Stockhausen Edition no. 33
(Aries - Klavierstück XIII)

Karlheinz Stockhausen – “Aries” for trumpet and electronic music (1977) – “Klavierstück XIII” (“Lucifer’s Dream” as piano solo) (1981)
Participants: Markus Stockhausen [trumpet], Karlheinz Stockhausen [electronic music] (“Aries”) – Majella Stockhausen [piano] (“Klavierstück XIII”)
Stockhausen 33. Duration: 53.00.

Stockhausen with daughter Majella & son Markus in 1991
(Photo: Aglaia Risch. Adaption: I. L. Nordin)

This past summer of 2001 at the Stockhausen Courses in Kürten I was in the very privileged position of having access to not only the repetitions and the concerts and lectures, but also the master classes that a number of renowned musicians held in the school complex (and in the Kürten Bürgerhaus) where the courses took place. This was because I was supposed to document the activities through the camera lens. This turned me into a wandering ghost in Kürten, showing up at all places any time… and the creative and generous atmosphere at the master classes was heartening and revealing, clearly getting across to me the vast importance of these courses, in their many aspects, bringing a lot of talent of different kinds together for ten or so very focused and highly charged days, after which all those gifted people - shone through the Stockhausen prism like rays of light - fanned out again across the world in all the spiritual colors of the rainbow, each carrying his or her own characteristics of talent, refined and strengthened at the Stockhausen Courses, to bloom and flourish according to the individual properties of the interpreters, composers, scholars, writers, poets, critics and simply sincerely interested persons who attended those magic days in Kürten.

At times the spirit of the courses made me connect to other layers of time, with similar deep spirituality and creativity, and when I saw Stockhausen engaged in his art and in conversations with participants of the courses I sometimes instead saw Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and I had to shake my head and rub my eyes, and I saw Stockhausen again, and this kept happening time and again, the two great maestros’ images shifting back and forth before my eyes…

Some of the artists who held master classes were Andreas Boettger [percussion], Antonio Pérez Abellán [synthesizer], Ellen Corver [piano], Nicholas Isherwood [voice], Angela Tunstall [voice], Alain Louafi [INORI-gestures], Kathinka Pasveer [flute], Suzanne Stephens [clarinet & basset-horn] and Markus Stockhausen [trumpet].
I drifted between these classes, always initially feeling like an intruder, because a master class is a very private and intimate event, where the core of great art is handed down, person to person, face to face by great artists to great talents on the rise – making a master class a holy event, where the spirit of art shines in the privacy of concentration and excellence, in a historical importance of the refined cultivation of art yet to flower in coming generations.

However, I was always welcomed by the teachers and their disciples, in the general mood of goodwill and graciousness that permeate the Stockhausen Courses, since the participants all knew why I came in the room.

Markus Stockhausen giving a master class
on "Aries" in Kürten August 2001
(Photo: Ingvar Loco Nordin)

One of these classes was Markus Stockhausen’s, and I arrived when he was studying “Aries” for trumpet and electronic music with a disciple. It was a fine experience, as I drifted through the room like a ghost with my camera, around and inside the music, under and above the instruments, to the side and behind the teacher and the disciple, who were deeply engaged in this timeless act of teaching and learning, on the very high and radiant level that Markus Stockhausen and any disciple who dares approach does soar! It was a magnificent moment!

Markus Stockhausen giving a master class
on "Aries" in Kürten August 2001
(Photo: Ingvar Loco Nordin)

Aries” is the main melody from the section “Spring” of Stockhausen’s long work “Sirius” for electronic music and trumpet, soprano, bass clarinet and bass (Stockhausen Edition 26). At the Stockhausen Courses of the year 2000 Stockhausen’s seminar dealt with this very important work in his oeuvre. Of course, the real origin of “Aries” is as part of “Tierkreis”; 12 melodies of the star signs for melody and/or chordal instrument (Stockhausen Edition 24), where this very influential melody emerged for the first time.
(I recommend the reader to freshen up on the issues of
the Edition referred to here, by following the links provided above, which will take you to my texts about these works, appearing on your screen in such a way as creating a separate additional page, which you leave by simply closing it down, instantly delivering you back to where you were in this text, as had you simply read a footnote)
The properties of “
Aries” in “Sirius” are trumpet, east, fire, youth, morning, bud. Stockhausen explains that this particular section of “Sirius” features the trumpet so extensively that he decided – in 1977 - to have a separately performable version of it for trumpet solo and tape, which indeed is the version which Markus Stockhausen plays on this CD, and which was the piece he was practicing with his disciple at the master class I happened to burst into with my blessed photographic carte blanche at the courses of 2001 in Kürten.
(Isn’t it strange how a certain moment, which may almost disappear in the hustle and bustle of the busy passing present, at times lives on and gradually takes on almost mythical properties, when the real importance of that moment is chiseled out of the rock of time, stripped bare of everything temporary, ridded of all irrelevances, revealing its true charged radiance and glow of significance; a jewel of the space-time continuum?)

Markus Stockhausen giving a master class
on "Aries" in Kürten August 2001
(Photo: Ingvar Loco Nordin)

Stockhausen’s own – scientific! - text about “Aries” for trumpet and electronic music is so exact and interesting that I paste it here in its CD booklet entirety, for the convenience of the reader:

The trumpet begins with the last three segments of the ARIES formula. At the entrance of the electronic music with the ARIES melody in the CAPRICORN – Sea Goat – (WINTER) rhythm (!), the trumpet intones a speech-like monody on climbing pitches, with increasingly frequent signal-like segments of the ARIES melody strewn in, in the original rhythm. (In order to understand this, it is necessary to read the score of TIERKREIS, whereby it is, of course, extremely revealing to note how the melody of one sign of the ZODIAC is occasionally combined with the rhythm of another.)
Simultaneously, in the electronic music a gradual metamorphosis of the
CAPRICORN rhythm into the ARIES rhythm takes place, with an increasing acceleration, by which the ARIES melody melts into a dense band of sound gradually gliding into the higher register, and becoming continuously brighter and more hissing. The layer divides into two parts, one of which continues to glide and accelerate, until, by switching down the tempo for short moments, fragments of ARIES with greatly expanded rhythm become recognizable in the high register. The other part is a band with glissandos, again from the low register, upwards to the middle register with an increasingly sharply contoured rhythm-mixture of ARIESCAPRICORNCANCER with the melody-mixture of ARIESCAPRICORNCANCER. The range of this band gradually contracts until, at circa 3 minutes, the melody is only a semitone wide around the A above middle C, where it – due to its extremely fast tempo – very rapidly and periodically oscillates with the duration of the entire formula.
At this stage, the trumpet and upper layer of the electronic music play the
ARIES formula synchronously for the first time – still with rhythmic irregularities. The trumpet lands on the middle A, and decelerates the ARIES rhythm to a continuous tone. The upper layer of the tape now plays the ARIES formula completely regularly on F, the central pitch of SPRING, while the second layer of the tape has contracted into a clear A above middle C, and its rhythm is completely periodic. Also the volume has gradually smoothed down to piano after the very agitated, loud transformation process.
In the upper layer, the
ARIES rhythm spasmodically disintegrates in the course of several cycles. In the second electronic layer, the oscillation periodicity of the A decelerates in circa 1,5 minutes, so that one gradually perceives the individual pulses of the three added rhythms CANCERCAPRICORNARIES. These are then faded out (in this order) until finally only a completely periodical pulse series remains, which in turn slows down to a stationary A.
After a moment of the greatest calm and tranquility, the
LIBRABalance (AUTUMN) formula appears extremely softly as a timbre melody within the stationary pitch, and an infinitely slow accelerando of accents begins. In the trumpet, through single pitches, intervals, small figures and increasingly longer cantilenas, the ARIES formula very gradually awakens to new life. The volume increases slowly.
The trumpet plays and configurates two verses of the
TAURUS formula (Bull2nd SPRING formula) and – after a development intermezzo of the ARIES formula – one verse of the GEMINI formula (Twins3rd SPRING formula).
In the accelerando of accents in the electronic
A, the ARIES rhythm gradually rises to the surface – at first very distorted – and the high timbre (formant) melody transforms itself from LIBRA into ARIES, becoming synchronous with the fundamentals-melody of ARIES.
Then, through the continual expansion of the pitch range, the
ARIES melody steadily grows out of the A (above middle C). However, the melody is rhythmically still so fast (sometimes rushing by like lightning, in swarms of pitches) that one only senses it, until it finally becomes slower and clearer and the trumpet synchronizes with parts of it in counterpoint.
Starting at approximately 12:45, trumpet and electronic music then play the
ARIES formula exactly synchronously, pitch for pitch, in its original rhythmic and melodic form in tempo […] = 120, on the central pitch F.
In 4 subsequent repeats of the
ARIES formula on the tape, the trumpet conceals it, interprets it harmonically with changing parallel intervals, entwines it dance-like at an increased tempo, and doubles it in a relaxed middle register once more in a slower tempo.

However meticulously scientific this description may seem to the person who may not be completely aware of the specialized musical technical terms of the artisan of the craft, it is still highly interesting to get the composer’s roadmap (perhaps to read the text while listening to the piece), and for musicians, composers and scholars, texts like these by Stockhausen give important insights into the workings of the Wizard of Kürten!

I would also like to direct the interested, German-speaking reader to Stockhausen’s
TEXTE zur Musik, Volume 5, pages 701 to 736, where a taped lecture with Stockhausen called Musical Metamorphosis is printed in transcribed form. The lecture was originally held at the Basel Music Academy on October 25th 1980 during the musicological symposium Science and Composition of Music in Dialogue, and it deals with “Aries” for trumpet and electronic music.

The granary of the electronics simmers under the waving trumpet garlands, which contrast the magmic force of the mass of details boiling down below.
Trumpet-blasts cut like gleaming samurai swords of metal through the air.
The liberating melody of
Aries comes into vision like rising bubbles of methane, or like the memory of some earlier clarity, and like a prophecy of bliss yet to come; liberation out of the sangsaric despair of matter and time, in which we are fooled to believe that there is something to grasp…
The electronic music rings out in an extended alarm call; a call of attention – awareness of the critical state of one’s mind.
Out of the kargiraa khoomei of the murmuring depths of the electronic music the solid pillar of air of the trumpet once again raises its golden, shiny vibrancy, streaming like the prayer streamers of Tibetan mountain passes, eventually taking on the color of the sun; the sound becoming one with the sunlight across these snowy fields and these old monasteries; the electronics providing the reflections out of innumerable snow crystals.
It feels like the invigorating relief of a mother’s caring hand, wiping the sweat off of your forehead, as your head rests heavy on the pillow of your sickbed in your childhood.
The icicles of trumpet-shine cut up the rippling sunlight of the electronics in wobbling fields of vision, and the little ones of sagas and tales once again whisk by in peripheral parts of perception, in shadowy glimpses in the corner of one’s eye…
Everything is transparent, and existence lies raw and unaltered before your eyes.
The angels of creation let their good will sweep in trumpeting electronics across the expanse…
Seeds of eternity are awoken.

Majella Stockhausen performing "Klavierstück XIII" 1981
(Photo: Volker Müller)

The second work on the Edition Volume 33 is “Klavierstück XIII”, also entitled “Luzifers Traum als Klaviersolo” (“Lucifer’s Dream as piano solo”) from “Saturday from Light”. It is actually a piano version of Scene I of Act I of the opera, which originally is scored for bass voice and piano. In Stockhausen’s instructions he says that “Klavierstück XIII” should be played like a magic spook!
This is a very original piano piece indeed, involving many unusual properties and manners of playing.

Ellen Corver rehearsing "Klavierstück X"
in Kürten August 2001
(Photo: Ingvar Loco Nordin)

I was lucky to experience performances of two of Stockhausen's “Klavierstücke” at the Stockhausen Courses in Kürten in August of 2001, and also a master class on one of them at the Bürgerhaus in Kürten.
Ellen Corver, the renowned pianist who has recorded a number of Stockhausen’s works for piano – in fact all
the Piano Pieces I – XIV on the Stockhausen Edition Volume 56 – performed “Klavierstück X” in Kürten on 8th August 2001, and “Klavierstück XIII” on 10th August - with all the mastery she is capable of. She also held a master class practicing “Klavierstück X” at the Kürten Bürgerhaus with the German pianist Frank Gutschmidt (1971), originating in Brandenburg but now residing in Berlin, who himself later gave an eulogized performance of the piece for the attendants of the Courses and visitors from the general public.

Bryan Wolf & Stockhausen getting the piano in order
for Frank Gutschmidt's performance of
"Klavierstück X" in Kürten August 2001
(Photo: Ingvar Loco Nordin)

This performance rendered Frank Gutschmidt one of the prizes that Stockhausen awarded the best performances of the participants’ concerts.

Stockhausen presenting Frank Gutschmidt with his
award for the performance of "Klavierstück X"
in Kürten August 2001
(Photo: Ingvar Loco Nordin)

However, this recording of “Klavierstück XIII” on the Edition Volume 33 features Stockhausen’s daughter Majella Stockhausen, to whom Karlheinz Stockhausen also has dedicated the piece. I know that Stockhausen thinks very highly of Majella Stockhausen’s mastery of “Klavierstück XIII”, which of course is why her interpretation is the one that was chosen for the CD.

Stockhausen provides amplification specifications for when the piece is to be played in larger halls, stating that two or more microphones should be placed above the strings, and preferably mounted on small stands inside the piano case, or perhaps affixed to the inside of the lid.
Another microphone should be mounted to the right of the pianist, with an extension placing the microphone itself in front of the pianist’s mouth. This microphone is the recipient of the extra-pianistic exercises of the score, determined as “flüstern” [voiceless whispering], “stimmlos rufen, scharf, plosiv” [voiceless calling, sharp, plosive], “Stimm-Geräusch” [vocal noise], “stimmhaft flüstern” [voiced whisper], “pfeifen” [whistle].
In addition to these extraneous sounds of human bodily origin, Stockhausen also specifies non-human extraneous sounds, such as bells. Two bundles of Indian bells are hung from brackets mounted on the left and right edges of the piano frame, each bundle containing about 20 bells. In addition a felt onto which about 24 Indian bells have been loosely sewn is placed inside the piano case, to the right, which the pianist is to strike with the palm of the hand.
A bone mallet is prescribed for beats and glissandi on the piano strings.
The most spectacular extraneous ingredient of “
Klavierstück XIII” may well be the utilization of rockets!
Stockhausen says:

From bar 349 – 355, five rockets must be launched by the pianist. The rockets should fly from the piano through the air above the piano lid in various trajectories, landing – optionally with parachutes – at various locations on the stage.
Toy rockets or self-made rockets may be used. If the rockets and launching stands are small enough, they may be placed next to each other on a high table at the left, next to the keyboard, reaching to where the piano lid begins, so that the right hand can trigger the launch levers.
Since propulsion rockets are inflammable, it is best to build mechanical launching equipment, for example rubber catapults. With catapults made by combining several rubber bands, the speed and distance of flight can be varied by using different numbers of rubber bands

A striking, quite expressive sight is the cluster glissandi playing, especially the first time you see it. To protect the hands, the performer is wearing cotton gloves (Stockhausen suggests wearing coffin-bearers gloves!) with the fingers cut off.
The first time I actually saw this – at Ellen Corver’s master class with Frank Gutschmidt (gloves are worn for “
Klavierstück X” too) – I jokingly, in my ignorance… – asked if Frank had caught some of Glenn Gould’s fear of catching a cold or getting arthritis, but Ellen Corver explained the circumstances to me, and then I saw for myself the rough playing which requires these measures! Being a racing biker myself (at my exaggerated age just for exercise!) I noticed that the gloves that Corver and Gutschmidt wore resembled bikers’ gloves, but I suppose the leather of the biker gloves make them too stiff and rigid for any pianistic use (?)

Majella Stockhausen playing "Klavierstück XIII" in
a staging of "Saturday from Light"
at La Scala, Milan 1984
(Photo: Archivio Fotografico, Teatro alla Scala)

Klavierstück XIII” is, like most of Stockhausen’s work, also a theatrical piece, which is obvious right from the start, when – on the CD – you can hear Majella Stockhausen’s steps up to the piano. This, of course, is even more so, when - as in the case of “Klavierstück XIII” – the music is a part of an opera; “Saturday from Light”.

It might be useful and interesting to look at what the booklet of “Saturday from Light” says about the first scene of Act I:

- Lucifer dreams 'Klavierstück XIII', a composition in 5 time-layers of increasing

compression of figures
of human music,
extensions and pauses
to nullify time

He conjures the elements










Saturday from Light!

Near the end “enchanted, he listens to a simple melody, wards it off – enjoys it – again wards it off – allows himself to come under its spell – slowly dies an apparent death.” -

Since a concert version of “Klavierstück XIII” is determined by Stockhausen, it is possible to listen to it as absolute music too, but knowledge of the opera may explain some things to the listener.

The whispering counting in German catches your attention, like were it a magic formula of sorts – and perhaps it is?
All the extraneous sounds gives the impression of a whole crowd of creatures closing a circle around the piano, around the music, with the pianist performing a sought-after magic rite for the visitors, whose gleaming eyes you can almost see in the darkness around the illuminated piano.

The whistles bob up and down like the lanterns of a small vessel out at sea; now you see it, now you don’t.

Stockhausen in Weimar October 1992
(Photo: Kathinka Pasveer)

The counting and the other vocal incidents give an impression of an absent-minded child, actually totally absorbed by her play, by her fantasy with bucket and sand and small pebbles, constructing the little psychodrama of a child – and the world revolves around it! All beings watch! – and the child plays…
And isn’t this creative playing to be found at the heart of much of Stockhausen’s oeuvre; this creative force that initially flows unrestrained through the openness of the spirit of a child?