Rudolf Frisius is one of the most important scholars who write on Stockhausen; since the end of the fifties he has been in contact with the composer and we owe to him many important interviews. 1996 the first volume of his investigation on Stockhausen appeared, and now the final, the third volume of this work has appeared: “Stockhausen III: Die Werkzyklen 1977 – 2007”, Mainz 2013 (Schott Verlag), 656pp, € 49,95. In this volume Frisius writes about the two big cycles: LICHT and KLANG. In the introductory part he reflects in a very inspiring way about two poles of the work of Stockhausen: the rational-constructive side of his work you can explain and analyse, and on the other hand that what remains miraculous. You can point to that rational aspect, but there is more in it than the musicologist with his means can detect. That leads to a very modest attitude! And this attitude is characteristic for this book. Frisius concentrates very much on the music and its structure, according to the insight that also in Stockhausen’s operas everything is developed out of the music and every content stems from there. To explain that he works above all with schemes and diagrams he himself has elaborated that show the compositional structure of the scenes of the operas and the hours of KLANG; also selected sketches from the composer are shown. In this way the book requires the willingness of the reader to delve into these structures; on the other hand it offers a very reliable basis for understanding. From this basis Frisius gives some comments to the spiritual understanding of the works, but very cautious – it offers a rather ascetic characteristics. And the only critical remark that comes to my mind is the question, if Frisius in his big chapters on the operas should not write a bit more about the main characters that appear on stage and their background. The book of Frisius is extremely different to what Robin Maconie writes on LICHT in his book “Other Planets”, and for me it is very revealing that both approaches are possible and productive. And I am convinced that still another approach is possible and maybe desirable, when we think of LICHT, that tells more about the spiritual meaning of the universal drama that unfolds in the seven operas. But: Maybe it is not possible that one single person is able to embrace all these essential aspects of the cycle, and that would be a strong argument for the thesis that LICHT is a unique masterwork, that provokes many ways of understanding. To sum up: Frisius offers a masterly analysis of Stockhausen’s big cycles; everybody who wants to understand what happens here in the music will find in this book a trustworthy basis. It is written in German – a translation would be very desirable!
I'm just reading it, and yes. It's worth it. There's only one thing that's really annoying: The publisher announced Vol. 3 would have an overall index for all three volumes. But it doesn't. So it's impossible to search for names or titles, and in a certain way this makes all three volumes unusable.
While I am looking forward to reading volume 3 with an interest heightened by Thomas Ulrich's report, I am disappointed to learn that the promised overall index (and, I presume, a bibliography of sources) are not included. I complained of this shortcoming in a review published when vol. 1 first appeared, and I complained also to Rudolf in person, on at least two occasions (the second time when volume 2 appeared, still with no index and no critical apparatus). In fact, if you are familiar with the various previously published articles that are reprinted in volume 1, you will know that the footnotes with sources supporting many statements have been removed. Rudolf told me that this was a decision of the publisher, Schott, who were afraid it might adversely affect sales if people thought it was a "scholarly" book. He did not promise me that there would eventually be at least an index, but I was hopeful. Now my hopes are dashed. What a pity.
Yes, indeed. And in fact it IS a scholarly book in a way that you must really be busy with it. And that is a good thing. Maybe that points in the same direction: I also wondered why Frisius refrains from discussion other literature - perhaps also because of the publisher thinking that is too unaccessible then?
I was very surprised myself when I saw that both a bibliography AND an index is lacking. I believe immediately that the publisher forced him to do this. Modern times. Best thing for Rudolf Frisius would be to add at least the bibliography onto his website. Maybe somebody of his fellow musicologists can ask him.
Posting the missing bibliography on the author's website is a splendid idea. I would be happy to email him with this suggestion, unless someone else has already done this. (Or perhaps he is reading this thread already?)
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!