG aus LICHT which took place in this series in November of 2001.
After the second performance we took a taxi to the airport to catch a flight to Berlin where Kent Nagano was to conduct the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin the next evening in a performance of PUNKTE for Orchestra at the Philharmonic Hall in Berlin. The second half of the programme was KLAVIERSTUECK XIII performed by Ellen Corver. The superindendant of this orchestra, Dr. Dieter Rexroth, had organised this concert with Nagano as one of a series of concerts during the Berlin Festival portraiting various contemporary composers. Kent Nagano had had a meeting with Stockhausen the week before in Hilversum (where the preliminary rehearsals of HYMNEN had taken place), to discuss details of the score. It was the first time they had met, and Mr. Nagano also expressed an interest in realising future projects with Stockhausen. Let us hope that they come to fruition. Since Mr. Nagano grew up on a Californian farm, I trust him.
next morning we arrived at the Berlin
Philharmonie at about 9:30 to be
ready for the dress rehearsal which was to start at 10:00. The dress rehearsal
for KLAVIERSTUECK XIII was to follow the orchestra rehearsal.
It is unusual that Stockhausen only attends a dress rehearsal of his music, because that is always too late for major corrections. He always finds numerous details which can be improved, no matter how conscientiously a musician has prepared a score, and this is only natural. Regardless how “old” a work of his is, they are all completely present in Stockhausen’s awareness, and who could know and hear a score of his music better than he does?
Musicians who are not familiar with Stockhausen’s perfectionism sometimes misinterpret his detailed corrections and suggestions to mean that he thinks they have not worked sufficiently. On the contrary, the fact that he takes the time and effort to work in detail with a musician usually means that he thinks it is worth his while because the result is already at a very high level. His suggestions and corrections are intended to help the musician make the final steps towards the perfection required in the performance of these highly detailed works. That is why he prefers to be at several rehearsals to avoid the frustrating dilemma for an interpreter of not having the time necessary to make all of the corrections and improvements he suggests.
On a similar note, I remember an unfortunate experience we had in the 80s – in this same hall – when Zubin Mehta conducted JUBILAEUM for Orchestra, the least complicated Stockhausen work for orchestra. Still, it is more complicated to realise than the works which the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and most other professional orchestras of necessity perform, given the minimal amount of time available for the preparation of each of their concerts. Mehta had conducted JUBILAEUM several times already with various other orchestras, but this was the first time that Stockhausen had been present.
Judging from the quality of the dress rehearsal, it seemed that the orchestra had at least seen the music before. Mehta tried to convey the spirit of the work to the orchestra by saying that it was basically “a passacaglia with spaghetti ”. The run-through of the work entailed only a few minor disasters, such as when the first oboist entered the hall too late for his group to start their solo in time. (During the course of JUBILAEUM , several musicians and groups of musicians have to leave their normal seats in the orchestra and move to other positions in the hall.) In addition, Mehta conducted the final section twice as fast as the tempo indicated. After the dress rehearsal he did not have time to speak with Stockhausen and asked him to tell him his corrections an hour before the concert. An hour before the concert we were waiting outside Mehta’s dressing room and he still had not arrived. When he finally did, and Stockhausen could finally tell him about the tempo mistake, Mehta quickly ran backstage and informed as many musicians as he could that the last section would be “much slower” than in the rehearsal. The musicians were understandably frustrated by such superficial work, and thus it was no surprise to overhear the comment of one of the first violinists as he left the stage following the bows: “Scheiß-Musik” (shitty music).
Stockhausen has not conducted the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra since 1974. Apart from their now infamous performance and recording of GRUPPEN a few years ago, they have not performed any of Stockhausen’s music since 1974. The program in 1974 was: DREI LIEDER (THREE SONGS) for alto voice and chamber orchestra (1950), SPIEL (PLAY) for Orchestra (1952), and the second half of the program was CHORAL, CHÖRE FUER DORIS (CHORUSES FOR DORIS), both composed in 1950 for a cappella choir, and “Atmen gibt das leben…” (“Breathing gives life…” ) for choir and tape (1974), performed by the choir of the North German Radio (Hamburg). At that time, “Atmen gibt das Leben…” was not yet finished, so it lasted only about 14 minutes.
By the way, DREI LIEDER, CHORAL and CHÖRE FUER DORIS are on CD 1, SPIEL is on CD 2, and HYMNEN for Orchestra is on CD 47 of the Stockhausen Complete Edition, and are all conducted by Stockhausen. The complete “Atmen gibt das Leben….” Choir opera is on CD 23. All CDs of the Stockhausen Complete Edition include booklets with detailed texts by Stockhausen in English and German, and the booklet of CD 1 includes the translations of the sung texts of DREI LIEDER, two of which are extremely moving poems written by Stockhausen in 1950, the year after Hermann Hesse had written to him that his gift was more that of a poet than of a writer.
In this booklet, Stockhausen writes:
Early in the summer of 1950 (when I was 21 years old), I composed the DREI
LIEDER for alto voice and chamber orchestra. I had just earned some money by
working for a few weeks in an automobile factory in Burscheid, and stole away
for three weeks from the endless chain of changing student jobs, moved into a
tiny room in Blecher near Altenberg and composed these songs.
It was my first piece for instrumental ensemble and at the same time, my first piece for solo voice. At that time, I had no ambition whatsoever to be or to become a composer. On the contrary – I was studying music education at the State Conservatory in Cologne, and my motivation to compose DREI LIEDER was simply the undeniable urge to try to compose a larger piece.
Several months later I sent this work to the jury for the concerts of the International Vacation Courses for New Music in Darmstadt. It was a while until the score was returned to me with the comment that “unfortunately” etc. …
Meanwhile, I had become acquainted with the music critic and producer of the Musical Night Programme of the West German Radio Cologne, Dr. Herbert Eimert. He told me that he had been a member of the jury and that the jury members had found the text to be too brutal and the composition to be too old-fashioned. I had better choose other texts.
As a matter of fact, because of this, I replaced my text of the first song [which had been entitled Who shot down my friend? A human being?] with the text The Rebel by Charles Baudelaire, translated by Terese Robinson.”
For the rest of the text, please see the booklet of CD 1. Here is the text of the third song, which is my favourite:
Saitenmann hat die Haende zerrissen,
Kleine Tropfen aus Blut
Springen ueber das Holz der Geige
Auf das beschmutzte Pflaster nieder.
Hat schon lang im Regen gesessen.
Leute haben vergessen,
Kaufen eine neue Welt,
Und kein Ohr versteht im Laermen,
Wenn der Alte seinen Schmerz
Fuer Groschen in die Strassen schreit.
seiner Not zu wild geschrien,
Zu hart gezupft, der Saitenmann –
Und hat die Haende zerrissen.
neigt er sich in den stummen Leib
Und hoert sich selber zu.
steicht seine Hand das Brett
Wie ein frisches Kind.
Und sein Ohr vernimmt –
Eh’ es taub wird –
fiddler has torn his hands.
Small drops of blood
Spring over the wood of the violin
Down onto the filthy cobblestones.
Has already been sitting in the rain for a long time.
the people have forgotten,
Are buying a new world,
And in the clamour no ear understands,
When the old man screams his pain
For pennies into the streets.
his misery screamed too wildly,
Plucked too hard, the fiddler –
And tore his hands.
he leans into the mute body
Of his violin
And listens to himself.
his hand strokes the board
Like a new-born child.
And his ear perceives –
Before becoming deaf –
Recently, when talking with Stockhausen about this poem, he said that – in 1966, sixteen years after the composition of DREI LIEDER – he saw such a “fiddler” on the street next to the entrance of the railroad station in Hiroshima, in the form of a torso (no legs, no belly, head of leathery skin, eyes rolling) sitting in the middle of a car tire playing a fiddle with metal arms. And yet this was still a fiddler, still a human being, despite being maimed by an atom bomb. Stockhausen, moved to tears, threw a few Yen into the tire, and he has never forgotten that fiddler in Hiroshima.
In 1971, following the world première in New York, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra had performed HYMNEN Third Region with Orchestra, conducted by Stockhausen. On that occasion, as in New York, and in most subsequent performances of the Third Region with Orchestra, the entire work HYMNEN was performed: Regions I, II and IV with soloists, and Region III with orchestra. Its total duration is 2 hours.
At that time – in order for the soloists to be able to rehearse sufficiently (since most concert halls are comparable to the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, what concerns “commercial pressures”) – Stockhausen and the soloists had had to rehearse during the night, after the other concerts were over, the orchestra seats removed from the stage, the chairs and electronic equipment for the set-up on the stage, and after the sound equipment had been reinstalled in the hall again. Their rehearsal ended when it was time for the orchestra seats to be set up for the orchestra rehearsal the next morning. Then the soloists went to bed, but Stockhausen continued, because he conducted the orchestra.
Stockhausen gave a very interesting, lengthy interview to Peter Heyworth on the occasion of the world première of HYMNEN for Orchestra in New York in 1971. It covered topics such as the spirit of orchestra players, the responsibility of musicians in general, the meaning of notation, the role of the composer, the role of music in society etc., excerpts of which were published in The New York Times on February 21, 1971. The complete interview (in German) may be found in TEXTE ZUR MUSIK, Volume 4. It is timeless, because the present situation is the same as 30 years ago, and it is inspiring because the solutions are just as tenable as they were then. For those of you who have access to Stockhausen’s book Towards a Cosmic Music (excerpts of TEXTE ZUR MUSIK translated into English by Tim Nevill and published by Element Books in 1989, but now out of print), an excerpt of the interview can be found on pages 3–15.
Back to October 2000:
PUNKTE for Orchestra is far more difficult to perform and to conduct than JUBILAEUM. The Deutsches Symphonie- Orchester Berlin and Kent Nagano had rehearsed the work very conscientiously in the limited time available. The main corrections which Stockhausen made during the dress rehearsal were tempo corrections (the tempo constantly changes) and corrections in the dynamic balance. For those of you familiar with this gigantic score (43 x 62 cm / 16.5 x 25 inches) full of minute details, you will appreciate the fact that the dynamics are painstakingly determined (during countless rehearsals conducted by Stockhausen himself) to ensure perfect transparence.
It is always helpful for the conductor to have a person sitting in the hall a distance away from the orchestra to judge the balance. For instance, many of the dynamic levels at the soft end of the scale of dynamics was too soft. Nagano could hear them, but someone (Stockhausen) sitting in the fifth row of seats could not. Therefore, Stockhausen asked the musicians to raise the dynamic level of the soft dynamics by one level. Some of the ritardandi were not enough or gradual enough, and the same was true of the accelerandi.
That evening, most of the corrections were there. I was amazed at Nagano’s ability to incorporate almost all of Stockhausen’s suggestions. The full Philharmonic Hall, which – we were told – is not often sold out these days, reacted enthusiastically. PUNKTE for Orchestra is such a powerful work and a real show piece for a conductor, but is rarely performed because it is so difficult to conduct and because it needs more than the usual number of rehearsals.
The last time it was performed was in February 1993 in Frankfurt by the Symphony Orchestra of the Hessen Radio, conducted by Stockhausen. With the kind permission of the orchestra, I filmed the entire rehearsal period, starting with sectional rehearsals. It lasted a complete week and was just for PUNKTE, because in the concert, PUNKTE was performed twice and chamber music by Stockhausen was performed in the second half. Thus, the orchestra musicians could completely concentrate on PUNKTE in which the finest, most delicate kind of playing is demanded, ranging from the full symphonic sound through chamber music grouping of musicians to soli. In these films it is possible to see how such a work has to be built up from scratch, from the detail to the whole. That way it is possible to perfect what each individual musician plays before bringing the musicians together. And only in this way is it possible to realise what Stockhausen envisaged in his programme notes to PUNKTE:
“I see an orchestra, in which every musician plays each – seemingly so insignificant – individual note with care and love, and with the awareness that for a living whole each – ever so tiny – particle is important and good.
I see a conductor who has penetrated the atomistic structure with his consciousness to such an extent, that he makes the higher form configurations grow together into a large organism, in which the individual elements no longer destroy each other, but rather, augment each other. A conductor who knows the secret identity of the musical vibrations with the vibrations of all micro- and macrocosmic life.”
PUNKTE, performed by the North German Radio Symphony Orchestra Hamburg conducted by Stockhausen in 1973 is on CD 2 of the Stockhausen Complete Edition, and in the booklet you can read more about what Stockhausen has to say about it. But this recording does not yet contain all the improvements which Stockhausen made between 1973 and 1993.
intermission was followed by PIANO PIECE XIII in which – towards the end
– the pianist “sits down on the piano keyboard as if it were her
divan, and – on her bottom – slides over the keys in an elegant
glissando. This apotheosis of the cluster is thus very humorous, because it is
also musically efficient and lends a charming wink of the eye to all the other
clusters in history.
There are also a number of contortions in this work which call forth amused smiling. It is a mystery to me that this humour is not immediately recognized as the main characteristic of the work.”
(Stockhausen in July 1984)
On October 1st 2000 in Berlin, the audience, freshly inspired by the performance of PUNKTE (composed in 1952 and revised until 1993) was in the mood to appreciate the humour of PIANO PIECE XIII, composed in 1981. Ellen’s performance brought the house down, and the success of the evening made many wonder why Stockhausen is not invited to Berlin more often.
Stockhausen returned to Kuerten the next day to a garage full of thousands of bulbs and other plants which had in the meantime arrived and were waiting to be planted. You know what Stockhausen says every year: “Now there are enough plants…”
Therefore, on October 4th, 1200 tulips, 900 daffodils, 1000 crocusses, 900 snow-drops, 300 hyacinths, 160 lilies etc. and one pieris japonica were added to the plant family.
At noon on October 7th, Stockhausen had an appointment at the Trinitaetskirche in Cologne where on October 16th his work KONTAKE (electronic music only) would be performed as part of the ceremony in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the College of Media Art in Cologne. Anthony Moore, rector of the college, had personally requested Stockhausen to perform KONTAKTE on this occasion, and the church, which was not too reverberant, proved to be a very suitable venue. The equipment was to be furnished and set up by Balance, the company which Stockhausen usually works with for his concerts, so Dieter Cramer, the manager of Balance, was also there to plan the set-up together with Stockhausen. Following this appointment, which took about one and a half hours, we drove across town to a movie theatre in another part of Cologne where the Quay brothers and Rodney Wilson of the BBC were expecting us for a private preview of their finished film In Absentia. You will remember that in my last report I told about meeting the Quay brothers for the first time in London and seeing the not quite finished film.
In the BBC interview which followed the 20-minute showing, Stockhausen was asked what he thought of the film. He said that he had been very moved by the narrative of the film, which was through images only, but also by the excellent synchronicity of the images with the music.
“In Absentia is based on an actual case history, a woman alone in an asylum room obsessively writing the same letter. Outside her window, vistas of ever changing light mirror her every plea.”
directors, animators, editors: Brothers Quay
Original Music: Karlheinz Stockhausen
Producer: Keith Griffiths
A Koninck production for the BBC and pipeline films
Year of production: 2000
35 mm colour and black and white, Projection SCOPE Running time: 20 minutes.
Since its first showing in the BBC series Sound on Film (a series of collaborations between film makers and composers), In Absentia has won numerous prizes including: World Premier Director’s Fortnight, Cannes 2000; Special Jury Mention, Montreal, FCMM 2000; Golden Dove Award, Leipzig 2000; Special Jury Award, Tampere 2000; Special Mention, Golden Prague Awards 2001; Honorary Diploma Award Cracow 2001; Best Animated Short Film, 50th Melbourne International Film Festival 2001; Grand Prix (Ex Aequ) Turku Finland 2001.
From there, we went to Galerie Baecker in Cologne, a small gallery which had just opened an exhibition of a selection of Stockhausen’s original drawings. He regularly makes coloured drawings (ca. 40 x 60 cm), some of which can be seen on the covers of scores and on the covers of the programme books of his operas. Kathinka and I regularly receive such drawings as Christmas gifts or as birthday presents. They are usually related to the composition he is working on at the time and often offer valuable analytical information. The most well-known Stockhausen drawings, much smaller in scale, are the covers of the CDs of the Stockhausen Complete Edition. Every now and then, postcards are made of such drawings, such as Die Zehn Wichtigsten Woerter. (We just got word that a bookstore in Cologne wants to print a postcard of one of his drawings entitled 8 crashes from INVASION, which is a study Stockhausen made on October 8th 1990 for planning the octophonic movements of sounds in the electronic music of TUESDAY from LIGHT, which he was realising in the Studio for Electronic Music of the WDR at the time.)
The next day, Fred van der Kooij, a Swiss filmmaker who is making a film about Stockhausen composing LIGHT, came to interview Stockhausen as part of his film. His plan had been to use the world première of MITTWOCH aus LICHT in Bern as the core of the film, but now he has had to change his plans.
As I told you in my last report, I am looking for a way to realise my plan to digitalise, edit and make educational films out of about 1000 hours of film material about Stockhausen which I have made of rehearsals, concerts and lectures since 1991. Final Cut Pro seems to be the answer, what concerns software. On October 17th 2000, I went to the Foundation for Art and Culture in Duesseldorf seeking support, and they suggested that the Stockhausen Foundation for Music try to make a liaison with another educational institution in the state of North Rhine Westfalia. This would ensure continuity in view of the long-term nature of the project and it would reduce the personnel costs. So I hope to find some media college who is interested in this on-going project: This is an open invitation to any one who has any ideas about how to realise this or who is personally interested in participating.
On October 16th, as planned, KONTAKTE was rehearsed at 16:00 and performed at 18:30 in the Trinitaetskirche in Cologne. Most of the people present (many politicians and other dignitaries) had never experienced Stockhausen live (or at all) and seemed to be pleasantly surprised and relieved that they had survived the experience.
When Stockhausen returned home that evening, the following facs was waiting for him:
“I am vice president and ongoing General Secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music. I need to be in touch with you immediately for a very important matter, so could you please give me your phone number or call me …
This is an urgent matter, so please contact me as soon as possible.
Stockhausen returned the call and was informed by Mr. Holmquist that he had been awarded the Polar Music Prize for 2001. Mr. Holmquist asked Stockhausen when it would be convenient for a delegation to come to Kuerten – or elsewhere – to personally present the official letter and to discuss the schedule of the weekend in May 2001 during which the award ceremony would take place in Stockholm. They agreed on December 1st.
Every year, since 1991, the Polar Music Prize is awarded to one musician in the field of “serious” music and to one musician in the field of “popular” music. For 2001, Burt Bacharach was the recipient for the prize for popular music, and since this was the tenth anniversary of the prize, a special prize was being awarded to Robert Moog, inventor of the mini-Moog synthesiser, among other revolutionary electronic musical instruments. Of course Stockhausen has known Mr. Moog for years (for more about his fascinating life and his continuing, decisive contributions to live electronic music see www.bigbriar.com), but did not know the music of Bacharach and therefore asked Mr. Holmquist to send him some CDs of his music. Of course Kathinka and I both knew some of his songs and immediately sung Raindrops keep falling on your head for Stockhausen. (What I hadn’t realised – before I listened to the Bacharach CDs which we soon received from Sweden as I drove around the local countryside of the Bergische Land – is how many of the pop songs of the 60s and 70s (which are usually associated with the singer and not the composer…) were written by Burt Bacharach. Everytime I heard the first few bars I said out loud, "Amazing!” because I couldn’t believe that one person had composed all those hits. I finally came to the conclusion that –as an American college student in the 60s – I had heard more Bacharach than Stockhausen! For more about the Polar Music Prize see www.polarmusicprize.com.
On October 18th Stockhausen had an appointment in the “music hall” of the University of Cologne to discuss and rehearse the two presentations which he was going to give on October 21st and 22nd during the Stockhausen Symposion 2000 . The symposium took place from October 19th–22nd at the Institute for Musicology of the University of Cologne.
Originally, it was to have taken place in May 2000 and was to have include the world première of MITTWOCH aus LICHT at the Bonn Opera, but when this was cancelled, the symposium was postponed to October. The theme was changed to LICHT in general, and there were numerous excellent lectures given by musicologists and other scholars from all over the world who have specialized in the various aspects of LICHT.
(Illustration 15: Scan of the brochure for the Stockhausen Symposion 2000: LICHT )
One of the most stunning lectures was given by a professor of comparative literature, Prof. Dr. Guenter Peters, entitled Holy Seriousness in the Play: The symbolism in LIGHT. I mention this because the next book which the Stockhausen Foundation for Music will be publishing is a bilingual edition (German-English) of four of Prof. Peters’ lectures on the music of Stockhausen. The translations were made by a German colleague of Prof. Peters and I have been checking and revising them. I am personally very excited about this book, not only because of Prof. Peters’ scholarship, combined with his masterful use of language, but especially because this book marks the opening of a dialogue among the various disciplines. It has always been clear to me that the only way that the true message of LICHT will come to light (hmmm) is when scholars in many diverse fields will combine their knowledge and coordinate their research to uncover the fundaments of the multifarious implications of LICHT. The erudition of Prof. Peters and that of other scholars in various fields of research is the only viable response to the ignorance – especially among the extremely well-educated, but in narrow, specialised fields such as musicology – which makes it possible to attack the message of LICHT as “private mythology”. Anyone who has even just scratched the surface of comparative religions knows that this is a ridiculous assertion. But theologians and linguists will never be capable of explaining the musical or compositional innovations in LICHT, therefore they need the help of musicologists. Analogously, the literary, linguistic and spiritual aspects of LICHT can be systematically and sufficiently explored only by scholars in these fields. Here is the foreword of the book, which Prof. Peters just wrote (March 2002) in the hope that it will whet your appetite:
The four essays, which are being published together for the first time in this bilingual edition, were written between 1989 and 2002. My first encounter with the music of Karlheinz Stockhausen dates back much further. As an adolescent at the beginning of the sixties, works such as gesang der jUEnglinge, gruppen, kontakte, and momente made a lasting impression on me. Between 1964 and 1966, Stockhausen’s thirteen radio programmes entitled “Do you know music which can only be heard over loudspeakers?” were broadcast late at night by the West German Radio Station in Cologne (Musikalisches Nachtprogramm). They featured electronic music from studios all over the world, opening to me unknown realms of musical imagination. It is through the work of Stockhausen that to me, music means contemporary music and that the art of the past appears to me in the light of the present – not the other way round.
The music of Stockhausen as viewed by a literary critic: this volume could contribute to and perhaps initiate a dialogue between the disciplines. The musical world of Stockhausen provokes a discussion which crosses the boundaries separating the arts and sciences, linguistics and literature, musicology and dramaturgy. The way Stockhausen composes, his linguistic operations and literary imaginations, his dealing with cultural traditions and his spirituality time and again put the self-conception of each of these disciplines to the test and, beyond that, his work opens enticing perspectives for an interdisciplinary dialogue. In the course of this dialogue, we are invited to exchange our particular codes and the unifying experience of art which we share, and to articulate our reflections – which concern all of us – upon the place and meaning of art in the world. Therefore, the nicest thing that could happen would be if the present volume would be the first of a new series of books and a new kind of communication which extends across the boundaries.
The four essays have been printed together with their English translations in one volume in the hope of building bridges between languages and of connecting readers from different countries.
Finally, I would like to express my appreciation to those who have assisted me in making this book. Mark Schreiber translated three of the essays, and Suzanne Stephens checked and amended these translations. I am very grateful to Kathinka Pasveer who not only did the typesetting but composed the layout, including the illustrations. Above all, I am greatly indebted to Karlheinz Stockhausen who generously offered to include these essays about his work in the series of books published by the Stockhausen-Stiftung fuer Musik, and for giving me full access to all of the material in the archives of the foundation for my research.
March2002 Guenter Peters
On October 20th 2000 Stockhausen gave an introduction to the 8-channel recording of the HELICOPTER STRING QUARTET, using colour projections of the score, which as you know is also published in colour. (See more about this in my last report.) This was followed by a performance of an 8-track recording of HELICOPTER STRING QUARTET in its entirety. For those non-purists among you who keep asking – when there are such a perfect 4-track (and even 8-track) recordings of the work available, and a perfect video recording of the string players playing synchronously in the helicopters – why the “real thing” (an expensive live performance) is necessary, the answer is: why are any live performances “necessary” (many of which, especially those sung by tenors, are also very expensive) ?
In a previous report I have told about Irvine Arditti’s suggestion to perform the work in a normal concert setting with the helicopters “accompanying” on tape, and of Stockhausen’s refusal, which means that the work is almost never performed. If he made this compromise it would be performed 100s of times. Yet, to be precise, the work HELICOPTER STRING QUARTET would not be performed 100s of times, but rather a ‘postcard’ of it would be performed. In such a performance, not even the modulation of the string sounds by the sounds of the rotor blades could occur, which is at least a third of the total sound. The ‘total sound’ is what it is because of the magnificent filtering effects caused by this modulation. If we have to make do with ‘postcards’ of the HELICOPTER STRING QUARTET, then it is better to listen to Stockhausen’s excellent mixes on CD 53 at home with earphones, while looking at the pictures in the booklet and enjoying the comic relief of Stockhausen’s moderation, all of which would be missing when watching the Arditti string quartet sitting in the middle of the stage in auditorium x in their dark suits. At home there is even the possibility that when we look out of the window four helicopters could fly by!
Stockhausen had spoken about the conception of the work, the performance practical problems, the course of a performance, describing the why the score was printed in colour, talking about the super formula for LIGHT
(Illustration 16: Super formula for LIGHT).
Then he described in detail the compositional methods he had applied in working out the WEDNESDAY section of the super formula and, in particular, the part for the HELICOPTER STRING QUARTET.
(Illustration 17: WEDNESDAY section of the super formula, and the part of that for the HELICOPTER STRING QUARTET )
He had projected sketches of the form scheme and shown how he had calculated all of the proportions of WEDNESDAY from LIGHT in general, and in particular those for HELICOPTER STRING QUARTET.
Then he explained the ‘graphic score’: all the frequencies and temporal relationships of the sounds of both the stringed instruments and the helicopters, which had been stored in the computer during the mixing, and which is now published at the end of the score of HELICOPTER STRING QUARTET.
All of these explanations were illustrated with sound examples from the multi-track tape and with overhead projections.
Stockhausen went on to explain that – despite the fact that the helicopters, in which the four string players were playing, were sometimes miles apart – the musicians could play perfectly synchronously, because each could hear a click-track – which was transmitted up to the helicopters from the ground station – over his earphones.
Then he said:
musicians do not have to be in four different helicopters; they could be on
four different planets, and I could still perfectly synchronise them.
This morning, as I was preparing myself for this lecture, I had a very strange vision: That, due to a malalignment of the earth’s magnetic pole, some sort of ‘Committee for World Security’ had decided to slightly shift the earth’s axis. Therefore, it was announced in advance that everyone should turn on their televisions at a given time. A moderator then instructed that everyone should kneel down on the ground on all fours facing North. Then there was a count-down from 13 to 0 and on “0” everyone was to make a healthy jerk to the right with their rear ends.”
The house came down.
He continued: “By satellite observation, it would be possible to observe if it had helped. [laughter] If it had not worked, then it would be possible to start from 13 again and say ‘Please all face North again, head straight, and – 13, 12, 11…3, 2, 1’ – and then again jerk to the right with the rear end. In this way, it might be possible to slightly shift the axis of the earth and thus, to regulate the ecological problems by using a click-track – a planetary click-track. [more laughter] So, that is an idea that came to me this morning. You can take it from there. Now we have also clarified that, so I will continue.”
Projecting photographs, he went on to explain the installation of the video cameras, interior and exterior microphones for each helicopter, explaining where the musician and his technician sat. Then he explained the circuiting of the 12 channels ( 4 x stringed instrument, musician’s voice and helicopter) to the mixer in the hall, the filtering of the helicopter sounds, etc.
In addition, he talked about how the four helicopters in flight had been filmed from above by a camera man in mid-air, hanging out of the cockpit of a fifth helicopter. There were also 50 video cameras stationed all over Amsterdam to video the helicopters from the ground, but also to video people’s reactions to seeing the four helicopters flying overhead. There are some beautiful and hilarious scenes, which Frank Scheffer of Allegri Films, who has already made a wonderful documentary of the HELICOPTER STRING QUARTET, hopes to make into a full length feature of the performance of the work.
Near the end of the lecture, he said, “We do not need to show the next photograph”.
(Illustration 18: cover of CD 53, Stockhausen and helicopters)
When it was shown anyway by accident, the audience laughed, and Stockhausen said, “Well OK, there I am at a mixer, which is presently under construction. You can fly with it – without helicopters.” [laughter] “Now we have seen that, so we can go back to page 1 of the score, which is very important”.
The lecture continued by him demonstrating the individual tracks of the 8-track recording (individual musicians and helicopters), and then the balanced 8-track studio recording of HELICOPTER STRING QUARTET was played.
The next evening, Stockhausen gave an introduction to an octophonic performance of WEDNESDAY FAREWELL. An octophonic set-up is when the listeners are enclosed in a cubic configuration of loudspeakers, with the upper square of loudspeakers circa 14 metres high above the audience, and the lower square at ear level. The Institute for Musicology of the University of Cologne has its own sound equipment and therefore can easily present such electroacoustic concerts (although the music room is only about 8 metres high and it is longer than it is wide).
Over the years I have observed an interesting thing about the octophonic loudspeaker set-up: even though the loudspeakers should theoretically be set up in a perfect cube of about 14 metres in length, width and height, we have never had a performance in such a perfect space. The Studio for Electronic Music of the WDR in which both of Stockhausen’s octophonic works were produced (the electronic music of INVASION and EXPLOSION of TUESDAY from LIGHT – which is entitled OCTOPHONY for concert performances of the electronic music alone – and the electronic music and concrete music for ORCHESTRA FINALISTS – which, slightly altered as explained below – is also WEDNESDAY FAREWELL) is even much smaller. Nevertheless, the vertical and diagonal sound movements always work amazingly well, if the loudspeakers are installed conscientiously. (See my comments about the problems at the Volksbuehne in Berlin.)
In Leipzig, for TUESDAY from LIGHT, which also requires octophonic sound projection (see drawings in the scores of INVASION and EXPLOSION with FAREWELL and OKTOPHONIE) the upper loudspeakers were 12 m high, the front loudspeakers were separated by 19 m and the rear ones by 26 meters. Since the hall was quite dry acoustically, the sound movements were breathtaking.
(Illustration 19: Loudspeaker set-up of DIENSTAG aus LICHT at the Leipzig Opera in 1993. Score of INVASION–EXPLOSION mit ABSCHIED, page IN-EX XLVIII)
Prof. Dr. Christoph von Blumroeder has the chair for Twentieth Century Music (the only one of its kind in the world, as far as I know) at the Institute for Musicology of the University of Cologne. Since the time he was a musicology student in Freiburg almost thirty years ago, Christoph von Blumroeder has closely collaborated with Stockhausen and is the editor of Volumes 5–10 of the TEXTE ZUR MUSIK. When he was appointed professor in Cologne, he met with Stockhausen to tell him the good news. At this meeting Stockhausen immediately suggested that Prof. von Blumroeder try to start a new kind of “modern musicology” by integrating the practical, tangible aspects of sound research into musicology. It was his suggestion that the institute buy their own sound equipment for concerts of electronic music and also that it was essential for students to be able to listen to multi-track electronic music at all times in order to systematically study and analyze it.
Prof. von Blumroeder deserves a great deal of credit for implementing these ideas, because he had to find money and convince others that this was necessary. In the meantime, the institute also has a fully equipped studio for multi-track listening which is permanently available to the students, and the institute continues to purchase state of the art studio equipment for sound analysis. Prof. von Blumroeder informed Stockhausen in February 2002 that he had just received government funding for a project for research in digital notation and analysis of electronic music.
WEDNESDAY FAREWELL (duration circa 44 minutes) is the electronic and concrete music of the 2nd scene of WEDNESDAY from LIGHT, ORCHESTRA FINALISTS. I am always happy when Stockhausen decides to designate electronic music which was originally intended to be performed with live performers, as an independent work which can be performed by itself . Such works are KONTAKTE, HYMNEN, OKTOPHONIE, UNSICHTBARE CHÖRE (INVISIBLE CHOIRS) and the Electronic Music with Sound Scenes of FRIDAY from LIGHT. When performed with live performers, Stockhausen always balances the tape so that everything the performers sing and / or play can be heard, which means that countless details of the tape cannot be clearly heard. In the booklet of CD 55 (BASSETSU-TRIO and WEDNESDAY FAREWELL) Stockhausen writes: (excerpts)
“For the independent octophonic projection of this space music, I revised the dynamics, renewed the end and shortened the duration by about three minutes.
The element air, and space characterise the music of WEDNESDAY from LIGHT – not only the composition of different acoustic spaces, but also of fantasy spaces.
The form scheme indicates 11 spaces, each (with the exception of the 7th and 8th ones) simultaneously connecting three different concrete, electronically transformed sonic spaces. […]
(Illustration 20: form scheme of WEDNESDAY FAREWELL, pp. 14 +15 of the booklet of CD 55)
The spatial symbols in the form scheme are as follows:
(Illustration 21: p. 20 of the booklet of CD 55)
In all 11 fantasy spaces, air and wind sounds are the unifying aspect: from ventilators via jet-fighters, steam locomotives to sailing-ship-double-bass-rattling.
Rhythms, melodies and harmonies are derived from the three formulas of the section of the super formula which governs the scene ORCHESTRA FINALISTS of WEDNESDAY from LIGHT […]
In WEDNESDAY FAREWELL it is essential to fly along in this transreal world (which cannot exist in “concrete” human life), and in the free flight of fantasy as a bodiless spirit to hear the Earth as music within and around oneself.”
Speaking of MITTWOCH aus LICHT:
Before he left, Stockhausen had a brief conversation with the Swiss musicologist, Dr. Roman Brotbeck who is one of the leading experts on LICHT. During the symposium, he had given a lecture on PIETÁ for flugelhorn and soprano (a subscene of INVASION of TUESDAY from LIGHT), and moderated another presentation. He has been a faithful supporter of Stockhausen’s music for many years. For instance, in 1988 he moderated a full week of live broadcasts for the Swiss radio on the occasion of Stockhausen’s 60th birthday.
At that time, Dr. Brotbeck was also the director of the conservatory in Winterthur where we were in residence for a few days and gave master classes and concerts.
In December 1999, he had written to Stockhausen announcing that he was now director of the College for Music and Theater in Bern and that he wanted to do something significant on the occasion of Stockhausen’s 75th birthday in 2003. This was two months after the Bonn Opera had cancelled the world première of MITTWOCH aus LICHT, so Stockhausen suggested that he try to organise the world première of MITTWOCH aus LICHT. Dr. Brotbeck was immediately enthusiastic about the idea and asked Stockhausen to reserve this option for him until June of 2000.
Now, in this conversation in October 2000, Dr. Brotbeck expressed his concern that he still did not have enough money for the projected budget, but that he did not want to give up yet and asked Stockhausen to extend the option. Strangely enough, he had not yet contacted potential co-producers which had expressed interest to us in participating (Salzburg Festival, Foundation for Art and Culture of the State of North Rhine Westfalia).
About a week later we received the following letter:
(Illustration 22: Letter from Grete Flintegaard and Sune Joergensen of the Kunstforeningen af 22. Marts 1985 in Denmark, expressing their interest in producing the staged world première of SUNDAY from LIGHT, anywhere in the world.)
thanked them with the following letter:
(Illustration 23: Stockhausen’s letter of October 29th 2000)
Our euphoria was interrupted by a fax from the Community of Kuerten that the Suelztalhalle (the heart of the Stockhausen Courses Kuerten because it serves as both concert hall and lecture hall for Stockhausen’s composition seminars, both of which require the multi-channel sound equipment which is installed there) would have to be renovated in 2001 during the summer vacation because some material had been discovered in the wooden wall panelling which, in case of a fire, was harmful if inhaled. They asked if it would therefore be possible to hold the Stockhausen Courses Kuerten 2001 during the Easter, Christmas or Fall vacation in 2001 instead of during the six- week summer vacation, because the renovation would require the entire 6 weeks.
I immediately informed the Community that all of the faculty had already been engaged and that we could not change plans on such short notice because of the international publicity necessary. In addition, I explained that an international event could not take place during the German Easter, Christmas or Fall vacations because they were not the same as in other countries. Therefore, it would be impossible to find two weeks in common internationally, not to mention the fact that in many of the 25 countries from which the course participants come, there are no such things as “Easter”, “Christmas” or “Fall” (traditionally “potato” vacation, for gathering potatoes) vacations. This emergency necessitated an immediate meeting with the mayor, architect, the principals of both the elementary and secondary school, and all others involved, in order to find a solution tenable for everyone.
During this meeting it was established first of all, that the renovation could be postponed a year, and therefore everyone agreed that this would be sensible. We agreed to hold the Stockhausen Courses Kuerten 2002 at the beginning of the vacation, so that 5 weeks would remain for the renovation which, according to the architect, could either be completed in this amount of time or at least almost completed to the point that the completion could take place during the Fall vacation. The Suelztalhalle is the gymnasium for both schools, which is why it must be available when school is in session. We are keeping our fingers crossed that the acoustics will not be affected in any way by the renovation. As I have noted before in other reports about concerts there, they are excellent the way they are.
Therefore, the Stockhausen Courses Kuerten 2002 must start 10 days after the last day of school. That means that the school janitors have two weeks less time than usual for the extensive preparations necessary in the entire school complex before the courses can begin. This is why we have chosen a programme for the 2002 courses which does not require that we rehearse in the Suelztalhalle the week preceding the courses, as has always been the case since 1999 (DONNERSTAG excerpts in 1999, SIRIUS in 2000 and the real scenes of FREITAG aus LICHT in 2001), and which will usually be the case following 2002. This is also the reason we are not holding open rehearsals this year, in case some of you are wondering about that.
The principals of both schools have been a real mainstay in the community support of the courses. Every year since the courses were founded in 1998, Heidi Neumann, principal of the elementary school has asked Dettloff Schwerdtfeger to give an introduction with a short concert for her students (see my previous reports). Hartmut Melenk, principal of the secondary school (until this year), has also been very supportive. This year we hope to start this kind of tradition for the students of the secondary school, and I will soon be meeting with the new principal of the secondary school, Klaus Schroeder, and Lilly Fritz (who after 4 years of helping Dettloff organise the courses, has now taken over most of Dettloff’s responsibilities) to discuss possibilities. For more information about the elementary school see: www.grundschule.kuerten.berg.net
Dettloff has now graduated from business school and has a full-time job. Luckily, he and Lilly are engaged to be married in May so he will have to help her in the future. In addition, both of them are on the advisory board of the Stockhausen Foundation for Music, which makes us happy and proud that both of them will be involved in all foundation projects for as long as they are willing and able. We are hoping that Dettloff will at least be able to visit us at the courses this year and for the first time be able to relax, without feeling he is responsible for everything.
At the end of October 2000, unsure that there would be enough colour in the woods and the meadows on the grounds of the foundation, Stockhausen ordered and planted 100 more hyacynths, over 1000 more tulips, 120 leucojum aestivum, 16 bulgarian leeks, 900 more daffodils, 300 iris, another 1500 crocusses, 100 ranunculus, 600 anemones, 1200 more snow-drops, 200 ixia, 20 starbell flowers, and
10 quendel, thymian
6 kronwicke coronilla varia
3 currant bushes
6 gooseberry bushes
3 blackberry bushes.
When we were in Weingarten for concerts in November, Stockhausen made an interesting discovery at the Benedictine Abbey: a painting by Cosmas Damian Asam (1718–20) entitled “Maria as the new Eve crushes the head of the serpent”.
(Illustration 24: painting of “Maria as the new Eve”)
Prof. Guenter Peters goes into this in detail in his text Holy Seriousness in the Play: The symbolism in LIGHT in his book which I have mentioned above.
As planned, on November 25 Grete Flintegaard and Sune Joergensen of the Kunstforeningen af 22. Marts 1985 (The Arts Association of March 22nd 1985) came to Kuerten to talk about their proposal to stage SONNTAG aus LICHT. In the course of the conversation, Stockhausen mentioned the financial problems besetting Roman Brotbeck in his attempt to stage MITTWOCH aus LICHT. “The Danes”, as they have come to be known, said that they could perhaps also support that staging in order to gain experience for their own staging of SUNDAY.
The next day, Stockhausen wrote to Dr. Brotbeck informing him of this new, perhaps decisive development, and Dr. Brotbeck was soon in contact with “the Danes”.
On December 1st, as planned, Åke Holmquist, the General Secretary of the Polar Music Prize arrived with Stuart Ward, the manager of the Polar Music Prize, to present the official announcement to Stockhausen. They said that he could not share this news with anyone until after the official international announcement on January 22nd 2001. The award ceremony was to take place in Stockholm on May 14th 2001, and the prize would be personally presented by His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustav of Sweden. The awards ceremony was to be televised live nationally, and followed by an official banquet, at which the King and the Royal Family would be present.
Mr. Holmquist and Mr. Ward wanted to fill the week-end of the official, royal events with concerts and other events in which the prize winners could present their music to the Stockholm public and talk with each other. Mr. Holmquist and Mr. Ward said that they would like, for instance, to give a concert of Stockhausen’s music at the Swedish Royal University College of Music in Stockholm, and would appreciate his suggestions.
So, together they made a detailed plan of what the weekend from May 11 through May 14th could include. The first event was to be a press conference, and they asked Stockhausen when he could arrive in Stockholm. I called the travel agency and found out that the earliest he could arrive in Stockholm from Cologne was about 16:00. So they planned the press conference, which was to take place at the Royal Academy of Music, for 16:30 or 17:00.
For the concert at the Royal University College of Music on May 12th, Stockhausen suggested that Antonio Pérez Abellán and Andreas Boettger perform KONTAKTE for Electronic Music, Piano and Percussion – and that Stockhausen would give an introduction to the work, and answer questions following the performance. On May 13th there was to be an open discussion among the prize winners, also at the Royal University College of Music, and during this, music of the prize winners would be performed. For this occasion, Stockhausen suggested that his son, Markus Stockhausen, perform ARIES for trumpet and electronic music (15 minutes). For the awards ceremony itself on May 14th, they asked Stockhausen if he could compose a short orchestra work for the occasion, since the Symphony Orchestra of the Swedish Radio would be participating anyway in the ceremony. This was of course too short notice, and Stockhausen could not interrupt his work on HOCH-ZEITEN anyway, so he suggested that GESANG DER JUENGLINGE (13 minutes) be performed, since it would not require orchestra rehearsals in an already too full schedule, or require place on the stage on an already too full stage. This was considered to be a very good idea. Finally, during the official banquet following the awards ceremony – which would also be televised – , various musical intermezzi were being planned to entertain the guests between courses. So Stockhausen suggested that Kathinka Pasveer and I perform AVE, a 24-minute scene of EVE’S MAGIC of MONDAY from LIGHT, which is like a fairy tale out of 1001 Nights (especially with our beautiful costumes which we have on permanent loan from La Scala since the world première of MONDAY from LIGHT in 1988).
Stockhausen asked that Bryan Wolf be engaged as sound projection assistant because of the tight schedule for setting up loudspeakers, sound checks, rehearsals and performances at three different venues, all of which posed different problems for setting up electroacoustical equipment. In addition, he asked that Ulf Stenberg, director of the electronic music studio (EMS) in Stockholm, longtime friend and supporter of Stockhausen’s music, to be responsible for providing the sound equipment and coordinating its installation at the various venues. This was agreed upon, so Stockhausen then drafted a schedule of the set-ups, rehearsals and performances of his music for the weekend of May 11th – 14th 2001.
It was decided that another meeting would have take place later to discuss various details with the people responsible for the implementation of the performances. Therefore, Peter Lundin of the Swedish television, and producer of the live televised broadcast of the awards ceremony in which GESANG DER JUENGLINGE would be performed multi-track, and Ulf Stenberg would visit Stockhausen sometime in March 2001 when the various plans needed concretisation. Before Mr. Holmquist and Mr. Ward left, they asked if we could make a short film for showing immediately after the public announcement of the Polar Music Prize on January 22nd 2001 in simultaneous press conferences in Stockholm and Cannes in connection with the MIDEM music festival, with simultaneous broadcasts to journalists in London, New York and Los Angeles. In a short 3-minute film, Stockhausen was to say what he planned to do with the prize money. So now we had to keep a secret (and make a film).
On December 6th 2000 (St. Nicholas day) I travelled to Duesseldorf again, since – as I said before – the state government resides there, this time with Dettloff Schwerdtfeger and a delegation from Kuerten, including the mayor Ulrich Iwanov and Oda Camphausen (a piano teacher, mother of 6 and part-time journalist who has for years been a great supporter of Stockhausen, and culture in general in the community) to talk with Dr. Ilse Brusis, the former state minister for “labor, social aid, urban development, culture (next-to-last!) and sports of North Rhine Westfalia. She has greatly supported the courses since their inception and now, despite the fact that she is no longer minister, had expressed her willingness to advise us on how to go about finding continued state support. She is now President of the Foundation for Art and Culture of North Rhine Westfalia – which I mentioned before – and although we did not receive any state support for the courses in 2001, we did receive 12,000 DM from this foundation as a kind of symbolic gesture of support until another method of state support could be found.
As you know, Stockhausen paid for the courses in 2001 with the money he received for the Polar Music Prize, and the governor of North Rhine Westfalia, Wolfgang Clement, personally thanked Stockhausen for this generous gesture in his congratulatory letter written after Stockhausen received the Polar Music Prize on May 14th, saying that of course this could not be a permanent state of affairs, and that a solution must be found at the state level which would assure the continuity of the courses which, in the meantime, had found international acclaim, and were therefore prestigious for Germany and for the state of North Rhine Westfalia.
On December 9th 2000 Stockhausen gave an interview to Bjoern Gottstein, a journalist from Berlin, about the Studio for Electronic Music of the WDR because a series of broadcasts was being planned about the history of the studio, and one program (October 17th 2001) was being dedicated to him as former director of the studio. During the interview, every time Stockhausen mentioned how irresponsible the decision to close the studio was, Mr. Gottstein reminded him that no mention could be made about this in the broadcast, since this was a WDR broadcast.
On Christmas Eve, as I said before, Stockhausen finished composing ANGEL PROCESSIONS for a cappella choir (in 7 languages) .
On January 5th 2001, Prof. Dr. Christoph von Blumroeder came to visit with his Korean wife, Ann-yi, to discuss – among other things – the next Stockhausen presentations at the Institute for Musicology of the University of Cologne. Since Christoph received the professorship at the University of Cologne, it has been a tradition that Stockhausen meets with the musicology students about once a year. These meetings have been described in previous reports.
In all fairness, however, I should mention that since 1984, there has been close musical relationship with the University of Cologne. The choir of the Collegium Musicum of the University of Cologne, conducted by Prof. Dieter Gutknecht, performed the world première of LUCIFER’S FAREWELL (the final scene of SAMSTAG aus LICHT) in Assisi in 1982. It was commissioned on the occasion of the 800th anniversary of the birth of Saint Francis of Assisi. The Collegium Musicum had had to jump in at the last minute after the monks of the San Ruffino Church (where St. Francis had been baptised) – who were originally supposed to perform it – decided that it was too difficult for them. The Collegium Musicum then also performed in the first staging of SAMSTAG aus LICHT in 1984 by La Scala in Milan. In 1988, on the initiative of Prof. Gutknecht, the University of Cologne commissioned Stockhausen to compose a work on the occasion of their 600th anniversary. This work is TUESDAY GREETING (PEACE GREETING) and was world premièred during the official anniversary ceremony in the Philharmonic Hall in Cologne in 1988. Prof. Gutknecht often gives lectures about these particular works, because his knowledge is unique, combining the theoretical aspect of musicology and the performance practical aspects of first hand experience.
So, during this meeting on January 5th 2001, Prof. von Blumroeder suggested – for Stockhausen’s 75th birthday in 2003 – performing all of his works for electronic music in the auditorium of the university. Numerous performances of Stockhausen’s works had taken place in this auditorium during the first international Stockhausen Symposion in 1998, and it proved to be excellent for both performances with live performers and for performances of electronic music alone. I described this in detail in my last report. In addition, Prof. von Blumroeder asked Stockhausen if he could come to the Institute for Musicology sometime during the “summer semester 2002” ( = October 2001 through June 2002) to speak with the students. Stockhausen agreed, but Prof. von Blumroeder got cold feet during the media campaign in September 2001 and “postponed ” Stockhausen’s visit.
On January 6th 2001 (Epiphany), Stockhausen began to compose HOCH-ZEITEN for choir and orchestra (in 5 languages). I have described this work in detail earlier in this report.
Finally, on January 22nd, it was announced to the world media that Karlheinz Stockhausen had been awarded the Polar Music Prize “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”.
The next day, Stockhausen received a letter from the German Publishers Society (Deutscher Musikverleger-Verband), informing him that the score of HELICOPTER STRING QUARTET had been awarded a prize for the best edition of a score of twentieth century music. This is the fifth time, since the inception of the prize in 1992, that the Stockhausen Verlag has won this coveted prize. The other prize-winning scores were: LUCIFER’S DANCE in 1992, JAHRESLAUF in 1994, WORLD PARLIAMENT in 1996, and EVE’S FIRST BIRTH-GIVING in 2000.
On January 26th 2001, although Stockhausen had already committed the prize money to finance the Stockhausen Courses Kuerten 2001, he sent a list of plants (for planting circa mid-March) to a local tree nursery and asked for an estimate. The price was right and they were planted on March 20 and 26 (see list and planting scheme later).
On January 29th, “the Danes” returned to Kuerten for another visit, this time to discuss details for the staging of SUNDAY from LIGHT and to discuss the possibility of performing SIRIUS during their annual new years concert in January 2002.
On January 31st 2001, Dr. Imke Misch and Dr. Markus Bandur came to discuss the final corrections of the book Stockhausen bei den Internationalen Ferienkursen Darmstadt, which has been in the making for about 15 years, and whose compilation has changed hands several times in the course of time. During the past 18 months, these two highly qualified musicologists, proposed by Prof. von Blumroeder for the job, had brought all the loose ends together and managed to make a unified whole out of all the material.
What was actually to have been the “final spurt” escalated into a monumental task because, during the “final” corrections, Stockhausen kept discovering that material which had been noted as “missing”, was not missing at all but rather had simply been ordered away in different files for the years in question. It had taken months for Kathinka just to scan the programmes, letters, photos and other documentary material, and in this process, and as she did the layout and typesetting she also did a lot of detective work clearing up incongruities in the material.
In addition, Wilhelm Schlueter, who has been a central person in the organisation of the International Darmstadt Vacation Courses for New Music for many years, provided valuable assistance in correcting some of the information, because he, along with Prof. Dr. Rudolf Frisius (author of the book Stockhausen: Einfuehrung in das Gesamtwerk, Schott, Mainz, 1996), is virtually one of the few “eye witnesses” of those years.
Our hope now is that the immense amount of time and energy invested in this attempt to – as completely and clearly as possible – document Stockhausen’s presence at the Darmstadt Vacation Courses for New Music will be a clarifying contribution to the existing publications about the Darmstadt Vacation Courses, many of which are, in our opinion, distortions of the facts.
The inception of the Darmstadt Vacation Courses for New Music (Darmstaedter Ferienkurse fuer Neue Musik) after the second world war reflected the turning point in musical thought which was taking place at the time. Their international reputation as a central meeting point for the exchange of the newest thinking in musical composition is largely due to Stockhausen’s regular presence there from 1951 until 1974, and his influence on the way they were organized.
Meanwhile, congratulatory messages for having received the Polar Music Prize were pouring in from all over the world, even from Cologne. One of the most meaningful letters was from one of the city mayors, Angela Spitzig who - on February 6th 2001 wrote:
“My sincerest congratulations for receiving the renowned Polar Music Prize.
As a cultural politician in the city of Cologne, I am especially pleased that you have been awarded this prize. For many years I have followed your artistic creation and am always fascinated whenever I hear during my travels abroad that for young musicians of all musical genre, Cologne is – above all – Stockhausen’s city.
May you have continued success in your creative work and your projects, and I especially hope for you that you will bring LICHT, your great opera project, to a grandiose end.”
It is not often that politicians are really informed about – let alone value – Stockhausen’s work, so he was moved by this message.
On February 13th 2001 Stockhausen received confirmation from Dr. Brotbeck that the world première of MITTWOCH aus LICHT would take place in Bern in September 2003, and that he had come to a binding agreement with the Kunstforeningen and the choir of the Southwest German Radio Stuttgart (which is the choir which premièred WORLD PARLIAMENT and MICHAELION) for their participation. He informed Stockhausen that there would be a press conference on April 6th in Bern to announce this “point of no return”, and Brotbeck asked Stockhausen to come to Bern for this. In addition, the stage director Uwe Wand, the stage designer Johannes Conen and all others responsible for the technical organsisation of the performances were invited to come to Bern for the press conference, which would be followed by inspection of the hall where the performances would take place, and meetings to discuss other details.
For several months, Stockhausen, together with Herr Hoepner, the manager of the WDR Symphony Orchestra, had been discussing which conductor would be suitable for preparing the orchestral groups of HOCH-ZEITEN, which, as I said before, are only occasionally conducted in the performance. A “star” was definitely not needed, but rather someone who was conscientious and who had experience with constantly changing metronome tempi. He or she would have to be satisfied with being in the background, since he / she would not be receiving the main applause.
Zsolt Nagy, a conductor who had been recommended to Stockhausen because of his excellent work conducting GRUPPEN on several occasions, came to visit Stockhausen on February 18th. In the course of their meeting, it seemed to Stockhausen that Nagy would be perfect for the job, and upon asking him if he would be interested in helping, Nagy accepted.
On March 12th the book Stockhausen bei den Internationalen Ferienkursen Darmstadt finally went to the printers.
(Illustration 25: painting of “Maria as the new Eve)
As planned, Ulf Stenberg and Peter Lundin arrived on March 14th to discuss the details of the Polar Music Prize weekend which would take place from May 11th –May 14th in Stockholm.
The preparations for the awards ceremony of the Polar Music Prize had to be very meticulous because the ceremony was going to be televised live. First of all, Peter Lundin showed Stockhausen the exact order of the programme. The first problem was that since GESANG DER JUENGLINGE was electronic music – usually performed in the dark with a moon projected on the back wall of the stage –, what was he going to show the television audience? Someone had had the idea of putting a twelve-year-old boy on the stage singing lip-synchronous with the tape. But it was someone who did not know GESANG DER JUENGLINGE, because as we all know, to do that, about 20 boys lip-synching would be necessary because of the many layers of the multi-tracks… and then it would take quite awhile to really get synchronous. So that idea was eliminated. Stockhausen then suggested that works of art depicting the three youths in the fiery furnace be shown, or the sketches of GESANG DER JUENGLINGE. So the problem was given to a Swedish filmmaker to solve. It was decided that by all means, the CD of GESANG DER JUENGLINGE would have to be used for the television broadcast to ensure a proper mix for the television audience. It is impossible to optimally record a multi-track performance, and the mix on the CD is Stockhausen’s personal mix, so its quality cannot be beat. Its playback would have to be time-code synchronous with the film, of course, and the film would have to be time-code synchronous with the multi-track tape playback in the Berwaldhallen in Stockholm. No problem…
Ulf Stenberg discussed the various sound equipment requirements for the three different performances at the three different venues. There is one recurring problem when we do not use the equipment furnished by Balance in Cologne: no other company has the Sennheiser MKE 10-2R transmitter microphones we need. They are no longer manufactured and the “new, improved” ones which have identical characteristics (spherical) do things like pick up the key noises, valve noises and other extraneous noises of the instruments being amplified. So the first thing we discussed was that we would bring our own microphones, with adapters which fit the new model of transmitters, just in case these particular microphones could not be found in Stockholm.
We also discussed that for AVE we need so-called partitions (2 m wide x 2.5 meters high, light silver-gray, with supports that are at the most 20 cm deep to avoid stumbling) for our entrances and disappearances and for the flutist’s ‘secret’ appearances, and decided that it would be cheaper to build them in Stockholm according to our plans rather than to transport them from here. Usually, the sound equipment for a concert comes from Cologne, so it is no extra cost to send the partitions with the truck.
Mr. Stenberg also showed the plans of the various venues to Stockhausen so that they could exactly plan the number of loudspeakers necessary and the exact positioning of the loudspeakers and mixing console.
Finally, they said that originally it had been planned that the pop singer Bjoerk would speak the laudatio for Stockhausen at the awards ceremony, and that she was first enthusiastic about the idea but then, shy as she is, suddenly became unsure that she was the right person for the job.
As you know, she is a great fan of Stockhausen (her famous quote is that “some composers have made an entire career out of just one of Stockhausen’s ideas”). In 1996, plans for a joint concert were in the making, but were abruptly interrupted when she had some problems resulting from a personal crisis. Nevertheless, when we were in London in October 2001, Alex Poots, the producer of the Barbican elektronic festival where many of Stockhausen’s works for electronic music were performed, talked with Stockhausen about a new possibility of a joint concert with Bjoerk in 2003, because she is still very much interested in such a project.
So they had to leave that question open for the moment.
On March 17th 2001, John McGuire, an American composer and former student of Stockhausen who now lives in New York and teaches at Columbia University came to visit. He is helping to check the translations of Volumes I and II of the TEXTE ZUR MUSIK which we are preparing for publication. As you know, Dr. Jerome Kohl and I have been working on the translation since January of 1997 and we are only now nearing the point where we dare say that publication is in sight. If even German musicologists admit that the texts are a challenge, then it has definitely been correct to check and recheck the translations until we feel that the English translation is as perfect as possible.
What a tremendous responsibility it is, and how wonderful it will be when the English speaking world will finally be able to read what Stockhausen was publishing in German 50 years ago. Although several of the texts were translated with various degrees of competency long ago, the process of translating and retranslating and / or refining the existing translations continues to reveal how challenging and timeless they are. Jerome’s musicological scholarship is vast, therefore there are very enlightening footnotes in the English edition. John’s German and familiarity with technical terms in both languages have been a great help in revising and polishing the translations.
Simultaneously with the work on the first two volumes, Tim Nevill has already translated half of Volumes 3 and 4 of the TEXTE, and will soon move on to the further volumes. He is not a musicologist, therefore he only translated the more general texts which do not require specialisation in music. So, with time, the English speaking world will be able to read the TEXTE ZUR MUSIK, which in the meantime fills 10 volumes in German. Luckily, some of the texts in Volumes 5 through 10 have already been translated into English.
On March 19th there was a meeting at the Philharmonic Hall in Cologne and at the large auditorium of the West German Radio (WDR) of all persons involved in the organisation of the performances and recording of HOCH-ZEITEN scheduled for January and February 2003: the sound technicians with whom Stockhausen usually works (Jos Mulder and Igor Kavulek), who will be responsible for the amplification of the groups of singers and instrumentalists; the managers of the choir and symphony orchestra of the WDR, who are responsible for the rehearsal plans; the WDR sound engineers who are responsible for the recordings and also for the electro-acoustic circuiting (two times 5-track) between the Philharmonic Hall and the large broadcast auditorium of the West German Radio (for the two-way fade-ins of the groups playing in the two different halls); the WDR stage managers responsible for building the different podia in the two auditoriums for the orchestra and choir groups; and Dieter Cramer from Balance for the rental of the sound equipment.
(Illustration 26: Stockhausen in the Philharmonic Hall in Cologne with the other people responsible for the world première, further performances and recording of HOCH-ZEITEN in 2003)
On March 20th and 26th, the following plants arrived, as scheduled, and were planted – according to Stockhausen’s indications – at various locations on the grounds of the foundation (in the sun, half-shade, full shade) :
(Illustration 27: List of the plants which were planted at the end of March, and their locations.)
On April 5th Stockhausen flew to Bern to take part in the press conference which was being held to officially announce the world première of MITTWOCH aus LICHT in Bern. The main purpose of this trip however, as far as Stockhausen was concerned, was to see the hall where the performance was to take place (formerly the riding stable of the Swiss cavalry), and to meet on location with Uwe Wand, stage director, and Johannes Conen, stage and costume designer for MITTWOCH aus LICHT, both of whom had been responsible for the stagings of DIENSTAG and FREITAG aus LICHT at the Leipzig Opera in 1993 and 1996 respectively. The plausibility and costs of converting this hall into a “theatre” in which musicians and objects could be “flown” and in which 3 of the 4 scenes were to be performed, had to be discussed in detail. Its dimensions were problematic for both staging and for the electro-acoustic installation: 80 metres long, 20 metres wide and about 18 metres high.
(Illustration 28: About Wednesday from LIGHT – features of the scenic aspect, p. V of the MICHAELION score)
(Illustration 29: Photograph of the interior of the Reithalle in Bern)
The press conference took place at 11 a.m. on April 6th. As the journalists were arriving, Stockhausen informally talked with Uwe Wand, Johannes Conen, Dr. Brotbeck (Director of the College for Music and Theatre in Bern), Sune Joergensen and Grete Flintegaard (representatives of the Danish Kunstforeningen). Everyone was very happy that the pieces of the shattered plans of the Bonn Opera could be picked up and brought to an even better fruition than would have been possible in Bonn, because this time the choir of the South German Radio Stuttgart (Suedwestrundfunk) was engaged to perform the two choir scenes, which they had world premièred in 1996 and 1998 respectively. Further, it was planned that a studio production of MICHAELION could take place during the rehearsals for WEDNESDAY from LIGHT in 2003. Three full weeks had been planned for this.
All journalists received a “documentation folder for media orientation” which announced the world première as “an event of the Bern Biennale 2003 on the occasion of the 75th birthday of the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, co-produced by the College for Music and Theatre, the Bern Opera, the Kunstforeningen af 22. Marts 1985, the Southwest German Radio Stuttgart and the Swiss Helicopter Association.”
The “documentation folder” contained:
1) The following introductory statement “WEDNESDAY in Bern (Switzerland) ” written by Dr. Brotbeck:
It is definitely striking, that the lightest, brightest and somehow most beautiful of Stockhausen’s operas to date will be world premièred in Bern – of all places – which is known for its pflegmatism and sluggishness. The saying goes that the citizens of Bern are so slow so that the others can catch up. The world première of MITTWOCH aus LICHT in Bern could prove that this is true. The overall conception of MITTWOCH, in which the HELICOPTER STRING QUARTET is a scene, surpasses by far the possibilities of an opera house. The choir parts are so complex, that it is beyond the capabilities of a normal opera choir; the scenic ideas do not fit into an opera house; almost all of the soloists are instrumentalists; an opera orchestra no longer exists in this work, and the helicopter flights are the definitive blow to the possibilities of a municipal opera house. That is also, after all, the reason why MITTWOCH has not yet been scenically performed.
New art requires new combinations and methods of production. This is the chance for a cultural scene like that of Bern, where it is possible to create synergies by way of a conceptual network and in this way, projects can be realised which lie outside the possibilities of a single institution alone.
With the world première of MITTWOCH, Bern has the chance to try out such possibilities and to escape from the role of just contemplatively observing the “wild” things which Zuerich, Basel, Lucerne, Geneva and Lausanne dare to do. Due to the fact that “negotiation”, “parliament”, “diplomacy”, “honours” and “achievement” are major themes in MITTWOCH, it fits into this concept very well, also in that respect.”
Staged World Première
WEDNESDAY from LIGHT
by Karlheinz Stockhausen
Location: In and in front of the large riding stable of what was formerly the cavalry stables of the Swiss army in Bern
World première: Wednesday, September 3rd 2003; further performances on September 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th 2003.
director: Uwe Wand
Stage design and costumes: Johannes Conen
Sound projection and overall direction: Karlheinz Stockhausen
Helicopter String Quartet: Arditti String Quartet: Irvine Arditti, Graeme Jennings, Garth Knox, Rohan de Saram
of the Southwest German Radio Stuttgart
Direction: Rupert Huber
Flute: Kathinka Pasveer
Basset-horn and clarinet: Suzanne Stephens
Trumpet: Marco Blaauw
Trombone: Andrew Digby
Students of the College for Music and Theater in Bern
equipment: Dieter Cramer
Sound Technicians: Paul Jeukendrup, Igor Kavulek, Bart Mesman
Sound projection assistant: Bryan Wolf
Students of the College for Music and Theatre in Bern
Swiss Helicopter Association
3) The following text, written by Dr. Brotbeck:
From a simple enquiry to the world première of WEDNESDAY from LIGHT
Shortly after the founding of the College for Music and Theatre in Bern in September 1999, I asked Karlheinz Stockhausen about a project for the college. In doing this, I remembered the strong after-effect of the Stockhausen week which had been held at the Conservatory in Winterthur in 1988. The students had been confronted with the energy, the relentlessness and the exactitude with which Stockhausen rehearses his scores. They encountered an artistic ethos with which many of them (who in the meantime are the among the leading Swiss musicians) are imprinted to this day, namely the ethos to take each note so seriously and to play it so perfectly, as if the whole world depended on it.
This exposure was what I had imagined when I wrote to Karlheinz Stockhausen in December of 1999, that I was interested in doing something “bigger” in Bern. His answer was the suggestion that I should try to realise the staged world première of WEDNESDAY from LIGHT in Bern! At first I thought that that would be sheer madness. Something that big lies outside of the capabilities of a college and is not appropriate for Bern. Then, many meetings took place, expecially with the municipal opera and its director Eike Gramss, then with the army and finally with potential financiers. It was planned, reserved and the costs were considered.
The breakthrough for the financing occurred in December 2000 with the appearance of Grete Flintegaard and Sune Joergensen of the Danish Kunstforeningen. The finances were then secured to the extent that today almost two-thirds of the costs are financed. A further step was the strong committment of the choir of the Southwest German Radio and their manager Hans Peter Jahn. For nearly 6 months in 2003, the choir will be working on, rehearsing and recording this difficult work. Without this cooperation, the staged world première would not have been possible.
The world première of the opera will not take place in isolation. Similar to the way in which the college is striving for a collaboration of as many cultural institutions as possible in Bern for the thematic week “Jewish Music” this coming October, the same is true for the realisation of MITTWOCH aus LICHT. The symphony orchestra has already signalled their cooperation. Karlheinz Stockhausen will come to Bern in 2003 and will rehearse several difficult works with the students of the college himself. In doing this it is our intention to refute one of the seemingly ineradicable prejudices in German music criticism, namely the assertion that starting with LIGHT, Stockhausen completely has changed his style. In addition to excerpts from LIGHT, we wish to perform numerous early works which have theatrical and scenic aspects. The students of the multi-media and the performance departments will take part in the opera itself.
The dates and location of this world première – which were originally planned for purely practical reasons, have – in the meantime – acquired a significance which could be called almost magical. At exactly this time, the first academic year in the transformed buildings of the former cavalry stalls will begin. The fantastic space of the former riding stable will be used for the first time for a large cultural project; the municipal opera in Bern will celebrate its 100th anniversary; Karlheinz Stockhausen will celebrate his 75th birthday during this time, and just a few days ago, it was decided that at that time the College of Music and Theatre and the College of Design, Art and Conservation will just have been merged into the first College of the Arts in Switzerland. On the day of the world première of WEDNESDAY, in which all arts come together, this new College of the Arts will be about three days old!
4) The planned course of the performances:
Wednesday, September 3rd and three or four subsequent performances:
5 p.m. and 6 p.m. HELICOPTER STRING QUARTET (two flights),
6:30 to 7:30 p.m. meal in the courtyard of the new venue of the College for Music and Theatre,
8 p.m. WEDNESDAY GREETING in the tree-lined avenue leading to the riding stable,
WORLD-PARLIAMENT in the riding stable,
ORCHESTRA FINALISTS in the riding stable,
MICHAELION in the riding stable,
WEDNESDAY FAREWELL on the square in front of the hall with various flying objects.
5) Another text, also written by Dr. Brotbeck, reflects his comprehensive knowledge about and deep understanding of LIGHT:
Already now, the opera cycle LICHT is the longest work in the history of music. Its structure and conception is unique: seven operas about the days of the week, all of whose musical and dramaturgical dimensions are composed with the same material , the so-called super formula of LIGHT. Since 1977, Karlheinz Stockhausen has been composing this. Soon he will have dedicated half of the time since he became a composer to this work.
And although the length of each opera is decided in advance to the second, with each new opera Stockhausen develops new sounds, compositional methods and images. Whereas in the first operas of LIGHT, in THURSDAY, SATURDAY and MONDAY, there are traces of conventional plots, the later operas increasingly become a visionary total theatre, in which a story in the traditional sense is no longer definable. Since his very first compositions, Stockhausen has always attempted to avoid forming a musical story, but rather has always tried to create a new musical cosmos. This applies increasingly also to the dramaturgy of his works. Whoever searches for a story or perhaps even a social critical one in LICHT, is behaving like someone probing for masonry ledges to help him climb up a glass facade in which the entire cosmos is mirrored.
Another development is the increasing importance of electronic means and its relationship to more and more refined writing for instruments. Nasty commentators in the 80s claimed that the one-time pioneer of electronic music had missed the connection to computer music and with this, the new possibilities for sound synthesis. A work of the complexity and innovation of ORCHESTRA FINALISTS (Scene 2 of MITTWOCH), in which various sound scenes blend with each other in space, demonstrates an even better one. Through all of this, Stockhausen’s credo has remained unchanged: He does not wish to discover or combine sounds which he has in his head or which previously existed, but rather he tries to break paths which lead to new territory. He has remained, at a time when many others, turning their backs on discovery and turning towards restauration, a Columbus of music. It is true that to this path something “internal” has now been added, because in LICHT Stockhausen not only forms the outer covering of the sounds, but in addition, with a complete catalogue of new playing techniques, gives life to the individual tones as if from inside. For each note, he composes the inner and outer space, thus again bringing together – in yet a new way – the musical and philosophical cultures of the orient and the occident.
6) Further, the strategic and organisational methods for realising the world premiere of MITTWOCH aus LICHT were outlined:
In April 2001 a limited (public) company will be founded, which will realise this international production with funding from Holland, Denmark, Germany, Spain and Switzerland.
The following people are involved in the organisation
Dr. Roman Brotbeck, director of the College for Music and Theatre in Bern; Martin Tröndle, assistant in the Free Academy of the College for Music and Theatre; Eike Gramss, director of the municipal opera in Bern; Sune Joergensen and Grete Flintegaard of the Kunstforeningen af 22. Marts 1985 Denmark; Hans-Peter Jahn, manager of the SWR Vocal Ensemble, Stuttgart; Dorothea Bossert, assistant manager of the SWR Vocal Ensemble Stuttgart.
7) The Kunstforeningen af 22. Marts 1985 (Arts Association of March 85) had made a special brochure for inclusion in the “documentation folder”. It concluded with the following words, which were also spoken during the press conference by Sune Joergensen:
The World Music Theatre of Karlheinz Stockhausen is in our opinion so important for human beings today as well as for coming generations that we must join efforts in making it possible to stage these magnificent operas with their deep humanistic roots.
(Illustration 30: The brochure of the Kunstforeningen 22. Marts 1985)
During the press conference everyone involved briefly spoke and answered questions from the journalists. Mr. Gramss, director of the Bern opera house said that the world première of MITTWOCH aus LICHT would have his full support, and although he could not help financially, the opera would donate some spotlights and cables.
(Illustration 31: Photograph of press conference)
The head of the Swiss Helicopter Association (which is often active rescuing skiiers in the Alps) was present in his camouflage uniform and beret, and personally assured Stockhausen that he could provide the Alouette helicopters necessary for the HELICOPTER STRING QUARTET. This was good news, because finding the right kind of helicopter (light enough, with a big glass cockpit, a small enough engine so that the sound of the turbines does not drown out that of the rotorblades, etc.) for this work is more difficult than finding the right musicians. For instance, most military helicopters, even if offered for free (as was the case when the Austrian army was going to donate helicopters for the work when it was originally to be first performed during the Salzburg Festival) cannot be used for the HELICOPTER STRING QUARTET because they are too large, too loud and, in addition, ugly. The Alouette helicopters used by The Grasshoppers, the helicopter stunt team of the Royal Dutch Airforce which participated in the world première of the HELICOPTER STRING QUARTET in Amsterdam in 1995, are now unfortunately out of commission, we hear.
(Illustrations 32 and 33: Photographs of the helicopters: numbers 3 and 8 in the score of HELICOPTER STRING QUARTET. Also see illustration number 18 )
That afternoon, Stockhausen spoke at the university to the students and professors of the College for Music and Theater about LICHT in general and about MITTWOCH aus LICHT in particular.
(Illustration 34: About WEDNESDAY from LIGHT , p.VI of the HELICOPTER STRING QUARTET score)
Following the presentation at the university, Stockhausen was shown the Reithalle by the architect and engineer responsible for its renovation. Almost everyone involved in the realisation was present on location, so details could be discussed. Uwe Wand and Johannes Conen had viewed the riding stable previously so had already decided that it was feasible to stage MITTWOCH there, and their planning had made great progress. They were particularly inspired by the possibility that loudspeakers could be hung in the trees surrounding the rectangular field in front of the stables and that flying objects – as specified in the score for WEDNESDAY’S FAREWELL (MITTWOCHs ABSCHIED) – could fly above the field as the audience left the hall.
Dieter Cramer from Balance made notes about the sound equipment necessary, but it was decided then that the final estimate could be made in October 2001 at the earliest after Johannes Conen had finalised his stage design, because the number and placement of the loudspeakers (including the outside loudspeakers) depended on that.
Bart Mesman, who had coordinated the technical set-up for the world première of the HELICOPTER STRING QUARTET in Amsterdam (1995) was also there, because it was planned to have a separate technical and organisational team (and separate sound equipment) just for that scene, and to engage as many as possible of the same people who had been involved in the Amsterdam realisation, for obvious reasons.
Basically, due to the nature of the hall, Conen was planning to use different stages for each of the different scenes because of the near impossibility of scenic changes. This is the solution which Gae Aulenti had used for the staging of SAMSTAG aus LICHT in the gigantic Palazzo dello Sport in Milan in 1984, in which the audience sat on cushions in the middle of three different performance areas.
(Illustration 35: Photograph of the “orchestra strike” at the end of LUCIFER’S DANCE, in which the audience may be seen.)
The famous gigantic face for the third scene, LUCIFER’S DANCE, was in front of the audience. In it, the University of Michigan Symphony Band sat vertically (six rows on top of each other), about 25 metres high.
(Illustration 36: Photograph of LUCIFER’S DANCE during the scene PROTEST, with Markus Stockhausen playing piccolo trumpet in front of the gigantic face. As he played, he was constantly raised and lowered by a dolley on which he was standing, to “fight” the stilt-dancer, LUCIFER)
Further photographs of this may be seen in the scores of SAMSTAG aus LICHT, and there is a selection of photographs in the CD of SAMSTAG, CD 34 of the Stockhausen Complete Edition.
As previously said, the Reithalle (riding stable) is situated in a former military outpost of the Swiss cavalry, and directly in front of the entrance of the riding stable is a beautiful rectangular field, large enough for the take-off and landing of four helicopters. There are few opera houses which have that to offer. So there are pros and cons to turning army posts into opera houses…
(As we walked to the riding stable we were met by about 200 Swiss soldiers who had just returned from Kosovo and were having blood tests to check for radioactive contamination. After their blood tests they each got a glass of wine, and seemed very happy to be back in Switzerland.)
(Illustration 37: Map showing the location of the building complex of the College for Music and Theatre in Bern, in which the Reithalle can be seen)
On the map, the College for Music and Theatre is the large beige biplane-shaped building to the left of Papiermühlestrasse. The riding stable is the central, long building, and the four “wings” house the rest of the college (and are the only accesses to the hall, except for the front entrance). The rectangular field in front can only be partially seen.
Fred van der Kooj, the Swiss filmmaker mentioned before, was also present, because of the filming he was planning to do of the rehearsals and performances of MITTWOCH aus LICHT.
The discussions continued into the night and at breakfast the next morning. Conen had decided – since there was no organisational structure, as in an opera house, for the coordination of making the costumes, building the scenic elements and in general organising and overseeing the technical aspects of the production, including installing and operating the lighting – that he would set up an office and be responsible for this. That way he could keep an eye on the costs and control them himself.
Stockhausen left the discussion to go to a table a short distance away where Sune and Grete were waiting for him, because they had brought the finalized contract for SONNTAG aus LICHT with them, which he was to sign. Since their visit to Kürten on January 29th, it had been faxed back and forth several times until it had reached its final form. On July 1st 2005 SUNDAY from LIGHT will be premièred somewhere, anywhere in the world, the exact location still to be decided. It will be produced by the Kunstforeningen af 22. Marts 1985. In the contract it says that if a suitable hall is not found they would build it at a place of Stockhausen’s choice. The only thing that is certain about the hall is that the architect is to be Jan Utzon, the son of the architect who built the Sydney Opera House. The date, July 1st 2005, was chosen because that will be the 20th anniversary of the Kunsforeningen.
Just before being driven to the train station to catch the train to Zürich and, from there, plane to Cologne, Stockhausen gave two interviews to Swiss journalists in the hotel. A third journalist interviewed him on the train between Bern and Zürich.
Upon arriving home in Kuerten, spring had arrived too, and Stockhausen ordered (you guessed it) 16 Japanese azaleas in “as many different colours as possible, except dark violet” and 2 of each of America, Caractus, Catawbiense, Catherina van Tol, Dr. H.C. Dresselhuys, Edward S. Rands hybrid rhododendrons. In addition: 20 heart lilies (hosta), 20 swallow-wort enzian, 30 heather (pink-red), 30 enzian gentiana sino-ornata, 40 mixed lilies (gold lilies :Lilium auratum, Turk’s-cap, Lilium martagon; splendid lilies, etc.), to be planted on April 27.
Stockhausen received a facs. on April 11th from a technician who was helping Ulf Stenberg with the technical set-up in the Berwaldhallen in Stockholm, which was where the awards ceremony for the Polar Music Prize was to take place, and thus was the performance venue for GESANG DER JUENGLINGE. It turns out that the plan which Ulf had shown to Stockhausen was of the first floor only and that in fact the hall had two balconies, and that it was sold out so no seats could be removed or blocked in front of the loudspeakers, to protect the ears of the people sitting right in front of the loudspeakers.
(Illustration 38: Stockhausen’s reply of April 11th to Anders Blomquist, technician responsible for the electro-acoustical set-up for the performance of GESANG DER JUENGLINGE in the Berwaldhallen in Stockholm in May 2001)
April 25, Fred van der Kooj came to Kürten to discuss his film, together with Dr. Mattner from the music department of the WDR television and Mr. Becker from the music department of the Swiss television. Both the Swiss television and the WDR were interested in broadcasting MITTWOCH aus LICHT in its entirety and van der Kooj’s filming was to provide the material for that as well as for his own film.
On April 28, Daniel Teruggi, successor of Francois Bayle as director of the GRM (Group de Recherches Musique) of Radio France in Paris, came to talk with Stockhausen about future collaboration. In the course of the conversation, they talked about the fact that the WDR was closing the Studio for Electronic Music and Terrugi said that GRM had offered to buy it…
On May 7th, 24 more rhododendrons and 6 more azaleas were delivered.
Finally, after months of planning every moment of Stockhausen’s weekend in Stockholm for the presentation of the Polar Music Prize, we flew to Stockholm on May 11th.
The day before his departure, Stockhausen received the following schedule, made margin notes, and sent it back.
(Illustration 39: Schedule of the week-end in Stockholm for the Polar Music Prize, May 11th–14th 2001)
We were driven from the airport to the Grand Hotel, and taken to the official Polar Music Prize suite, where we would be staying. On the walls of the suite’s dining room, there were photographs of all previous prize winners: Paul McCartney, Dizzy Gillespie, Witold Lutoslawski, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Quincy Jones, Elton John, Mstislav Rostropovitch, Pierre Boulez, Joni Mitchell, Eric Ericson, Bruce Springsteen, Ray Charles, Ravi Shankar, Stevie Wonder, Iannis Xenakis, Bob Dylan, Isaac Stern and the founder of the Polar Music Prize in 1989, Stig Anderson, the composer and lyricist, and later manager of the Swedish pop group ABBA, whose photograph also hung on the wall.
We just had time to desposit our suitcases in the rooms before we walked over to the nearby Royal Swedish Academy of Music where the press conference was to take place. Before it began, Stockhausen and Robert Moog had a chance to briefly chat. During the activities of the weekend they never had time to “talk shop”, but they agreed to keep in touch because, Stockhausen is very much interested in Moog’s new analogue synthesizers, which allow better individual sound synthesis than the commercial digital synthesizers do.
Burt Bacharach arrived just before the press conference opened. He and Stockhausen are the same age.
After a short introduction by the manager of the Polar Music Prize, Stuart Ward, the journalists were invited to ask questions. Burt Bacharach said what a good feeling it was to know that they were already prize recipients instead of – like at the academy awards – only finding out during the awards ceremony.
Most of the questions were addressed to Stockhausen and were specific questions about how LICHT was progressing, when the next world premières would be, and about technical details of sound production and synthesis. I was surprised at how informed the Swedish press is. Several of them had attended the Stockhausen festival in Skinskatterberg the previous year.
When asked if he was familiar with Stockhausen’s music, Burt Bacharach replied that he had always followed and been fascinated by the music of Stockhausen. He said that he had intended to be a composer of “serious” music (and that he had “hung out” with Darius Milhaud, John Cage and others), but because of the pressure to earn money he ended up being a “commercial” musician. He’s an excellent pianist and early in his career accompanied Marlene Dietrich on tour in the 60s.
And Stockhausen accompanied the magician Adrion in the early 50s…
During that weekend I often had the opportunity to make comparisons between Bacharach, this immensely successful and gifted mainstream commercial composer, and his counterpart in the field of art music, Karlheinz Stockhausen. In the course of their careers, both have had to swallow alot, especially in working with the musicians who perform their music. I realised that the common denominator is that both hear exactly what they want, and in relentlessly trying realise that, it sometimes means being ridiculed by, for instance, a flugelhorn player who did not understand, or did not want to understand, an instruction in the score associatively describing a timbre (Bacharach), or being confronted by a trumpet player in an orchestra who gets arrogant because you keep repeating the same passage entailing refined wawa mute manipulation until he can play it perfectly (Stockhausen). And then, often – and this is the worst part – having to accept compromises imposed by musicians who are not willing to “change their brains”.
On the other hand, both spoke about positive collaborations, Bacharach not only about the essential ones with his lyricists, but also with singers who would say “But Burt I can’t sing something my soul doesn’t feel”, and there would be note changes…I heard this in Aretha Franklin’s recording of Say a little prayer. There was one interval that was a bit too complicated, so she simplified it, although the interval as composed is much more interesting compositionally. But who cares? That’s “soul”.
During rehearsals, if a score has not yet been published, Stockhausen also makes changes: certain notes if others are more playable or sound better (this is rare), certain durations if the music needs more time (more often), certain dynamics if the music needs more transparency (even more often). He sometimes will add a passage if the music is “missing something”. So the compositional process continues throughout the rehearsal phase and the recordings. For Stockhausen, when the score is published and the recording made, no more changes can be made, as far as he is concerned. But many interpreters do with the music what they want to do anyway, and that is why Stockhausen prefers to work with the members of the relatively large and ever-changing group of interpreters which has gathered around him since his career began, because there is mutual trust and respect and a shared ethos. Bacharach also has his preferred singers, some of whom are his best friends, as does just about every composer in this cruel world.
One of the journalists asked each of the prize winners what he was going to do with the prize money. Burt Bacharach said that he would use it to pay for the college education of his youngest daughter; Robert Moog said he would invest it in further resarch; and Stockhausen said, as we already know, that he was going to use it to finance the Stockhausen Courses Kuerten 2001, since state support had ended in 2000.
It was interesting to note how differently Bacharach and Stockhausen reacted to one of the questions, namely how the internet affected the distribution of their music. Bacharach said that due to Napster and others like him, the rights of the composer, the other artists involved in a recording, and the producer of the recording were being grossly violated, and that if that kind of thing had been going on earlier when he was making the most money from his recording rights he would have remained a very poor man.
Stockhausen’s answer was that he never got rich anyway from his recording rights so that aspect of the internet didn’t really apply to him. One advantage to owning almost all of his recording rights is that he himself decides what goes on the web and what doesn’t, which means that no one else can make any or any part of his recordings available on the web. His main complaint was about web broadcasts (which he refuses whenever possible) because of the quality of the sound. If people listen to the music via the mono monitor loudspeaker it is a disaster of course. If people record the broadcast and listen to it on their hi-fi equipment it is less disastrous…
But the quality of live recordings of Stockhausen’s concerts, most of which involve multi-track tapes and / or musicians who are moving on stage is not ideal. The best solution – still – is to place a stereo microphone exactly where Stockhausen is sitting at the mixer, in order to pick up what he is hearing, which is the sound he has perfectly balanced. But these days, to get a more direct sound, technicians usually like to plug into the mixer and in addition set up a stereo microphone or several microphones for the spatial sound, and the result is a strange mix made by someone who does not know the works: the soloists far in front with the rest of the music in the background (which is the traditional way of recording classical works), as opposed to the complete transparency and audibility of all parts when Stockhausen does the mixing himself. An additional problem with this recording method in the case of a large electro-acoustical installation, such as that for FREITAG aus LICHT (20 tracks) in Leipzig (as demonstrated by the live recording of FREITAG aus LICHT – which was made to “document” the world première, but has unfortunately been broadcast several times ) are the irritating delays between the multi-tracks and amplified soloists recorded by the microphone(s) in the hall and the tape and soloists taken directly from the mixer. That is why Stockhausen – whenever he is given the choice – does not agree to any live recordings and / or broadcasts of his concerts.
When he does not have the choice, then it is not tragic because the area of broadcast is limited to a country and it only is broadcast once. But in the case of the internet, there is no such thing as a one-time broadcast limited to one country. So he is very strict about not allowing his music to be broadcast on the internet, for the above reasons.
Following the press conference we took a taxi with Ulf Stenberg to the Royal University College of Music where Andreas Boettger (percussion) and Antonio Pérez Abellán (piano) were rehearsing for the concert the next day. Bryan Wolf had already done the sound check, but Stockhausen still had to raise the height of the loudspeakers and slightly change their positions. Only the basic positions and heights can be set using a plan, but the final heights and positions must be made on location by listening. I set up my camera on the balcony of the auditorium with the friendly assistance of the person responsible for video of the University College, because I wanted to video all of the events which were going to take place there (see schedule). At my request, he also filmed, and had a direct audio connection to the mixer, which he gave to me for my camera. This would be good for recording Stockhausen’s voice during introduction to KONTAKTE the next day, and for the open seminar on “The Musical Process” with the prize winners on Sunday the 13th. For the music of both KONTAKTE on the 12th and ARIES on the 13th I would switch the input of my camera to my Shure VP 88 stereo microphone which I always set up at the mixing console, for the reasons stated above. Sometimes, using my little Mackie mixer next to the camera, I make a mix of the direct sound from the mixer and the spatial sound, to give more substance to the spatial sound, but the balance is precarious due to the possibility of delay between the two signals.
As I was setting up and working on the sound for my camera, Ulf Stenberg asked me to come to talk with one of his technicians in a room nearby.
They had been unable to find the right microphones and asked if I had ours with me. I did of course, because I knew this was going to happen. However, my smugness at having thought of everything soon turned into panic when even our “adapter” plugs did not fit into the sockets of the transmitters they had rented. So then they went looking for transmitters which would fit our adapters. It was Friday evening, and Markus would need the right kind of microphone and transmitter on Sunday morning for the rehearsal of ARIES.
Returning to the auditorium, I saw Ingvar Loco Nordin for the first time in person. He was taking pictures and recording everything. As many of you know, Ingvar has his own homepage on which he has a series of reviews of the Complete Stockhausen Edition (homepage address?). Stockhausen is very impressed by the quality of these reviews because they not only reflect a deep musicality and crystal clear perception, but most important, they reveal the soul of a wonderful person. Therefore, and also because Ingvar is Swedish, Stockhausen had asked Stuart Ward, manager of the Polar Music Prize to invite Ingvar to all events of the awards weekend in Stockholm. Also present, at Stockhausen’s invitation, were Sune Joergensen and Grete Flintegaard of the Danish Kunstforeningen, and Sune showed Stockhausen the yellow postcard he had designed to announce the world première of MITTWOCH aus LICHT, which they were going to have printed 10,000s of times to send into the world with details about how to order tickets.
Following the rehearsal of KONTAKTE which ended at about 20:30, we ate dinner in the hotel with “the Danes”, Markus, and with Stockhausen’s daughter Christel Stockhausen-Hektoen and her Norwegian husband Lars who were in the process of moving with their 5 children from Oslo to Connecticut (USA), where Lars has a new job. As we ate, Karl Bartos of the group Kraftwerk came over to our table to introduce himself and to say that he had been asked to speak Stockhausen’s laudatio during the awards ceremony, and that he was honoured to do so. As many of you know, Kraftwerk is another one of the many groups who says that they were greatly influenced by the music of Stockhausen. Therefore, it is a very fitting choice to have asked him.
The next forenoon the KONTAKTE rehearsal continued. As we arrived at the Royal University College of Music in our “chauffeur-driven Jaguar” (Jaguar sponsored 4 cars for the week-end and the chauffeurs were all very nice music students who had volunteered for the illustrious job), we heard strains of Do you know the way to San Jose? coming from one of the practice rooms, sung and played quite professionally by students. This was to be part of Bacharach’s musical presentation the next day at the University College during the seminar of the prize winners, during which Markus would perform ARIES for trumpet and electronic music.
Andreas Boettger and Antonio Peréz Abellán had prepared themselves very well for KONTAKTE, so the rehearsal promised an excellent performance. Following the rehearsal, Stockhausen and the technicians checked the lighting and Stockhausen’s transmitter for his introduction, and the microphones for the questions from the audience which were to follow the performance. Then he returned to the hotel.
We returned to the College at about 15:30 for the sound check which always includes 1) testing the loudspeaker circuiting by way of an announcement of the tracks, one by one, pre-recorded on the multi-track tape, 2) testing the music on the tape, and 3) testing the microphones.
As we drove up to the College, our “chauffeur driven Jaguar” was met with television cameras and reporters. This was just film material for the interview which was to take place in peace later, following the concert.
The introduction and concert went very well and the audience, most of whom were students, posed many interesting and intelligent questions. I have it all on video and I heard that Ingvar has the transcription of both this and the seminar of the following day on his home page.
Following this, Stockhausen gave an interview with the Swedish national television for the Culture News during which he was asked, among other things, how he felt about the fact that many of the young generation of techno musicians claim that Stockhausen’s music greatly influenced their musical ideas. He said that he is pleased that the younger generation is finally beginning to spend time experimenting with sound in studios, and that he considered it a compliment that they were familiar with, and respected his work. (See more about this in my last report where I speak about the Sonar festival in Barcelona.)
Asked in detail about the music of some of the groups, he said he was not well informed, but that young musicians regularly send him recordings of their work and he often listens to them and sends them his comments. In one of the many interviews which he had given per telephone and in person in connection with the Polar Music Prize prior to coming to Stockholm, he had been asked about the fact that he has always had a major influence on progressive pop music, such as that of the Beatles, Can, and Kraftwerk, and he was asked how he thought his music had influenced them. He couldn’t answer that question, but upon hearing an excerpt played over earphones and asked if he knew what group it was, he guessed correctly when he heard the words Autobahn Autobahn Autobahn…
After the interview we went back to the hotel to get ready for dinner with the German ambassador and his wife at the German Embassy in Stockholm. Soon thereafter, we were driven in …you guessed it … to the embassy and were warmly received by Mr. and Mrs. Klaus-Hellmuth Ackermann.
The German ambassador in Stockholm often has the occasion to entertain German nobel prize winners, but this was the first time that a German had been awarded the Polar Music Prize.
Also present were Stuart Ward, manager of the Polar Music Prize, Ake Holmquist, General Secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music, all of the musicians who were performing Stockhausen’s works that weekend, Karl Bartos and his wife, and several other guests invited by the Ackermanns. Stockhausen had asked that Ingvar Loco Nordin also be invited, and there Ingvar was in a smashing new three-piece suit that he had just purchased in a Red Cross shop for about fifteen dollars. He looked like a million dollars. He confided to me that luckily he did not have to buy a tie, since his beard was long enough to conceal the fact that he was not wearing one. Speaking of ties, as we were just about to sit down to eat, I was getting concerned that Antonio had not yet arrived. Then, at the last minute, he finally showed up, completely out of breath, explaining that it had taken him about an hour to get his new tie tied (even though Markus had shown him how to do it the day before).
The next morning, back at the University College, Stockhausen rehearsed ARIES with Markus to prepare for the performance which was to take place during the open discussion among the three prize winners which was scheduled for that afternoon. Entitled “The Musical Process”, it was moderated by a woman of the Swedish television, but it was most interesting when they got off the subject and Bacharach, Moog and Stockhausen started comparing notes among themselves (experiences with musicians, family, orchestras, substitutes in orchestra, synthesizers, sweating blood, etc.). The discussion was spiced with performances of ARIES performed by Markus and music of Bacharach (Do you know the way to San Jose?) performed by the Bacharach ensemble comprising students of the University College of Music.
It seemed as if they could have gone on talking with each other forever, but finally had to stop for questions from the audience. Moog and Stockhausen agreed to keep in touch to discuss Stockhausen’s many complaints about the synthesizers presently on the market and Moog’s development of a new analogue synthesizer which could quiet allot of those complaints. Bacharach really liked Markus’s playing and said to Stockhausen following Markus’ performance: “Great trumpet playing!”
We were driven directly from the University College to the Berwaldhallen where the awards ceremony was to be held the next day, to check the loudspeaker installation which had been quite complicated due to the two balconies, and due to everything else which had to take place in the same space. We were greeted by Peter Lundin, and a very friendly crew of highly qualified technicians.
Amazingly, despite the incredibly tight schedule to organize the rest of the very technically complicated show, Stockhausen was able to spend over an hour just testing the loudspeakers and their positioning. As usual we (Kathinka, Bryan, myself and a few other technicians) were all running around, checking the sound everywhere in the hall, and with two balconies, this was pretty exhausting, running up and down the stairs and giving signals when a loudspeaker was too loud or not loud enough. We took particular care in setting the level of amplification of the loudspeakers which were near seats, because all seats had been sold. Usually for concerts we are allowed to block seats which are too close to loudspeakers. Before we left, they also tested the synchronicity of the film that had been made especially to be shown during the performance, with the CD and multi-track tape of GESANG DER JÜNGLINGE. It worked beautifully, and Stockhausen was introduced to the filmmaker who had made it, congratulating him on the moving, very spiritual and abstract result, which had combined historic representations of the “three youths in the fiery furnace”, Stockhausen’s sketches (which have been recently published in a facsimile edition) and abstract visual effects.
The next morning, we first went down to the banquet hall in the hotel to rehearse AVE for the performance which was to take place that evening during the official banquet. The performance area was tiny because the hall was going to be filled with tables for about 500 guests.While Kathinka and I were deciding how to get onto the stage without being seen, and being instructed by the stage director about the exact sequence of events (“curtain lowers, video of President Johannes Rau of Germany is shown, curtain raises…”), Stockhausen was checking the mixing console. Then we checked the transmitters and played a run-through in the clamour of the other preparations which were taking place simultaneously.
From there, we were driven to the Berwaldhallen for the dress rehearsal of the awards ceremony which, as I said before, was going to be televised live. Basically, it was the music which needed to be rehearsed, so the other prize winners were not present. Since Stockhausen did the sound projection of GESANG DER JÜNGLINGE, he had to be there to be shown when to leave the special podium – on which the prize winners were seated – to go behind the mixing console, then when to return to the podium, etc. Then they did a run-through of GESANG DER JÜNGLINGE. The first thing that happened was that the mutes on the console had been punched, so there was no music in the hall. Therefore they had to stop the film, CD, and multi-track tape and start over again. Then, the film and the music (CD and multi-track tape) did not start synchronously, and the film ended before the music did. Oh well, that is what dress rehearsals are for, right?
After the “dress rehearsal”, Stockhausen went to a dresssing room which had been prepared for him where he could relax for about an hour before the ceremony was to begin.
He was fetched by a beautiful woman who took him backstage to join Burt Bacharach and Robert Moog until all 3 were led onstage for their official entrance. Kathinka and I then went into the auditorium to take our seats in the first row, where Mrs. Bacharach, Mrs. Moog, the ambassadors, with wives, of Germany and the United States to Sweden were also sitting. After a few brief instructions to the audience by Stuart Ward, the cameras started rolling and the show began. Soon, the orchestra struck up the Royal Anthem, and His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf, Her Majesty Queen Sylvia, Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Victoria and the royal entourage entered in procession as the audience rose to their feet, and they took their seats in the middle of the front row.
(Illustration 40: Programme of the Polar Music Prize awards ceremony held on May 14th 2001 at the Berwaldhallen in Stockholm)
The performance of GESANG DER JÜNGLINGE went perfectly and then Karl Bartos walked onto the stage to read the laudatio. He first briefly spoke to Stockhausen in German, saying that he felt very honoured to be present on this occasion and that he extended his own personal warm congratulations for the well-deserved prize which Stockhausen was now being awarded. Then he spoke the official laudatio:
“Ever since his first compositions in the 1950s, Karlheinz Stockhausen, from Germany, has stood at the forefront of musical development. While no contemporary composer has generated as much heated discussion as he does, no one can deny Stockhausen’s importance and pivotal role.
Stockhausen’s work, GESANG DER JÜNGLINGE, composed in 1956, first brought electronic music to the public eye and is still considered to be one of the masterpieces of its kind.
At the start of the 1960s, Stockhausen turned his interest toward live electronics. At the same time, he began exhibiting an interest in oriental philosopy and religion and became a pioneer of world music and the meditative form. Since 1977, he has been working on his soon to be completed LICHT-opera, the greatest musical endeavor since Wagner’s ring.
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.”
Then HM King Carl XVI Gustaf walked onto the stage, presented Stockhausen with the citation, and shook his hand.
(Illustration 41: Photograph of HM King Carl XVI Gustaf shaking hands with Karlheinz Stockhausen after presenting him with the Polar Music Prize 2001.)
With the citation in his hands, Stockhausen, as he had been asked to do, turned towards the audience and said a few words.
He said that he was very grateful for the fact that money which had been earned by the musicians in the ABBA group could be used in the future for music and musicians, namely to support the musical education and training of young musicians who came to Kuerten every year from all over the world to learn.
(On February 26th 1999 Stockhausen had made a list comprising mottos for each year of the courses until the year 2028, all of which begin with the word “Learning…”. Every year the motto is on the cover of the programme book. The course motto for 1998 was “Learning in order to pass it on”. For 1999 it was “Learning out of trust in God”. For 2000 it was “Learning through music”. For 2001 it was “Learning through hard work”. And for 2002 it is "Learning from masters”.)
(Illustration 42: Stockhausen’s sketch for the programme book of the Stockhausen Courses Kuerten 1999, which includes the list of the mottos for every year of the courses from 1998–2028.)
In the programme, congratulatory messages from both President Johannes Rau of Germany and President George W. Bush of the United States were inserted.
(Illustration 43: Congratulatory message from the President of Germany, Johannes Rau)
Rather than taking the yacht back to the Grand Hotel with their Majesties the King and Queen of Sweden for cocktails, as most of the other guests did, we were driven by car to get ready for our performance during the banquet.
In the banquet hall there were 52 tables seating about 10 guests each. (There was a special booklet just for the seating assignments.) Stockhausen was seated next to HM Queen Sylvia at table 2, which meant that she could speak her native language, German, the whole evening. One of the first things she said to Stockhausen was that when the performance of GESANG DER JÜNGLINGE had ended during the ceremony, her husband had whispered to her that he wished he could hear the piece sometime again, alone in a church. That pleased Stockhausen.
Kathinka was seated at table 4 with Her Royal Highness Princess Lilian, and I was seated at table 3 with Her Royal Highness the Crown Princess Victoria. Kathinka and I went to our tables only after we had performed AVE which followed the hors d’oeuvre (plate with assorted marinated herring served with timbale of vaesterbotten cheese and Swedish hard bread) and before the main course (pepper braised medallions of reindeer served with roasted turnips and lingonberry sauce).
As Kathinka and I waited behind the curtain to play AVE, everyone became silent as a video projection screen was lowered in front of the stage curtain, and a video film was shown of the President of Germany, Johannes Rau, close-up, speaking his congratulatory message to Stockhausen in German. This message, translated into English, and that of President George W. Bush had been inserted into the programme books of the awards ceremony. Since Stockhausen had not yet gotten around to reading the programme, this was a complete surprise and one of the most meaningful moments of the weekend. Johannes Rau has known Stockhausen and his music for about 30 years, and they first became acquainted when Rau was minister for culture of the state of North Rhine Westfalia. Already in that role, he had awarded Stockhausen numerous honors. In addition, it was he who appointed Stockhausen as Professor for Composition at the State Conservatory of Cologne. Johannes Rau was then elected governor of the state and in that function, also honoured Stockhausen on many occasions. In 1998, when Rau was still governor of the state of North Rhine Westfalia, but had already been designated to become the President of Germany, it was his personal recommendation to the government of the state that finally mobilised state support for the Stockhausen Courses Kuerten.
The curtain was then raised and Kathinka and I performed AVE . The audience remained very quiet and concentrated for the entire time. (Not easy when you are hungry!)
After changing out of my AVE costume into my banquet clothes in my room (just “upstairs” in the same hotel), I took my place near HRH Crown Princess Victoria. In perfect American, she said how much she had enjoyed AVE and made some very intelligent observations about AVE, which indicated to me that she had listened and watched closely. She speaks perfect American because she studied at Yale for two years before returning to Sweden recently.
There were several other musical intermezzi as the evening progressed, including a band of mini Moogs and some more Bacharach songs, some of which he performed himself.
The evening ended when His Majesty the King got up to leave. Kathinka had been told by HRH Princess Lilian that HM King Carl XVI Gustaf enjoys social events so much that he sometimes needs a reminder to end an event. Since the event can only end when he decides to leave, HRH Princess Lilian passed a note to him on which she had written “Show me the way to go home”.
It had been a long day and weekend, so we went to our rooms. Other hardy souls moved to Berns for the PostPrizegivingParty. Of course Antonio and Christel went, so could tell us about it the next day.
The next day, the papers were full of colour photographs of the awards ceremony: Bacharach waving, Moog holding the giant bottle of Champagne each of the winners received, and Stockhausen shaking hands with HM King Carl XVI Gustaf. In the article about the awards ceremony which I was trying to read, despite the fact that I do not speak a word of Swedish, a sentence kept recurring in which “Stockhausen” was mentioned: Stockhausen sjaelv hoell ocksa foer oerronen. Suspicious that this was some nasty journalist trying to “get at” Stockhausen, I asked Christel to translate, since she speaks fluent Norwegian of course, and if you can speak Norwegian you can at least understand Swedish. The sentence meant: “and Stockhausen held his ears”. There were various contexts: during the numerous Bacharach presentations which were very loud (except for the one sung by Anne Sofie von Otter) and during the Moog presentation (Manfred Mann playing a mini-Moog) which was also very loud. But Stockhausen did not really hold his ears, he just discreetly stuck his finger into his left ear, which is the more sensitive one. Anyway, why was this journalist watching Stockhausen instead of the show?!
On leaving the hotel for the airport, we said good-bye to Burt and Jane Bacharach and asked where they were off to next. He was going to conduct an evening of his music with an orchestra near Chicago. Bacharach then asked Stockhausen what was next on his agenda, and Stockhausen said that he would continue composing HOCH-ZEITEN, and explained a little about the work. Fascinated by the idea of the simultaneous performances in two different electro-acoustically connected venues, Bacharach said that he would like to come and hear / see if it will work.
Upon returning home, many congratulatory letters from all over the world were waiting. One of them was from Wolfgang Clement, the governor of North Rhine Westfalia. In it, he congratulated Stockhausen for receiving the Polar Music Prize and expressed his appreciation to Stockhausen for his generosity in using the prize money to finance the Stockhausen Courses 2001 . He said that he was well aware that this was not a permanent solution for guaranteeing the continuity of the courses and that therefore he would do his best, together with the responsible people in the state government, to find a permanent solution for financing the courses.
From May 17–20, the first rehearsals for LUZIFERs ZORN (LUCIFER’S FURY) for bass, actor, synthesizer player and tape took place. This is a scene of EVAs ERSTGEBURT (EVE’S FIRST BIRTH-GIVING), the first act of MONDAY from LIGHT, and the world première of this concert version took place on August 12th during the Stockhausen Courses Kuerten 2001. Stockhausen took part in a few of these rehearsals to help Nicholas Isherwood (bass), Alain Louafi (actor) and Antonio Pérez Abellán (synthesizer) make sure that they had understood everything in the score, and made suggestions about the choreography. The next rehearsals would take place with Nicholas and Alain alone because of their very complicated musical and scenic double-role, which they would have to practice by themselves. The final rehearsals with Stockhausen would begin 10 days before the courses began. The world première brought the house down. The score has just been published, and the recording – which was made immediately following the courses – has been released on CD 63. Both have lots of photographs of and explanations about LUCIFER’S FURY.
(Illustration 45: Photograph of Lucipolyp [Alain Louafi, actor, at the left, and Nicholas Isherwood, bass, at the right] as it appears on the cover of the LUCIFER’S FURY score.)
On May 21st, Dettloff Schwerdtfeger, director of the Stockhausen Courses Kuerten, and I tried our luck with another ministry of the state administration in Duesseldorf, this time the Ministry for Science, Education and Schools.
The letter which I wrote to Dr. Hartmut Krebs and Dr. Salzmann later, in June, reflects what transpired during the meeting:
"Dear Dr. Krebs, dear Dr. Salzmann,
thank you very much for taking the time to talk with Dettloff Schwerdtfeger and myself about the future of the Stockhausen Courses Kürten.
After reading through Dettloff’s protocol, Prof. Stockhausen’s impression was that our discussion had not principally concentrated on the possibility of permanent institutional support by the state, but rather that we were already considering an option which, in his opinion and mine, should only be resorted to in case all other efforts fail.
I tried to point out that the Stockhausen Courses Kürten offer training in many areas (musicological, compositional, performance and performance practice, i.e. truly Musik-Wissenschaft), which no other institution in the entire world, let alone in Germany, can offer. The courses supplement the work done at the universities and at the conservatories and is the only training centre of its kind anywhere for music and for musical awareness.
Enclosed is a text which Stockhausen wrote in the seventies which de facto describes the Stockhausen Courses Kürten, although they were not even in his dreams at that time.
(Illustration 46: “Exploratories of Music”)
Also enclosed is a sheet on which he outlined (in 1999) the yearly mottos for the courses until the year 2028. It always begins with “Lernen um…”.
(Illustration 47: see Illustration 42)
It is a fact that “learning” is the only hope for the future, in every respect. How else can it be explained that the most learned are the most liberal? When “learning” is combined with music, which has proven to be the purest communication for mankind because, as President Rau has recently recalled, it needs no translation, then we have a potent instrument for international understanding and peace.
Please take a look at the courses ‘in action’ this summer in Kürten and you will see human beings of all races, all walks of life, and all economic strata immediately understanding and liking each other (even though they can barely communicate in words), because they are all have a common interest: the music of Stockhausen. The 23 nations are united into one, and remain united even when they go home. They all come – not to be entertained – but to learn, and they take this learning home with them to share it with others.
We are talking about a budget of 250.000,-DM per year. Stockhausen has announced the “themes” of the courses (without renumeration) until the year 2028. We could promise not to expect more from NRW.
I personally hope that Germany will realise how positive government support of this could be for their international image, which has traditionally been that of THE country of music, poetry and literature. For serious culture, the kind of teamwork which Dettloff has proposed does NOT work, as witnessed by the cultural situation in the USA, which will not change as long as culture depends on the taste of those who pay for it.
P.S. In addition to the enclosures already mentioned, there is a print-out of a report about the courses which recently appeared on the Stockhausen Homepage (http:/www.stockhausen.org), written by two American course participants, and the BBC film Music Masters: Karlheinz Stockhausen which was made last year during the courses. The book and CD are for you from Stockhausen personally, in gratitude for your help.”
From May 21st–23rd the first rehearsals of DER KINDERFÄNGER (THE PIED PIPER) for alto flute with piccolo, two synthesizer players, percussionist and tape took place in the rehearsal room of the foundation. It is a scene from EVE’S MAGIC, the third act of MONDAY from LIGHT, and this concert version would also be world premièred on August 12th as the final work of the last concert of the Stockhausen Courses Kuerten 2001.These initial rehearsals took place without Stockhausen. DER KINDERFÄNGER was also recorded immediately after the courses and is available on CD 63. The score has just been published, and both the CD and score have many photographs and informative texts.
As you may know, Stockhausen will be analysing this work in his composition seminars during the Stockhausen Courses Kuerten 2002. During the mixing for the CD, as he was balancing the multi-track recording, he decided that it would be the perfect way to demonstrate the work during his composition seminar. In addition, the multi-track recording of all instruments and tape may be used for performances with a live flutist only, by closing the flute track.
At the end of May, Rupert Huber, former conductor of the choir of the Southwest German Radio Suttgart, who conducted the world première of WORLD-PARLIAMENT and rehearsed the choir for the world première of MICHAELION, and who will be responsible for preparing the choir groups for HOCH-ZEITEN, visited Stockhausen to discuss the rehearsal plan and the click-track for the tempo changes, which will be heard over earphones by the leader of each choir and orchestra group.
Stockhausen will make the click-track himself, because he wants to make sure that the click-track is pleasant to listen to: it must be musical and be suggestive of the phrasing, therefore in addition to the “clicks” he will speak the bar numbers and beat numbers, especially intonating upbeats and downbeats and the lengths of phrases by gradually raising and lowering the pitch of his voice. Many click tracks are too mechanical, and can even make a musician agressive when he is trying to make music. Simon Stockhausen, with his father’s guidance, made the beautiful click-tracks for HELICOPTER STRING QUARTET and for learning the real scenes of FREITAG aus LICHT. It is an art, as about everything else can be, when done with love.
At the beginning of June we (Stockhausen, Antonio, Kathinka, Sandra Huckenbeck, Marco Böhlandt and I) made the recording for the voices which are played back during the performance of LUCIFER’S FURY as Lucipolyp progresses through the alphabet. It is not easy to find suitable words.
(Illustration 48: Alphabetic Shouts, p.VI in the preface of the LUCIFER’S FURY score)
The recording was a riot. Antonio then chose the best takes (we made three for each word, with corrections by Stockhausen between the takes) and made the stereo mix.
June 16th–17th 2001, the rehearsals for DER KINDERFÄNGER continued, this time with Stockhausen.
The new version of OBERLIPPENTANZ for trumpet, synthesizer and two percussion players was rehearsed June 18th–19th, and from June 22nd–25th Angela, Kathinka and I rehearsed some of the scenes of FREITAG aus LICHT.
Five of the 10 real scenes of FRIDAY from LIGHT were going to be performed live, and the other five (CHILDREN’S ORCHESTRA, CHILDREN’S CHOIR, CHILDREN’S TUTTI, CHILDREN’S WAR and CHOIR SPIRAL) would be played back in addition to the 20-track tape electronic music and sound scenes of FREITAG aus LICHT, which has a total duration of 2 hours and 29 minutes. Two performances of this “Quasi concert performance with the real scenes” of FREITAG aus LICHT opened the Stockhausen Courses Kuerten 2001 on August 5th and 6th. Further performances of this new version of FREITAG aus LICHT took place in Stuttgart, London, Amsterdam and Forbach (France) in September, October and November of 2001.
The multi-track recordings of FREITAG aus LICHT which were made in Leipzig in 1996 during the rehearsals for the world première and during the performances, are still waiting to be edited and mixed for the CD. For the five real scenes which were to be played back during the upcoming quasi concert performances of FREITAG, Stockhausen selected the best takes, then edited and mixed them from July 17th–20th at Sound Studio N in Cologne (now Studio 301) for a stereo playback during the performances. We were amazed that the children’s scenes, which were multi-track recordings of the final live performance in Leipzig, were excellent in every respect. Those of you who heard the performances know what I am talking about when I say that the children’s joy of music making was so palatible and contagious in the concerts that it seemed as if they were really there. I wish they had been!
It is so wonderful to work with children. We have had this pleasure in both operas MONTAG aus LICHT and in FREITAG aus LICHT. (Stockhausen dedicated the opera FRIDAY from LIGHT “to all children”.) They learn so quickly, and for them there are no such things as “old” or “new” music. There is just music, and it is either fun to sing or not. Stockhausen knows how to compose for children and how to challenge them to their limits without over-taxing them. He also knows how to teach them: They get cassettes of the music and listen to it on their walkmans until they are completely familiar with it. Of course, without the dedicated support of excellent choir directors such as János Reményi of the children’s choir of the Hungarian National Radio in 1986 –88 for MONTAG aus LICHT or Anne-Kristin Mai of the children’s choir of the Leipzig Opera and Gunter Berger of the children’s choir of the Middle German Radio in Leipzig for FREITAG aus LICHT in 1996, the children could never reach the discipline and perfection required. But they do not mind working hard if every now and then – as it is Stockhausen’s custom to do – they get treats like apples, bananas and other surprises, but above all the feeling that he loves them. They love him too. We are still in contact with many of the children with whom we have worked over the years, who are now grown-up Stockhausen fans scattered all over the globe.
On July 26th 2001 Stockhausen quickly dashed off a note to a young German composer who had at least been honest enough to ask for permission to use short excerpts from several of Stockhausen’s works of electronic music in order to make a new composition of his own.
Dear [name changed to protect the innocent] :
just a short reaction (between constant rehearsals): for GOD’S sake please keep your hands off my sounds!
My sounds are composed, unique for each work.
Friendly greetings from Ka Stockhausen
Meanwhile the course participants were beginning to arrive, and in addition to the official “open rehearsals” of FREITAG aus LICHT which began on July 29th in the auditorium of the school, the final rehearsals for LUCIFER’S FURY, DER KINDERFÄNGER and OBERLIPPENTANZ had already begun on July 25th in another rehearsal hall. Stockhausen’s music could be heard coming from the practice rooms throughout the school grounds.
On July 31st and August 1st the sound and light equipment was installed in the Sülztalhalle. This year, for the pyramid set-up of the loudspeakers for the 20 tracks of FRIDAY from LIGHT, a special kind of traverse construction was built above the stage so that each loudspeaker could be hung at a different height as prescribed.
(Illustration 49: Loudspeaker set-up in FREITAG aus LICHT, p. 35 of the programme book of the Stockhausen Courses Kuerten 2001, but also in the preface of the score FRIDAY TEMPTATION)
In addition, for the other concerts, Stockhausen needed an 8- track set-up.
(Illustration 50: Stockhausen’s drawing from September 9th 2000 indicating the necessary sound equipment and its installation in the Suelztalhalle during the Stockhausen Courses Kuerten 2001.)
On August 5th at 18:00, the courses were officially opened in the traditional way, by the mayor of Kuerten, Ulrich Iwanow and Stockhausen. Mayor Iwanow added a fourth language, Spanish, to his introduction in German, English and French.
128 participants from 25 different nations had registered: 40 composers, 39 interpreters, 11 musicologists and 38 auditors. Every year, there is 75% turnover, with some faces reappearing only every two or three or even four years.
In the meantime, I have read excellent accounts of the Stockhausen Courses Kuerten 2001 written by both Ingvar Loco Nordin in the context of his CD reviews of the Stockhausen Complete Edition and by Albrecht Moritz. It is my feeling that both of them have captured the essence and have managed to adequately convey the activities and the atmosphere which prevailed during the Stockhausen Courses Kuerten 2001.
What neither of them has reported yet is that during the courses in 2001, 257 kilos of apples were consumed, as compared with 315 kilos in 2000. Traditionally, since 1998, Stockhausen has baskets of apples placed at the entrance of the Sülztalhalle before his composition seminar begins and they remain there until the end of the evening concert. This is a welcome energy and concentration boost in such long, full days. (For those of you who have not read my previous reports, 305 kilos of apples were consumed in 1998, and 272 kilos were consumed in 1999.) Given the fact that every year there were about the same number of participants (130) and the weather was sunny, the only explanation I have for the variation in the consumption of apples is that the works which Stockhausen analyzed during his composition seminars could have resulted in the need for more concentration in the years of high consumption. In 1998 (more consumption) he analysed ORCHESTRA FINALISTS of WEDNESDAY from LIGHT, in 1999 he analysed WORLD PARLIAMENT of WEDNESDAY from LIGHT, in 2000 (more consumption) he analysed SIRIUS, and in 2001 he analysed LIGHTS–WATERS of SUNDAY from LIGHT. (Another theory bites the dust: Kathinka just informed me that she remembers that the groups of teenagers from Kuerten who sometimes hang around on the grounds the school were larger in 1998 and 2000, and freely indulged in the apples…)
For those of you who are interested in the details of Stockhausen’s annual composition courses, each year he compiles a booklet containing sketches and other pertinent analytical information for use during these courses. They are guides to the works being analysed, and are published by the Stockhausen Verlag. For instance for Stockhausen’s seminar on LICHTER–WASSER, a 60-page booklet Composition Course about LICHTER–WASSER (SONNTAGs GRUSS) / LIGHTS – WATERS (SUNDAY GREETING) for soprano, tenor and orchestra with synthesizer was published. About half of it comprises sketches in colour and black-and-white. The rest of it includes excerpts from the score, the complete preface to the score and the sung texts (both in English), many photographs and other background material for studying and analysing the work.
Of course, what does not come with the booklet is the experience of hearing the special multi-track mixes of the works analysed, excerpts of which are played back during the seminar as musical examples. Then, at the end of the week, Stockhausen plays the entire work (if it is not performed live in the concerts during the courses, as was the case with SIRIUS). His 8-track mix of LICHTER–WASSER comes very close to the auditory experience of hearing the notes travel pointillistically through space (played by the 29 orchestra musicians standing around the eight groups of listeners, and in crossed and diagonal aisles through the audience), but can never replace it. It is a taste – like a hologram postcard – of the “real thing”.
(See illustration 7a)
(Illustrations 51–55: Photographs taken by Ingvar Loco Nordin during the Stockhausen Courses Kuerten 2001, including the group photograph of all participants.)
We hope to see these faces again this year, and many new ones, who are no longer satisfied with hologram postcards. And: transatlantic flights will never be cheaper than they are now.
On August 12th, after the final concert, Stockhausen presented prizes for the best performances of his works in the three participants’ concerts during the Stockhausen Courses Kuerten 2001. As usual, the level had been so high that he would have preferred to give everyone who had performed a prize. But he had to choose, so:
The prize of 7, 500 DM was equally divided between Rumi Sota-Klemm (Japan) and Roberta Gottardi (Italy), clarinetists, who had each given a superb and moving – yet completely different – performance of HARLEKIN for clarinet. This work involves dancing and playing for 45 minutes according to the very precise score composed by Stockhausen in 1975. Both of them have worked with me for years on the work, so I was as happy as they were. In addition, each of them had operated the follower spotlight as the other performed, which is a very difficult and differentiated job, and this proves how supportive they had been of each other during the whole week. This atmosphere of collaboration and moral support is reflective of the general atmosphere among the interpreters of the courses, where “competition” has no place. We have more important things to think about, namely helping each other to reach and then surpass limitations, both musical and spiritual, from which we all profit, in the end.
The prize of 5, 000 DM was awarded to Karin de Fleyt (alto flute) from Belgium, and Michele Marelli (basset-horn) from Italy, for their stunning and beautiful performance of AVE for basset-horn and flute.
The prize of 2, 500 DM was awarded to Frank Gutschmidt, pianist from Berlin, for his unbelievable performance of PIANO PIECE X (from memory!). Stockhausen said it was the best performance of that work which he had ever heard. (He then had Frank engaged for a performance of KLAVIERSTÜCK X in London during the festival of Stockhausen’s music at the Barbican Centre in October 2001.)
Alex Poots, producer of that festival, Joséphine Markovits, director of the Festival d’Automne in Paris, Jan Zekfeld, director of the VARA Matinee concerts in Amsterdam, and Claude Lefebvre, director of the rendez-vous musique nouvelle festival in Forbach, France, had all attended one or more concerts during the courses. The courses now have an established reputation among such international concert organizers as the perfect place for both getting programmation ideas and for hearing new young talents.
Again, as in 2000, Stockhausen added two “special” prizes of 1, 000 DM each, and awarded them to the two Italian pianists Fabrizio Rosso and Giuseppe Leanza who gave an excellent performance of MANTRA, as culmination of their work with Ellen Corver since 1998 during the Stockhausen Courses Kuerten.
There was also a “secret” prize, which few noticed (besides Ingvar Loco Nordin). Stockhausen had been so moved by the performance of TIERKREIS (ZODIAC) by the Japanese baritone Takashi Matsudaira, that – during the farewell dinner – Stockhausen gave him an autographed music box of Takashi’s star sign.
On August 13th, the day after the 4th annual Stockhausen Courses Kuerten had ended late in the night of the 12th after the final concert, the presentation of prizes and the farewell party, Antonio was already setting up his synthesizer at Studio 301 (formerly Sound Studio N) in Cologne for the recording of LUCIFER’S FURY, which took place on August 14th and 15th with Nicholas and Alain. The recording of DER KINDERFÄNGER followed on August 16th–18th, and the editing and mixing was begun from August 19th–22nd.
The bass and actor’s voices for LUCIFER’S FURY were recorded acoustically and the ten tracks of the synthesizer were recorded directly onto the multi-track recording, and audible for Nicholas and Alain over headphones. This method was chosen to ensure that all tracks would be clean for the mixing later.
DER KINDERFÄNGER was recorded in a similar way: flute and piccolo acoustically, the two synthesizers directly onto the multi-track recording, and Kathinka could hear them over earphones. The percussion was added later to the completed mix of the other instruments.
On August 20th 2001, Stockhausen wrote to Wolfgang Clement, the governor of the state of NRW, because since his promising congratulatory letter he had not heard anything.
“Dear Governor Clement,
my name is Karlheinz Stockhausen, the composer. I have written to you several times. You have written to me once.
The Stockhausen Courses Kuerten 2001 are over. 132 participants from 25 nations attended master classes and heard 9 concerts. About 480 people attended each concert – in addition to the 132 participants, local people attended. The quality was higher than any place else I have given courses and concerts since I began 50 years ago.
The costs for this year’s courses totalled 223,000 DM. Dr. Brusis from the Foundation for Art and Culture contributed 12,000 DM; the GEMA contributed 10,000 DM; the Kreissparkasse contributed 5,000,-DM; the German Music Council contributed 10,000 DM.
I donated all of the 216,000 DM which I received for the Polar Prize 2001 to cover the costs for the courses.
Out of the clear blue sky, your minister for culture has informed me that he is interested in meeting with me. I am available only as of August 23rd because until then I have to work daily for 10 hours a day in the studio. Many people have told me that Mr. Vesper is primarily interested in soccer fields. Please remind him that today’s highly estimated “classical music” was completely paid for by high diginitaries of the church, or kings and princes. The courses will not be able to take place in 2002.
Sincere greetings from Karlheinz Stockhausen”
On August 27th 2001 Stockhausen listed new dates for planting:
"September 10, September 24, October 4 and October 8”.
On September 5th, we travelled to Stuttgart for a performance of FREITAG aus LICHT during the European Music Festival there. We rehearsed all day on the 6th and 7th, and the concert was on the 8th. The context was an unusual one for us, because it was organized by the International Bachakademie in Stuttgart, therefore almost all of the other concerts were classical ones. In the press conference in Hamburg on September 16th (see the complete transcription in German on this homepage), Stockhausen spoke in depth about the moving experience of speaking to several elderly people following this particular concert, because they could not conceive of music being produced in any way other than by an orchestra. It was literally “mind blowing” for them, when Stockhausen tried to explain to them that all of the music they had heard, except that performed by the soloists on stage, had come from a tape played back over loudspeakers. They simply could not fathom such a thing, despite Stockhausen’s explanatory attempts (and although they had heard it with their own ears) and they left the hall in a sort of daze, quite confused and unsettled.
On September 10th (a year minus a day after Stockhausen planted in 2000), 1200 Vinca minor and 40 lilies were planted.
At 15:30 on September 11th, Julia Spinola of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung had just arrived to conduct an interview with Stockhausen, which was published on September 17th, the day before our first two concerts were to take place in Hamburg. It was a full page, with the headlines:
In Music, we are like Physicists
Karlheinz Stockhausen speaks about his development as a composer, the DNA code of musical beings, tone heads, tone hearts, and his passionate interest in our planet.
The occasion was a significant one: Stockhausen was giving concerts in Hamburg for the first time in nearly 40 years. For the interview, Stockhausen had gone next door to the so-called Musikhaus, where he gives most of his interviews.
While the interview was taking place, the telephone rang in another house, where I was working. It was Doris Stockhausen, his first wife. She was nearly hysterical and could hardly speak but I understood enough to gather that both the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon had been attacked and were in flames. She knew that we do not watch television, so that is why she called. My mind was racing: “invincible” America attacked? And: my parents and my brother with his family live 7 miles from the Pentagon. Were they alive or dead? And: Stockhausen’s (and Doris’) daughter Christel had just moved to Connecticut, near New York City, with her husband and five children. Were they in danger?
I finally cut her off, because I do not feel that it is possible to think (or talk) and pray at the same time, and I strongly felt that the only thing that I could do or wanted to do at the moment was to pray. So I did. I prayed for all of mankind, and especially for the souls of our loved ones in case they were dead.
Then I tried to call my parents, and for the first hour all lines were busy. Finally I got through to my brother’s office and a receptionist answered “Bonesongs Inc., may I help you?”. I thought: “Huh?!” I asked her if it was true that the Pentagon was in flames and she said that they had heard that an airliner had crashed into the Pentagon but they did not know any details yet, but were getting regular updates in the news. I was relieved to hear that the damage seemed to be limited.
When I finally reached my mother, she too sounded fairly calm in comparison to Doris. So I thanked God that they were still alive. She said that she had called my father (83 years old), who was out running errands, on his cell phone, asking him to come home as soon as possible, because at that point no one knew when the next airliner would crash into something. At that moment the fourth airliner – supposedly also underway to a target in Washington D.C. – had crashed in Pennsylvania.
After we finished talking, I got out one of the radios we usually use for performances of SPIRAL, a work for solo instrument and short wave radio, and immediately got the news because it was on every station.
Then Stockhausen returned from the interview, and I told him about the catastrophes in New York and Washington. He even wrote, as I discovered later when I was checking dates to write this report, “Katastrophe New York / Washington” in his diary, in which he usually writes only the times of appointments, rehearsals and concerts. He too had thought that America was invincible.
The rest of the day and the following days we were listening to the radio and calling my parents several times a day daily.
We were informed by the Hamburg Music Festival, where we were to give 4 concerts the following week, that although many concerts and festivals in Germany had been cancelled to show solidarity for the United States, their festival would take place, but that Nicholas Isherwood had been stranded in the USA. Therefore, he could not get back to Europe in time for the rehearsals of LUCIFER’S FURY were to have taken place in Kuerten before leaving for Hamburg, but he hoped to get back in time for the rehearsals of FREITAG aus LICHT which were scheduled to take place in Hamburg on September 17th. Thus Stockhausen had to replace LUCIFER’S FURY with AVE on one of the three other concerts. “LUCIPOLYP spoils the game”, as it is sung in MONDAY from LIGHT… and that was even before the press conference in Hamburg !
On September 16th we flew to Hamburg, feeling quite jittery after going through the new, much tighter security checks. We were happy to land. The press conference which was held that afternoon in Hamburg has been completely transcribed in German and was published in the November 2001 issue of the music magazine MusikTexte, with an editorial by Reinhard Oelschlaegel. It can be read elsewhere on this homepage.
For details about the press conference in Hamburg, Stockhausen’s stay in Hamburg from September 16th–18th, and everything that happened to him in the period which followed until early October, please read my “eye-witness report” elsewhere on this homepage.
As planned, despite everything, 1200 snow-drops, 320 hyacynths, 160 lilies, 50 quendel, 30 Steinsame, 500 giant crocusses, and 250 forest hyacynths were planted on September 27th.
(Illustration 56: Planting scheme for September 27th and October 8th 2001)
On Sept. 29th, Stockhausen went to the new Sound Studio N to begin editing and mixing the multi-channel recording of DER KINDERFÄNGER, but soon had to return home because of technical problems with the new mixing console. Even Günther Kaspar, the resident sound engineer there, one of Stockhausen’s favourites, gave up and had Sony replace the console.
We kept receiving very intelligent, perceptive and supportive letters from people all over the world who had immediately understood what Stockhausen had said during the press conference in Hamburg on September 16th, and who were scandalised at the German media campaign against Stockhausen. In the meantime there are two thick ringbooks full of such letters. Jim Stonebraker kept sending updates of the countless e-mailed “letters of support” which were sent to the homepage.
As time wore on, excellent articles started appearing internationally, reflecting on, for instance, destruction in art. There was soul-searching, and more and more people were beginning to understand what Stockhausen had said and meant.
On October 4th, exactly a year after he had planted in 2000, 12 rhododendron, 100 rudbechia, and 15 white cornus were planted.
Dr. Reinhard Ermen, of the Südwestrundfunk Baden-Baden plans to broadcast one opera of the LICHT-cycle per year for the next 7 years. You may remember that it was also he, as director of the opera department of the Südwestrundfunk, who broadcasted LICHTER–WASSER twice on Easter Sunday in 2000: the recording of the world première on October 16th 1999, and Stockhausen’s mix of the studio recording (CD 58 of the Stockhausen Complete Edition) which he had just completed at that time. So on October 6th, he came to Kuerten to make an interview with Stockhausen which would be broadcast in connection with the opera MONTAG aus LICHT, the first of this series of 7 broadcasts in 7 years. The broadcast was to take place on October 21st.
While he was here, Dr. Ermen received the following facs. (A few days earlier, he had told us that he was having to energetically defend his planned series of Stockhausen broadcasts because of the German media campaign which was raging against Stockhausen at the time.)
"Dear Mr. Ermen,
I am the producer of the Elektronic Festival at London’s Barbican Centre which starts next week and features Karlheinz Stockhausen and other leading electronic artists. I understand from Suzanne that we share a solidarity against the oppressive response that Stockhausen has recently fallen prey to.
It may interst you to know that the Managing Director of the Barbican, John Tusa, recently appeared on the BBC’s flagship Radio 4 programme (The Today Programme) in which he voiced the Barbican’s full committment to presenting this festival and the musical achievements of Stockhausen.
Censorship has never been and never will be the answer, something the Hamburg Festival might have wished to consider before their most surprising decision to cancel.
Since then, other articles in the UK press have appeared, outlining the way in which Stockhausen’s words (and more importantly his nature) were misrepresented – an example from Time Out reads:
‘Scan through his biography and you’ll see that 73 year old Stockhausen is unlikely to celebrate any violence. His father was killed in combat and his mentally ill mother executed in the Nazi’s eugenics programme. In the last years of the war, the teenage Stockhausen served as a stretcher-bearer behind the front lines. As a composer, his project was to reconstitute music, to pick out the pieces of a bombed out continent.’
On October 8th, 2000 crocuses, 750 iris, 80 carnations, 1500 red tulips, 300 Appeldorn tulips, 250 Verdi tulips, 1000 anemones were planted.
(See Illustration 56)
In a profile of Karlheinz Stockhausen entitled OUT OF THIS WORLD which was published in the London entertainment magazine Play as preview for the festival of Stockhausen’s music which took place in mid-October in the context of the elektronic festival at the Barbican Hall, Geoff Brown wrote:
[…]“His cosmic perspective and penchant for allegory has just got him into trouble. Asked about the terrorist attacks in New York at a press conference in Hamburg on September 16th, he described them sorrowfully as Lucifer’s “greatest work of art of all”.
Taken out of context, the art work remark was broadcast on a local radio station, causing huge offence in a city made jittery by a local link to the plane hijackers. Stockhausen’s concerts were cancelled.
By now the German furore has abated somewhat, but the incident proves two things. Stockhausen is not the German media’s favourite son. Nor is he a natural diplomat. […]
From the beginning the opinions of critics and the public on his work were divided. But throughout the Sixties and early Seventies, Stockhausen rode high. His albums sold well and rock and pop musicians listened in awe. John Lennon even proposed a shared concert with the Beatles. It never happened, but Stockhausen’s head at least made in on to the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band cover collage.
In the Seventies the fashionable composers were those engaged with social realities, such as Henze and Nono. By comparison, Stockhausen appeared lost in his own world, composing his grandiose LICHT cycle (seven operas for the seven days of the week).
But since the Nineties, Stockhausen’s fortunes have risen again. The music is still vital, and young audiences feel a link between his pioneering sonic flights and dance music. There are not that many living legends in contemporary music, but the man in the orange cardigan is definitely one.”
As I mentioned earlier in this report, all concerts were sold out, and received standing ovations, even though concert attendance in London was suffering at the time because of fear of terrorist attacks. Stockhausen gave an introduction to each of the four concerts, some of which were recorded by the BBC. The transcriptions and audio recordings of these introductions may be found elsewhere on this homepage.
Before leaving London, Stockhausen had a very important meeting with Alex Poots and Robert Worby who together had conceived the Stockhausen festival.
Just to give you an idea of what kind of person Alex is, he had found out exactly where (row number and seat numbers) Stockhausen’s mixing console had been located in 1985 in the Barbican Hall during the highly acclaimed week-long BBC festival of Stockhausen’s music, Music and Machines. When Dieter Cramer came to inspect the hall several months before the concerts of October 2001 were to take place, to decide about the necessary sound equipment and the general installation, he foresaw on a different location for the mixing console. Alex told him that in 1985, Stockhausen had wanted the mixer to be in row such-and-such, seats so-and-so. But Cramer said “Quatsch” (after all, Alex is “only” a producer) and the mixer was then installed, in the night from October 11th to 12th, according to Cramer’s plan.
The next morning, when Stockhausen arrived at the hall for what was supposed to have been the final aiming of the loudspeakers and the sound check, he said the mixer was in the wrong place and that it should be about two metres farther to the front and on the ground floor, instead of on the balcony where it had been placed. And the corrected location was row such-and-such and seats so-and-so which Alex had notated.
And whenever you see a text written by Robert Worby, read it. He is one of the most brilliant and knowledgeable music journalists writing in the English language. We have asked him to send some of his texts to the homepage, and I hope he has.
Returning from London, I was informed that the WDR broadcast on October 17th, which was supposed to have been about Karlheinz Stockhausen as former studio director of the Studio for Electronic Music of the WDR, had been an ideologised defamation of Stockhausen and his music.
Someone sent me a copy of it, which I listened to and then wrote the following letter:
“Dear Mr. G,
I have just listened to your programme about Karlheinz Stockhausen which was broadcast by the WDR on October 17th 2001.
I have some good news and some bad news. The good news first:
1) According to the book of Daniel 3: 26–30 in The Bible, the three youths in the fiery furnace, whose song of praise is the text of Stockhausen’s GESANG DER JUENGLINGE, left the fiery furnace without the slightest injury or burn, thanks to their devotion to God :
‘So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisors crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.
Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than to serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.’
(The Holy Bible, New International Version, 1998)
‘In GESANG DER JÜNGLINGE, whenever language emerges momentarily from the sound signs of the music, it praises God.’
(Stockhausen in the programme notes for the world première on May 30th 1956)
Who is brutal?
2) The hybrid couples who sing the CHOIR SPIRAL at the end of FRIDAY are also not burned alive. FREITAG aus LICHT is about repentance and redemption.
Stockhausen has dedicated FREITAG aus LICHT ‘to all children’. In the scenes CHILDREN’S ORCHESTRA, CHILDREN’S CHOIR and CHILDREN’S TUTTI, the ‘black’ children out-perform the ‘white’ children in every way. They are much more agile, have much more humour and are much more musical. But the TUTTI, in which they make music together, is the highlight, because it is more than the sum of its parts. In the middle of the CHILDREN’S TUTTI, Ludon sings to Eve: ‘Listen to my children, my black musi-children, Eve – they are all God’s children.’
Later, in the CHILDREN’S WAR, it is through the ingenuity of the black children, and their ‘secret weapon’ the rhinocerous, that they again prevail over the white children and chase them away.
Why do you find this offensive?
Who is a racist?
3) In HYMNEN, the Horst Wessel Lied in the middle of the German anthem is, as Stockhausen says in HYMNEN, ‘only a reminder’. This reminder is a lot less expensive that other ‘reminders’ that are now being built in Berlin.
Mr. G, history does not repeat itself. It is the human beings who refuse to be reminded of the lessons of history who repeat it. (Your behaviour reminds me of the darkest moments in the history of mankind.)
Who is historically ignorant?
I cannot blame you for not understanding what Stockhausen said in the press conference in Hamburg on September 16th 2001, but I can blame you for the methods you have used in your vile attempt to defame Stockhausen and his music.
By trying to distort the meaning of his music to serve your purpose, you have revealed your own ideologised, brain-washed brain which is obviously incapable of realising how deeply ingrained Verfolgungswahn (persecution mania) can be.
That is bad news.
Until people like you are willing to change your brains, there is not the slightest hope for goodwill among citizens of the same nation, let alone for world peace.
Have you ever read Anstelle eines Vorworts (In Place of a Foreword) in Volume 1 of Stockhausen’s TEXTE ZUR MUSIK? I quote from Volume 1 of the new English translation (translated by Jerome Kohl):
‘In Place of a Foreword
(4 September 1960, answer to a question in an interview on the Bavarian Radio)
After the conclusion of my conservatory training and my first university studies in 1951, I wrote KREUZSPIEL for oboe, bass clarinet, piano and two percussionists.1 I was 23 years old. Since then I have only composed, or done work that is directly connected with composing: experimenting, researching, studying, writing down thoughts.
A critic recently wrote, after a concert in Berlin where five of my compositions (of fourteen written up to this point) were performed, that I would certainly remain a seeker for quite a while to come. He might be right, if I live for a long time and my fellow human beings allow me the peace and the freedom to invent music and to bring it to performance.
Because I take joy in the work and am certain that my work and my joy, like that of every other, belongs to the whole.
When I work, I must gather together all my strength in order to write down my thoughts just as clearly as possible; I am then completely alone with my conscience, with the voices within me, which allow me to say in notes what it is that they have to say. That is the hardest. Memories, experiences, thoughts of other people and their echo, inattentiveness, desires for particular effects, striving after conscious logic in the succession of the works, influences of other composers, impatience with the arduous working out of complex forms: these and still other temptations always want secretly to impede a person from producing a work purely from the inner Self; and I often find it difficult to expose these temptations, to be ever vigilant; it becomes all the more difficult the more vehemently other people express their rejection and agreement with my work – I don't have such a thick skin that I could keep all that from my soul.
A piece is finished when, through meeting a self-posed challenge, I have come to terms with myself. And I am happy, of course, if someone takes an interest in my work or even loves it, and it makes me sad when people insult or hate me because I have expressed my musical thoughts in my way.
I think that everyone has his own personal capabilities and talents and always will make the attempt to discover and develop them. What one person produces is to all the others a token of the force residing in him – it is not his due, but rather a gift given to him that he should protect, from which he should make something in which others can participate. What my fellow humans invent gives me a presentiment of what a wonderful force acts in everything and yet how much we impede its visible manifestation in everything as the one creative spirit of the earth. I know that humankind is fantastically gifted, that its destiny is creative life – and the love of others with their personal idiosyncrasies and inventions.
I have often been reproached – especially recently – for being too candid, and through this, making not a few enemies for myself – being undiplomatic. Should I restrain myself?
The truth that I can say can only be expressed in the following way: not to tell lies; not to fear that I could harm my children, my person, my reputation, or – as a critic admonishingly wrote – the cause of new music. The poet Beckett wrote in his book L'Innommable (The Unnamable): ‘Assume notably henceforward that the thing said and the thing heard have a common source, resisting for this purpose the temptation to call in question the possibility of assuming anything whatever. Situate this source in me, without specifying where exactly, no finicking, anything is preferable to the consciousness of third parties and, more generally speaking, of an outer world.’2 It must be admitted: I am not gifted as an esotericist, not as a mystic or a hermit, and not as a diplomat; it is true that my love of my fellow humans expresses itself in candour: for everything that sounds from outside to inside, and for everything that streams outward from within.
I hope my enemies will not on this account destroy me; I also hope that my enemies find forms of retort that I can find imaginative, witty, pertinent, instructive – that grant me respect through a noble and truly humane form of enmity. The word ‘tolerance’ is used – seldom, to be sure, but ever more frequently – in connection with new inventions in the realm of art: if one cannot be in agreement with them, they must nonetheless be tolerated. To tolerate – to leave be – you deal with thoughts or deeds of others with which you are certainly not in agreement, but which obviously cause no bodily or spiritual injury to your fellow humans. I have often asked myself whether I tolerate as well the work of researchers and inventors in areas that we do not classify as art, or if I do not rather follow them with interest and love, wish them luck with their work and enjoy it whenever they have again discovered or invented something new. In the foreword to Webern's Bagatelles, Schoenberg wrote: ‘These pieces will only be understood by those who share the faith that sounds can say things that can only be expressed by sounds. These pieces can face criticism as little as this – or any – belief. If faith can move mountains, disbelief can deny their existence. And faith is impotent against such impotence.’ At the beginning of every new era, faith alone can help. But human history goes inexorably onward.
Tolerance is the first step: to let be the other, and the diversity of thoughts and works. But tolerance still remains outside, it does not go into the other and does not allow him to come too near; it does not participate. The second step is faith: It participates in the other, stands up for him, puts trust in his work. The third step is love: it is filled with the certainty that mankind in all its diversity is labouring on the one task of self-perfection, and that every invention, every creative effort, contributes to it, as long as its motive is love and it is done with the care of loving spirits – whether they are naturalists or mathematicians or doctors or artists or people whose occupation is carried out modestly without a professional title.’
1 The revised version of KREUZSPIEL, conducted by Stockhausen in 1959 during the International Summer Courses of New Music, Darmstadt, has 3 percussionists. This version was published by Universal Edition in 1960, corrected in its 4th edition in 1990.
2 Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable, translated from the French by the author (New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1958), 144.
© 2002 Stockhausen-Verlag, Kürten, Germany.
On October 20th and 21st 2001 Stockhausen could finally begin the editing and mixing of the recording of DER KINDERFÄNGER which had been interrupted on September 29th, due to technical problems in the new Sound Studio N.
In November, we were pleasantly surprised to receive a German music periodical MusikTexte (issue 91, November 2001) in which the entire 70-minute-long Hamburg press conference of September 16th had been transcribed and published. The editor of the magazine, the German music journalist Reinhard Oelschlaegel, also wrote a well-intended editorial, which ended with the words:
“Nevertheless, Stockhausen should be defended, not only against himself and his fans, but also against his new moral despisers and the many who have always despised him.”
This is the kind of defense I had hoped would come from German musicologists, many of whom I had considered as friends of Stockhausen and his music. In the meantime, I have often thought, “With friends like them, who needs enemies?”
So: thank you, Mr. Oelschlaegel.
This complete transcription (in German) can be found on this homepage.
On Nov. 3rd and 4th, Stockhausen finished mixing DER KINDERFÄNGER .
On November 7th, he travelled to Amsterdam. On the 8th and 9th we rehearsed FREITAG aus LICHT (with complete technical demontage both evenings, due to other concerts) and on the 10th we performed FREITAG aus LICHT to a full, enthusiastic house.
As was the case for the performance of HYMNEN Third Region with Orchestra in Amsterdam in 2000, the organiser of the concert was Jan Zekfeld of the VARA Matinee concert series. On October 5th, he had written the following message to Dr. Ermen at the Südwestrundfunk in Baden-Baden in support of the series of the Stockhausen broadcasts which Dr. Ermen had had to energetically defend:
On the internet I saw the announcement of your programmes with Stockhausen’s LICHT. I also saw your statement that despite the hate campaign of journalists in your country against Stockhausen, that you will broadcast them anyway.
I can only say, as Artistic Director at the Dutch Radio and Television and a producer of Stockhausen’s works for many years in The Netherlands, that I am absolutely not intending to cancel the performance of FREITAG aus LICHT next month here as part of my concert season.
This great composer and humanitarian has been completely misunderstood and is now the victim of most unreasonable if not stupid press reactions of people who don’t have the slightest clue of the meaning and message of Stockhausen’s musical world. If you need any further contact with me to exchange our thoughts, please feel free to contact me.
While in Amsterdam, Stockhausen met with the manger of the Groot Omroepkoor (large choir of the Dutch radio) Monica Dahmen about the rehearsal schedule, the studio recording and the choir material for ANGEL PROCESSIONS which would be world premièred in exactly a year, on November 9th 2002. I have mentioned this earlier in this report.
On November 13th we travelled to Forbach, France, for a performance of FREITAG aus LICHT on the 16th during the rendez-vous musique nouvelle, which is a project of Claude Lefebvre and his wife Inge Borg, two faithful friends of Stockhausen and his music . They previously were responsible for the festival at Metz where many important Stockhausen performances and world premières took place in the past. Since Forbach is right across the border from Saabruecken, Germany, many German journalists were present who wanted to interview Stockhausen. He did not have much time, because he had to help with the installation of the sound equipment all day on the 14th, including the sound check, and on the 15th we rehearsed all day.
Nevertheless, he did squeeze a couple of interviews in on the 14th. One was a very long, interesting one (in French) covering a wide range of musical topics, and there was not a single question about the press campaign in Germany. The other one was very short, made by a German journalist who asked – after asking a few general questions about FREITAG aus LICHT – how the media campaign had affected Stockhausen personally. Stockhausen answered, “Since I do not watch TV, listen to the radio, or read newspapers, it didn’t.”
Inge Borg kept receiving more and more requests for interviews and just as she and I were realising the futility of organising them at fifteen minute intervals in the last hour before Stockhausen had to leave for Germany, he suggested that she organise a press conference for the same length of time. I could’t believe my ears: a press conference?! So she announced a press conference for the 17th at 11:00.
Before the performance on the 16th, Stockhausen spoke an introduction in French about FREITAG aus LICHT. During such introductions, he tries to explain aspects of the work which are not included in the programme. Often he makes suggestions about what to listen for and how to listen. For instance, in FREITAG there is the spatial aspect of the “sound scenes” which is a parameter in itself, which also develops according to a process in the course of the work. In the opera, these “sound scenes” are visible (the “couples”), but in concert performances, these sound scenes can only be heard and not seen.
The performance of FREITAG aus LICHT was excellent, since we had performed it so often since August. The hall, which was quite dry, was perfect for both the projection of the 20-channel electronic music and sound scenes and the live soloists on stage.
The next day, at 11:00, the press conference was packed. Word had got around. First of all Inge Borg welcomed everyone to the press conference, explained that Stockhausen would have to leave at noon, and then asked Stockhausen to say a few words. Stockhausen welcomed everyone to the press conference, and requested that questions be limited to musical ones. The atmosphere was cordial and relaxed. The questions asked were very interesting, intelligent, musical questions. At 12 on the dot, he excused himself and we left.
On November 21st, in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Dr. Gerhard Koch, one of the journalists present at the press conference and one of the leading music journalists in Germany wrote a full-page article about the festival, most of which was about FREITAG aus LICHT and Stockhausen’s press conference in Forbach. The headline of the article was: Now it should only be about Music, and there was a big photograph of Stockhausen from head to toe (wearing his orange cardigan), as he stood alone on the stage in Forbach giving the introduction . In the article, Dr. Koch wrote:
“Of course the vehemence with which some people damned Stockhausen was no less offensive, especially because few made an effort to exactly note Stockhausen’s statement. On the contrary, it seemed that for some it was a welcome opportunity for a general account making with the composer who is not agreeable to everyone, and even with the entire avantgarde. And Ligetis demand that Stockhausen be locked up in a psychiatric clinic is shocking proof of the strife which terror has caused in some heads”.
Also on November 21st, 6 macropylla lorbeer bushes (fragrant!), 2 rhododendrons and 66 lilies were planted.
On November 22nd, the minister for culture of the state of North Rhine Westfalia, Dr. Michael Vesper came to talk with Stockhausen about the financial future of the Stockhausen Courses Kuerten and about the future of the Studio for Electronic Music of the WDR.
On November 24th and 25th, Stockhausen edited and mixed LUCIFER’S FURY at the new Sound Studio N.
Early in December, Thomas von Steinaecker, a student at the University of Munich and part-time radio journalist, who has been a fan of Stockhausen since he was about 10 years old, made an interview with Dr. Michael Göring the general manager of the ZEIT-Stiftung in Hamburg. As I said in my eye-witness report, it was the ZEIT-Stiftung which was responsible for the hurried cancellation of the 4 Stockhausen concerts in Hamburg. Asked by Thomas if the ZEIT-Stiftung had bothered to check the authenticity of the excerpts of the press conference before deciding to cancel the concerts, Dr. Göring said that they could not have afforded to take the time to do so because their main concern had been to demonstrate their solidarity with America and with Israel. When Thomas informed him that it was their over-reaction (to save their own image) which had set off a defamatory campaign in the press, Dr. Göring seemed surprised that it had been damaging to Stockhausen’s music and reputation…
On December 8th and 9th, 2 different versions of LIEDER DER TAGE (SONGS OF THE DAYS) were recorded: one for flute and synthesizer and one for voice and synthesizer, both recorded by Kathinka and Antonio. In addition, the mastering of the complete CD 63 began: LUCIFER’S FURY, LIEDER DER TAGE, and DER KINDERFÄNGER.
At the end of August, Stockhausen had received confirmation from Bern that it was just a matter of days until the legal carrier for making the contracts for WEDNESDAY from LIGHT would be established, and that soon thereafter all the contracts would be made. After being promised a contract since before the press conference on April 6th, Stockhausen was getting impatient.
In mid-November 2002 (exactly a year after “the Danes” had come to his rescue), Dr. Brotbeck had written to Stockhausen saying that he was getting concerned that he would not be able to find the missing one million Swiss francs for financing the world première of MITTWOCH aus LICHT, and that to make matters worse, the Kunstforeningen had reduced their committment because of financial losses in New York. He said the only way to save the world première would be to reduce all costs to a minimum, and asked if Stockhausen would reduce his fee by half. Stockhausen agreed, on the condition that Dr. Brotbeck would send him a contract immediately.
The contract never arrived, and on November 29th, Dr. Brotbeck wrote again saying that there were only two possibilities left:
1) To continue with plans for the world première of MITTWOCH aus LICHT, but to consider substituting a live performance of HELICOPTER STRING QUARTET by a quasi concert performance (as tape and video) to reduce costs or
2) To perform concert versions of ORCHESTRA FINALISTS and MICHAELION, meaning that the world première of MITTWOCH aus LICHT would not take place.
He said to please answer quickly, because the manager of the choir of the Südwestrundfunk had to have a final decision by the next day.
Since there was really no choice, Stockhausen agreed to the second choice, under the condition that the planned studio recording of MICHAELION would take place following the performances. Then they spoke on the phone and Dr. Brotbeck promised that Stockhausen would have his contract the following Monday. They had spoken on Friday.
Then, on December 11th, Stockhausen received a facs. from Dr. Brotbeck which began with the huge words WEDNESDAY from LIGHT in Bern is cancelled. Since November 30th, Stockhausen had not heard anything, and had not received the promised contract.
Dr. Brotbeck continued by saying that the choir of the Südwestrundfunk had informed him that they were only interested in performing in Bern if the entire opera WEDNESDAY from LIGHT would be world premièred. Thus his alternatives were reduced to “continue” or “cancel”. Since then, Brotbeck had been searching for a way to “continue”. On Friday, the 7th of December, he had received a very positive “wind” from the Swiss Department for Culture which had encouraged him to decide to continue the plans to première the entire WEDNESDAY from LIGHT after all, including – “if at all possible” – the HELICOPTER STRING QUARTET. The only condition was that the world première would have to take place in the context of the Bern Biennale, whose theme was "World Theatre”.
Brotbeck informed Sune Joergensen of the Kunstforeningen of this new development, and asked him to finally make their financial committment definitive, because the whole plan depended on this firm committment. At first Joergensen was enthusiastic and made the committment. The next day, he called Dr. Brotbeck and informed him that the Kunstforeningen would have to withdraw from the whole project because the world première of the entire opera, as originally planned, was no longer certain and also the integration of the world première into the financing of the Biennale was also not the original plan.
Brotbeck then called Sune back to remind him that the only reason that the performance of the HELICOPTER STRING QUARTET had become impossible, and thus that of MITTWOCH aus LICHT in its entirety had become uncertain, was because the Kunstvoreningen had reduced their original commitment (February 2001) by 250,000 DM, and it was their reduction therefore that had necessitated the inclusion of MITTWOCH into the budget of the Biennale, in an effort to save his colleagues into continuing to support the project but their committment could only be one third of what they had originally promised.
In a hand-written P.S. at the bottom of the 2-page cancellation, Brotbeck said that “a two-year postponement could be considered…”
Stockhausen immediately called Dr. Brotbeck and said that his facs. was a brutal way of ending the trust he had had for exactly two years, and that Brotbeck was giving up too soon, because Stockhausen had received a facs. from Sune Joergensen, even before the one from Brotbeck had arrived.
(Illustration 57: Facs. from Sune Joergensen sent on December 11th 2001)the world première. Being reminded of this, Joergensen then talked
The next day, on December 12th, Stockhausen received another facs. from Dr. Brotbeck in which he outlined further details about the background of the cancellation.
First of all, he apologized for having printed such a big, bold brutal, headline on his facs. of the day before.
Then he explained that the choir of the Südwestrundfunk had set a deadline for the decision, because they had several offers for the same period of time in 2003 and it was high time to make other committments, if MITTWOCH did not take place.
He then delineated how the Kunstforeningen had slowly but surely reduced their original committment – which had been the decisive break-through for the decision that the world première of MITTWOCH aus LICHT could be realised in Bern: by a third at the end of October and another third now.
Upon the first reduction at the end of October, the budget had to be completely reworked, and Uwe Wand and Johannes Conen went to work slashing the costs for the staging. Stockhausen had accepted to lower his fee by half, and Brotbeck frantically tried to calm down the increasingly urgent requests by the choir for either a binding contract or a definitive cancellation.
That is why Brotbeck, when the Kunstforeningen reduced their committment again by another third, felt forced to cancel, not only because of the financial impact this had on the financing, but mainly because he felt he could no longer trust the Kunstforeningen, and therefore could not even count on what they had now committed. Under those circumstances, he could no longer keep the choir reserved, and without the Südwestrundfunk choir, MITTWOCH aus LICHT could not be performed.
In his facs. of December 12th, Brotbeck went on th say that he could understand why Stockhausen called the cancellation be “a crying shame”. Brotbeck tried not to blame anyone, including the Kunstforeningen. They had told him that the general world economic crisis had negatively affected their assets, and that in this new – unexpected – situation, they had to concentrate their remaining financial resources on their contractual committment to the world première of SONNTAG aus LICHT.
Stockhausen did not respond to this facs.
I immediately called André Hebbelinck in Berlin, who is artistic director of the music department of the Berlin Festival and told him what had happened. He said he would engage the Südwestrundfunk choir in September of 2003 to perform the two choir scenes, WELT-PARLAMENT and MICHAELION and thus it would hopefully be possible to save the planned studio recording of MICHAELION (which is extremely important, because it is the only scene of MITTWOCH which has not yet been recorded, and without it we cannot bring it out on CD). He immediately called Hans Peter Jahn and asked him how much it would cost to engage the choir for these performances in Berlin on the occasion of Stockhausen’s 75th birthday, and if the choir was still available. Jahn told him the costs, Hebbelinck accepted and it seemed that they had come to an agreement. A few days later Mr. Jahn said that the choir was no longer available for the dates in Berlin and that therefore, the performances – and the recording of MICHAELION – could not take place.
I also mentioned the possibility of approaching Udo Zimmermann, who is now the new superintendent of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, to ask if he could take over the completely-planned production of MITTWOCH aus LICHT. It was he who was responsible for the world premières of DIENSTAG and FREITAG aus LICHT when he was superintendent of the Leipzig Opera. But André Hebbelinck said the chances were slim, because all three Berlin opera houses are suffering from one budget cut after another.
On December 14th, Stockhausen received another facs. from Sune Joergensen.
(Illustration 58: Facs. from Sune Joergensen fron December 14th 2001)
Stockhausen did not answer, because he felt that if they had not been able to realise one opera at one location, it was highly unlikely that they could realise this plan as outlined by Sune Joergensen and supported by Dr. Brotbeck. It seemed more like further procrastination, which was what had marked the organisation of MITTWOCH aus LICHT from the very beginning.
On December 16th, Stockhausen finished mastering CD 63 in the new mastering studio of Sound Studio N, which did not yet have heating…
On December 20th he rehearsed KLAVIERSTÜCK XIII as LUCIFER’S DREAM with Nino Ivania (from Georgia, a country of the former Soviet Union), who had given an amazing performance of KLAVIERSTÜCK XII (from memory) in a participant’s concert during the Stockhausen Courses Kuerten 2000. In March 2002 she won three prizes at the international piano competition for 20th century music in Orléans, one of which was for the “best performance of a work written after 1950”: PIANO PIECE XIII !
On December 21st we received the official press release of the College for Music and Theatre in Bern, which announced the cancellation of the world première of MITTWOCH aus LICHT:
“Staged World Première of WEDNESDAY from LIGHT by Karlheinz Stockhausen during the Biennale Bern 2003 is cancelled.
For financial reasons, The College for Music and Theatre must cancel the staged world première of WEDNESDAY from LIGHT by Karlheinz Stockhausen during the Biennale Bern 2003.”
“The director, Dr. Roman Brotbeck, commented to the press:
‘It is a huge disappointment, despite the enormous reductions which could be made in the budget and the great efforts which had been made to find sponsors. It is a shame that especially this Stockhausen opera, whose theme is peace and reconciliation, has to be cancelled for the second time.’
Following Stockhausen’s statements during the press conference in Hamburg, the direction of the College had originally questioned staging the world première. However, an exact analysis of the situation and reports from, in particular, the German media proved that his statements had been purposefully ripped out of their context. The direction of the college therefore did not wish to succomb to the populistic media campaign and committed itself anew to the realisation of MITTWOCH , as planned. But ‘This media campaign had immensely impeded the fund raising for the world première’ commented Roman Brotbeck further.
But this cancellation has not affected Dr. Brotbeck’s high regard for the works of Karlheinz Stockhausen: ‘His cycle LICHT – which opens completely new paths – remains as one of the most grandiose music dramatic works in the history of music’, said Dr. Brotbeck.
The Biennale Bern 2003, although poorer through the cancellation of this central event, is not endangered.”
When Stockhausen read this “official” press release, he could not believe his eyes. None of the reasons were mentioned which Roman Brotbeck and Sune Joergensen had written to him 10 days earlier.
So even Dr. Brotbeck, someone whom Stockhausen had considered as a friend and had completely trusted, was now one of those who, as Gerhard Koch had written a month before in the FAZ, was using the media misrepresentation as a “welcome excuse”.
media campaign had not affected Stockhausen. The cancellation of MITTWOCH aus LICHT was a great disappointment, and the cancellation of
the recording of MICHAELION really hurt.
But this personal, human disappointment was shattering.
On Christmas eve, exactly two years after Dr. Brotbeck had written to Stockhausen asking for a “big” project for Bern for Stockhausen’s 75th birthday in 2003, the announcement – shortened – appeared in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung.
On new year’s eve, 31.12.01, Stockhausen finished composing HOCH-ZEITEN.
On January 1st, Stockhausen wrote a letter to the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, saying that the reasons given by Dr. Brotbeck for the cancellation of the world première of MITTWOCH aus LICHT were completely untrue, and he sent a copy of Brotbeck’s first cancellation facs. of December 11th, in which Brotbeck had delineated the real problems.
On January 6th, I wrote a long letter of complaint to Dr. Brotbeck in which I pointed out that it was actually his own mis-management which was at fault for the cancellation of MITTWOCH. Being a top musicologist does not necessarily qualify one to be able to manage the staging of an opera, no matter how good one’s intentions are. That is why – from the very onset – Stockhausen had repeatedly urged him to engage someone to be responsible solely for the organisation. This was the same mistake the Bonn Opera had also made, despite Stockhausen’s repeated urging.
First of all, Dr. Brotbeck had procrastinated finding other sponsors for the remaining third of the budget which was still to be financed. That forced him to procrastinate making binding contracts with all involved. Had he immediately started looking for sponsors for the missing portion of the budget (known to him since February of 2001), he could have made binding contracts with the Kunstforeningen and with everyone else, including the Suedwestfunk choir. But until October 2001, he had been involved in the organisation and financing of his first Biennale…
My letter of January 6th closed with the WEDNESDAY song of EVE’S SONG (also published separately in the recently published score THE 7 SONGS OF THE DAYS and released on CD 63), in which seven boys of the week each sing their song of the day:
Mercury-Light Peace – Singing
Friendliness (roguish: God willing!)
Yellow – Soprano-Tenor-Bass
Air – Seeing
(overtone glissando: ha – ä – e – o – i)
Harmony – Art
(For the report about the performance in Paris on January 14th 2002 of HYMNEN, Third Region with Orchestra, see the beginning of this report.)
On February 1st, the Sonic Arts Network, the only organisation in Britain devoted exclusively to electronic music, asked Stockhausen if he would agree to become the first Honorary Patron of their organisation.
(Illustration 59: letter written by Stockhausen to Sonic Arts Network on February 7th 2002. )
The official announcement to the press arrived at the beginning of March.
(Illustration 60: Sonic Arts Network news release )
At the beginning of this report, I mentioned our trip to Berlin on March 9th for the première on March 10th of the first German staging of MICHAEL’S YOUTH, the first act of DONNERSTAG aus LICHT.
As I listened to the performance, I realised that it was the first time I had seen and heard it as a member of the audience. Immersed in the sound of the INVISIBLE CHOIRS which are projected 8-track around the listeners, as background for the entire first act, (and projected with the tracks in reverse order during the third act, MICHAEL’S HOME-COMING, because the perspective has shifted from an earthly to a heavenly one), I thought of the texts and of how timeless they are.
(Illustration 61: Texts of INVISIBLE CHOIRS, page 49 of the programme book of the Stockhausen Courses Kuerten 2001)
I also thought of the Israeli woman, Recha Freier, who had commissioned MICHAEL’S YOUTH, to be performed in 1979 during the Testimonium festival in Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv on October 16th and 20th respectively. She had translated these texts from Hebrew into German and sent them to Stockhausen to use. At that time, Stockhausen was the first German to receive a commission from Testimonium, and Recha was about 80 years old when she first walked up Stockhausen’s long driveway in her small patent leather shoes to meet him personally and to ask him to accept this commission.
Recha was a poetress and she was one of the last Jews who – with her husband, the personal physician of some of the German leaders – left Berlin. She had been able to obtain permission from German authorities to allow thousands of Jewish children to leave Germany, and she told us later that several of these children grew up to become Nobel Prize winners.
Recha wrote a book (originally in Hebrew) about this experience entitled Let the Children Come : The Early Story of Youth Aliya (Published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson in 1961). It is out of print, but maybe old copies can be found on the internet .
Recha had liked the idea that MICHAEL’S YOUTH would be composed for Testimonium, because Michael is the protective angel of Israel. She did, however, ask that – for the performances in Israel – Stockhausen change one of the lines of text in the 3rd EXAMINATION ( EXAMINATION is the third scene of JUGEND) from “God the Father, God the Mother” to “God, the most wonderful musician” , because the former would not be acceptable for those of Jewish faith. So he made it an ossia.
This was to be the beginning of a close friendship between Recha Freia and Stockhausen which lasted until she passed away in the mid-Eighties. Her pet name for him was SIRIUS.
Now, in March 2002, when we left Berlin the day after the performance of MICHAEL’S YOUTH, the papers were already talking about the performance, and about Stockhausen. The tone was frighteningly kind and apologetic and, generally, praising the music but not the staging. (20 years ago, when DONNERSTAG aus LICHT was world premièred at La Scala, the world press was wild with praise, and the German press damned the music and the staging.)
Now, one of the journalists even said, “Everything is fine again.”
Hmmm. (Please excuse me for being suspicious.)
(Illustration 62: Planting scheme for March 2002)
You guessed it: 52 more rhododendrons (17 different kinds!) and 2 macrophylla laurel bushes (the very fragrant species) were delivered on March 21st, and were planted according to the above plan.
On March 28th, Stockhausen was visited by a young German Tonspieler (“sound player”), Alexander Sonnenfeld, who spent the afternoon demonstrating his art. What distinguishes a Tonspieler from a DJ is that Tonspieler have developed techniques for “playing” which can be systematically notated and therefore reproduced.
Alexander began by demonstrating the classical playing techniques to Stockhausen, and then explained the special notation which he himself had developed for the representation of these playing techniques. Graphic symbols in spatial notation precisely indicate how the hands are to be moved as they “play” 2 turntables (on which specially manufactured LPs of sounds “of the whole world” are turning) and a mixer. Stockhausen asked lots of questions and made some musical and practical suggestions, like turning the mixer between the two turntables by ninety degrees so that it could be operated more easily.
Stockhausen also conducted some listening experiments with Alexander, to make him aware that sometimes what he did with his hands was not really audible. Alexander gave Stockhausen a thick ring book filled with detailed instructions and explanations about the the special notation he has developed for “sound playing”. He also gave Stockhausen two of his most recent CDs. They both learned alot that afternoon.
The next day, Good Friday, we were observed by an owl who had been sunning himself in one of the new owl nesting houses.
The week before, on the morning of Palm Sunday, we had observed a huge hare sitting among the roses right in front of the kitchen window, and during the day, carefully hopping around in the meadow in front of Stockhausen’s house among the thousands of Easter egg coloured daffodils, hyacynths, crocusses and anemones which are now in bloom. He appeared last year at about the same time.
We joked that it was probably the Easter Bunny resting and recuperating before the Easter stress began. Then, the day before Easter, he disappeared, and we have not seen him since.
On Easter Sunday morning, 8 buzzards circled Stockhausen’s house in the sunshine against the bright blue sky.
On April 2nd, a physician from Frankfurt ( “AK” ), who is a friend of Stockhausen’s music wrote:
“…D.E. Sattler is the editor of the Frankfurt Hölderin Edition and well-known for unconventional meticulous kinds of reading. His observation, that Bach had set gospel texts [the Gospel according to Luke in the first part, and the Gospel according to John in the second part] to a large part of his so-called ‘absolute’ music, immediately reminded me of your music, which, although no texts are set to it, negates concepts such as ‘absolute’ and ‘programmatic’ music. I am thinking especially of MICHAELs REISE (MICHAEL’S JOURNEY) and OKTOPHONIE, works which always tell a story when I listen to them, even though they definitely do not have a fixed ‘program’. In OKTOPHONIE – after having climbed rugged mountains (in EXPLOSION) – suddenly I see a smooth plain in front of me (in JENSEITS / BEYOND).
Perhaps it is possible to assert that what is special about Bach’s music, among other things, is that he did not set ‘literature’ and especially not his own concerns to his music, but rather something valid, typical (which makes him seem ‘cold’ to many – but so what?!).
With great pleasure I have begun to study the score of DER KINDERFÄNGER. The sound scenes are becoming clearer in their construction – a wonderful rogue was riding you!
I am looking forward to the courses in Kuerten!”
On April 4th Stockhausen replied:
MICHAEL’S YOUTH in Berlin was important. In LICHT I composed the connection of MICHAEL and JESUS, and this year Easter was very moving for us (especially because of the Palestine catastrophe). Of course, the commission for MICHAEL’S YOUTH came from Jerusalem and it was premièred there!!
I am composing DÜFTE–ZEICHEN of SUNDAY from LIGHT for the Salzburg Festival 2003. You are a jewel, dear A!
The text “AK” was referring to Bach’s Wohltemperiertes Klavier by D.E. Sattler.
This text is divided into 41 paragraphs. In paragraph number 11, Sattler writes:
“According to the title page of the fair copy, which was completed, with corrections, in 1722, and which had been begun early in 1720 in Koethen (with entries in Wilhelm Freidemann Bach’s Little Clavier Book, which had been started on January 22nd 1720) the work was
‘drafted and composed for the benefit and use of musical youth who are eager to learn, and, in addition, for those who are already advanced, as a c o n s t r u c t i v e w a y t o s p e n d t h e i r t i m e .’
The decisive phrase was written by Bach with spaced letters to point out the complementary nature of the work. It is literally set down and raised up on a firm basis. Less for the “entertainment” of the “advanced” than for their “edification”. This concept, which was already disreputable in Bach’s day, delineates that special “way to spend time” as opposed to the usual one whose lighter sense is completely converted into its serious counterpart when confronted – at the end of Anna Magdalena Bach’s Little Clavier Book – by the choral “Oh Eternity, you thunderous word”, which “pierces the soul” like a sword.
As I have said before, Stockhausen feels a deep affinity to Bach, not only because Bach dedicated his music to God, but also because of the fact that all of Bach’s life was music, including his family life. In addition, Bach felt and Stockhausen feels that music is for education, for spiritual improvement, and Stockhausen is, as Bach was, concerned about the future of compositional craftsmanship. That is why Stockhausen has been teaching composition since he was 24 years old: first in Darmstadt, then in Basel (Switzerland) and in the United States (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Davis, California), then from 1970 to 1977 as Professor for composition at the State Conservatory for Music in Cologne, and since then, all over the world in connection with concert series of his music.
The book Karlheinz Stockhausen bei den Internationalen Ferienkursen fuer Neue Musik in Darmstadt 1951–1996 closes with the following text (excerpt):
“Bridge to the Present
My vision was to find a beautiful place in a natural setting, with a good auditorium, enough sympathetic helpers, and a sufficient number of classrooms, where I could – in peace – give composition courses once a year, in connection with interpretation courses and concerts given by the soloists I know and their students. Since 1998 this place is my domicile Kuerten in the Bergischen Land.
For the third time already, about 130 composers, interpreters, musicologists, and music lovers have come from 23 different countries, and most of them have stayed with local families here. They have practiced my works, studied them, exchanged their thoughts, and every year heard 10 to 12 concerts of my music, which were attended by about 480 people every evening.
May these Stockhausen Courses Kuerten continue into the far future.
K. Stockhausen, in August 2000”
April 2002: You are all cordially invited to attend! Remember: the motto for this year is
“Learning from the masters”.
At this moment, the following facs. arrived from a friend in the USA who has a telepathic way of reminding me of fitting ways to close my reports. He wrote:
Now on the news I constantly hear about the Middle East crisis! Ever since September 11th ‘our’ political leaders have embraced a warlike mentality, brushing aside the really significant areas which can enrich our lives with deeper meaning – take the cancellation of MITTWOCH aus LICHT in Bern, for instance! How timely, now, the following beautiful statement Stockhausen wrote in 1968 on behalf of “the higher human being” in Charter to the Youth (Freibrief an die Jugend):
“The higher being will not be born out of destruction, splitting the atom or the closing of frontiers, but rather will emerge from the growing consciousness that humanity is a single body, which remains sick and incapable so long as just one of its parts is beaten, kicked, oppressed, and violated.
Let us begin with ourselves. Only when we have attained higher consciousness will we no longer need to be ‘ruled’ and we will seek advice from saints – not ecclesiastical saints but spirits who serve the whole of humanity, who have achieved universal consciousness extending beyond differences of religion and race, and who no longer confuse universality and uniformity.”
(TEXTE ZUR MUSIK, Volume 3, translated by Tim Nevill in Towards a Cosmic Music, Element Books, Longmead Shaftesbury, 1989, pp. 44–47)
So I will close this report with an excerpt from the text of DUEFTE–ZEICHEN, which Stockhausen will soon finish composing:
Michael and Eve sign
Three blue rings
Cross with iris blossoms
Cross and circle
Empty circle in the middle
Cross of Man
Horizontal the human world, vertical the aspiration to Heaven
Son of God
Ruler of the Universe
Protective Spirit of Humanity
Three blue rings:
the first one – the ring of the cosmos,
the second one – the ring of
in the middle – the soul,
the soul in the smallest ring without cross
is a circle for Eve,
a pure circle of love.
green heart in the Sunday sign
begins in Michael’s second circle,
arches between cosmic and earthly rings through their intersections in front of and behind the second circle and the cross of the earth,
flows with the tip of the heart into her womb at the second ring.
Michael and Eve mystically united in the Sunday-sign,
Michael’s three circles, Eve’s green heart
mystically united in love,