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Ulrich Offline



Posts: 157

Fri Dec 12, 2014 7:13 pm
INITIATION from MONTAG, Act II reply

At the beginning of that part of the opera there is in a way a sort of repetition of the beginning of MONTAG aus LICHT; "Muschi" sings: "akka (3 Mütter = 3 mothers) - agni (Sohn, Kind = son, child). "Agni" should be an Indian word, meaning "fire" - but "akka"? And the words in brackets? Has anybody an idea what that could mean?

ipar1306 Offline



Posts: 138

Sun Dec 14, 2014 4:45 am
#2 RE: INITIATION from MONTAG, Act II reply

I'm not sure, but I think Akka might perhaps refer to the Finnish goddess who was, I think, closely associated with fertility (and therefore also with EVA). She had three daughters, and this might be why Stockhausen makes the references to 3 mothers in brackets. Agni was a Hindu god of fire, but was also eternally young, and this might be the reason for the reference to son, child. This is only my guess - that is, that the words in brackets are Stockhausen's way of explaining the context in which he intends these unusual words to be understood.

Joe Offline



Posts: 103

Wed Dec 17, 2014 1:33 am
#3 RE: INITIATION from MONTAG, Act II reply

This is another instance where Stockhausen is making quicksilver references. Akka and Agni are continuations of the wordplay that Muschi has been doing through the whole scene, where she has referred to different colors and instruments and ideas associated with Montag. In Finnish mythology, Akka is the mother of all. She has 3 daughters named Busi, Muschi, and Busa... I mean, Sarakka, Juksakka, and Uksakka. Each of these three daughters has more specific roles to play in the development of humanity, like the development of sex organs and menstruation.

Jerry was the one who pointed out to me that the names in Montag are often culled straight from The Kalevala. But it is important to consider the weight of these associations. Musically, "Akka" and "Agni" land with much more force than Muschi's preceding wordplays because they are sustained for so long (8 beats, and then 17). However, the second syllable in each name is attenuated to the point of imperceivability. Furthermore, Stockhausen only alights on these names for a moment. Whenever they appear in the libretto (which is not infrequently) there's not a sense of them having tremendous meaning. It's reminiscent of the "Crucifixion" in Michaels Reise. If Stockhausen had wanted the audience to really come away thinking they'd witnessed a crucifixion, surely, he would have dramatized that. But he didn't. So too here. I think Akka is a convenient identity which resonates with the scenario that Stockhausen has imagined.

Agni is a male deity. So, placing it after Akka creates a male-female dichotomy, and Agni is the god of fire, which is a major transformative force in Montag. Fire heats the ice to water and then to steam, symbolizing Eve's transformative mission in Montag. Lucifer embodies fire's destructive force, enabling Eve to birth "higher" beings. The "Sohn, Kind" parenthetical might well be intended to remind the score reader (who else would see it, since it is not sung?) that Agni is a created being, just like Lucifer.

The fact that Stockhausen had to reach outside Finnish mythology to find the right counterpart for Akka suggests he might not have been too well-versed in it. Or perhaps, he just liked the alliteration. I think it's more likely that he deliberately mismatched deities as part of his ongoing project to cast Licht as a work from a broader theological framework than human religion has to offer. Just as he doesn't want to show us Christ on the cross, I don't think he wanted to host an evening of Scandinavian or Hindu mythology.

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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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