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Thread: Stockhausen, Karlheinz

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    Junior Member Stunt21's Avatar
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    Arrow Stockhausen, Karlheinz

    There was no guestbook for this great one

    We all know he is quite controversial, not just because his works are not easily understandable (let's say it that way ), but also because of distorted press reviews about declarations on just a way to see 9/11, which costed him the celebration of a festival and a relationship with a daughter...

    I'm quite addicted lately to, quite probably, his masterwork: LICHT.

    What do you have to say about him?

    Greetings.
    There's no wind against who doesn't know which is his harbour.

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    I think he is one of the greatest composers ever. Regardless of whether one likes his music or not, the sheer inventiveness and the astonishing work ethic are, well, beyond anyone. Also, as a composer I benefit enormously from studying his work; really inspiring stuff and teaches you tons.

    Haven't listened to the entire LICHT yet, just three whole operas and a few fragments from others. Some of my favorite Stockhausen pieces are from LICHT - Kathinkas Gesang (Samstag), Klavierstueck XIV (Montag; probably the most accessible Stockhausen piece I know, apart from Amour), Orchester-Finalisten (Mittwoch), Donnerstags Abschied (Donnerstag), etc. I also like Mantra, Klavierstuecke VII and X, Freude and Harmonien from Klang, Mikrophonie I... eh. A lot of terrific stuff

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    Senior Member Poppin' Fresh's Avatar
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    Absolutely love him, one of my top 5 or so favorite composers of the 20th century, creating some of the touchstone works in serialism and electronic composition. Too many good pieces to name, but a few personal standouts are Kontakte, Gesang der Jünglinge, Stimmung and Carré.

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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    A charlatan and a performance artist more than a real composer, if you ask me. As a provocateur, perhaps one of the all-time greats, delivering a decisive slap in the face to the sometimes snooty classical music intellegentia. As an honest-to-goodness musician, I think he is a complete failure. Proof that technical knowledge of musical notation does not a great composer make. The only thing intruiging about his Helicopter Quartet is not the music itself (which is ugly and forgettable), is that it is being played in 4 different helicopters. Beethoven didn't need stunts like this to be noticed, he let the quality of his music bring him his fame.

    Don't worry Stockhausen fans...it's just my opinion and do not let my comments get in the way of your enjoyment of this man's works. if it is meaningful to you, that's really all that matters, right?
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

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    Senior Member Poppin' Fresh's Avatar
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    Right. I find his sonic explorations and his approach to sound in a spatial sense to be exhilarating. His pioneering efforts in electronic music and subsequent influence speaks for itself. It's easy enough to throw around words like "charlatan", but Stockhausen was incredibly knowledgeable about composition, clear in his intentions, and groundbreaking in his techniques and with his results. But most of all, I just enjoy the fascinating worlds of sound that he created.

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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poppin' Fresh View Post
    It's easy enough to throw around words like "charlatan"
    In Stockhausen's case, yes, it is easy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Poppin' Fresh View Post
    but Stockhausen was incredibly knowledgeable about composition, clear in his intentions, and groundbreaking in his techniques and with his results.
    That may all be true, but being clear in your intentions and knowledgeable about music does not justify the end result's of one's efforts. Being "groundbreaking" is not necessarily a good thing, either. As far as I'm concered, Stockhausen broke ground in his efforts to further the perversion of good music. Just my opinion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Poppin' Fresh View Post
    But most of all, I just enjoy the fascinating worlds of sound that he created.
    Well, there you go. I cannot fault you for genuinly liking his sound. I respect your opinion, I really do, I just do not respect Stockhausen.
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

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    Senior Member Poppin' Fresh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tapkaara View Post
    That may all be true, but being clear in your intentions and knowledgeable about music does not justify the end result's of one's efforts. Being "groundbreaking" is not necessarily a good thing, either. As far as I'm concered, Stockhausen broke ground in his efforts to further the perversion of good music. Just my opinion.
    No, you're completely right. There's nothing inherent in being groundbreaking, unique, knowledgeable, etc. that guarantees good music, and being influential doesn't prove anything either in that regards. Because art is highly personal, and people bring their own feelings and assumptions and biases into how they judge it. Completely natural.

    Those just aren't characteristics that one would expect to find in a so-called charlatan. That word can be thrown around to disparage anyone. I could call Beethoven a charlatan, and completely dismiss all the reasons he is venerated as irrelevant.

    So what do we go on? What one person thinks is great, another thinks is crap, as proven by this thread. That's why we talk about an artist's influence, innovation, professionalism, and intentions in music. Things like that. Stockhausen rates highly in these categories, so I feel safe in saying he's in no way some kind of charlatan.

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    Yes, he did produce some "stunts" like the Helicopter Sonata, but he also produced unquestionable masterpieces like Gruppen, Stimmung & his solo piano works. I would doubt that you'd call him a charlatan if you heard these great pieces. I've only heard snippets and think they are great...

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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poppin' Fresh View Post
    So what do we go on? What one person thinks is great, another thinks is crap, as proven by this thread. That's why we talk about an artist's influence, innovation, professionalism, and intentions in music. Things like that. Stockhausen rates highly in these categories, so I feel safe in saying he's in no way some kind of charlatan.
    Indeed! One man's great composer is another's crap composer. We will just have to agree to disagree. By the way, thank you for obviously not taking my comments personally. We come to these forums because we like to express our opinions on music, positive or negative. Everyone should be allowed to praise their favorites and put down who they don't like.

    Thank you for not saying "You don't understand Stockhausen" or anything like that. Why can't more people be like you, Poppin'Fresh?
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tapkaara View Post
    ...put down who they don't like.
    Your favorite thing to do!!

    Here, I think, is what you don't understand, that some opinions are worth stating and some are not. The difference? Knowledge and understanding. An opinion based on knowledge and understanding is more valuable than one based on ignorance and intolerance. (I wonder if we could all agree that name-calling is out of bounds? "X is a charlatan" is an empty assertion; it's only purpose to anger X's proponents. "X is a charlatan because he does Y, Z, and Q" is of course far superior, though still kind of aggravating. Still not conducive of civilized conversation.)

    Stockhausen was an important composer who synthesized the music of his immediate predecessors, who broke new ground, and who influenced (and continues to influence) many younger composers. His music is uneven (but whose isn't?), and his decades long work on LICHT certainly kept him from growing and developing his art, but he is a major player, regardless. Not liking is certainly a valid response. Expressing dislike is where things get tricky. I think abuse is something best avoided.

    I don't think "agree to disagree" is quite apropos here. If the contrast were "I like Stockhausen/I hate Stockhausen" then maybe so. But the contrast set up here is "Stockhausen is great/Stockhausen is crap," which is a contrast that (at least) pretends to be saying something about the music itself. And whether you like Stockhausen's music or not, its importance for composers and listeners and performers alike is inarguable.

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    Senior Member Moldyoldie's Avatar
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    Gesang der Jünglinge, Stimmung, and Hymnen are personal favorites.
    "Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time."
    -Steve Wright

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    Senior Member Jeremy Marchant's Avatar
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    The trouble with this conversation is that people are using the word "great" as if it meant one thing, but actually to mean something else. Use "great" for those composers you like, by all means, but don't then sideslip into implying that because composer X is "great" his or her music has some absolute value, because that's what great means. It's not a useful way of progressing the conversation.

    If Tapkaara doesn't like Stockhausen's music, that is of vanishingly small relevance to its quality. About as much relevance as the fact that I do like his music. If we want to assess the quality of a composer's music we have to address the music, not individuals' varying responses to it.

    Music is communication, and the message that people get from it is important - in fact I would argue that the message is the music. But the reaction to the message is not the message.

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    I think that the problem with some listeners is that they judge C20th music by the standards of the C19th. On the face of it, this sounds insane, and they don't do this consciously, but in reality this is what they are doing. I think one has to have a degree of flexibility to enjoy post-WW2 music like that of Stockhausen. It may not give you a warm fuzzy feeling, but it may just hieghten your perception of art if you make yourself open to it.

    I recently borrowed Stimmung from my local library, and listened to it right through (80 minutes or so). While I only did that once, and don't intend to repeat that experience, I quite enjoyed it as a one-off. It was refreshingly different to most choral works that I know. Music (for me) is all about broadening my horizons and increasing my perception. Otherwise, it would just be boring, always listening to the same old cliches...

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    Senior Member JMJ's Avatar
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    A truly extraordinary figure in the entire pantheon of the western art music legacy, there is nothing quite like him - a true pioneer & visionary. I've been listening to a lot of his work since his death in 2007 ... re-visting old stuff and exploring the previously uncharted late works, Licht & Klang. Favorites include ...

    Kontrapunkte
    Kreuzspiel
    Klavierstucke I-XIX
    Gesang der Junglinge
    Zeitmasze
    Gruppen
    Kontakte
    Telemusik
    Hymnen
    Momente
    Stimmung
    Mantra
    In Freundschaft
    Michaels Reise
    Luzifers Tanz
    Der Kinderfanger
    Oktophonie
    Orchestral Finalists
    Elektronische Musik mit Tonszenen vom Freitag
    Sonntags Abschied
    Freude
    Cosmic Pulses
    Star Signs

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    Senior Member Jeremy Marchant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tapkaara View Post
    A charlatan and a performance artist more than a real composer, if you ask me.
    Even the most cursory review of the 25 works chronologically from Kreuzspiel to Momente will shown someone with any understanding of composition that Stockhausen was a remarkably gifted, innovative, inspiring - and probably great - composer.

    Perhaps you could choose of one those works and supply a brief structural analysis to back up your assertion.

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