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"Come, come again, whoever you are, come! Heathen, fire worshipper or idolatrous, come! Come even if you broke your penitence a hundred times, Ours is the portal of hope, come as you are."


September 11

In a press conference in Hamburg, on September 16, 2001, Stockhausen was asked by a journalist whether the characters in Licht were for him "merely some figures out of a common cultural history" or rather "material appearances".

The composer replied "I pray daily to Michael, but not to Lucifer. I have renounced him. But he is very much present, like in New York recently". A journalist then asked how the recent September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks affected him, and how he viewed these reports in connection with the harmony of humanity represented in Hymnen.

So: What happened there is — now all of you must adjust your brains — the biggest work of art there has ever been. The spirit achieves in one act something which we in music could never dream of, that people practise ten years fanatically for a concert. And then die. And that is the greatest work of art that exists in the whole Cosmos.

In a subsequent message, he stated that the press had published "false, defamatory reports" about his comments, and clarified as follows:

At the press conference in Hamburg, I was asked if Michael, Eve and Lucifer were historical figures of the past and I answered that they exist now, for example Lucifer in New York. In my work, I have defined Lucifer as the cosmic spirit of rebellion, of anarchy. He uses his high degree of intelligence to destroy creation. He does not know love. After further questions about the events in America, I said that such a plan appeared to be Lucifer's greatest work of art. Of course I used the designation "work of art" to mean the work of destruction personified in Lucifer. In the context of my other comments this was unequivocal.

As a result of the reaction to Stockhausen's comments, a four-day festival of his work in Hamburg was canceled. In addition, his pianist daughter announced to the press that she would no longer appear under the name "Stockhausen".



BJÖRK meets Karlheinz STOCKHAUSEN: Compose Yourself

I went to music school from the age of five and then, when I was 12 or 13, I was into musicology and this Icelandic composer and teacher at the school introduced me to Stockhausen. I remember being almost the fighter in the school, the odd kid out, with a real passion for music, but against all this retro, constant Beethoven and Bach bollocks. Most of it was this frustration with the school's obsession with the past. When I was introduced to Stockhausen it was like 'aaah'! Finally somebody was speaking my language. Stockhausen has said phrases like, "We should listen to 'old' music one day a year and the other 364 days we should listen to 'now' music. And we should do it in the same way as we look through photo albums of when we were children. If you look at old photo albums too often they just become pointless. You start indulging in something that doesn't matter, and you stop worrying about the present. And that's how he looked at all those people who are obsessed with old music. For a kid born of my generation who was 12 at that time it was brilliant, because at the same time I was also being introduced to the electronic music of bands like Kraftwerk and DAF.

I think when it comes to electronic music and atonal music, Stockhausen's the best. He was the first person to make electronic music before synthesisers were even invented. I like to compare him to Picasso for this century, because like him he's had so many periods. There are so many musicians who've made a whole career out of one of his periods. He goes one step ahead, discovers something that's never even been done before musically and by the time other people have even grasped it he's onto the next thing. Like all scientific geniuses, Stockhausen seems obsessed with the marriage between mystery and science, although they are opposites. Normal scientists are obsessed with facts: genius scientists are obsessed with mystery. The more Stockhausen finds out about sound, the more he finds out that he doesn't know jack shit; that he's lost. Stockhausen told me about the house he built himself in the forest and lived in for ten years. It's made from hexagonal pieces of glass and no two rooms are the same, so they are all irregular. It's built out of angles that are reflective and it's full of spotlights. The forest becomes mirrored inside the house. He was explaining to me how, even after ten years, there would still be moments when he didn't know where he was, and he said it with wonder in his eyes. And I said, "That's brilliant: you can be innocent even in your own home", and he replied, "Not only innocent, but curious." He's such a humorist.

Björk Gudmundsdottir: It seems to me that your electronic music is more like your voice and your other pieces are less personal, somehow. Do you feel that too?

Karlheinz Stockhausen: Yes, because a lot of things that I do sound like a very alien world. Then a notion like 'personal' is irrelevant. It is not important, because it is something that we don't know, but I like it, and I make it.

BG: It seems to me that you just put your antennae out, and that is like your voice, your point of view, like from the outside. Or something like... (pause) I can't really explain it.

KS: No, neither can I. The most important thing is it is not like a personal world, but something that we all don't know. We have to study it, we have to experience it. If we catch something like that, then we have had luck.

BG: Are you sure it's not you?

KS: Oh I am surprised myself, very often. And the more I discover something that I haven't experienced before, then the more excited I become. Because then I think that it is important

BG: I've got a problem that I get very excited about music. I panic because I feel I don't have time to do it all, does that worry you?

KS: Yes and no, because I have learned now in my life that even the very early works made 46 years ago are not understood by most of the people. So this is a natural process that if you find something that surprises you, then for others it's even harder to incorporate that into their being. So it would take sometimes 200 years before a large group of people, or even for individuals to have reached the same stage that I have reached after having spent, let's say, three years eight hours in the studio to make something. You need as much time as I did just to hear it. Let's not even talk about understanding what it means. So that is the natural process that certain musicians make something that needs a lot of time to be listened to many, many times, and that's very good.

BG: Yeah, but I am also talking about the relationship between you and your- self, and the time that you have between birth and when you die. If it is enough to do all of the things you want..

KS: No, you can only do a very small portion of what you want to do. That is natural.

BG: Yeah, maybe I'm very impatient. It's hard for me to...

KS: 80 or 90 years is nothing. There are a lot of very beautiful pieces of music of the past which the majority of the people alive now will never hear. These pieces are extraordinarily precious, full of mystery and intelligence and invention. I'm thinking at this moment of certain works by Johan Sebastian Bach, or even earlier composers. There are so many fantastic compositions, five or six hundred years old, not even known to the majority of human beings. So it will take a lot of time. There are billions of precious things in the universe that we have no time to study.

BG: You seem to be so patient, like you have all of this discipline to use time. It freaks me out, I still haven't learned how to sit in my chair, it's very hard for me. Do you always work eight hours a day?

KS: More.

BG: Do you think the core of your urge is more to show or record the things out there: to prove they exist, like just for scientific reasons, or is it more emotional to create an excuse for everybody to unite. So that maybe something will happen, like your music could achieve that?

KS: It's both.

BG: Both?

KS: Of course. I am like a hunter, trying to find something, and at the same time, well this is the scientific aspect, trying to discover. On the other hand, I am emotionally in high tension whenever it comes to the moment when I have to act with my fingers, with my hands and my ears, to move the sound, to shape the sound. It is then I cannot separate thinking and acting with my senses: both are equally important to me. But the total involvement happens in both states: if I am more a thinker, or more an actor; I am totally involved, I get involved.

BG: I used to travel with my little ghettoblaster, and have my pocket full of tapes, and try to always find the right song. I didn't care what song it was, as long as it would unite everybody in the room and get everybody together. But sometimes that can be quite a cheap trick, you know? I remember once reading that one of the reasons why you don't like regular rhythm is because of the war.

KS: No, no, that's...

BG: That's a misunderstanding?

KS: Mmm, yes. When I dance I like regular music. With syncopation naturally. It shouldn't always be like a machine. But when I compose, I use periodic rhythms very rarely, and only at an intermediary stage, because I think there is an evolution in the language of music in Europe which leads from very simple periodic rhythms to more and more irregular rhythms. So I am careful with music which emphasises this kind of minimalistic periodicity because that brings out the most basic feelings and most basic impulses in every person. When I say 'basic', that means the physical. But we are not only a body who walks, who runs, who makes sexual movements, who has a heartbeat which is, more or less, in a healthy body, 71 beats per minute, or who has certain brain pulses, so we are a whole system of periodic rhythm. But already within the body there are many periodicities superimposed, from very fast to very slow ones. Breathing is, in a quiet situation, about every six or seven seconds. There's periodicity. And all of these together build a very polymeric music in the body, but when I make the art music I am part of that whole evolution, and I am always looking for more and more differentiation. In form as well.

BG: Just because it's more honest, it's more real?

KS: Yes, but what most of the people like is a regular beat, nowadays they make it even in pop music with a machine. I think that one should try to make music which is a bit more... flexible, so to speak, a bit more irregular. Irregularity is a challenge, you see. How far can we go in making music irregular? Only as far as a small moment when everything falls into synchronicity, and then goes away again into different meters and rhythms. But that's how history has been, anyway.

BG: I think that in popular music today people are trying to come to terms with the fact that they are living with all of these machines, and trying to com- bine machines and humans and trying to marry them in a happy marriage: trying to be optimistic about it. I was brought up by a mother who believed fiercely in nature and wanted me just to be barefoot 24 hours and all of these things, so I was brought up with this big guilt complex of cars and skyscrapers, and I was taught to hate them, and then I think I'm, like, in the middle. I can see this generation who are ten years younger than me making music, trying to live with it. But everything is with those regular rhythms and learning to love them, but still be human, still be all gritty and organic.

KS: But regular rhythms are always in all cultures: the basis of the structure. It's only very lately that they come to make a more complicated rhythm, so I think it is not so that the machines have brought irregularity.

BG: Yeah, I think what makes me happiest is your optimism, especially about the future. And I think, for me, here I'm also talking about my generation. We've been taught the world is going down the drain and we're all gonna die very soon, and to find someone as open as you, with optimism, is special. A lot of young people are fascinated by what you are doing. Do you think it is because of this optimism?

KS: Also I understand that the works I have composed give a lot for studying, for learning and for experiencing. In particular, experiencing oneself, and that gives people confidence, so they see there is a lot still to do.

BG: And also maybe because you have done so many things that I think that so many young people just have to find one per cent of its worth and they can identify with what you've done.

KS: Maybe with different works, because they cannot know them all. I have 253 individually performable works now, in scores, and about 70 or 80 CDs with different works on them, all different, so there is a lot to discover. It's like a world in a world, and there's so many different aspects. That's probably what they like: all of the pieces are very different. I don't like to repeat myself.

BG: Do you think it's our duty to push everything to its limits, use everything that we have, like all the intelligence and all the time, and try out everything, especially if it is difficult, or do you think it's more a question of just following one's instincts, leaving out the things that don't turn us on?

KS: I am thinking at this moment of my children. I have six children, they are quite different. In particular there are two, who are the youngest by the way, who are still drawn into many different directions that concern taste, or excitement, and there is one son who is a trumpeter who tried at a certain moment a few years ago to become a spiritual teacher. To be a Yoga teacher and help other people who were desperate to cheer up and to believe in a better world, but then I told him there are enough preachers, and stick to your trumpet. It took him a few years before he came back to his trumpet, and now he seems to be concentrated and leaves out most of the things that are also possible for him. I could have been a teacher, an architect, a philosopher, a professor in God knows what amid many different faculties. I could be a gardener or a farmer very easily: I was a farm hand for a long time, for a year and a half of my life. I was in a car factory for a moment, and I liked that work as well, but I understood at the end of my studies, when I still was working on a doctorate and as a pianist I rehearsed four or five hours a day the piano, as a solo instrument. I played every night in a bar to make a living, but since I composed the first piece where I felt it sounded very different from all I know, I have con centrated on composition and I have missed almost everything that the world offers to me, other faculties, other ways of living as you've just said, excitement of all kind, entertainment of all kind. I have really concentrated day and night on that one very narrow aspect, composing and performing and correctng my scores and publishing my scores. And, for me, it was the right way. I cannot give general advice, because if one does not hear that inner call, one doesn't do it. So you have to hear the call and then there is no question.

BG: Yeah, it's like where you can go furthest.

KS: I don't know. I just think I couldn't achieve anything that makes sense to myself if I don't concentrate entirely on that one thing. So I miss a lot of what life has got to offer.

BG: And learn how to sit in a chair.

KS: You know I conduct also, it's not just sit in a chair. I conduct orchestras, choirs, rehearse a lot, and run around and set up speakers with the technicians and arrange all the rehearsals, so it's not just sitting on a chair, but I know what you mean, yes, it's concentrating on that one vocation.

introduction & interview by BJÖRK

"Dazed and Confused" (#23, 1996)


Karlheinz Stockhausen (22. 08. 1928. – 5. 12. 2007.)

Od srijede 5. decembra sa nama više nije jedan od najznačajnijih kompozitora, mislilaca i ljudi našeg vremena. Kolporter proglašava sedmicu žalosti na ovom blogu zbog gubitka jednog od svojih posljednjih živih heroja. U narednim satima i danima objavljujemo samo postove u vezi sa likom i djelom Stockhausena.

Ovo je poruka njegovog sina u povodu smrti:

8th December

Dear friends,
three days ago, on December 5th, 2007
my dear father Karlheinz 
Stockhausen passed away peacefully.
The night before he finished his last work.
I am greatful for everything I learned from him.

Greetings from Markus Stockhausen



An intellectual is a person who has discovered something more interesting than sex.

p.s. Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are dead.

Aldous Huxley

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zajedno smo skupa

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privatne poruke
na putu u nigdje
zaborav i sjecanje
dodje mi da vrisnem svoje ime
silence is sexy
u sumrak dana nezavisnosti
o snijegu, tisini i cistoci
amor fati
pricam ti pricu
pomracenje uma ili opis stanja stvari
u crnoj rupi iskopanoj po vlastitoj mjeri
nota o sreci i kako je steci
pred praskozorje
opasne misli i sulude ideje
o, mozda hamletu, te pomalo o vodi i zasigurno o uzaludnosti covjekovoj
s ovu stranu dobra i zla
idemo, svi, zajedno
obicno jutro
mi vida
samozaborav i zaboravljanje
dobro jutro
uzbrdo i protiv vjetra na putu ka sreci
hic et nunc
ti svoje - oni svoje
blago tebi
recimo, cini se da
sjena i opsjena ili: treperiti ili biti
o ugrozenosti i ostalim pojavama u prirodi i drustvu
nepodnosljiva tezina postojanja
sanjati, sanjati, mozda spavati
odjeci u prazno
o zivotu i povracanju sebi
kao dah na staklu
rijeci i slova - jucer, danas, sutra
mirno more i sigurne luke
umoran, sam
kad sreca poljubi
super supper
a joooj
sretnost ili spretnost
sesti ili sedmi dan u sedmici, svejedno je
jos jedan lijep dan
ja jos uvijek cekam dok ti pleses
pretenciozna napomena o sreci
o ekvilibristici, tunelu i svjezem zraku
odluci se
kamen u lice
do tebe je
kristalno sam
kako postajemo ono sto jesmo
krajolik konacnog
novi pocetak
jutarnja naizgled dilema
nakon odiseje od snova do stvarnosti i nazad
sam sa samim sobom
dan poslije
posljednja stanica na putu u optimizam
blagdani, praznici, svetkovine
opusti se
U noci punog mjeseca


My smile is stuck
I cannot go back to your Frownland
My spirit's made up of the ocean
And the sky 'n' the sun 'n' the moon
'n' all my eyes can see
I cannot go back to your land of gloom
Where black jagged shadows
Remind me of the coming of your doom
I want my own land
Take my hand and come with me
It's not too late for you
It's not too late for me
To find my homeland
Where a man can stand by another man
Without an ego flying
With no man lying
'n' no one dying by an earthly hand
Let the devils burn and the beggar learn
'n' the little girls that live in those old worlds
Take my kind hand
My smile is stuck
I cannot go back to your Frownland
I cannot go back to your Frownland

Don Van Vliet



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