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Jerry Offline

Posts: 145

Sun May 11, 2014 10:21 pm
#11 RE: Stockhausen as a spiritual teacher? reply

Adorján: To judge from the music I have actually heard that was written by pupils of Stockhausen (Gilbert Amy, Clarence Barlow, Michael von Biel, Konrad Boehmer, Boudewijn Buckinx, Sylvano Busotti, Cornelius Cardew, Friedrich Cerha, Péter Eötvos, Johannes Fritsch, Rolf Gehlhaar, Friedrich Goldmann, Gérard Grisey, Milko Kelemen, Jonathan Kramer, Helmut Lachenmann, André Laporte, Mario Lavista, John McGuire, Robin Maconie, Mesías Maiguaschca, Tomás Marco, Pierre Mariétan, Emmanuel Nunes, Wolfgang Rihm, Eric Salzman, Irmin Schmidt, Kurt Schwertsik, Makoto Shinohara, Roger Smalley, Tim Souster, Gilles Tremblay, Stephen Truelove, Claude Vivier, Kevin Volans, La Monte Young, Hans Zender, and perhaps others I have forgotten) I would have to say that the only common factor they have got is stylistic diversity. Stockhausen once said, "I have got no style, I don't want a style," and it has been said that each new piece he composed was completely different from what had gone before. In this sense, I suppose you could say that all of his students (as a body) sound exactly like the collective totality of Stockhausen's output: diverse. However, that claim of uniqueness of every work is certainly an exaggeration, and my long list of composers includes some groupings that share compositional traits (Kramer, McGuire, and Volans, for example, all show the influence of minimalism—a style which Stockhausen despised).

One problem with "schools of" is that the members of such groups are not necessarily pupils of the composer they take as their model. For example, when I was an undergraduate, many student composers enthusiastically mimicked either the style of Hindemith or Stravinsky, without ever having even met their ideal. (On a personal note, in those days I once composed a song for voice and piano in which I deliberately attempted to capture the harmonic style of Roy Harris whom, similarly, I had never met.) Worse, a compositional technique (twelve-tone technique, for example) may be adopted without a proper understanding of its use in, say, Schoenberg's music, with the result of an unrecognizable style produced by inept handling of the technique.

A second problem is that such evident stylistic similarity is often the mark of a third-rate composer, and in my opinion a good teacher ought to produce strong rather than weak composers. It is well to remember that Milton Babbitt's students, for example, include Jonathan Harvey, Frederic Rzewski, Eric Salzman, and Stephen Sondheim, none of whose music is ever likely to be mistaken for something by their teacher. Neither do the compositions of Lou Harrison and John Cage betray the fact that they both studied with Schoenberg.

John Cage is another figure who is often said to have had the gift to set his pupils free to be themselves. Come to that, this is exactly how Stockhausen described his own teacher, Messiaen.

Influence can also be negative. There are several names in my list who are associated either directly or indirectly with the New Simplicity, and more than one whose reaction to studying with Stockhausen was rejection of his aesthetic—or at least, what they believed his aesthetic to be. Such a rejection does not necessarily lead to a uniformity, either, as in the case of "the seven" Neue Einfachheit composers, who are generally described as reacting against the complexity of the Darmstadt School.

Finally, there is the difficulty that the most important influences on a student may not be audible stylistic features. After all, style markers are mostly superficial traits. One of the things that is most often admired in Stockhausen's music, for example, is a powerful sense of large-scale form. Is this also observable in the composers I list above? Some of them, certainly. Is this attributable to their study with Stockhausen? That is more difficult to answer. Certainly one thing that most of them share is a compositional sensitivity to timbre. However, this is a trait found so generally in composers from after the Second World War (and indeed in many from a generation or two earlier) that it is difficult to attribute this to contact with Stockhausen. In fact, perhaps students who already had this focus (Grisey and Vivier are good examples) were drawn to study with Stockhausen precisely because of his own conspicuously imaginative use of timbre.

Now I really have drifted off of the subject of this thread. If this line of discussion is to be continued, we should probably start a new topic.

Christian Offline

Posts: 123

Mon May 12, 2014 3:13 pm
#12 RE: Stockhausen as a spiritual teacher? reply

To get back to the subject of this thread ;-) I want to answer Thomas Ulrich's last post. He wrote: "...for me personally he is no guru at all, but sometimes a person that encourages a spiritual and an authentic way of living". Yes, exact! I think it was this authentic way to combine work, daily life and spirituality which makes such a big differnece to all the "preaching water drinking wine" gurus. If there is something that Stockhausen can teach us as a spiritual teacher than it is this union of life and spirituality - an ideal so many truth seekers are failing to reach! By the way: I think that's the reason why I never felt disturbed by the statemants about Sirius. They always were authentic for me because I felt that he really believed this and didn't say that to be interesting for followers or the media and the public (he would have had it easier if he had *not* said this!). So the question if he really came from Sirius isn't of any importance (for me at least).

Adorján Offline

Posts: 57

Mon May 12, 2014 3:28 pm
#13 RE: Stockhausen as a spiritual teacher? reply

Jerry: Thank you for this in extenso answer. Regarding your concern: No single thread on this blog remained „pure“ and I think that is okay.

Jerry Offline

Posts: 145

Mon May 12, 2014 7:41 pm
#14 RE: Stockhausen as a spiritual teacher? reply

Adorján: you are very welcome. I have had one afterthought, though. There is a great variety amongst those names I have mentioned concerning just what "studied with Stockhausen" means. It is one thing to enroll in a year-long course of study at a conservatory, and quite another to attend a lecture or two at Darmstadt. Some composers are very eager to associate themselves with Stockhausen, while others are equally eager not to do so. As a result, there are people who put "studied with Stockhausen" on their resumé when all they ever did was sit in a darkened auditorium to hear him give one lecture. Others are labeled "Stockhausen student" when they really were colleague collaborators in the electronic music studio. (No doubt in such a capacity they learned things from him, even if it was all about studio technique and had little or nothing to do with composition.)

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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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