2018 is the year of Stockhausen's 90th birthday. Therefore there are some performances of major works of his especially in Europe. One of the main events is INORI. There has been a one year long training for young performers of the mime-part, the prayers-part of this work, and it will be performed twice at the Lucerne Festival Sept 2, and after that in Paris and Berlin. To prepare for that I just began to look again at this work. When we first visited the Kürten Courses in 2000 my wife and I myself took part in Alain Louafi's masterclass on INORI; since that time I know that this is an outstanding masterpiece, one of the major steps on the path to LICHT (together with SIRIUS). In the weeks to come I would like to point to some important motives of this work hoping that participants of this forum will contribute their insights and questions. My first theme is the prayer gestures. They come from different religions from all over the world. When the work was performed for the first time in Donaueschingen Festival, Stockhausen therefore organized an exhibition of prayer gestures from all parts of the world. Against that critical voices came, blaming Stockhausen for a mixture of religions, of syncretism; that is an argument often used against attempts to use motives of different religions - the impression one manufactures his own religion and robs for this purpose in an imperialist way foreign (possibly: Third-World) traditions to enrich the own project. This argument could also be applied to TELEMUSIK and its use of sound examples from foreign cultures. Stockhausen himself deals with that problem in his lectures "Kompositorische Grundlagen" (1970). Here in INORI however it seems to me quite clear that Stockhausen has a completely different view: His starting-point is not the different religions and rituals, not a tradition, but life itself, in this case: the life-movement of man turning to God, making contact to God. That is the important point, and to express it, to bring that to life, I use that forms, that rituals, that gestures that people all over the world before my time have developed and that have proven useful. In this point of view there is no conflict of traditions, no: that is mine and that is yours, but there is one life we all participate in, and the big questions of life we all are confronted with. So the series of gestures Stockhausen uses shows the process of opening up to life and to the Divine - that is important and not which tradition for the first time used this or that gesture. Thus in this respect we again encounter a basic characteristic of Stockhausen's art: this direct connection of music and reality. The question is not: to develop a style, to use or to change certain traditions of music, but to show the order of life and of reality itself. By that certain forms of music come about, certain traditions and ways of composing develop, but all that is secondary.
Thank you Thomas for starting this post - a wonderful and important topic with these performances of INORI coming up later in the year. I am hoping to go to these in Lucerne - but, as always, the cost from Australia is so much! But it has been my privilege to see some of the rehearsals during my time in Kürten late last year and to spend time with the soloists. It has been amazing to share part of the journey with them.
I agree very much with your points, Thomas. For me, the music is a key part of how this work embraces the universality of prayer, and of human connection with the divine, whatever one might imagine the divine to be. By integrating the gestures of many cultures into the INORI formula, the diversity of cultural concepts of prayer become united, and then they become developed and further integrated as the gestures themselves mix and move with the notation of the mime part in the music. This becomes increasingly more complex and rich as the piece progresses, as gestures combine and mix even between the left hand the right hand. The world's theologies become one - diverse and together and, because of this, universal.
As Stockhausen has said, INORI also tells the history of music, as the formula develops first as rhythm, then as dynamics, then as harmony, melody, and finally polyphony. This to me is a critically important part of what the piece is about. It reflects, I think, part of Stockhausen's understanding of the relationship between music and the divine: it is through the development of music that the human connection with the divine, across all the world's cultures, is both developed and integrated. It is a wonderful message, I believe - human spirituality is transformed and made universal through the connectivity of music.
As I have said at other times, I believe this can resonate with everyone, regardless of their personal beliefs spiritually. Whether it is monotheistic, polytheistic, pantheistic, or even atheistic where the 'spiritual' might be understood in more human terms - the connections and and essence and universality of humanity, for example - INORI brings them all together. None is diminished, all are celebrated, all are part of the same thing. That, to me, is part of its message - the diversity of spirituality, however personal or private or cultural its resonance might be, weaves through all of us, and INORI celebrates this, and unites it.
This is something that I have felt watching the soloists rehearse and learn the part for Lucerne. They are four different, vibrant, fun, young people, with different backgrounds, different nationalities, different personalities. They have all become my friends, but I know nothing of their spiritual beliefs, and have not wanted to know. I love the magic of INORI in bringing them all together, transforming them together, wherever they come from privately, culturally or spiritually. While they perform INORI they are no longer dancers from France or a violinist from Australia or a clarinettist from America. They are all INORI. It is a glorious thing to see and hear. Whatever we conceive spirituality to be, INORI celebrates it, and unites it!
The subject of INORI obviously is prayer. Another composition on this subject is "amn" for 7 vocal groups (1958) by Dieter Schnebel. In one of his last interviews (he sadly died 3 weeks ago) Schnebel said that praying is done with words; they are essential for prayer - therefore the vocal groups in his work. In contrast to that in INORI we just hear one single word at the end, the shouting of HU. In this work prayer is performing gestures, it is done with bodily action. Sure, theses prayer-gestures belong to praying, but they are without any doubt not as essential for prayer as the verbal contact with God. Now the question is: What does it mean when Stockhausen composes with gestures, not with words, in order to make a statement on prayer? What is the meaning of prayer, what is the meaning of religion, of religious life, of contact to God, when bodily action is in the centre - not verbal communication?
Yes, Schnebel and Stockhausen have been very close together. Schnebel was the editor of the first three volumes of Stockhausen's TEXTE. Then there was a deep conflict, because Schnebel criticised Stockhausen as authoritarian; Stockhausen could not stand that and the connection broke. Nevertheless Schnebel always admired Stockhausen as one of the really important composers; in one of his essays he mentioned the line: Bach - Beethoven - Wagner - Stockhausen. And in his last interview some weeks ago he said that he had 2 teachers in composition: Stockhausen and Cage, but did not get any lessons from them. Schnebel once told that shortly before Stockhausen died they met again at the Donaueschingen festival. Schnebel entered the lobby of an hotel there and there sat Stockhausen; there had not been any contact since decades. But this time Stockhausen arouse from his seat, stretched out his hand to Schnebel and said to him: My friend... Schnebel was very grateful that there had been a reconciliation finally. And Schnebel was present at the world premiere of SONNTAG aus LICHT in Cologne 2011.
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!