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Ulrich Offline

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Thu Jan 24, 2019 12:04 pm
Is there a Stockhausen-school? reply

In these days in Berlin Staatsoper a production of "Kopernikus" by Claude Vivier can be seen. Its subtitel is: "Opéra-Rituel de Mort". Yesterday I attended this production, and there the above question arose. For Vivier studied two years with Stockhausen (1972-74) at the High School for Music in Cologne; it was the time when INORI was composed. "Kopernikus" was written in 1978/79. When I listened to the work a propinquity to Stockhausen was for me quite obvious (though the conductor of this production neglected that). There is no conventional opera, but a musical ritual on the theme of death. In this case a girl just had died, is lying there on a bed and executes the transgression to a state beyond death - we may think on the later "KATHINKAs GESANG" (1983) from SAMSTAG aus LICHT. Also the connection to the universe, to the stars and to the elements is important, somehow a cosmic religious spirit as we meet that in Stockhausen. I would think in Vivier there is no formula-composition in a Stockhausen-sense; maybe the music sounds a bit more conventional, but that is not very significant. More significant the use of the Rin, that reminds on INORI. Obvious the nearness to Stockhausen is how Vivier treats the language. Partly we hear French and can understand the meaning of the words, but in most cases he uses a fantasy-language, composed like music.
So it is (for me) obvious that Vivier is a disciple of Stockhausen. Stockhausen had a lot of students; even Helmut Lachenmann was among them. But is there such thing as a "Stockhausen-school"? The first impression is: He had no successors. What has it been that the students learned from him? When he began to read the Urantia-Book he urged his students also to study that - but did that have any results?

ipar1306 Offline

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Mon Jan 28, 2019 1:34 pm
#2 RE: Is there a Stockhausen-school? reply

An interesting question, Thomas! I have also noticed Stockhausen's influence on Vivier. Some of Vivier's use of colour and harmony very much reminds me of INORI, and I think also some of his very distinctive ways of working with voice, and new vocal techniques, may have been things he learned from MOMENTE. I know Vivier was also inluenced somewhat by spectralism - but the actual sound of what he did to me seems to connect much more with Stockhausen (especially the Stockhausen of INORI) than with the spectralists.

But as for the question of a Stockhausen School - I guess, if there is one, it would be one with many faculties and classrooms! Because Stockhausen was always so determined to explore new things in his compositions, my sense is that the composers who have learned from him and followed some of his ideas have all tended to draw on different things. It is always fascinating, I think, to see how composers take some of Stockhausen's ideas and work with them in their own ways, but I cannot think of anyone who embraced such a diversity of ideas, or who worked with serialism in such an explosively creative way, as Stockhausen did. Is there even anyone else who has used formula composition, or developed it in anyway? Surely there must be, but I can't, at the moment, think of who.

Jerry Offline

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Tue Jan 29, 2019 5:05 am
#3 RE: Is there a Stockhausen-school? reply

I agree, it is an interesting question. It makes me think, "what exactly is a school of composition"? Historically, when we speak of the Flemish School of the 15th and 16th centuries, or of the New German School of the 19th century, we mean a group of composers with a shared style. With the Second Viennese School, there must be some other meaning, since Webern and Berg have little in common stylistically. Here we probably are thinking of disciples of Schoenberg, who adopted twelve-tone technique, but put it to quite different uses.

As to style, Stockhausen said, "I have no style; I don't want any style", and went on to explain that, for him, each composition needed to develop its own style, different from any others. This makes it difficult to associate other composers on the basis of style, though we may see similarities to particular compositions (INORI has been mentioned already, and MOMENTE).

If we turn instead to composers who studied with Stockhausen, it is still difficult to find common ground. Must they use serialism in some way? Or should they write intuitive music? Or both? (I have argued on many occasions that these are not incompatible categories.)

John Cage is an interesting parallel example. Hundreds of composers have expressed their indebtedness to him, and many have immediately added, "But it was because he gave me freedom to do as I liked," or, "It was his philosophical attitude that mattered most." Composers as diverse as György Ligeti, Brian Ferneyhough, György Kurtág, Richard Barrett, Gottfried Michael Koenig, Péter Eötvös, Mesías Maiguashca, Emmanuel Nunes, and Jean-Claude Eloy have acknowledged a strong debt to Stockhausen, and it is possible to see Stockhausen's influence in some or many of their works, but is there a commonality that binds them all together?

Ian asks about other composers who have used formula technique. Some reckless editor on Wikipedia has found citations pointing to Boulez's Rituel, in memoriam Bruno Maderna as one example, and more broadly to York Höller's concept of Klanggestalt as a related, though distinct concept. Boulez, I am sure, would have objected strongly to belonging to a "Stockhausen School", and indeed a single work is scarcely enough to tie him to formula technique of any sort.

I spent a good deal of time tracing the influence of just one Stockhausen work, Zeitmaße, in the last chapter of my book on that composition. In some cases, I found strong connections that had little or no audible stylistic result, and in others, superficial resemblances that did not seem to be anything more than that. One of the more curious cases was the "hidden" influence on Ligeti's Second String Quartet, which in turn strongly influenced Hanspeter Kyburz's String Quartet of 2005. While Ligeti's quartet sounds nothing at all like Zeitmaße, I find some fairly strong resemblances in Kyburz's, which presumably has no direct influence from Stockhausen at all. On the other hand, Kyburz's Malstrom, for four orchestras and choirs, has been programmed together with Stockhausen's Carré, and I find it impossible to believe that the similarity in forces is a complete coincidence, though it is otherwise quite a different kind of music.

Adorján Offline

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Wed Jan 30, 2019 3:32 pm
#4 RE: Is there a Stockhausen-school? reply

During the symposion on "The Musical Legacy of Karlheinz Stockhausen", I posed this question to the panel of presenters. There was no answer. Although there are plenty of pupils of Stockhausen, it is hard to find a common character, just as Jerry wrote. When hearing Vivier´s "Wo bist du Licht?", I felt the same as Thomas, a relationship, a kinship of Vivier´s music to Stockhausen´s which I tried to describe like this: It seemed to me a music, Stockhausen could have written if he had decided to proceed in one direction only. It is a music which concentrated on one quality of his music. Stockhausen ridiculed this in one of his English lectures as "specialization". In this respect, I would call the spectralists (Grisey was a pupil of Stockhausen, too) clearly musicians coming from Stockhausen. Provided that one could define other directions of Stockhausen which other composers "specialized" in, one could talk of several "Stockhausen-schools" not only one.

Ulrich Offline

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Thu Jan 31, 2019 11:57 am
#5 RE: Is there a Stockhausen-school? reply

One of the former students of Stockhausen, when I talked to him, confessed, that for him it had been quite frustrating to study with Stockhausen in Darmstadt: He learned something and tried to develop that in his own way, but next year, when he sat in Stockhausen's class again, Stockhausen again was far away from last year, was busy with quite other tasks and problems. And so my conversational partner had the impression, that he always was far back. When he came to terms with what he had learned, Stockhausen lived already on quite another level. As Jerry said: Each work, each task demands a special way of composing, and so there is not a superficial identity.
On the other hand, the formula composition since 1970 was a continuous way of composing for him. And even with LICHT, which held him busy for nearly 30 years, we cannot have the impression, that this way of composing and constructing got somehow rigid or even sclerotic -it allowed a huge variety of very different works. And therefore I wonder why formula composition was and is not widely adopted by composers - it allows to establish a real unity of a work, that is quite amazing, for the cell of a work is at the same time the constructive plan for the whole work...

ipar1306 Offline

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Thu Jan 31, 2019 12:39 pm
#6 RE: Is there a Stockhausen-school? reply

Those comments made to you by one of Stockhausen's students, Thomas, reminded me of a composer who once said to me that he resented Stockhausen because, every time he tried to think of some new thing to do compositionally, Stockhausen had already done it. A different version of the same issue!!

I agree very much with you about LICHT and what a remarkable thing it was that Stockhausen was able to create a work that captured such diversity and unity, and all of it based on the single page of music. Almost every scene or Act of LICHT seems to find a new way of working with the Superformula, and then even these are different to the ways he worked with formulas in his earlier formula compositions. I am staggered by the ingenuity with which he worked with the formula and its expansions in MANTRA, for example.

So even though composers might not have taken up the formula composition approach, there would be, one would think, at least a whole encyclopaedia of compositional ideas and techniques in these works. MANTRA's use of 12 expansions of the original formula, all according to differently structured intervallic scales could, I guess, have been used in other works by other composers, but without necessarily adopting other aspects of formula composition.

Ultimately my point is the one we're all making - there are just so many classes in the Stockhausen school: it is sometimes very difficult to see clear cnnections between those who went to some of them, and, it seems, only Stockhausen ever went to them all!

Adorján F Offline

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Thu Jan 31, 2019 6:09 pm
#7 RE: Is there a Stockhausen-school? reply

That Stockhausen changed his direction quite often, is no contradiction to what I mentioned. It is still possible to go into depth, to „specialize“ with regard to one aspect of his work. This is what the early Stockhausen never did. What Thomas wrote, points to the possibility that Stockhausen who earlier in his career gave models for others with every new work, went into depth himself with LICHT, „specialized“ with respect to formula composition. But within LICHT of course, he made again changes of direction although there are also voices which state that he mainly collected all his earlier experiences so that there was a compositional stand-still (I find this view unfair).
I suggested somewhere that even LICHT could be composed further by another composer to become a never-ending work. Indeed, the formula itself without the framework of the three protagonists, the seven days et cetera is open. But of course, it would be more creative to invent another good formula. Does anybody know, whether York Höller did use formula technique in several of his works? I remember that I heard something like this.

ipar1306 Offline

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Mon Feb 04, 2019 1:05 pm
#8 RE: Is there a Stockhausen-school? reply

Unfortunately I don't know whether York Höller used formula technique in any of his works - but it would be certainly interesting to know if he did!

Your comment, Adorjan, about the Superformula being used for other, completely different works, in a never-ending way, reminds me of a remark that I think Stockhausen himself made at one time (but I can't find it at the moment) that he felt he could have continued to compose with the Superformula forever himself. I am not at all surprised by that, given how differently he worked with it in virtually every part of LICHT. There was no sign, even by the end of composing SONNTAG aus LICHT, that he had run out of brilliontly creative ideas for working with the Superformula. Just think of the amazing use of horizontal polyphony and delay in LICHT-BILDER, or the differing time-scales of HOCH-ZEITEN!

I think it's a shame that people overlook the enormous vitality and ingenuity of all that when they make those claims that you referred to, Adorjan, that LICHT simply reiterated old compositional discoveries. It is true that he brought much of what he had discovered in his earlier years also into LICHT, but always giving it new life and bringing it into the entirely new framework of the Superformula. In that sense, I see LICHT as being rather like the spiral of which Stockhausen so often spoke - you go around and around, but you don't return to the same place, you instead arrive at somewhere higher. To me LICHT has that sort of relationship with some of his earlier work: integrating it into something higher and changed. That would be another aspect of the Stockhausen School - it would not only have many classes, but many levels as well!

I am also reminded here of another of Stockhausen's remarks - that if he was to return to Earth he would like to begin composing just one composition, from when he was 21 years old and until his death. We can only marvel and wonder at what such a composition might be like, and if he will ever return to create it!

Justin Patrick Moore Offline

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Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:35 pm
#9 RE: Is there a Stockhausen-school? reply

It was great to find this discussion here this Friday morning. I like what Ian said about the school of Stockhausen being in a spiral -if such a school were to exist. & I like what other's said about there being a multiplicity of schools for each aspect of Stockhausen's work, the "specilizations". Would Pete Eotvos e a specialist in the vocal aspects of Stockhausen's work? What about Holger Czukay and his work? Would he be a part of the "shortwave" school? Or Irmin Schmidt who was also in the band Can and another of Stockhausen's students. They went and did krautrock, but they certainly carried that influence of their time spent with Karlheinz -specifically the use of radios. (I wrote an article about Czukay the radio wave surfer last year that can be accessed here: )

Then there are a lot of the jazz heads who get into Stockhausen because of his intuitive music or other aspects. For instance Anthony Braxton has lectured on Klavierstucke. (Available on youtube.)

Electronic musician Hainbach recently posted on making music with (radio) test equipment, citing how he wanted to go back to the beginnings like Stockhausen did. (Available here: )

Although it differs from what is meant in this discussion as a "school" certainly the summer courses in Kurten could be considered a school in Stockhausen's music -and I wonder how it might evolve over time- offering this place to study these different and specilizations within the vast spiral that is the legacy of work he left us? Such a school would be a vast place and would cover lots of different though interconnected territory.

The concept of "spiral learning" is something that has appealed to me as well: the idea of returning to the same subjects at different angles over time. Great topic!

Justin Patrick Moore Offline

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Mon Feb 11, 2019 8:00 pm
#10 RE: Is there a Stockhausen-school? reply

I also just saw this article from the Jerusalem Post on Markus Stockhausen (about a festival he will be playing at)

It brings to mind the question of where Karlheinz's children, (i.e., Markus, whose work outside of his father's compositions I also adore) fall into a "Stockhausen school". Markus, as a musicians, has that great combination of classical trainging & work as an imporiviser that his dad strove to have in his players.

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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! Thomas Ulrich
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