Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Karlheinz Stockhausen: 1928 - 2007

One of the great musicians of our time died last week. He was one of the furthest out composers ever. Karlheinz was one of the first to apply concepts and philosophy to classical music. The resulting music is now referred to as 'new music' or 'experimental.' His works were highly conceptual, extremely complicated, and very challenging to understand, and at times, to listen to. Stockhausen wrote the first piece of published electronic music. Like his contemporary John Cage, he worked extensively with chance in his compositions. He composed hundreds of works in his lifetime. His piece Stimmung simply held a B flat ninth for 70 minutes. His work Gruppen was for 3 orchestras playing simultaneously, slowing shifting patterns. From 1977 to 2003 he worked on Licht, a cycle of seven operas, each based on a day of the week. The piece was over 29 hours long. A performance of Licht requires a string quartet in four helicopters hovering above. I could go on and on about the ideas behind his works. If you want to know more check out his wikipedia page.

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