The other day a casual acquaintance emailed me, "If I want to become familiar with Stockhausen's music where should I begin?"
Given no other background information (and no opportunity for asking), how would you respond? (This acquaintance may come across this thread so I don't want to be more specific just in case :) ). Just assume this person is familiar with classical, rock and jazz, but not necessarily an expert on post-war avant-garde.
Personally, the first thing I reached for was the Kontarsky Klavierstucke recordings, but now I'm thinking maybe I should have said the "more diatonic" Klang pieces...(Hoffnung, etc).
However lately I've been listening to Weltraum (Outer Space) from Freitag aus Licht and I recall hearing that lots of gothic kids greeted Stockhausen at those concerts...so I can definitely see those being received as "dark ambient" works.
(yes, I have gotten lazy about umlauts and capitalizing song titles, sorry about that... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )
I, too, am often asked this question. It's so hard to answer, because it depends so much on where the person is coming from. With repertoire as diverse as Stockhausen's, there are so many different approaches, and these will all resonate differently with the different musical tastes people bring to table.
Often when people are visiting me and ask me to put on something by Stockhausen, I play OKTOPHONIE, but also sometimes the HELICOPTER STRING QUARTET - but of course there are lots of other possibilities. It has sometimes been interesting getting responses from people when I play Stockhausen on the radio - someone once sent in a message after I played FREUDE, and said she heard it while driving in the car and was so taken by it that she just stayed in her car even when she arrived home, waiting for it to finish. Another person sent in a text during SYNTHI-FOU, and said they had no idea Stockhausen could be as overwhelmingly powerful as that. Someone else said their interest in Stockhausen was sparked by hearing JAHRESLAUF on one of my broadcasts. So all totally different pieces evoking something special in people who beforehand knew little or nothing of Stockhausen's music. I find this very heartwarming.
Wow - that's great that you are able to field these reactions from your broadcasts!
Freude is delicious and complex - that is absolutely a "gateway tune" if you ask me.
At the risk of moving this forum away from "academic" discussion, I may later post some thoughts about how to get people into KS' music.
For example, if you like John Coltrane's "Ascension", I'd recommend Aus Den Sieben Tagen, especially KOMMUNION. And if you like Satie or Keith Jarrett's piano works, I'd recommend one of the Natural Durations pieces. If you like Brian Eno's ambient works, then Weltraum or Mittwoch's Gruss...etc.
One composer friend once claimed that KS' music was "humorless". That annoyed me, since his work can be really funny. Der Jahreslauf immediately comes to mind as a favorite!
I was just listening to Momente (the 1965 version which starts with the clapping Moment) and I think it's hilarious that he the turned the whole ritual of clapping around on the audience! Not to mention the nature of the text.... Momente took me awhile to get into, but once I realized how funny it is (and supposed to be) I had a much better appreciation for it. The 1972 version which starts with the brass band marching into the hall is also pretty funny, as if he's interrupting his own show. Samstag has the "orchestra strike"...
That's interesting - I don't quite hear that opening of the European version as "funny", but find it actually really quite arresting: but I agree about the clapping. But of course we all find different things in the music, especially music as rich as Stockhausen's. MOMENTE is a work that absolutely staggers me with its brilliance, and I love the many levels at which it can be approached. By many reports, it was the work that Stockhausen considered his best. There are very few bodily parts I would not be prepared to sacrifice in order to see it performed live.
Speaking of live Momente, it looks like the video excerpt of Peter Eotvos' Paris 2014 performance was removed from YouTube. The whole thing was streamed over the web, so I hope somebody has a copy of that - and releases it someday! By all accounts it was fantastic - and the excerpt was jaw-dropping. Perhaps a copy exists in the Archives?
Speaking of Eotvos, he has a contact email on his site. I can't remember if I ever sent him something, but if I did he never responded...would love to meet him someday.
Yes, I think many of those YouTube videos are uploaded illegally, which might be why they are taken down.
Peter Eötvös will be conducting INORI in Lucerne on 2 September. The soloists have been working on it for over a year, and i have been able to watch some of their rehearsals during my visits to Kürten, so I simply have to attend their final performances. There will be two performances on the one day - but Peter is only conducting the second of the two performances.
Lucerne again! We visited there after the Basel 2016 show. Beautiful city, be sure to explore if you haven't been there before. The art museum is worth the visit as well. I'm very glad Eotvos is continuing his work with Stockhausen. We need more DVDs for those of us too old to fly! :).
What work of Stockhausen can we recommend for a beginner? Generally speaking I would say: Any work in a live performance! For me in the beginning it was always hard to listen just to a recording; but in a live concert it is quite another thing. On the other hand I also had the experience of terrible performances. I remember a performance of KONTAKTE with a very loud electronic layer; so the players of piano and percussion also had to play very loud, and the whole thing was ear-tormenting; unbearable! But when the interpreters know what to do, the live-situation is always very helpful, and in most cases irresistable. Even a complicated work as GRUPPEN, conducted by Simon Rattle and collegues, had an enthusiastic reaction by the public! And what pieces? What comes to my mind is: KLAVIERSTÜCK 9, and, if the pianist is daring and a virtuoso (as for instance Frederic Rzewski in his breathtaking record), KLAVIERSTÜCK 10. Or the most popular TIERKREIS. Or the charming KLEINER HARLEKIN - but the musician has to be able to move in a graceful way. Like Ian I also would say: FREUDE (but there are not many interpreters and performances, what is a pity), or the overwhelming OKTOPHONIE. But, surely, it depends... When a person has the opportunity to attend INORI this Septembre in Luzern, Paris or Berlin, that should be very rewarding!
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!