I also think, the narrative aspects of LICHT offer endless possibilities to thoughts. From a musical point of view the cycle for sure is a unity through the super-formula, as Rudolf Frisius stated. But is that more than something that is determined by a compositional concept? I mean: Can you hear that, can you get that by pure listening? And obviously for Stockhausen himself that was not absolutely essential; otherwise he would have started the composition with Monday and not with Thursday. There is a simple logic to compose the cycle in that series as Stockhausen did it - and if you want to explain what the cycle is about you also have to start with introducing the three protagonists, therefore with Thursday, Saturday and Monday. Then it is also obvious to go on with the pair-relations, but not to end with Wednesday. I think here the Christian influence is important: Sunday is the day of the Lord, in the tale of creation Gen 1-2 in the seventh day everything is fulfilled in resting from work; Sunday is the day of Eve and Michael, and their relation is pure love - "God is love". So the cycle has its climax in Sunday, because that is the day of the sun, of light, of LICHT. And from there on the week can start anew, on a new level. I also feel the temptation to think: The harmony, the peace, the collaboration of Wednesday is the final goal - but that is a thinking that goes out from what human society needs. Sunday goes beyond - HU! For me there is not a narrative connection in LICHT, but more a conceptual one. The themes of the days come from the stars and the ancient Gods that are connected with them - there is no thematic progress from the day of woman and birth to the day of conflict to the day of harmony etc. Every day stands for itself, has its own theme; narratively they are only connected by the fact, that the same protagonists appear in each of the thematic fields. But there is no development. Maybe there is a development in composition: Thursday is the most conventional opera-like day, because it is composed first; can we say that Sunday is the most abstract and refined way in dealing with the superformula because Stockhausen had to develop new ways to use the formula in order not to repeat himself? And there are differences in the structure of the days: Also Monday and Friday are more narratively structured, tell a story, while especially Saturday and Sunday just expose the theme of the day in its different aspects with no narrative connection. Thus I could imagine that Sunday could begin with HOCH-ZEITEN and end beautifully with the last duett Eve-Michael in LICHTER-WASSER. The compositional construction of the day, however, is another story. Finally a question: The idea that Lucifer is redeemed in Saturday(?) is beautiful indeed, but I did not get the argument; can anybody explain again? When Stockhausen worked on the concept of Sunday he had a quite different opinion on Lucifer...
Nicely put, thanks Ulrich. As always, these things "could" be experienced in thousands of ways as Ian has suggested, but for an initial experience, the composed order has a strongly organic development to me.
Regarding the Lucifer redemption in Saturday, I had earlier had the thought that if Sunday is followed by Thursday (in a 2nd cycle traversal of the LICHT cycle in the composition order), then possibly the Young Michael of Thursday is the child of Michael and Eve's Union (HOCH-ZEITEN) in the previous Sunday. This would however imply that MICHAELS JUGEND's "LUCIMON" is an (d)evolved version of Michael from the previous cycle. This seems a bit sad and cynical for Michael's post-marriage fate, but if in Kathinka's Chant he is redeemed in "The Scream" ("Is the SCREAM the release for reincarnation, for eternal extinction, or for entrance into the clear LIGHT? " in Stockhausen's words), then I can be happy for him.
I hope that helps explain my theory..?
Another thing I just noticed in re-experiencing Saturday From Light, is that Majella is the one who "kills" Lucifer in Scene 1. Kathinka is the one who resurrects him in Scene 2. Perhaps some reflection of a real-life argument?
- 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/
There is a lot to think about here. I hope I can keep track of it all! First of all, Ed asked why Stockhausen began with Thursday. It seems to me that there are at least two reasons, one narrative and the other compositional. Michael is the "good guy" here, and Stockhausen repeatedly makes clear that it is Michael to whom he prays, even if he sometimes feels a guilty affinity to Lucifer. Starting work on Michael's day therefore makes sense because it allows Stockhausen to get all his ideas in order for the cycle's "heroic" character. From a compositional point of view, the three "solo" operas (as Thomas points out) are comparatively simple in structure, since their respective superformulas each add only one additional strand to the three lines of the overall superformula. Starting with any one of these three allows Stockhausen to work out his formula technique on a more modest level before proceeding to work on the other, more complex structures. Monday is not a good choice because it is the longest of the three, and Saturday, being Lucifer's day, is going to be more complex in nature than Thursday. Finishing with Sunday rather than Wednesday seems to go against this argument, but of course it is the longest of the seven operas. (Of course, this is also setting aside the fact that the first part of Licht to be composed was act 1 of Tuesday.)
At the time that Stockhausen was just beginning work on Monday, he told me (see "Stockhausen on Opera" in Perspectives of New Music 23/2 , pp. 24–39) that he had put off composing it until after finishing Thursday and Saturday because it concerned "The Woman", and he was less certain about how to present and represent the feminine aspect than the masculine. He decided to represent the feminine principal as an opposite to the masculine by using inverted forms of the formulas for the first time. On reflection, it is interesting that Saturday uses retrograde forms, after Thursday had been composed using only the "forward" versions of the formula. I think this supports the idea that Stockhausen wanted to start out with simpler structures and only gradually add more complex ones. To have done this in weekday order would be the conceptual equivalent of using an ordinary chromatic scale as a twelve-tone row.
On the issue of narrative continuity, I have to side with Rudolf, and not only because of the musical continuity provided by the structure of the superformula. The order of composition is not only a progression from relatively simple to relative complex, but also is a way of avoiding a steady progression in musical thinking straight through the week. As Thomas rightly points out, the ancient concept of the planets does not rest on a directional order (if it did, how could one possibly start a new week if the goal had been reached on the "last day"?), but it is also true that we experience the planetary influences in the weekday order that was determined first by the Zoroastrians and then in Greco-Roman culture, and we experience this over and over throughout our lives, until it seems to be inevitable that, after Tuesday, Wednesday must come next. Ed has hit the nail on the head when he objects to the idea of Lucifer being banished to the Luciferium if Sunday follows Wednesday in "narrative order". Like Thomas, I do not follow the idea that Lucifer is somehow redeemed in Saturday. The final scene (Luzifer's Abschied) is a dismissal of Lucifer—an exorcism, expelling him into the void. At least, that is how I interpret it (I know Joe Drew has got other ideas about this). From this perspective, it makes perfect sense that Lucifer should find himself "cast out" and imprisoned during Sunday, and is just about the strongest case imaginable against treating order of composition as a basis for narrative. That said, if you are going to look for a chicken in an abstract painting, I think you would be better off considering all of the possible (dis)orderings of the seven weekdays (not quite the 5040 mentioned by Ian, if you regard the sequence as circular, but a substantial number all the same). Think in this respect of the thirty "moments" of Momente. For any given performance, one path must be chosen but, in principle, every performance ought to offer a different route, since each moment (like the notes in Schoenberg's twelve-note system) is related only to all the others. There is no hierarchical arrangement giving priority to one pitch above all the others.
Ed, I could tell you are an American even if I did not know that already, when you ask about calendars starting the week with Monday rather than Sunday. Only American calendars normally set off from Sunday. You might care to look at the Wikipedia articles on the weekdays, where you will discover not only that the ISO standard establishes Monday as the first day of the week, but that some world cultures begin the week with days other than Sunday or Monday. Just try literally translating the numerically based Portuguese weekday names into the also numerically based Greek names, and see what happens!
A small detail about Ed's last observation: In Luzifers Traum, Majella does not kill Lucifer, but betrays him by inserting a bit of charming, simple melody, spoiling Lucifer's spell of complexity just as it is reaching its climax. Lucifer's death is feigned, and so must be his "resurrection" in Luzifers Tanz—not in Kathinkas Gesang, which is a ritual for the dead, not a resurrection exercise.
Yeah the 1st day of the week thing I suspected was an American thing. I was just too lazy to look it up, this being just a casual thread and not something I'd publish of course. It would be great if the global standard would be set and adhered to, but...hell we'll be lucky if the planet is not a burnt out cinder in the next 3 years.
I follow your reasoning but I still find the idea of the compositional order being the narrative order the most appealing to me for reasons mentioned earlier (my question of why KS composed them in the order that he did was a bit rhetorical of course). I like the idea that Michael becomes Lucifer on Thursday, and gets an exit ramp from the karmic cycle in Kathinka's Chant - everyone has a chance at redemption, even Lucifer. BTW the Lucifer in Lucifer's Abschied in my proposition would occur in a split timeline, where Lucifer had not chosen the Light. Successive traversals of the LICHT cycle need not have the same outcome. In fact, I can see the cycle even going into different sequences after the first cycle were completed...so now we have come into sync. :)
"chicken in an abstract painting" - that's from Darmstadt, right? KS to Adorno or something? Nah, I'm really only finding ways to enrich the narrative read from the compositional order. It would certainly be possible to do the same for all of the other sequences, but I'll save that for another lifetime...
Your clarification regarding Majella and the resurrection is correct of course, but for the purposes of stirring up gossip my characterization was meant to be crudely provocative. Must've been a Lucifer whispering in my ear...
- 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/
A small correction to my previous post: The Portuguese and Greek numbering of the weekdays are identical. It is in the Slavic languages that you will find disagreement with both Portuguese and Greek numbering. The "global standard" would have to be the ISO's, but forcing people to adhere to it is another matter entirely, especially since religious traditions come into play.
I presume you have read Robin Hartwell's article in Perspectives of New Music volume 50? If not, I suggest you do so, since Robin has some very interesting thoughts on Lucifer's possible redemption.
It may possibly be of relevance to this thread that one train of thought concerning what "serialism" means, both in music and the visual arts, is that "meaning" (including structural relationships) is not dependent (as one might logically suppose from the name) on sequence, but rather on the accumulation of all the parts, none of which makes sense without referring to all of the others at once. This is the gist of Umberto Eco's argument for music in Opera aperta, and in discussions by Marcus Bandur (Aesthetics of Total Serialism: Contemporary Research from Music to Architecture, Basel, Boston and Berlin: Birkhäuser, 2001) and Katerina Sykora (Das Phänomen des Seriellen in der Kunst: Aspekte einer künstlerischen Methode von Monet bis zur amerikanischen Pop Art, Würzburg: Könighausen + Neuman, 1983), with reference to visual art.
First of all, sorry that this is a long post but, as I am sure is unsurprising to all of you who know me, I love these discussions. And, despite the slightly differing perspectives being presented here by Ed, Thomas, and Jerry, there is much in what each of you says that I agree with. This, to me, is simply part of the richness of LICHT: it allows many, and at times even conflicting, approaches to issues such as its narrative(s), and the questions of its characters.
In relation to the second of these - and to Lucifer specifically - is he redeemed? For me (and I stress I am talking here only about my own perspective) that is a non-question, because to be redeemed he would have to first be damned, and I don't see him quite in this way. What has happened with Lucifer, as I see it, is more one of a fractured relationship with whatever 'God' is meant to mean: a being whose existence Lucifer in fact denies (both in LICHT and in The Urantia Book). He believes the universe is essentially chaotic and that God is a fallacious invention, manufactured in an attempt give order to the chaos. So he would not, I believe, seek redemption, nor would he seek a relationship with God. As Jerry noted, Stockhausen himself had at times an affinity with Lucifer, and perhaps his most eloquent words in this regard are those that he speaks in the video on SAMSTAG, and that are quoted on the 18 January entry of JAHRESKREIS, where he bemoans the human tendency to see the institutions of law and order and religion as "good" and those who oppose it as "evil" and where Stockhausen goes on to say that in composing SAMSTAG he had many moments where he felt that Lucifer was right, and that there must always be Luciferian opposition so that life can progress. So, to me, SAMSTAG is not about the redemption of Lucifer, nor even about his exorcism - it is about the celebration of him - and essential to that celebration is his embodiment of contradiction and chaos: demobilising for humans who want the order and roundedness promised in the notion of God (therefore leading to the orchestra strike at the end of LUZIFERs TANZ: where the human musicians can no longer cope with the intense counter-rhythms of the now Lucifer-dominated Superformula), but celebratory, albeit in a dark and chaotic way, in LUZIFERs ABSCHIED, where Lucifer is not so much redeemed as set free from the constraints of order. This is what I see happening when the black bird is released from its cage. Stockhausen specifically noted (in early correspondence about arrangements for the production) that the bird should be a little unruly and cranky, making a lot of noise - it is, to me, the opera's final symbol of the rebellion of Lucifer against order, against the constraints of the church (as an institution) in which it is performed.
I certainly agree with Jerry that Lucifer does not die in LUZIFERs TRAUM - but there are certainly attempts to repress him, and I agree with Ed that Kathinka is the one who sets free that repression, but not just through the scream at the end of KATHINKAs GESANG, but through the whole process of that scene, which is meant to 'guide the soul to clear consciousness', as Stockhausen describes it in the score's preface. But then that raises the question of 'who is Kathinka'? Stockhausen in another interview (and this was reinforced in a chat I had with Kathinka a little while ago) said that the flute in LICHT is always another incarnation of Eve. In my own reading of LICHT, which I know is not quite the same as most other people's, I see the flute-playing Eve and the basset-horn-playing Eve as representing the feminine side of Lucifer and Michael respectively: the anima of Jungian psychoanlytic theory (as you know, I ultimately see LICHT as a huge representation of the complexities of the human psyche): but even in a more conventional spiritual interpretation of LICHT, I think it makes sense to see Eve in this way - the feminine element who counters and balances the masculine. (That leads to a whole other discussion about the question of gender, but that is rather more complex and really fits in another place). So, in short, I see SAMSTAG as an opera that is about the repression of Luciferian defiance and chaos, liberated by the feminine side of humanity (or of spirituality), a liberation that more conventional humanity cannot easily cope with, and so ultimately the Luciferian spirit, or the Luciferian aspect of humanity, must be released (but, like all the endings of the LICHT operas, it is steeped in ambiguity - and as that bird flies into the sky, just like Michael's trumpets aloft at the end of DONNERSTAG, and Eve's piccolo ascending into the clouds at the end of MONTAG, there is (for me) an unmistakable poignancy in their departure, because ultimately the three - Michael, Eve, and Lucifer - all belong together, yet even in MITTWOCH that is only attained for the briefest of moments).
Also, re Lucifer in SONNTAG - I find it really fascinating that Stockhausen made that curious comment in an interview about SONNTAG (in TEXTE 16, but also published in English translation in the programme to the Cologne premiere) that it was his intention to leave Lucifer's formula out of SONNTAG but that it is for others to decide whether or not he succeeded. What a strange thing to say! Was he unsure as to whether he had inadvertently included Lucifer's formula after all? Or was it just a little wicked tease to stir us into looking for it? In any event, he was unsuccessful because, as we know, the Sunday limb of Lucifer's formulas does appear, temporally stretched across the bottom line of HOCH-ZEITEN. So, as I see it, Lucifer is there after all - but subliminally and, for this reason (amongst others) I cannot see SONNTAG as a conclusion, because Lucifer's presence is still there, unresolved and not even acknowledged by its composer! Another one of those magnificent ambiguities that compels us, when experiencing any of the LICHT operas, to keep going. No Wagnerian apotheosis for Stockhausen!
And lastly (sorry again to be going on so much), another word about the order of the days. As I mentioned, I have warmed more and more to the Monday-to-Sunday order, both musically and in a narrative sense, but with the very firm proviso that it is an ongoing cycle: so while you might start with MONTAG, you do not finish when you come to SONNTAG, because always there is something more to unravel from the spiral of ambiguities. And while I have noted that there are 5040 different possibilities, obviously some seem to make more sense than others and clearly the two major contenders in that regard are the two we have discussed here: the (non-American!) calendar order of the days, or the order of composition. It is interesting that mostly, throughout LICHT, when Stockhausen lists the days he does it in the calendar order (such as in the children born in MONTAG, or the signs and scents of DÜFTE-ZEICHEN); but the globes defecated by the camel in MICHAELION are in the order of composition! Make of that what you will, but it is interesting that it is Lucifer alone, as Luzikamel, who seems to put the days in the order of composition!!
Ultimately though, I return to where I started - the richness of LICHT affords many approaches. Like a set of tarot cards: whatever order they fall in, and whatever way you interpret them, their connection with universal themes will mean that they will always tell a different, but still enlightening, tale!
Thank you so much Jerry for these references regarding integral serialism. The point you make stressing the primacy of the totality over the sequence is one that accords very much with my own way of thinking about serialism, and especially about Stockhausen's use of it - a point that was first ignited in me years ago when I first read your article 'Into the Middleground', where you noted the 'Darmstadt Magic Square' construction of LICHT's nuclear tones. This is a point that has been vital to me in my approach to LICHT - the integral totality of the Superformula and, therefore, the inter-dependence both of the characters and of the days. It resonates very much with the Borromean Knot of Jacques Lacan, which I also refer to a lot in my own approach to LICHT. But thank you very much for these additional references.
Ian, for me that is a really interesting idea to interpret the flute in Saturday as the feminine side of Lucifer, that corrects the one-sidedness of the masculine Lucifer in his radical and destructive behaviour. That very much makes sense to understand the REQUIEM. Lucifer for sure is the most interesting and fascinating character - compared to him I think Michael a bit boring, always on the right side, so to speak. Though, I must correct myself, that does not refer to the incarnated Michael of the first two acts of DONNERSTAG - more to him as an eternal spirit as which he appears in all the other days of the cycle... Different from what you wrote I cannot see him as an atheist, but more as an archetyp of a theologian, who from his metaphysical point of view knows better who God is and how he should act than God himself. Maybe because I myself am a theologian.... But anyway, this Luciferian trait belongs to every human being, and therefore the Luziferian formula must be present, when (with the grand piano) the ZWEITGEBURT comes into existence. And that is an argument for the Christian thought, that Lucifer will be present in the world as long as mankind in the present form is there. Only at the end of time and existence when everything is radically transformed, a totally new world will come forward, that Lucifer will be not there any longer. But he belongs to us as we are now, and that is the challenge of life and contributes not only to the present misery, but also to the play of life.
The flute's role in Licht (and in particular in Samstag) is a tantalizing question. When Stockhausen wrote Donnerstag, he had not yet met Kathinka, of course, which explains why there is no particularly important role in it for the flute, and Eve is represented solely by the basset horn. There is also no solo flute (or basset-horn) part in Dienstag, which reinforces the idea that the flute is associated principally with Eve (although, paradoxically, Eve does appear on-stage as a soprano singer in the Greeting and in Pietà). Of course, it is also true that half of Dienstag was composed even earlier than Donnerstag. These omissions of the solo flute in two of the three operas not featuring Eve in a central capacity may therefore be down to purely external circumstances, just as the reverse may be the case of the emphatic presence of the instrument in Samstag. Remember that the second scene was originally meant to be a percussion sextet, without flute (and certainly was not to be titled Kathinkas Gesang!), but those plans were sketched before Stockhausen's trip to the Hague in 1981.
I think it is no coincidence that both Luzifers Traum and Kathinkas Gesang are deflected from the main focus on Lucifer's formula toward Eve's formula (Majella's "betrayal" in the former involves playing the "simple melody" of the Eve formula, and there a wholesale exchange between the first and second halves of Kathinkas Gesang from the core tones of Lucifer to those of Eve). And yet I find it hard to accept the piccolo-playing black cat in Luzifers Tanz as an entirely Eve-like apparition.
Again (and as always) many interesting thoughts there - thank you, both Thomas and Jerry. I have actually written about ten pages in my dissertation (in its current, still gestational form) about the appearance of the piccolo in LUZIFERs TANZ and its relationship to Eve. It starts to get a bit complex at that point, but essentially I see it as still an emanation of Eve in the sense of Eve as the anima of Lucifer, but now, like Michael's piccolo trumpet, overpowered by the growing assertion of all the non-Eve aspects of Lucifer's essence: the rebellious assertion of chaos, the chaos of inexpressible and unimaginable personality and spirituality embodied in Lucifer. So, guided first out of repression by the flute of KATHINKAs GESANG, that darker element of the psyche, or of the spirit, emerges in all its full-blown chaos in LUZIFERs TANZ, defying and belittling (literally) now not only the ordered, meaningful, god-imbued cosmos of Michael (in OBERLIPPENTANZ), but also the creative, feminine, and desired aspect of self (coincidentally, called the 'Eve stage' of the anima in Jungian psychoanalysis!) that initially enabled it to emerge from repression.
This is just a brief summary of how I see the piccolo's role in this scene - there is also, I think, much to be said for the actual music the piccolo plays, but that gets into a level of detail and complexity that would make this post also go on for ten pages!
For me, of course, so much comes down to my view that Michael, Eve, and Lucifer are three aspects of the one entity: for me, that entity is the human psyche; for others it is more about the spiritual totality of the cosmos. I don't see those two levels of conceptualisation of the characters as in any sense mutually exclusive: not in the self-reflective universe that Stockhausen so often spoke about. So, ultimately, this was what he was composing in LICHT: the story of that three-way divided entity, and all its many permutations and combinations. Then he just worked with whatever and whoever was available to him as he composed to manifest those concepts musically. It was a happy chance (or, as Stockhausen would undoubtedly have seen it, a divine sign) that Kathinka appeared in his life at a time when the complexities of Eve, the feminine side of everything, were most needing to be explored - a complexity that Stockhausen had already in a sense acknowledged in relation to the masculine, through the contradicting roles of Michael and Lucifer.
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!