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Karlheinz Stockhausen

August 22, 1928 - December 5, 2007
born in Mödrath, Germany, composed during the Contemporary period
Karlheinz Stockhausen emerged early on as one of the most influential and unique voices in the post-WWII European musical avant-garde and his prominence continued throughout the rest of the twentieth century and into the twenty first. Combining a keen sensitivity to the acoustical realities and possibilities of sound, rigorous and sophisticated compositional methods expanded from integral serialism, innovative theatricality, and a penchant for the mystical, Stockhausen remains one of the most innovative musical personalities to span the turn of this century.

Stockhausen was born in 1928 near Cologne. Orphaned as a teen, he immersed himself in artistic pursuits and showed promise both as a writer and a musician. He took classes at the new music school in Darmstadt with Adorno before moving to Paris, where he studied with Messiaen and met Boulez and Pierre Schaeffer. These encounters, as well as studies in phonetics and communication, proved a crucial influence on his subsequent work at the electronic music studio in Cologne; by the mid-'50s he had secured a spot in the vanguard of both electronic music and integral serialism. During the next decade he forged relationships with some of the most prominent contemporaries, including Kagel, Ligeti, and Cage, and, taking over the reins at the Darmstadt school, mentored such innovative up-and-comers as Cornelius Cardew and La Monte Young. His influence extended into popular culture, as well: he appears on the cover of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper album. Stockhausen held various appointments during the rest of the twentieth century, and continued teaching summer seminars attended by important emerging composers.

Stockhausen's most influential compositions vary widely in their style and media, and attest to the composer's far-ranging interests in science, technology, religion, cosmology, and mysticism. His various instrumental and vocal works from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s explore various ways of extrapolating serial methods and mathematical structures, such as the Fibonacci series, to dictate pitches, rhythms, articulations, and larger formal structures. The influential tape piece Gesang der Jünglinge (1955) combines the jumbled phonemes from a Biblical source text with an elaborately methodic splicing scheme. Hymnen (1966) mixes various national anthems with complex electronic sound structures. In Stimmung (1968), a group of singers intones various mystical names to the harmony of the overtone series. From the late '70s onward, Stockhausen's efforts focused on LICHT, a sprawling opera cycle drawn from various religious mythologies, particularly the Urantia Book, a collection of writings supposedly delivered to Earth by extraterrestrials. ~ Jeremy Grimshaw, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Karlheinz Stockhausen: Piano Music

Title: Tierkreis, For 12 Music Boxes Or Ensemble
Title: Klavierstück IX, For Piano
Title: Plus-minus, Graphic Score
Title: Klavierstück V, For Piano
Title: Klavierstück XI, For Piano
Title: Aus Den Sieben Tagen, 15 Text Compositions For "Intuitive" Music
Title: Klavierstück XI, For Piano
x

Track List: Piano Music

Title: Tierkreis, For 12 Music Boxes Or Ensemble
Title: Klavierstück IX, For Piano
Title: Plus-minus, Graphic Score
Title: Klavierstück V, For Piano
Title: Klavierstück XI, For Piano
Title: Aus Den Sieben Tagen, 15 Text Compositions For "Intuitive" Music
Title: Klavierstück XI, For Piano
x

Track List: Stimmung

Title: Stimmung (Copenhagen Version), For 6 Vocalists
x

Track List: Stockhausen: Aus Dem Sieben Tagen

x

Track List: Stockhausen: Helikopter Streichquartett ("Helicopter" String Quartet) (Arditti Quartet Edition, Vol. 35)

x

Track List: Stockhausen: Kontakte

Comments

Bashkii: You can call Stockhausen arrogant and be correct, but a ''moron'' he isn't. I've loved his music (which I don't consider ''overthough t ' ' ) since I first heard Gesang der Jugend as a little boy. And Stravinsky, too. wrote in odd meters. I'm guessing you might like The Firebird, so I hope you'll hold off on drafting those overthinking rules: Different strophes for different oafs (I happen to be the other oaf, so don't take offense -- it's just a rhyme).
Just heard a composition by him that sounded like aliens invading my subconscious . . .
I like the visceral effect that (some of)Stockhaus e n ' s work gives me, it is interesting on my ears and puts me in a nice mind space.
Composers like Stockhausen, Boulez, Cage, Nono, Xenakis, Ligeti, and Varese over-think music. A great amount of thought definitely goes into this kind of music, but their obsession with "what music can be" turns their music into a kind of "sound world," meant to be appreciated as just that - an arrangement of sound in an interesting fashion. I find this difficult to appreciate.
peterzaino
The thought that went into making this work is palpable; I can almost feel the composers contemplatio n , cerebration - torn over what sound(s) or silence comes next, what sounds and silence, intensity, tempo to weave together to make the right statement. This music is very expressive and powerful and by extension, beautiful. It is a different beauty from the works of say Bach, Beethoven, Motzart, etc. It lacks the traditional melody we are trained to hear and appreciate in our culture.
lissadell
Yeah man, like Varese could totally like kick the Darmstadt guys butt in a avantgarde cage match man cause like they were total sissies man. My dog is more imaginative than Stockhausen and he doesn't even know what a time signature is. He still drinks his water in 7/8. Plus Stockhausen had to splice in everything. Ionize that suckas....
pdavid.colma n
I have liked this music since I first heard it. Also like Verese
many people are appalled by the dissonance of his music, but his impact on modern music is undeniable. many of the early fusionists and industrialis t s credit his avant garde tonalities and rhythmic investigatio n s with inspiring their growth and direction.
bashkii
Appalling. And he was serious when he said he was convinced he was a messenger from planet Sirius. I mean really...
bashkii
This is even worse. What a Bozo!! Edgar Varese was much much more imaginative and he wrote everything in 4/4 ,3/4 and 2/4 meter signatures. He didn't need to alienate the players like these morons at Darmstad did. Oh, and his Poeme electronique is infinitely more "inspired" than anything the Darmstad bozos wrote, electronic or otherwise.
sublimely effervescent and euphoric.... .

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