Personalities | Karlheinz Stockhausen | Contemporary | Classical

(Kärl’-hints Shtôk’-hou-zen) 1928–2007
German composer

Stockhausen studied with Frank Martin (1890–1974) and then with Messiaen in Paris, where he met Boulez. Stockhausen’s use of serialism differs from Boulez’s: whereas the latter wanted to find a means of creating relations between diverse elements, the former was concerned to provide a smooth path between extremes. This can be clearly seen in Gesang der Jünglinge (‘Song of the Youths’, 1956), which tries, through electronic means, to achieve a union of music and language. With Gruppen (‘Groups’, 1955–57), Stockhausen created a way of serializing duration by creating a scale of tempo analogous to the pitch. His particular method necessitated a number of different co-existing tempos; consequently, Gruppen is scored for three orchestras, each with its own conductor. Stockhausen’s most protracted composition was his Licht (‘Light’) cycle of operas, which he began with Donnerstag (‘Thursday’) in 1977 and completed with Sonntag (‘Sunday’) in 2003. At his death Stockhausen was working on a further cycle, Klang, based on the 24 hours of the day. Of these pieces – which involve between one and seven vocal or instrumental performers (with the exception of the purely electronic thirteenth ‘hour’, Cosmic Pulses) – 21 were completed.

Recommended Recording:
Stimmung, Singcircle (dir) Gregory Rose (Hyperion)

Introduction | Contemporary | Classical
Personalities | Toru Takemitsu | Contemporary | Classical


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