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Adorján ( Guest )

Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:40 pm
#11 RE: Spirituality reply

Dear Jerry, thank you for pointing to a seeming contradiction. MOMENTE with the "description" of a threesome has a very painful biographical experience as starting-point (Bauermeister would agree). Stockhausen turned it into something else by music but this doesn´t change the initial fact. The "aha, aha" is once again something linked to a personal situation which might have beeen difficult for the conscience of an ex-catholic (you know that this does not exist - a catholic stays a catholic)regardless what he says consciously. I think that Bauermeister does not mean by "pain" that the surface experiences have to be painful but that the soul, the conscience, the unconscious, or whatever you call it is tormented and tries to look for a redemption. By music.

Ulrich Offline

Posts: 199

Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:47 pm
#12 RE: Spirituality reply

Right, Ludovicus - listening to the music is the most important thing. But an exchange about the music, its meaning, its background may lead to re-listen, and therefore bears a merit of its own.
In this way for me, what was written here about the significance of pain and of the biographical roots in Stockhausen's music, is quite important, for I feel, that I was not so much aware of these traits. But nevertheless: All the pain, the grief, the suffering, the dark sides of life in Stockhausen's work are embraced by the divine LIGHT - for me that is the topic of the opera cycle. Even death in Saturday, war and destruction in Thuesday, seduction in Friday are "aus LICHT", belong to God's life and therefore are not ending in absolute darkness, but in a dance of life - as the last part of DIENSTAG shows.

Jerry Offline

Posts: 181

Thu Feb 20, 2014 2:36 am
#13 RE: Spirituality reply

Dear Adorján: I'm still not sure I understand you, and perhaps I need to re-read the passages in Mary's book about MOMENTE. Certainly the ménage à trois proved in the long term to be an awkward situation, and perhaps more so for Mary than for Stockhausen, but I do not get the impression that it was exactly distressing to Stockhausen, at least not to begin with. Certainly also Stockhausen's thinking behind the construction of the work was fired in large measure by a meditation on this relationship problem, but was it really "torment"? Perhaps it was. After all, the whole business put his feelings into conflict with the teachings of the Church, which up to that point were arguably the most important thing in his life. Naturally, any serious life problem can be construed as suffering, and even Heaven (as Stockhausen said) "isn't all ice cream". On the other hand, Robin has just been reminding us on another thread that everything has its opposite and so (if you believe that), then everything happy is at the same time sad, everything wet is also dry, and everything beautiful is also ugly. (Sorry, is my skepticism showing?)

Concerning the "aha, aha," I imagine you to be saying that the annoyance of the pop band in the lobby of the hotel, and Kathinka's delight in further annoying Stockhausen by constantly repeating that refrain, constitutes "torment." If so, this does seem like a very trivial case, and Stockhausen's revenge anyway only involves a tiny moment in the composition of KATHINKAs GESANG. (I fail to grasp how this might be a problem for a Catholic conscience, but I was not brought up Catholic myself.) The subject of KATHINKAs GESANG (and of SAMSTAG generally) is on the contrary as serious a subject for meditation as any of us are likely to confront: death. It might seem odd therefore that Stockhausen regarded this opera as essentially comic, though he explained that what makes us laugh the hardest is that which we find the most frightening. Am I on the right track here?

Adorján Offline

Posts: 59

Thu Feb 20, 2014 4:09 pm
#14 RE: Spirituality reply

First of all, I think that a personal talk would make many things clear in one minute which have to be explained clumsily in this kind of blog. But let me try, dear Jerry.

I tried to understand Bauermeister´s remark. She did not say that terrible incidences gave the raison d´etre for Stockhausen´s works, painful events cannot be taken one-to-one. She wrote about “pain” as being the “Urgrund” which I translated as primal source. That could mean a psychological disposition but where should it come from? One way could be the mother who had a clinically apparent depression. Stockhausen never showed symptoms of endogenous depression as far as I know; his depression and suicidal thoughts in 1968 were clearly caused by external events. More important: That is not what Bauermeister means. She obviously means a certain impulse to make music. Now this is a psychological disposition, too, but one which Stockhausen attained to by education and experiences, and his reactions to and thinking about it.

What were the preconditions of his reactions and thinking? Genius, okay, but a genius is not living in vacuum. Bauermeister described him who seemingly was very self-confident as extremely sensitive in his reactions to his environment. This adds to his catholicism: As a catholic who exercised his religion in a way which was also extreme, he had a profound feeling of debt / sin (I do not know exactly the theological term; Man always is guilty.). This adds to his youth: He lost father and mother so early and had an (in many respects) adverse fate in his formative years. Here you have the “Urgrund” which is pain.

Education and experiences can be described as biographical facts. I gave two examples. One (the first ménage à trois) is described by Bauermeister as painful. Once again, this does not mean that the construction of MOMENTE mirrors something of this pain. It would also be a misunderstanding, as I said already, to look for tormenting events only. This is not necessary at all – but I think you can accept that the clue for composing that piece might have been the conscious and subconscious pain and guilt of not being able to live according to the rules of Catholicism. (That he praises the lord and the joy and love is no contradiction – he turns his pain and guilt to the contrary by music. As far as I know he always thought of his life as a task; to be busy to deserve it – this, by the way, is also a painful perception to feel that life is not deserved by itself.) So this is the more general approach to biography.

With my other example (although I tried to point to the general problems of another ménage à trios and less to the events in the hotel lobby) I wanted to go a step further, to concrete events which do not have to be painful, and which have not much to do with “Urgrund” and “spirituality”. No, I wanted to point to the fact that this music – constructed and rational as it is – has an often hidden ground (in the sense of base) in Stockhausen´s concrete biography. The only thing I wanted to say by this is, that this seemingly “objective” music has a very personal touch. For people who need a certain help in approaching this music which was described as “inhuman” in the Fifties and is still felt to be “unpersonal” and “cold” by many, collecting such examples would give a “warmth” to this music.

Ulrich Offline

Posts: 199

Thu Feb 20, 2014 4:34 pm
#15 RE: Spirituality reply

Adorján, sure, it could be a help for a beginner to realize biographical traits in the music. But, as I know, there are not many in Stockhausen's music. And, when I think of KATHINKAs GESANG: It is such a small item, this "ahaa ...", so that it would be a better idea just to be surprised by the phantastic actions of the percussionists.
And, frankly speaking, for me it does not seem to be appropriate to dig in the psyche of the composer - everything we should know is in the composition itself. And especially for Stockhausen, as I said before, everything is just part of the great order and in that is good, is justified - when there is a biographically caused pain, by the work of art it is transformed to beauty and finally to joy, and that is that, what counts. Even in the very very painful weeks of 1968 - what we get is AUS DEN SIEBEN TAGEN, and that, too, is a work that says a big YES to life and the cosmic order.

James Offline

Posts: 72

Thu Feb 20, 2014 4:53 pm
#16 RE: Spirituality reply

1. Is it true that suffering is a main item for Stockhausen? I was really surprised when I read this first sentence of Robin’s; for me Stockhausen’s spirituality has much more to do with the motive of cosmic order and the praise of this order that comes from God; a motive that is deeply rooted in ancient and especially in Catholic thinking. Therefore Stockhausen’s music much more is the expression of joy, of wonder, of investigating the overwhelming power of love and life – grief, guilt, sin etc is not very predominant here …

[...] a big YES to life and the cosmic order.

Yea I agree. In my experience .. Stockhausen's music, perhaps more-so in the more openly lyrical later works .. is more an awakening, positive and uplifting, though not without darkness (i.e. Samstag, Lucifer's Farewell, Temptation, War, etc.), and various shades in between. Through the darkness there is ultimately LIGHT (true for Stockhausen himself), and in the final opera of the cycle (dedicated to the glory of God?) .. one really gets a feel of this. It is like a grand cosmic mass or something, like a large complex religious work. As is the whole journey of LICHT. And didn't the composer express that being a musician is the highest form of spiritual training one could undertake .. I DO sense this conviction through LICHT especially, that personal spiritual quest or struggle .. but a refuge too.

Adorján Offline

Posts: 59

Thu Feb 20, 2014 7:45 pm
#17 RE: Spirituality reply

Ulrich, we must beware of locking ourselves into the ebony tour of musicology and philosophy. And what a one-sided thinking of music which should be valuable only if it is joyful and says yes to life and so on! Even if this was the opinion of Stockhausen which I doubt in this simplicity, one should not be content. One should possibly start with what a composer says about his work, but not repeat it simply. One should transcend it, look for the fruitful contradiction if there is any. However, I never wrote that Stockhausen's music IS painful nor did Bauermeister say anything like that - but I do not want to repeat what does not seem to be understood. Last but not least, there will be biographers of Stockhausen who will „dig in the psyche of the composer“ and why not? What else is the task of a biography but to create a higher interest in the work of the person portrayed? Where is the contradiction? Who erected the stop sign?

ludovicus ( Guest )

Thu Feb 20, 2014 8:33 pm
#18 RE: Spirituality reply


A word or two about Momente. It is impossible on a site such as this to talk about every aspect of Stockhausen's mind when it comes to describe or understand his music. There are too many interacting 'forces' and to try and pin any particular one down, is futile. Let me explain. In the first recording to the whole work, the following can be heard quite plainly at about 15 or 20 mins in: 'What are they about then, these Moments?''Karlheinz, Mary, Doris'.

However, a talk on Britain's BBC by an American musician, James Schwarz, who was at the 1973 London performance conducted by Stockhausen (more later)ridiculed the KMD plan on the basis that it was pointless for the listener. Instead, Mr. Schwarz concentrates on the structure of the music itself. I don't have my notes here, but from what I remember, he claims that the work is built around three tonal centres - I think one is D and another G sharp but don't take that for granted. His analysis of the musical material and how KS manages to hold interest is masterly. his final words of the talk should be inscribed in every programme 'Do not confuse a composer's mind with his music'

A second aspect he describes is the way Stockhausen can captivate and delight an audience. The i moment came to an end immediately before the interval and the choir was clapping. For a minute or so, the audience just listened and as the clapping continued, it dawned on them that they were supposed to join in. James says that the roar of appreciative laughter at this realisation, and the subsequent applause 'almost lifted the roof off the QEH'

Yet another aspect awed composer Roger Smalley. In two issues of the Musical Times, Roger expresses his amazement and astonishment at the vast variety of sounds Stockhausen draws from just a small choir whose vocal sounds and those of the various instruments they are asked to play as well as commenting in a different way to James Schwarz about the structure.

Finally, it is difficult perhaps to pin down Stockhausen's textual motives. Donnerstag was performed in London in 1995 and when in an interview with Peter Heyworth, the latter asked about the biographical aspect of the first act where a slightly mad woman is taken away by officials, he replies 'Lots of children lose their parents when they are young and that's what I am portraying' Peter replies 'But not like that'. Add to this, Stockhausen's statement that he only wrote a text for Donnerstag because the singers demanded something they could articulate' then the text of Momente, private letters, texts from the Bible and the Sexual life of Savages COULD simply serve the same purpose, with a nod to his love life.

This does not exclude, in this complex mind, an occasional biographical reference and I think Momente gradually becomes this - he didn't kiss the joy as it flies - it eluded him. Momente ends with a sigh of resignation - it wasn't intended to end this way.

Just a few thoughts.

Adorján Offline

Posts: 59

Fri Feb 21, 2014 9:31 am
#19 RE: Spirituality reply

'Do not confuse a composer's mind with his music'
This is put very well, and is true for every artist. It is ridiculous to look for sadism in the mind of a writer of criminal stories. But Stockhausen, as we know, was convinced to be a vessel of divine inspiration, and it is this what he meant giving this answer. The task of an investigator should be to note that conviction but to go on. This reminds me of a story told by Marcel Reich-Ranicki in a TV discussion with Stockhausen. Reich-Ranicki told that Dvorák said that all he wrote he owes to God. A contemporary remarked: And a little bit he owes it to Brahms. So that is what I say: It is allowed to look deeper as did Wolfgang Hildesheimer in his great examination of Mozart.

Adorján Offline

Posts: 59

Fri Feb 21, 2014 2:18 pm
#20 RE: Spirituality reply

Sorry. Last sentence should say that Hildesheimer succeeded in looking deeper.

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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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