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Classiscsonline Home » Composers » S » Stockhausen, Karlheinz

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Karlheinz Stockhausen (8/22/1928 - 12/05/2007)

Stockhausen was among the leading avant-garde figures in German music from the 1950s onwards. In spite of material difficulties, he studied in Cologne with Frank Martin and was subsequently strongly influenced by attendance at Darmstadt, where summer sessions contributed largely to the development of new music. He went on to study with Messiaen in Paris. Parallel to his work in electronic music, he explored the human element in performance, moving from total serialism, in which every aspect of a piece is controlled by a predetermined serial pattern, to a more flexible approach, making use of every device available.


The numbering of Stockhausen’s works allows his earlier compositions the numbering of fractions, with his Kontre-Punkte of 1952 as the first whole number, No. 1. A varied and fascinating series of compositions includes Stimmung for electronically treated voices, Mantra, for two pianos, woodblocks and crotales, the result of a visit to the Osaka World Fair, at which his music was featured. Zyklus has an important part in modern percussion repertoire, while the work Licht, a project divided into seven days and involving dramatic use of instrumental performance, remained a preoccupation from 1977 until its completion in 2003. The size of this work is characteristic of the composer’s Wagnerian tendencies. It was followed by a cycle based on the hours of the day, Klang.



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