Working with Stockhausen

Discussion in 'EC Downloading' started by ecarroll, Oct 25, 2006.

  1. ecarroll

    ecarroll Artist in Residence Staff Member

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    TMers,

    Dedalus78 worked with Kh. Stockhausen at Keurten this past summer (and intends, I understand, to visit him again over the winter) and I'm wondering if he would take a moment to tell us about it?

    I'm interested in hearing his thoughts on working/collaborating with composers, particularly one of such stature (and notorious personality).

    Respond only when you have the time to do so, T.

    Best and thanks in advance,
    EC
     
  2. TrentAustin

    TrentAustin Fortissimo User

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    VERY COOL! I would love to hear all about it, especially as I prepare to seek out composers to write some music for myself that will take decades to practice!

    Best,

    T
     
  3. ecarroll

    ecarroll Artist in Residence Staff Member

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    Trent,

    You're a terrific improviser. Why not write your own?

    Best,
    EC
     
  4. TrentAustin

    TrentAustin Fortissimo User

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    ;) I didn't say I wasn't.

    hehehehe.
     
  5. dedalus78

    dedalus78 New Friend

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    Apr 4, 2006
    Hi all,

    In July I travelled to Kuerten, a town about 40 mins outside of Cologne for the annual Stockhausen Courses. These have run every year since Stockhausen's 70th birthday in 1998, and run for 10 days during which around 300 interpreters, composers, musicologists and music enthusiasts gather to celebrate the music of Stockhausen. There is a concert held every night, and during the day there are various seminars: Stockhausen holds a daily composition seminar, there are daily classes analyzing Stockhausen's music (this year Richard Toop provided a 7 day overview of LICHT; highly appropriate for anyone who knows the piece) and the interpreters are given masterclasses on Stockhausen's works for their instrument.
    In the trumpet class, taken by Marco Blaauw, there was one other trumpeter, Kerry Lannan from Kansas (one hell of a player), and we worked alternating hours with Marco. Kerry was playing OBERLIPPENTANZ and I played ARIES, both huge intense pieces (what of KhS's is not?) which required a great deal of work with Marco. I thought I had prepared ARIES pretty well; I'd played it at Chosen Vale a few times, I had the memory pretty well down (All of Stockhausen's trumpet music requires that the player play from memory), but I soon realized I had only scratched the surface. Marco demanded an attention to detail that I hadn't encountered before, and helped reveal layers of musical meaning that I can honestly say I had never experienced in music written for the trumpet. Needless to say, these were very intense classes!
    Both Kerry and I were selected to play in one of three participant concerts held throughout the courses. This allowed us to rehearse with Stockhausen on the morning of the concert, and in my case, with Stockhausen as the Projectionist. So, I arrived for my rehearsal at 1030 AM, and we worked on a 15 minute piece till nearly 1pm. Stockhausen was unrelenting. His knowledge of a piece he wrote in 1977 was extraordinairy. Every aspect of the performance he wanted to control, down to how quickly I walked on to the stage, where my eyes were directed, and how I was holding the instrument. In addition to this, the musical level of detail he demanded was amazing. For example, there is a 3 minute section of graphic notation at the beginning of the piece, indicating speech like sounds from the harmon mute, 'electronic' and 'disconnected'. This I was playing basically as an improvisation- Stockhausen told me that there were indeed 7 dashes here, and 9 here, and this was to be longer than that...
    So, I played the concert- absolutely sh*itting my pants- but it went OK. I walked off stage and Stockhausen was there to tell me I hadn't played staccato enough in bar X and in bar Y the dynamic was piano not piannisimo!
    I should add all these directions seemed to come not from not from a control freak composer, but from a great mind for which music is everything. Stockhausen's ambitions as a composer run higher than any other I have known, no less than to cause transformation in people and by extension, the world, and as such he takes his mission very, very seriously. As a result, he has a history of alienating people who he feels are not as committed as he is. (who could be) thus the prickly personality Ed alluded to.
    Working with Stockhausen has been one of the highlights of my musical life. I have no doubt he is one of the greatest minds in music, and to come into contact with him has been an enormous privilege. His ideas about the ritual of performance I believe are revolutionary. In many ways he is way ahead of his (our) time, but he believes history will find his position vindicated. I found him an extremely intimidating personality, but someone I am very much looking forward to working with again. Working with him changed me for the better as a musician.
    If anyone wants to discuss this further, I'd be happy to. As trumpet players, we are incredibly lucky that this truly great composer has written so much for our instrument. I'd urge any of you interested to check it out...its very demanding stuff, both to play and initially understand, but the rewards far exceed the level of exertion required.
    Tristram Williams
     
  6. ecarroll

    ecarroll Artist in Residence Staff Member

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    Tristram,

    Many thanks and I hope this triggers some thoughtful discussion. It cuts to the core of who we are as musicians and why we do what we do.

    Stockhausen's ambitions as a composer run high, as you said, and yours as an interpreter run no less. I'm sure that the forum will applaud your dedication, as I do (!)

    Best,
    EC
     
  7. tpter1

    tpter1 Forte User

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    For those interested in more information about Stockhausen, I found this website:

    http://www.stockhausen.org

    Includes multimedia link, with mp3's of interviews, and exceprts from 3 of his trumpet works (including the above mentioned Aries), along with some other excerpts of his work.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2006
  8. ecarroll

    ecarroll Artist in Residence Staff Member

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    Thanks, Glenn

    I noticed the following on the Kuerten 2006 link there:

    Following the final concert on July 16th, Stockhausen awarded prizes to the 7 best interpreters:
    . . . Tristram Williams from Australia and Kerry Lannan from the USA, trumpets (both students of Marco Blaauw)

    That's our boy! Bravo, Tristram and I'd love to meet Kerry sometime. Invite him to TM?
    EC
     
  9. mahaberio

    mahaberio Piano User

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    Apr 30, 2006
    Mr. Williams,

    How did you respond to such intense micro-management of your performance? While I would say it is definitely worth it to work with a composer of Stockhausen's notoriety, it has always been my contention that once a composer publishes a work, it is in the hands of the performer (hopefully done in good taste regarding the composer's intentions).
     
  10. dedalus78

    dedalus78 New Friend

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    Maha-

    Good question! I have had several discussions with Marco Blaauw about this- my feeling is the same as you: that once a composer has published a work it has its own life, and should be trusted to the hopefully capable hands of performers. While I was at the Courses, I couldn't help but feel quite resistant to this 'micro-management', as you put it.
    In retrospect I believe what Stockhausen was doing was not over-managing, but demanding an extremely high level of accuracy in the reading of his scores. None of what he was asking of me could I disagree with on an interpretive level, because he was only asking me to play exactly what he had written. And there always remains a level of interpretation which can only come from the performer- the sound(s), the unique spiritual energy that a musician transmits in performance.
    One of the goals of the Stockhausen Courses seems to be to establish a school of performance of these works which will live on after Stockhausen has shuffled off. Understandably he wants this to be at the highest possible level.
    Tristram
     

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