Thursday, February 14, 2008

the music of Karheinz Stockhausen this Friday Night on WZBC from 6-10pm

This Friday night I am not doing my radio show.

That said, my friend, John Straub, is using this opportunity to provide you with

From John's e-mail:


I will be programming a 4-hour radio special on the music of Karlheinz

I can't really see very many people wanting to listen to this many
different Stockhausen pieces in a row for 4 straight hours. I am
sending this program so people can "pick their battles" if interested.

I'm concentrating on his recordings from the 1960's, with just a
couple earlier pieces from the '50's and one later piece from the

6:00: I'm going to start with a 23-minute excerpt from Kurzwellen,
recorded in 1969. This is a personal favorite. Stockhausen's own
liner notes for the recording also put the piece into context by
looking back at a few of his earlier pieces that I'll also be
featuring, so I thought I'd read some of those notes as an

~6:30: Gesang der Junglinge (1956) An early classic mixing synthetic
sounds with the recording of a boy's voice singing a Biblical passage,
"Chant of the Adolescents in the Fiery Furnace"

~6:45: Kontakte (1958-1960) - piano & percussion playing along with
pre-recorded sounds on tape. I'll play the 1st 12 minutes.

~7:00: Momente (1962-1964) Side 1 of the mid-60's vinyl release on
Nonesuch. A cantata for soprano, choir, brass, percussion and
electric organs. A lot of commentators emphasize how this piece was
about "existence in the moment and ignoring the past," which is seen
as a hallmark of Stockhausen's most famous work.

~7:30: Mixture (1964): Electronics with Orchestra. I'll play the 2nd
half of this piece which is a mirror image of itself.

Stockhausen spent a lot of time in Japan in 1966, which had a big
influence on his late '60's work. The next few things tend to be less
complex and seem to be striving towards some kind of electronic world

~8:00: Telemusik (1966)

~8:20: Hymnen (1966-1967) - Electronic stew of various national anthems.

~8:30: Holger Czukay's "Boat Woman Song". This was my introduction to
Stockhausen. Czukay was a student of Stockhausen's in the early 60's
before he co-founded Can in 1968. This early solo recording from 1968
mixes shortwave radio signals from all over the world and recordings
of traditional Vietnamese and Cambodian singing. Obviously influenced
by Stockhausen's "electronic world music" especially Kurzwellen (Short
Waves). My interest in Can led me to this beautiful solo recording,
which led me to Stockhausen's Kurzwellen.

~8:40 Kurzwellen (1968) Here I'm going to play an excerpt from the 2nd
half of a 1968 recording. I will open the show at 6:00 with the first
half of a 1969 recording of the same piece. Performance of the piece
involves musicians responding to random short wave radio broadcasts.
The same timpani motif (a BBC station ID) happened to come over the
shortwaves during these two different performances. The different
reactions by the musicians to that identical stimulus is something
that intrigued Stockhausen about these two recordings of Kurzwellen.

~9:05: Helicopter String Quartet (1995) - Beginning in 1977,
Stockhausen spent most the rest of his life working on a 7-part
operatic opus called Licht. The 7 parts corresponded to the 7 days of
the week. Wednesday was one of the last pieces he completed in the
mid-1990's. His Helicopter String Quartet is part of that piece of
Licht. The Helicopter String Quartet involves each member of a string
quartet playing in a different helicopter with independent flight
paths. The musicians stay synchronized by wearing headphones in which
they all hear the same click track. The 1995 premier was performed by
the Arditti String Quartet. Here's a YouTube clip of a 2003

~9:35: Talk about Stockhausen's controversial quote on September 16,
2001. The excerpt from the quote that stirred up the controversy was
that the 9/11 attacks were, "... the greatest work of art that exists
for the whole Cosmos."

I will read the full quote and discuss the context.

~9:45: I will sign off and play an excerpt of the new recording of
Stimung (1968).

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