We weren’t expecting this: Stockhausen
died on Wednesday. Having completed his brobdingnagian opera cycle Licht
(but not having heard the last two of the seven operas performed in entirety), he had commenced Klang
, a cycle of 24 works, one for each hour of the day. He figured he had another five years of work in him at least, and time to finish it. A friend of mine has either just finished another study course with him, or else was booked in for one next year.
Pierre Boulez and Stockhausen were the two most prominent figures in Europe’s post-war musical avant-garde, but while Boulez
and others settled into the musical establishment, Stockhausen
passed through with his sights set on a bigger, cosmic prize. He built up his own private empire to realise goals that seemed impossibly ambitious, intimidatingly grandiose, childishly impractical. Since he started work on Licht
, we probably can’t yet fully assess the achievement of the last 30 years of his career.
Update: Greg Sandow
expands on the idea I touched on above, that for such a central figure, Stockhausen was strangely isolated from the music world he had so strongly influenced. ANABlog
has full audio of Gesang der Jünglinge
, with a brief discussion of the piece.