With now a few days past since Kürten was emptied of most of its 2017 Stockhausen Course participants, I thought it time to post just a few reflections on the impact these nine days had on me as hopefully a starting point for others to do likewise.
For me there are two magical elements to the Courses - learning about the music from the people who have worked directly with the composer, and the opportunity for people from so many different musical (not to mention cultural) perspectives to share with one another their connections with it.
The first of these is the whole basis of the courses, with classes and rehearsals all led by the people who have been with the music since, even during, its creation. The second doesn't always happen of its own accord - simply because there is so much on and, if you wanted to, you could easily just stay in your own circle, with your own musically like-minded friends and colleagues, and just do that. That, too, would be well worth the trip, but I think there is something extra special in being able to hear about the music from different angles: composers hearing from musicians, musicologists hearing from singers, sound projectionists hearing from dancers. From what I could see this year, there was a lot of that - people just connecting with one another easily and often, and talking, often in a lot of depth, about the pieces they were working with or discovering.
The concerts themselves - both the faculty concerts and the participant concerts - were incredible and it would take too much space, and would not do any of them justice, for me to try to describe them individually here. But I will comment on the range. When we get to hear music ranging from very early pieces like ZYKLUS and KLAVIERSTÜCK I, through to some of the later pieces of KLANG, and pieces from everywhere in between, we really are treated pretty royally I think. I feel I know Stockhausen's music reasonably well but, even so, every concert surprised me with something I hadn't noticed before and, more importantly, made me curious to go back and discover more. That's what really good performance should always do, I believe - not leave you feeling sated and satisfied, but rather sparking you to digger deeper and look further, especially with Stockhausen's music where the possibilities for that really are endless. It was hugely special to have this experience at every single concert over nine days.
But for me the biggest and best thing of all about these Courses, this year and every year (although admittedly this is only my second time!), is the huge spirit of generosity and warmth that pervades everything. This I guess comes directly from Stockhausen himself, who was always so open about letting people understand what he was aiming to do in his music and, while I never got to meet him or see him deliver lectures or talk about his music, I can see how this quality lives on so strongly in the Stiftung, and of course most especially in Suzee and Kathinka who work so hard to create these Courses in that same spirit of openness and invitation to learn. And then that spreads outwards to everyone. I love it that I, who can't play any instrument at all beyond the level of very bad, can sit down with such brilliant and creative people and chat about the music they play and know so superbly without even a hint of me being a bother to them. I don't think that happens in many musical environments. I love it that everyone, even the people who have been coming here for years and years, who have written extensively on the music or performed it many, many times, seem interested in what people like me, one of the newest of the Stockhausen community of students, think.
So, all of that adds up to what has been for me an extraordinary experience and I am deeply thankful to all the people, from Suzee and Kathinka as the overall organisers, through to everyone who took part, for making it what it was.
Obviously I would urge anyone who has an interest in Stockhausen's music to come along next time. That leaves two years between now and then for others who were there this year to post their thoughts here about their experiences!
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!