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Summary Article: Stockhausen, Karlheinz
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

German composer of avant-garde music. He explored new musical sounds and compositional techniques from the 1950s. His major works include Gesang der Jünglinge/Song of the Youths (1956), Kontakte (1960) (electronic music), and Sirius (1977).

From 1977 all his works were part of LICHT/Light, a cycle of seven musical ceremonies intended for performance on the evenings of a week – these include Donnerstag (1980), Samstag (1984), Montag (1988), and Dienstag (1992). Earlier works include Klavierstücke I–XIV (1952–85), Momente (1961–64), and Mikrophonie I (1964). His work greatly influenced avant-garde composers.

Stockhausen studied at the Cologne Musikhochschule and in Paris with Olivier Messiaen and Darius Milhaud. He also learned from the example of Webern, whose tightly controlled brand of serialism inspired Stockhausen's brief venture into ‘integral’ serialism (in which all elements of sound – such as pitch, duration, and dynamics – are controlled according to pre-determined formulae). Webern's orchestrational technique also influenced Stockhausen's ‘group’ compositions of the 1950s. From 1953 he worked intensively at German Radio's studio for electronic music at Cologne, influencing contemporaries such as Luciano Berio and Pierre Boulez and younger composers such as Tim Souster and Brian Ferneyhough. He was one of the most enterprising of the composers creating electronic music, but also wrote music for traditional media. Stockhausen's creative process began with the premise that all elements of composition can be vigorously controlled, with the progress of a work determined by pre-set acoustic and scientific formulae. In spite of this performers are often allowed a multitude of choices in terms of how they ‘read’ a score and deploy the equipment at their disposal (the influence of John Cage is evident here).

WorksOrchestral and chamberKreuzspiel for oboe, clarinet, piano, and three percussion (1951); Formel for 29 instruments (1951), Punkte for orchestra (1952), Kontra-Punkte for ensemble (1952), Klavierstücke I–XI (1952–56), Zeitmasze for wind quintet (1956), Gruppen for three orchestras (1957), Zyklus for percussion (1959), Refrain for ensemble (1959), Stop for instrumental ensemble (1969–73), Aus den sieben Tagen, 15 pieces for various instrumental groups (1968); park music Sternklang for five groups (1971), Jubiläum for orchestra (1977), Intervall for piano duo (1972), Musik im Bauch/Music in the Belly for six percussion (1975).

Orchestral and electronicKontakte for piano, percussion, and four-track tape (1960); Gesang der Jünglinge for voice and tapes (1956), Mikrophonie I and II for electronics (1964–65), Mixtur for five orchestras, sine wave generators, and four ring modulators (1964–67); Telemusik for four-track tape (1966), Hymnen for four-track tape (1967), Kurzwellen (Short Waves) for electronics and four short-wave radios (1968), Spiral for soloist and short-wave receiver (1969), Mantra for two pianos, woodblock, and two ring modulators (1970), Trans for orchestra and tape (1971).

Choral with orchestra or ensembleCarré for four choruses and four orchestras (1960), Momente for soprano, four choruses, and ensemble (1961–64); Stimmung for voices and ensemble (1968), Atmen gibt das Leben for chorus (1974).

Vocal with orchestra or ensembleAm Himmel wandre ich ..’ for soprano and baritone (1972), Inori for one/two soloists and orchestra (1974), Herbstmusik for four players (1974), Sirius for soprano, baritone, and ensemble (1977).

Opera operas in Licht cycle: Donnerstag (1981), Samstag (1984), Montag (1988), Dienstag (1992); scenes from Licht given as concert pieces: no. 1 Der Jahreslauf for dancers and orchestra (1977); no. 2 Michaels Reise um die Erde for trumpet and ensemble (1978); no. 3 Michaels Jugend for soprano, tenor, brass instruments, piano, dancers, and tape (1979); no. 4 Michaels Heimkehr for soloists, chorus, and orchestra (1979); also Lucifer's Dream from Samstag (1983).

OtherBeethausen, Opus 1970, von Stockhoven compiled for the Beethoven bicentenary and including fragments of music in quotation and a reading of the Heiligenstadt Testament (developed from Kurzwellen).


Stockhausen, Karlheinz

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