With the recent passing of Pierre Boulez, I just thought I would post here asking members of this forum for some thoughts on the relationship between Stockhausen and Boulez, and their music. I personally discovered, and learned to love, Boulez's music first - when I quite randomly bought a recording of Le Marteau sans maître, when I was about 14 years old. I discovered and began to understand Stockhausen's music much later and have since found in it an astonishing marrying of spontaneity and order: something at which I gather even Boulez marveled. But I nevertheless always find myself drawn back into Boulez's music, always searching it for new secrets that seem to be hidden there. They are both, I believe, very different composers, despite their many intersections, who achieved very different monumental achievements. It would be wonderful if someone were to write a serious and detailed account of their complex but hugely fecund musical and personal relationship.
Sorry that it took so long a time to react -I was not so very well during the last weeks. And definitely I am not the right person to write a profound text on the relationship Boulez-Stockhausen. Therefore just a personal remark: For me too it is true: I really admire Le marteau sans maitre, but also Cummings ist der dichter and other works. For me it is a pity, that Boulez did not consequently stay at work as composer, as Stockhausen did, and in a way I cannot understand it, thinking on his very critical remarks on tradition and normal cultural life. Sometimes I have the impression that Boulez has been seduced by cultural and social life . But, no question about that, he has used his influence in a very fruitful way! What comes to my mind, when I compare Stockhausen to Boulez, is: I have the impression that Stockhausen is much more accessible. Think of HARLEKIN, of TIERKREIS, of IN FREUNDSCHAFT, also GESANG DER JÜNGLINGE or KONTAKTE. Very colourful and sometimes spectacular pieces of music and drama. Or OKTOPHONIE ... Though he is a very sophisticated man, Stockhausen is not a pure intellectual; he does not act in this way as Boulez often did, but often shows his sense of humour (I cannot discover that in Boulez) and his religious vision what is of central importance. Therefore I have the impression: The time for Stockhausen will come - more than for Boulez.
When I was in college, the Cleveland Orchestra was a weekly ritual for me, and I learned so much in Severance Hall, with scores in hand, watching conductors like Boulez and Dhonanyi create crystal-clear interpretations of gnarly modernist scores. For me, that's Boulez' biggest legacy. Some of his music means a great deal to me, but very little compared to his entire output. Stockhausen dwarfs him in this category.
Meanwhile, Stockhausen was a very pedantic conductor with very few insights about the music. So...?
Funny coincidence, Stuart will be playing Le Marteau in Lexington the night before he flies to NYC for our production of KLANG!
An intriguing comment, Joe, about Stockhausen as a conductor (in comparison with Boulez). Boulez, of course, conducted works by many composers other than himself (including Stockhausen). As far as I am aware, Stockhausen conducted only his own compositions, apart from those concertos by Mozart and Haydn for which he composed cadenzas. Do you feel (1) that his conducting showed no insights into his own music, and (2) that his conducting showed no ionsights into the music of Mozart and Haydn (examples, please, in both cases)?
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!