The humor of KS's music has come up here a few times, and it's a shame many on the outside (including some "name composers" who I won't cite here) have come up to me and actually said "but his music is so humorless..." I think KS' reputation for pomposity has blinded some folks to this aspect. It's much easier to pigeonhole a given composer as the "quiet one", the "funny one" or the "megalomaniacal one", etc...alas.
Anyways, Monday has always impressed me with its juxtaposition of "coarse humor" with moments of almost Lynch-ian (as in David Lynch) or Beckett-ian wit. However, since the damn thing is never staged, no one knows about it... Actually, for Aus Licht, which Monday scenes are being staged? At one point I saw a complete listing of works to be performed but now I can't find it...
- Ed Chang - Stockhausen - Sounds in Space: Analysis, explanation and personal impressions of the works of the avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. - http://stockhausenspace.blogspot.com/
For Aus LICHT they are doing EVAs LIED, KINDERFÄNGER and ENTFÜHRUNG but, of course, all in semi-staged (quasi-concert) performances, rather than fully staged.
I certainly agree with Thomas's defence of classical opera - although it seems to me that often there are certain unspoken rules about which operas people are allowed to laugh in, and which they are not. And which opera theatres. For example, at Bayreuth, people seem to never laugh at the scene in Siegfried where Siegfried makes such a mess of imitating the woodbird, whereas I am told that in many other theatres people find that scene really quite funny (in a slapstick sort of way). People have been quite serious even through most of Die Meistersinger there. I mention this not to get off topic but to more to make a point that I think applies to Stockhausen too - and it connects with what Ed said - there is just a pre-conception amongst many that Stockhausen is all seriousness when, of course, humour is woven through it constantly. I personally think the only way to change that culture is, like Ed suggested, to perform the works more often and, along with that, talk about them more: get more people engaged in thinking about it more. Of course, that's a challenge across new music generally.
As for moments of intense tragedy and grief in LICHT, as Thomas raised, I personally find PIETA one of the most anguished and sorrowful passages in all music. I hear in it the very essence of sorrow: it is almost as if the flugelhorn has become a living, grieving spirit, wailing, while the soprano quietly, sadly, weeps and then (again this is a personal reaction) one of the most shattering moments of all comes just after the end of PIETA and, after all that sorrow and grief, the war resumes. There is much throughout Act Two of DIENSTAG that I find deeply tragic and disturbing, and even the laughter of SYNTHI-FOU at the end is crazed and frightening.
There are other smaller moments throughout LICHT where I feel similarly, but it is in DIENSTAG that those feelings are the strongest, and last the longest. To give another example, the loneliness of Michael's trumpet in HALT is a moment of great poignancy for me, and I always feel a certain sadness in MICHAELs ABSCHIED, as if Michael is a little forlorn that his time on earth has come to an end. There are many of these sorts of moments for me throughout LICHT, and I see some elements of that sadness within the formulas themselves - especially Michael's - but, once again, that is a personal reflection and, anyway, now way off the topic of humour, not to mention of MONTAG aus LICHT!
Zitat a production of Mozart's Marriage of Figaro, in which the barbershop scene
Sorry, I misspoke there. Before anyone else takes me to task over this, I obviously meant Wolfgang Amadeus Rossini's The Barbershop of Figaro, not Gioachino Mozart's Marriage of Seville. Because they are both Beaumarchais operas, I find them hard to tell apart.
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!