The score is absolutely worth getting from the Stockhausen Foundation. It is a wonderful score, especially given how much is going on amongst all the instrumental groups in LUZIFERs TANZ and, as always with the Stockhausen scores, there's a lot of information in the Preface about the music, and lots of photos of the premiere production. Of all the LICHT scores, it's perhaps the one in which I most often still keep finding little treasures hidden away within it.
Also for me LUZIFERS TANZ is a beautiful and complex, a very rewarding work. Also the way it is constructed: All the parts of the human face at first each for itself and then against the others, but that "against", the self-assurance, is in itself a being together with the others - how that changes the way the parts originally presented themselves is fascinating and revealing and shows in a very direct way, how conflict in itself is contact, is communication and living together. But for me there is still an open question in this scene: How shall we understand the sentence Luzifer sings in the beginning? Does he really mean what he sings? Or does he act deceitful? Already in the beginning one can doubt: Luzifer says we should learn from him - but learning is not at all connected with him; it is the world of his enemy, of Michael. For Luzifer learning is useless for all human beings, because he negates evolution, the possibility to develop, to improve. Therefore in my guide to LICHT I maintain that this sentence shall mislead people to conflict, to fighting each other, with the perspective, that by fighting, by "Kontrageist", by distortion and grimace finally mankind will reach perfection. To put it more positive: By selfdetermination, autonomy, by forcing your own way against all the others you will reach the goal of human life: that is the Luziferian program - while the true spiritual program is presented in the following scene by the text of St. Francis: the program of love, humility etc. But that is just a thesis; we now cannot ask how the composer himself understood the scene. What is your opinion?
Thank you for posting this Thomas! It is an interesting thing to ponder - is Lucifer telling us the truth when he teaches us this lesson? I have a somewhat different view of Lucifer to yours. I think one of the most important aspects of Lucifer is this aspect of 'spirit of contradiction' (Kontrageist). He represents both the darkness and the light, as he does in the theosophy of Helena Blavatsky, and I think this contradiction is what we are meant to learn from him here - that contradiction is an essential part of who we are as human beings, and we must first understand this if we are to find our ways to the light. The whole scene is one of contradiction and distortion - the parts of the face dancing against each other, and even Lucifer himself is split in two: like the voice that sings from off stage through the body of the stilt-dancer on stage. I love the little metaphor at the very beginning where the stilt dancer rubs his foot against the floor, and sparks emerge. It is like a symbol for the message of the scene: light emerging through confronting contradiction and opposition. But the problem, I think, is that life, while it involves contradiction and distortion, and while we must learn to understand this, it is not everything. That, I think is what goes wrong here: not that Lucifer is misleading us, but that he dominates too much. Lucifer overpowers everything - his formula dominates the music in many ways (his formula is shifted to the top in the treble, while Michael's moves to the bottom, in the bass; the tempi are all adjusted according to the tempo of this day, Lucifer's day, in the Superformula, and the pitch is similarly transposed, and even the chords played at the beginning are the notes from the beginning of this, Lucifer's part of the Superformula). So his music dominates everything (it is his day and his dance, after all!)and even when Michael enters to play the trumpet, he is overpowered by Lucifer as the stilt dancer, who kicks him to the ground. For me, Lucifer represents not only a contradictory spirit, but also the deep contradictions that lie within us. We must come to terms with these if we are to develop, but if they take over and dominate us completely, it is dangerous. This is why, I think, the orchestra strike happens at the end - everything can only end in chaos when Lucifer and the contradiction he represents takes too strong a hold, and dominates - destroys, even - the very different message of Michael, and the very different aspects of humanity and spirituality for which Michael stands. But still, we must learn from him and that means learning to accept that part of the path to light (spiritually and personally and I think even socially too) means accepting and embracing contradiction. I think this was part of Stockhausen's view of the world, too - and his embrace of the non-Aristotelean logic of Gotthard Günther, that something can be 'a' and 'not a' at the one time. I agree that a more hopeful message appears in the next scene - but I think we first had to go through this scene to get there.
I am sorry: My answer to Ian's contribution did not appear here; maybe Luzifer did not like it... So now a second attempt: What Ian wrote is interesting and somehow reasonable. But still 2 objections: 1. For me it does not make sense that Luzifer should be our teacher on the way to the LIGHT. Though he belongs to the world and to our life and even, as MITTWOCH shows, can be a collaborator to Michael and Eve here in our everyday life, when it comes to SONNTAG, to the praise of LICHT, of God himself, he has to disappear; there is nothing he can contribute. 2. When we consider his advice: What it leads to, is the strike: music and that means: the positive powers of life come to an end. Nothing remains, no possibility is left. Somehow chaos. Therefore I understand the advice of Lucifer as a temptation. I personally know this temptation: At first to realize my own ego - then everything else will follow in a good way. That is wishful thinking. You write that the problem is, that Luzifer dominates too much - but that is a kind of quantitative argument that for me does not seem appropriate. For me there is a logical progress in SAMSTAG: In scene 3 Luzifer fails, and in scene 4 Franz of Assisi leads to life and freedom with his totally different advice.
Thanks so much for these thoughts, Thomas, and I am terribly sorry that Luzifer decided to sabotage your earlier post!
I don't really disagree with you, I just think that a number of interpretations are possible. You see, I believe we can learn from Luzifer, because he is part not only of ourselves, but of the cosmos - whether we conceive that to be the cosmos of God, or of reality in a more abstract sense ... in whatever sense we conceive the enormity of the universe, Luzifer is a part of it, a vital part of it. The danger comes only when we rely on him alone. But there is also a danger when we seek to learn from Michael alone, or from Eva alone, I believe ... they each provide us with a small part of the picture. To me, every opera of LICHT ends with an uncertainty, where we cannot be sure how much redemption, and the passage to light, has been accomplished. Together, in MITTWOCH that all comes into unity but even there, it is only a unity for a brief moment. And so the cycle goes on and on, and we must always come back and experience it again, learning something new every time, like the spiral Stockhausen speaks of, where we return to the same place, but things have changed.
And so Luzifer's dominance in LUZIFERs TANZ is not, I believe, a quantitative thing, but rather a qualitative thing. He dominates too much because he has sought to defeat Michael, yet again. It is because he seeks to exclude Michael that he fails. But then I believe this is also true in reverse - that Michael cannot succeed without Luzifer. But that is another discussion!
I do not quite agree with you about LUZIFERs ABSCHIED. I am not so sure it is a redemptive message there. I find it very ambiguous - the holy, virtuous word of St Francis, but brought to us through the darkness of Luzifer's formula. Is Luzifer disguising himself in the garb of holiness? This is often what happens when the darker depths of our psyche try to find a voice: the darker parts of who we are, and of the universe of which we seek to be a part and to understand, appear to us disguised. They appear to us in forms that make them appear more approachable. So the scene, with its strange rituals, its frightening black bird that is set free, its ominous trombone chords, all make it (for me) a scene where both the holy and the horrific are one and the same - another manifestation of the contradiction that is so essential to Lucifer.
And one more point I do not quite agree with you - Luzifer's place in SONNTAG. I find it incredible that his formula appears at the very end: the last notes of the Luzifer formula are the bass line of both scenes of HOCH-ZEITEN. This is to me as if Luzifer is there after all, reminding us that even this celebrated union of Michael and Eva is an illusory victory, an illusory attainment of light, because still, beneath the surface, the darkness of Luzifer rumbles beneath the surface. It was not possible to confine him to prison after all! And so, even after SONNTAG, we have not come to an end. We must continue our journey on the spiral!
No doubt, we will have many opportunities to talk and share our perspectives in Kürten! Your perspectives always teach me so much, even when I sometimes see things differently. Thank you, as always, Thomas, for this discussion.
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!