Stockhausen, Karlheinz


Stockhausen, Karlheinz
born Aug. 22, 1928, Mödrath, near Cologne, Ger.

German composer.

Orphaned during World War II, he supported himself with odd jobs (including jazz pianist) before entering Cologne's State Academy for Music in 1947. After hearing Olivier Messiaen's music at Darmstadt in 1951, he began studying with the composer and experimenting with serialism. His early works include Kontrapunkte and Klavierstücke I–IV (1952–53). He also became involved with musique concrète, a technique using recorded sounds as raw material; his remarkable Song of the Youths (1956) used a highly processed recording of a boy soprano mixed with electronic sounds. His extensions of serialism continued in pieces such as Zeitmasse (1956) and Gruppen (1957), and he became a leading avant-garde spokesman. His Momente (1964) influentially applied serialism to groups of sounds rather than single pitches, and he began incorporating aleatory (chance) elements as well. From the late 1960s he conceived ever grander schemes, some incorporating literature, dance, and ritual, as in the Light series (from 1977).

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▪ 2008

      German composer

born Aug. 22, 1928, Mödrath, near Cologne, Ger.

died Dec. 5, 2007, Kürten, Ger.
was an important creator and theoretician of electronic and serial music who strongly influenced avant-garde composers from the 1950s through the '80s. Whereas composers such as Anton Webern and Arnold Schoenberg had confined the serial principle to pitch, Stockhausen, beginning with his composition Kreuzspiel (1951), extended serialism to other musical elements. He also began using tape recorders and other machines in the 1950s to analyze and investigate sounds through the electronic manipulation of their fundamental elements, sine waves. His Studie I (1953) was the first musical piece composed from sine-wave sounds, while Studie II (1954) was the first work of electronic music to be notated and published. In general, Stockhausen's works were composed of a series of small, individually characterized units, either “points” (individual notes), “groups” of notes, or “moments” (discrete musical sections), which did not necessarily form part of a larger dramatic line or scheme of musical development. In some works, such as Klavierstück XI (1956; Piano Piece XI), he provided a choice of several possible sequences in which to play a given collection of individual moments (since they were equally interesting regardless of their order of occurrence). Virtually all of his compositions from 1977 through 2003 formed part of the grandiose seven-part operatic cycle LICHT, which he intended to be his masterpiece. In 2005 the first parts of another ambitious series, KLANG—in segments that correspond to the 24 hours in a day—were premiered. Stockhausen studied at the State Academy for Music in Cologne and the University of Cologne (1947–51); in Paris (1952–53), with the composers Olivier Messiaen and Darius Milhaud; and at the University of Bonn (1954–56), where he expanded his knowledge of phonetics, acoustics, and information theory. From 1953 he was associated with Cologne's celebrated electronic music studio Westdeutscher Rundfunk, where from 1963 to 1977 he served as artistic director. Stockhausen lectured widely and returned to the State Academy for Music as professor of composition (1971–77).

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▪ German composer
born Aug. 22, 1928, Mödrath, near Cologne, Ger.
died Dec. 5, 2007, Kürten

      German composer, an important creator and theoretician of electronic (electronic music) and serial music who strongly influenced avant-garde composers from the 1950s through the '80s.

      Stockhausen studied at the State Academy for Music in Cologne and the University of Cologne from 1947 to 1951. In 1952 he went to Paris, where he studied with the composers Olivier Messiaen (Messiaen, Olivier) and, for a time, Darius Milhaud (Milhaud, Darius). Returning to Cologne in 1953, Stockhausen joined its celebrated electronic music studio West German Broadcasting (Westdeutscher Rundfunk), where he served as artistic director from 1963 to 1977. His Studie I (1953; “Study”) was the first musical piece composed from sine-wave sounds, while Studie II (1954) was the first work of electronic music to be notated and published. From 1954 to 1956, at the University of Bonn, Stockhausen studied phonetics, acoustics, and information theory, all of which influenced his musical composition. Having lectured at summer courses on new music in Darmstadt since 1953, he began teaching composition there in 1957 and established a similar series of workshops at Cologne in 1963. Stockhausen lectured and gave concerts of his music throughout Europe and North America. From 1971 to 1977 he was professor of composition at the State Academy for Music in Cologne.

      Stockhausen's explorations of fundamental psychological and acoustical aspects of music were highly independent and remarkably free of outside influences. serialism (music based on a series of tones in an ordered arrangement without regard for traditional tonality) was a guiding principle for him. But whereas composers such as Anton Webern (Webern, Anton) and Arnold Schoenberg (Schoenberg, Arnold) had confined the serial principle to pitch, Stockhausen, beginning with his composition Kreuzspiel (1951), set about extending serialism to other musical elements. Thus, instrumentation, pitch register and intensity, melodic form, and time duration are deployed in musical pieces that assume an almost geometric level of organization. Stockhausen also began using tape recorders and other machines in the 1950s to analyze and investigate sounds through the electronic manipulation of their fundamental elements, sine waves. From this point he set out to create a new, radically serial approach to the basic elements of music and their organization. He used both electronic and traditional instrumental means and buttressed his approach with rigorous theoretical speculations and radical innovations in musical notation.

      In general, Stockhausen's works are composed of a series of small, individually characterized units, either “points” (individual notes), “groups” of notes, or “moments” (discrete musical sections), each of which can be enjoyed by the listener without forming part of a larger dramatic line or scheme of musical development. A typical example of this “open form” is Momente (1962–69), a piece for soprano, 4 choruses, and 13 players. In some such works, such as Klavierstück XI (1956; Piano Piece XI), Stockhausen gives performers a choice of several possible sequences in which to play a given collection of individual moments, since they are equally interesting regardless of their order of occurrence. Chance (aleatory music) decisions thus play an important role in many of the compositions.

      Certain elements are played off against one another, simultaneously and successively. In Kontra-Punkte (Counter-Points; 1952–53; for 10 instruments), pairs of instruments and extremes of note values confront one another in a series of dramatic encounters; in Gruppen (Groups; 1955–57; for three orchestras), fanfares and passages of varying speed are flung from one orchestra to another, giving the impression of movement in space; while in Zeitmasze (Measures; 1955–56; for five woodwinds) various rates of acceleration and deceleration oppose one another.

      In Stockhausen's electronic music these juxtapositions are taken still further. In the early work Gesang der Jünglinge (1955–56; Song of the Youths), a recording of a boy's voice is mixed with highly sophisticated electronic sounds. Kontakte (1958–60) is an encounter between electronic sounds and instrumental music, with an emphasis on their similarities of timbre. In Mikrophonie I (1964), performers produce an enormous variety of sounds on a large gong with the aid of highly amplified microphones and electronic filters.

      Stockhausen's Stimmung (1968; “Tuning”), composed for six vocalists with microphones, contains text consisting of names, words, days of the week in German and English, and excerpts from German and Japanese poetry. Hymnen (1969; “Hymns”) was written for electronic sounds and is a recomposition of several national anthems into a single universal anthem. Stockhausen began to reincorporate more conventional melodic forms in such works as Mantra (1970). Virtually all of his compositions from 1977 through 2003 formed part of the grandiose seven-part operatic cycle LICHT (“Light”), a work steeped in spirituality and mysticism that he intended to be his masterpiece. In 2005 the first parts of another ambitious series, KLANG (“Sound”)—in segments that correspond to the 24 hours in a day—were premiered.

      Stockhausen's views on music were presented in a number of publications, including Mya Tannenbaum's Conversations with Stockhausen (translated from Italian, 1987), Jonathan Cott's Stockhausen: Conversations with the Composer (1974), and a collection of his lectures and interviews, Stockhausen on Music, compiled by Robin Maconie (1989).

Additional Reading
Robin Maconie, The Works of Karlheinz Stockhausen, 2nd ed. (1990), and Other Planets: The Music of Karlheinz Stockhausen (2005); Michael Kurtz, Stockhausen: A Biography (1992; originally published in German, 1988).

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Karlheinz — Karl Heinz / Karlheinz ist ein männlicher (deutscher) Doppelname. Herkunft und Bedeutung des Namens Karl: Althochdeutsch für „freier Mann“, Heinz: Kurzform zu Heinrich Bekannte Namensträger Karlheinz Böhm (* 1928), österreichischer Schauspieler… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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