At NEC, six hours of Stockhausen

Karlheinz Stockhausen at Old Billingsgate Mark...
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A recent Stockhausen performance is reviewed.

At just after 3 p.m. on a Sunday, Vic Rawlings begins to “play a rhythm in the vibration of his body.” He’s only following directions, those of the late German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, whose “Verbindung” (“Connection”) gives that instruction. What does it mean? Rawlings interprets it as a low guttural scrape across the tailpiece of an amplified cello.

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RIP Max Neuhaus

Max Neuhaus in Stommeln-Pulheim, Germany discu...
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From the Houston Chronicle:

Max Neuhaus, a percussionist with Houston ties who pioneered a field of contemporary art known as sound installation, died Tuesday of cancer at his home in Marina di Maratea, Italy. He was 69.

Josef Helfenstein, director of the Menil Collection, described Neuhaus as a sculptor who worked with nonmusical sound instead of traditional materials such as clay or steel. Neuhaus’ second permanent U.S. museum piece, Sound Figure, was installed at the Menil in May.

“He is really part of that generation who changed art in the 1960s,” Helfenstein said. “What he did is very radical, actually. … He managed to define space with sound.”

Born in Beaumont in 1939, Neuhaus began performing as a percussionist when he was 14. He graduated from Lamar High School in 1957 and trained at the Manhattan School of Music. During the 1960s, he performed solo recitals of contemporary music by composers such as John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen at a time when it was rare for a percussionist to be a soloist.

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Hause music at Liverpool’s Cornerstone Festival

Karlheinz Stockhausen at Old Billingsgate Mark...
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Stockhausen is the part of this festival.

WHEN asked if he was familiar with Stockhausen, Sir Thomas Beecham, both conductor and musical wag, famously replied: “Yes, I trod in some this morning.”

The German avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen – who used electronic gadgetry and tapes in producing his compositions – was a controversial figure right up to the time of his death last year, aged 79.

But it is no surprise to see a concert dedicated to his music at the heart of Liverpool’s best arts festival.

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Karlheinz Stockhausen: Striking accord

Karlheinz Stockhausen at Old Billingsgate Mark...
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An ongoing Stockhausen festival is covered.

So what was Karlheinz Stockhausen? Genius or charlatan? Cool-headed rationalist or cloudy mystic? Austere technician or canny showman? The truth is he was a bit of all of them. With Stockhausen, the toe-curling and the visionary are so close, it’s often hard to tell them apart.

Karlheinz Stockhausen
Technocraft: Karlheinz Stockhausen

He came to prominence in the 1950s as an earnest lean-faced idealist who wanted to remake music from scratch with sounds and noises. In the Sixties, the hair grew longer, the love life more complicated, the music – now tinged with Eastern mysticism – more wildly ambitious. From the mid-Seventies he retreated from public view to write a vast cycle of seven operas, one for each day of the week, and another cycle of 24 pieces, one for each hour of the day.

Much of his later work remains unseen and unheard, and the early works have slipped from view. Now, on the first anniversary of his death, it’s all about to come surging back. From today the Southbank Centre in London presents a week-long festival of his music, and it’s also featured at the Huddersfield Festival later in the month. And on January 17 the BBC presents a “total immersion” day at the Barbican Centre.

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Anthony Braxton in Philly Reviews

Anthony Braxton 1976
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A review of this weekend’s Braxton performance is available.

Last night’s concert at Settlement Music School confirmed it: Anthony Braxton is from another planet. I’d known that he had written music intended to be performed at non-Earth locations and that one of his compositional heroes, the late Karlheinz Stockhausen, claimed to have emanated from the star Sirius. But during a compressed set with his Falling River Quartet, it was clear thatBraxton is operating on another plane of existence. Good for us, the curious listeners; not so good for his fellow players, whom he frequently left in the dust.

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Alex Ross on Stockhausen

Karlheinz Stockhausen at Old Billingsgate Mark...
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Alex Ross traces the history and performances of Stockhausen.

Stockhausen died in December of last year, at the age of seventy-nine. If anyone expected his music to die with him, the opposite has happened: suddenly, he seems to be receiving more performances than ever. In Europe, the Holland Festival, the Proms, and the Warsaw Autumn have all honored Stockhausen in what would have been his eightieth year, and in November retrospectives will take place at London’s Southbank Centre and Paris’s Festival d’Automne. In this country, by contrast, activity has been minimal; one of very few events in recent months was an all-Stockhausen concert at the ARTSaha! festival in Omaha, Nebraska, where the composer’s final electronic work—an abstract, engulfing blur called “Cosmic Pulses”—had its American première. Non-Nebraskans were able to watch the concert on the Internet.

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RIP Horatiu Radulescu

Spectral composer Horatiu Radulescu has passed on.

Radulescu was born in Bucharest, where he studied the violin privately with Nina Alexandrescu, a pupil of Enescu, and later studied composition at the Bucharest Academy of Music MA 1969 , where his teachers included Niculescu, Olah and Stroe, some of the leading figures of the newly emerging avant garde Toop 2001 . Upon graduation Radulescu left Romania for the west, and settled in Paris. One of the first works to be completed there though the concept had come to him in Romania was Credo for nine cellos, the first work to employ his spectral techniques. This technique comprises variable distribution of the spectral energy, synthesis of the global sound sources, micro- and macro-form as sound-process, four simultaneous layers of perception and of speed, and spectral scordaturae, i.e. rows of unequal intervals corresponding to harmonic scales. cite this quote In the early 1970s he attended classes given by Cage, Ligeti, Stockhausen, and Xenakis at the Darmstadt Summer Courses, and by Ferrari and Kagel in Cologne; later, from 1979 to 1981, he studied computer-assisted composition and psycho-acoustics at IRCAM.

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RIP Mauricio Kagel

pintura gráfica digital, homenaje al composito...
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Kagel has passed on.

Mauricio Kagel, an avant-garde composer whose often absurdist works blurred the boundaries between music, theater and film, died on Wednesday in Cologne, Germany. He was 76.

His death was announced by his music publishing house, C. F. Peters Musikverlag. No cause was given.

By temperament a dadaist and provocateur, Mr. Kagel drew on the musical examples of composers like John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen. In “Anagrama,” a work from the 1950s, singers and instrumentalists were called on to emit notes, squeaks, whispers and shouts corresponding to an elaborate system derived from the letters in a Latin palindrome.

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Sixth Sacrum Profanum Festival begins in Krakow

Karlheinz Stockhausen at Old Billingsgate Mark...Image via Wikipedia A new music festival is underway in Poland.

German music is the main theme of the Sacrum-Profanum Music Festival, which began in Krakow last night, with the concert in which Sinfonietta Cracovia under the famous French conductor Marc Minkowski performed Kurt Weill’s Symphony No. 2 and Seven Deadly Sins (with Ute Lemper as soloist).

The programme also includes a wide selection of works by Karlheinz Stockhausen, one of the household names in 20th-century avant-garde music, who died last year. His music will be performed by such renowned groups as Theatre of Voices, the Schonberg Enssemble, Ensemble Modern and Asko. Works by Helmut Lachenmann, Heiner Goebbels and Wolfgang Rihm are also featured on the programme. Kraftwerk, the legend of German electronic music, will give three concerts (19-21 September), in a post-industrial venue of the former steel mill, seating 10, 000.

Founded in 2003, Sacrum-Profanum is among the youngest music festivals in Poland but it has already gained considerable international reputation. Its aim is to explore the fundamental role of the sacred and the profane in the music of the 19th and 20th century. Each year the focus is on a different country. After Russia, France and the United States in previous years, the organizers are planning to make British music the event’s main theme in 2009.

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