Being back again in Berlin now a short retrospect to the Kürten courses 2015. It is always a unique opportunity to deeply dive into the music of Stockhausen and get new inspiration – so again it was a rich time. To listen to the works of the master in an authentic interpretation, to get new ideas from seminars, to have the chance to speak to likeminded people, to exchange with musicians and with experts – everything very rewarding. Each year in Kürten has its special highlight; this time for me it was the opportunity, to listen three times to KONTAKTE in three rather different interpretations – a unique event that deepens the understanding of this work. This time the piano-class had especially gifted members; beside the pianists in KONTAKTE (Helga Karen in a very vivid interpretation and Kim Haeyoung) Simon Smith from Edinburgh convinced everybody with an absolutely excellent presentation of KLAVIERSTÜCK VI. There was a new format taking place in the early afternoon, called „Meet and talk with Stockhausen experts“. The idea was to present and discuss questions of the spiritual background of Stockhausen's work, the basic ideas of his compositions and to include in these discussions not only very specialised experts, but everybody who was interested. It was a challenge to balance necessary information with the opportunity to ask basic questions and to discuss different opinions; very important was, that Suzanne Stephens or Kathinka Pasveer have been present in these sessions; they again and again claimed to open up the session for everybody and contributed valuable information. Thus this programme as a whole was a valuable contribution to the courses – hopefully also for interpreters who could get a wider idea of the music they performed. This time the number of participants was not so big than in former years. Maybe because of the early date: Many exams in the high schools were still taking place. For me also disappointing was the small number of auditors. I think one could change that relatively easy. There should be more than 10 people in the world vividly interested in the music of Stockhausen and willing to spend 10 days of their life for an extraordinary experience with this music! For that the courses should change a bit or develop further. It would be necessary to announce the courses in a way that it is evident, that also „normal“ music lovers are invited, and one could think if a special course in the afternoons for this group of people could be established where there is more time to go into the music and to discuss it than in the 30 minutes of introduction to the concerts in the evening. Also a DVD-programme could be included; many of these films can provoke profound discussions! In former time the Kürten courses were often compared with Bayreuth – for that a certain development has to happen. But above all I am grateful that the courses again could take place. Without the constant and reliable effort of the Kürten ladies who give their lives to that task, nothing would be possible.
I must wholeheartedly agree with/second the above. By way of a very minor correction, we should say that it was Benjamin Kobler who thrilled us all with a tremendous KLAVIERSTÜCK VI (among other pieces); I, on the other hand, did my best with XII :)
These courses were an incredibly rich experience for me, also. It was my first time, so I have no comparators - but the opportunity to participate in such a profound ten days, to see pieces forming in rehearsals, shaped by love and knowledge and skill and a boundless patience to get it right; to watch the pieces I love so much (and others I knew less well) being taught by the people who have known them since they were composed to musicians passionately excited about learning them; to see and experience so many incredible performances at the nightly concerts, from a solo clarinet finding its way through the microtones of Xi to the huge bounding layers of COSMIC PULSES at last heard as it is meant to be heard, darting in a million directions; and to be in an environment where there were just endless opportunities to share ideas and thoughts and enthusiasm for Stockhausen's music, as well as the limitless access to scores and recordings and other material - all of this was just unbelievably special for me, as it seemed to be for many of the others who had been going along to the courses for years. Every day I learned something new and, perhaps more importantly, learned how much more there is to learn. There are so many things to discover in Stockhausen's music, and being in that concentrated environment provides you with the opportunity to experience something of all of them and, with that, to see so many other opportunities open up.
Huge thanks to everyone who made it all possible - the sense of community there was, for me, incredible. I am only a fledgling musicologist, and yet the feeling of inclusion and openness from some of the most experienced and talented musical minds was amazing. But of course, extra specially huge thanks to Suzanne Stephens and Kathinka Pasveer who work so tirelessly both to make the courses a success and also to maintain the legacy of Stockhausen's music with such devotion and energy.
All the way back here in Australia I miss the place, the music, and the people terribly.
RE: Thomas' remarks about getting "normal music lovers" to attend: I can attest that I never came to the Courses before because I felt that only "experts" would be qualified to participate there. In fact I lurked on this board for months before posting because of this same feeling - that to participate would require one to be some kind of Stockhausen encyclopedia (also reading some of the more barbed posts in the past didn't help!)
This is the reason I gave "introductory" talks in my presentations, even tho I knew I would be boring the more knowledgeable attendees... Thomas, your idea of asking "Why do we keep listening to Stockhausen?" was a great idea. I would be happy to see a week-long event where every day people could just play their favorite works and talk about why they are their favorites. Ian, you did a bit of that in your presentation, very nicely.
Re: Simon: Klavierstuck VI is expressed in Klavierstuck XII as a mirror layer, retrograded, and transposed to the KLANG pitch row in a serially-permutated Fibonacci sequence (but temporally stretched to the durational proportions of a few measures of the 1970 4th performance of KURZWELLEN in Osaka). So Thomas is correct. Surely you knew that!
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!