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".