We live in times in which everything has to be popular, easily accessible, without any effort. That makes compositions of our time often insignificant, unimportant. I just read in the autobiography of Bertrand Russell a letter of his from 1902. He got news from Harvard University and writes to a friend: "What a monstrous thing that a University should teach journalism! ... This respect for the filthy multitude is ruining civilization. A certain man had the impudence to maintain in my presence that every student ought to be made to expound his views to popular audiences, so I lifted up my voice and testified for a quarter of an hour, after which he treated me with the kind of respect accorded to wild beasts." Tempi passati - but it encourages me to proclaim the right for elitism, as it was practiced by Stockhausen in all his works. Music you have to listen to again and again to get the point, that is not mainstream - sometimes the composer himself said even he did not understand the meaning of the work... So the listener himself must be active, take research, go beyond the own limits etc. Music that does not have the purpose to fill empty hours nicely, but to push you forward to the unknown. I just listened to the flutist Katrin Plümer; she performed YPSILON with all these microtonal melodies, the pitches you nearly cannot discriminate until you yourself teach your own ability of listening again and again - that sort of things!
I agree with you totally Thomas, and I think the problem you are describing with popular, 'easy' music has become more serious now than it ever was before. Our world has become so rushed, where everything is seen as a commodity to be consumed quickly and then cast aside. We learn nothing other than how to consume more and to throw more away. Mainstream music has become more and more a slave to this and, consequently, less and less able to lift human beings out of the ruts of modern, commercialised, consumerised, life. There has always, of course, been popular music that fills in empty hours nicely, as you put it: but I think the dangers of this are even greater now than they used to be, because it is so reflective of the problem of how we live.
I feel we have been very privileged with the music of Stockhausen because it offers us so many discoveries. You can spend a life time in some of those pieces and still find, and learn, new things within them. These new discoveries we find in the music are always generating new attitudes and perspectives on how we can live our lives, and on what life can be. But all of it requires an effort, and I think this is a wonderful thing.
We have also been helped because Stockhausen himself provided us with so many pointers - so many notes and lectures and information about his compositions, that help us find a way through them. But even with all he has told us, there is still more to find.
I do not begrudge people their love of popular music - but I think it is a shame that our society has become one where this, and what it represents, is promoted above all else.
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!