What a splendid idea! Indeed there was a great deal of hostility in the German press, but it was not universal. Heinz Josef Herbort, who wrote for Die Zeit, was for more than thirty years a fair and supportive critic. However, before his time with that newspaper there were others who were on the same level of hostility as Umbauch. One of my favourite vituperative reviews is one by Walter Abendroth, of the Donaueschingen deuxième of GRUPPEN (the performance Stravinsky attended in October 1958, and later wrote about admiringly). Abendroth is particularly amusing because he could not ignore the audience reaction to GRUPPEN, and so had to find explanations for why they were deluded into such enthusiastic demonstrations. At the same time, he could not hear any significant difference between Stockhausen's composition and the work with which it shared the programme, Boulez's Poesie pour pouvoir, both of which, according to Abendroth, pointlessly translated the meaningless noise of so-called electronic "music" to orchestral instruments. Here is a link: Musikalische Atomzertrümerung I wonder if he ever read Stravinsky's reaction to the same piece and, if so, how he must have felt.
Dear Jerry, thank you for this link. I just read the article by Abendroth. Although it is quite funny to read TODAY, I must say that he tried at least to struggle with the music he heard. He explains much, maybe wrongly but nevertheless, he brings some commitment into his text. When comparing his article to the thin and boring routine little texts we must read today in the newspapers, I have a certain respect for this kind of opinionated writing.
James wrote. "Most of the media response I've seen (internet) to performances of his work since his death has been largely positive. Including the big premieres of Sonntag & Mittwoch." I had to think a long time about this. And I think the observation is very true but that leads me to the question: Was the aggressive hostility critics like Klaus Umbach expressed in "Der Spiegel" (see links above) not so much directed against the composition but the composer himself? It seems to me that the personal and spiritual attitude of Stockhausen as a person was more provocative than his work. Umbach, for example, is in his LICHT reviews more than once returning to an interview he made with Stockhausen (see http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/d-14024352.html). As a journalist I must say that this interview was a total desaster of a mutual misunderstanding and I guess that Umbach left with the impression that Stockhausen is total "plemplem" (as we say in German, total crazy), and that impression is like a red thread through the mentioned LICHT reviews. (Note: The attitude against Stockhausen in its anti-spiritual approach of "Der Spiegel" reminds me of the strong anti-catholic hostility the magazine showed as long as Rudolf Augstein was editor. I think there are strong parallels!)
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!