Ludivocus: I don't have the impression that mine was a "very silly question" or an "obtuse question", as you describe it. Not at all. Besides, I am not the enemy. No need of trying to destroy me. Juan María
It was a silly question. And I'm not trying to destroy anybody. What I love is the great music (as opposed to the not so great)and want the maximum number of people to enjoy it. Jonathon Harvey in one of the first books about KS's music, didn't think much of Zyklus which is a work, like many, that can ruin Stockhausen's reputation if a bad or uninspired performance is the first work a new listener hears.
But I defend Stockhausen's music and try and protect it from ignorant critics and those who make more of a work that the composer intended - which is becoming a fashion that acts as a barrier to what those dots mean. And I repeat ad nauseam 'do not confuse a composer's mind with his music'.
In Feb 1995, Stockhausen spent five hours with the then hon. pres of the Stockhausen Society and myself. Listen to his words at the end of my rhythmic and melodic analysis of Gruppen available on the society's website.
I want to see promoters programming works and audiences listening to his music which in a great performance will 'hail the souls from men's bodies' as Shakespeare put it. The baggage, if they want it, can be accessed later.
Please do not equate my passion with any kind of personal hostility.....
Zyklus is one of Stockhausen's most perfectly realized works. The instruments are arranged in a circle forming a progression in tone colours, and a given performance is either one "cycle" rotating clockwise or anti-clockwise. Their sounds correspond to different speech sounds, eg, "t" "k" "f" "d" "m" "s" "g" etc. The "drama" consists in a tendency within the music either to become more indeterministic or more periodic in content, depending on the direction of play. This is all according to the score directions. The temptation is to play the work as though the technique of the performer were the theatrical element, as in jazz or Japanese music theatre. The more difficult challenge is to make the performer invisible so the audience responds to the sticks not the person. That is why I suggested dressing in black against a black backdrop. However in order to make the performance more visible, I would also suggest a video camera positioned above the circle of instruments relaying the view from above to a big tv screen above and behind the circle of instruments. You might also organize a sound system to project the sound from different points around the circle to equivalent points in the hall (for that ideally the instruments should be set up in the centre of the hall). Finally you might explore the possibility of adding another touch of drama by using special sticks with LEDs in either end, to hold the attention of the audience. Good luck.
Ludovicus (Ivor Morgan) I am at a complete loss reading Robin's reply. We have had great conversations, especially in the 2008 long week in which we exchanged very similar views on some topics and at least once spontaneously shook hands in in a delighted 'Yes'
My shortest recorded performance of Zyklus is 9'27" and the longest 14'02". The particular composer who is performing it has usually worked as a freelance or in an orchestra. There is only one Evelyn Glennie as far as I know and please don't mention any others unless a busy touring schedule is published.
If a person leaves a concert without having had a great musical experience, then to me, he has been short-changed and Harvey's opinion is justified because in the last 55 years I have only heard three performances that were in any more that a poor percussionist having to compose. One of these was in a concert in London in 2001 by a young percussionist whose foreign name I have forgotten and don't have the programme note to hand.
How many times do I have to repeat that audiences are not going to attend a performance of any work that lasts fifteen minutes and then go home. Say the average for Zyklus is twelve minutes. The score directions are to perform a piece of percussion music to a paying audience or competition judge who have come to listen. [When was the last one?]They couldn't care a tinker's about clockwise or anti-clockwise - their minds are in 'music reception mode'. For once, Robin has lost his sense of reality (has his tongue firmly in his cheek) Imagine the cost and labour of doing all he suggests for a short work which may have one of its normally uninspiring performances and for many people I have spoken to at concerts it is a gimmick until I mention its provenance as a test piece. And these expensive contraptions would simply distract from the music (if that is what is being produced and not a school demonstration of part of the percussion section). Why would they want to know about speech sounds, meaningless info even to a performer - or is someone going to claim this arcane knowledge leads to a 'better' performance? And worse still, no-one even gives a thought that having written the non-music work, decides to playfully insert in the score all sorts of abstruse things and sits back and smiles at those whose propound profundity. I am not saying he did not take the commission seriously but as with every composer, there has to be a hook to hang their coat on. We have a video of Evelyn advising a student percussionist who was considering entering this work in the BBC Young Musicians competition. (No)
This trend (which is spreading to other works it seems) is not only detrimental but is in danger of replacing the music itself.
Let me state once and for all that Zyklus apart, myself and members of the society, attended the performances at the Royal Albert Hall on Stockhausen day, August 22nd 2008. For Kontakte, Bryan Wolf was the sound projector and I haven't the percussionists names to hand. Suffice it to say, that it was a fantastic performance - every second was relished. At one point near the end, it was if this live beast of living electronic sound tickled the performers under the chin before flying off 'out of reach. In some parts it was if a conversation was been held between Bryan and his tape and the performers. The applause was enthusiastic and we grown men were all beaming and smiling like excited children as we compared notes and collared Bryan to talk to him. He said that owing to the excellent equipment at the RAH he heard a few things he had never heard before! After a bad performance of Kontakte, I asked Bryan why we were so 'entranced' and he said how he still remembered that performance. I hope I can put his email reply on the society site and perhaps one day have a copy of his score with 'almost a thousand comments, directions and notes'.
I have written all this because what KS has written is music and music can only speak of itself. For a long time, the extra-musical connotations made me think that this, in Stockhausen's case' could not be completely true. Then it dawned on me that in a hundred years time, a Stockhausen celebration in August 2107 will be so far away from the reasons and circumstances of his composing that this will be the criterion - and if anyone is interested in his 'religiosity' then it will be seen as relevant as Wagner's large written output which most of his music lovers are unaware of.
Just listening to the music - a very good advice to start with and always to return to, because it is the main thing. But, in the other hand: 1. the more you know the more you will hear. And 2. music is embedded in a way to look at the world, to conduct your life - is one part of that. That is certainly true for the way Stockhausen understands what he is doing. And therefore for me it is often stimulating to read (in case of Stockhausen) his texts, to try to understand what is happeninmg in the music and to connect it with the way to I understand world and life.
I must keep repeating the same point. The people who matter, the ones who pay travel costs and ticket prices, haven't the time after a day's work, family life, daily chores, remembering car insurance/tax/service etc, tennis, cricket or golf club, haven't the time to 'know more'. Should a person read Fux's Gradus ad Parnassum published in 1725 and in order to appreciate contrapuntal music and Renaissance polyphony? Recognise a cancrizan when they hear it. Some of the greatest criminals in history have been music lovers. A holocaust survivor, Alice Herz Sommer this week died at the age of 110. She survived because she was a pianist and was forced to perform for the top Nazi elite, playing mostly Chopin. Can one say that their love of music gave them a 'way to look at the world and how to conduct themselves'?
Every music lover hears every work in a different way. The 'links' that allow them to make their own mental structures are different. Discussing Beethoven's violin concerto and the role of the opening D sharp, a fellow teacher yelled 'stop it, stop it, I don't want to know. I just love the music' and John Cage, putting notes where the imperfections in the manuscript paper under a powerful light, was congratulated by critics on his sense of form when it was performed. He hadn't altered a thing. (forgotten name of it.
One of the problems with late Stockhausen music, is that he used music for his own ends instead of the music using him - well even Momente is autobiograhical and Boulez considers it his worst work. But here the music 'wins'. This is not the place and I'll probably repeat this, but if we look at Licht dispassionately, Donnerstag is his idealised autobiography (as far as most people are concerned), Saturday, the next, has some aspects of the same especially in Lucifer's Dance, Monday starts the sex series with a five foot vagina. Tuesday - well, who is being tempted and Octophonie has its share of grief perhaps remembering his father and the soldiers he saw dying, in Pieta.
Come Friday and his fears of western culture being destroyed by uncivilised invaders from Africa, twelve aspects of sex between objects and mankind itself playing a dangerous game with genetic engineering. Very often the music 'wins' again but not always and Gesamptkunstwerk makes some of Licht pointless if you are not at a performance. Donnerstag Act 3 is a case in point and Freitag so essential that the hon. pres. and I, who had seen it twice, walked away from the radio broadcast owing to boredom. The music could be well served by being the soundtrack of a film in which all Stockhauen's 'stage directions' could be constructed for ever.
Ludovicus wrote: "One of the problems with late Stockhausen music, is that he used music for his own ends instead of the music using him." Dear Ludovicus, I'm curious what you mean with this statement - what are the "ends" you're talking about? Do you e.g. think that Stockhausen (mis-)used his music for a missionary effort? Or political topics? I don't think so. Of course, if you take the hours 14 to 20 of KLANG you could claim that Stockhausen (mis-)used his music as propaganda for the Urantia Book - but even though he gave some copies of the German translation away as a present I don't see in these compositions the UB stuff as something "higher" or "more important" than the music and its structure, or the music only as a soundtrack for the UB.
This reply is the kind that is trivial and for which I can find no philosophical term. THE PEOPLE WHO REALLY MATTER ARE THE ONES WHO CAN MAKE LIFE OR DEATH DECISIONS FOR OTHERS. AT THE MOMENT THE PERSON WHO MATTERS IS PRESIDENT PUTIN.
I WAS REFERRING TO PEOPLE WHO MATTER TO A MUSICIAN, COMPOSER, PROMOTER ETC WHO RELY ON THEIR PRESENCE FOR THEIR BREAD AND BUTTER. How could this be mis-interpreted?
This forum is supposed to be about Stockhausen's MUSIC. But as late as the fifteen hundreds medieval scholars argued about how many angels could be accomomdated on the head of a pin. I never thought I would encounter anything more bizarre until in 2014, two scholars were arguing in hundreds of words, over the meaning of an ancient Greek word, etymologies flying like electronic paper aeroplanes across the planet and relating to one tiny fraction of an operatic circus scene which will most likely be never performed again. And would still not have been performed if the British government had not had the daft idea of a 'cultural Olympics' and spent 1.5 million pounds on a four-day regrettable production of Mittwoch-with-no-seats Ouch Licht. The cost per person was £690. (Yes, six hundred and eighty) If this and any other Stockhausen biographical 'opera' is revived, it will not be for the love of it by Covent Garden or La Scala or the Met.
I love a lot of the music of Licht. I begged the score of Wochenkreis. Experience the bewilderment grief and sadness [to me]of Oberlippentanz, PPs 12 and 13, Luzifers Zorn... But had I not founded the Stockhausen Society and the composer's generosity in providing every CD and several expensive scores e.g.Sirius - and which many visitors came to listen to - I could never have afforded the box sets and in fact, only one member of the society has collected the whole of Licht - many do not have even one, preferring works that don't need to be seen and hence enjoy a substantial library of pre-Licht recordings.
While the scholars decide which Greek or Albanian or Aramaic or Basque roots form the essence of Michaelion, this is what I did. This morning Professors Herrisone, Merrick and Spitzer of Liverpool and Manchester universities as well as the Royal Northern College of Music, will receive four marvellous reviews of a London inter-college student performance of Gruppen for which the total rehearsal time was six hours in May 2004 and which the English hard-to-please critic Paul Driver called 'the most beautiful performance of Gruppen that he had ever heard'. I have issued a challenge to these northern universities to match that performance. A challenge to match B'ham's highly acclaimed Carre in 2011 will also be issued.
And perhaps a Zyklus contest with other supporting works - you never know, we might get one of them to 'hail our souls'.
As a surgeon who loves Stockhausen´s music, it may be allowed for me to make the go-between. I feel that both camps which are represented here are talking of different things. Ludovicus seems to me to represent the people who really do something practical for the performances of Stockhausen´s music. And who would deny that this is important? Thomas Ulrich told me a meaningful story about Ingo Metzmacher, the brilliant conductor of LUZIFERs TANZ last summer at Munich. He spoke to Metzmacher and realized that he, Metzmacher, had no idea whatsoever of the meaning of LICHT, Luzifer and so on. He payed attention to his technique of conducting. And he was right! The result was marvelous. So there was an example of a musical person doing the right thing without any theoretical knowledge of LICHT. For the public, this may be the most important fact: a good performance. DonSolare seems to me to represent the point of view of a scholar. That´s something completely different. He tries to find out a truth about a work, e. g. in comparison to other percussion works or other theatrical works with music. This is permitted by itself. It is clear, however, that this has no immediate impact on the performance of music. But it is not impossible that the reception of music is influenced by the way this music is scholarly interpreted. Therefore, I cannot see a problem here (even if scholars have the tendency to argue a bit esoterically sometimes - why not? That´s what specialist do! In medicine, it is the same.) By the way: I found the performance of MITTWOCH great. And I am not sure whether it has been the last time I saw it in my lifetime. Pecunia not olet. This time it was the cultural olympics, next time it will be Playboy Enterprises - and so???
I feel that it could be useful to have a discussion-forum on the music of Stockhausen. There are so many people from all over the world, young and old, learned and eager to get into contact with this musical world: musicologists, composers, musicians, music lovers; people who plan concerts - who write books or have to give lectures and so on. So there should be much stuff, many ideas that we can share. And when we have open questions, there may be people who studied just that and could give a hint or a stimulus.
A problem might be the English language, but i feel that is the only possibility that many people who are interested can participate. And we can exercise tolerance to mistakes!