Stockhausen Edition no. 40
[Part 2/5 of the review]

Stockhausen between century and millennium
(Photo: Stefan Müller)

The following question, from another participant of the same post-seminar discussion of the 7th day of the Courses, on 2nd August 2002, also dealt with this aspect of motions in space in Stockhausen’s compositions, so I supply that section too:

This is a question about movements and acoustics also. I’ve been listening in Suzee Stephen’s class to many fine renditions of works, combining movements and playing, and it makes sense there, in normal acoustic surroundings, but when a performer turns away from you, you can hear it. When a performer turns quickly, when he or she points the instrument against you or away from you, it’s obvious that you can hear it, so there is no question that movement is a parameter in the sound, but when you connect a microphone to the [instrument] or the performer, something changes, doesn’t it?
Would it be interesting for you to let also the movements become a parameter in the amplified sound? I’m thinking about some automatic device.

Stockhausen at the Stockhausen Courses
in Kürten 2002
(Photo: Ingvar Loco Nordin)

Stockhausen enthusiastically replied:

That’s what I’m looking for! I thought this morning: My God, I don’t know now where she is going to move. If I had just a camera watching her; a camera that could, electronically, drive the stereo potentiometer, I would be happy!

This very initiated and well-versed participant continued:

When you hear someone, for instance Kathinka in AVE, when she goes behind those partitions [on the stage in Sülztalhalle in Kürten], I know that perhaps 10% of what I hear is the acoustic sound, when I sit up front. The other 90% is the amplified sound. I was slightly disappointed that I couldn’t really hear the difference when she went behind the partitions.

Stockhausen replied:

The speakers are there, above [Stockhausen pointing around the hall], and there, and above, and in the back the same, but once you move in the back of the speakers, it’s gone, finished! What one needs is another group of speakers behind the farthest position of the performer. Then it’s fine. Then you can always amplify where a person is, but I don’t have it.

The participant added on to his questions:

I was thinking also in terms of what you told us about trans-realism [a quality Stockhausen explained at length in connection with the sound scenes of DER KINDERFÄNGER, which was the subject of his seminar series of the Courses of 2002]. Perhaps, if such a device could be constructed, then that could give you some other possibilities.

Stockhausen, again very enthusiastic:

Yes yes yes yes! I would be pleased for every invention or every technical device, which make the space perception more real, more interesting, more precise; yes! We are just at the beginning. I’m very sorry! I’m a lone wolf in this thing!

Finally, from this very interesting post-seminar discussion, I also submit the following related question, raised by another of the participants of the Stockhausen Courses of 2002, which also fittingly leads right back into TUESDAY from LIGHT:

I think you once formulated that one should attach loudspeakers to the performers. What about this idea?

Stockhausen gave a straight answer, which may be very interesting to read in comparison to the plans Stockhausen expressed for DIENSTAG in his talk with Rudolf Frisius in 1990, twelve years earlier, when he was planning this opera, quoted earlier in this text:

Stockhausen at the Stockhausen Courses
in Kürten 2002
(Photo: Ingvar Loco Nordin)

I have done that! In DIENSTAG aus LICHT; INVASIONERSTE INVASION, ZWEITE INVASION, DRITTE INVASION; FIRST, SECOND and THIRD INVASION. There are 12 performers; 3 [of them are] trumpeters, and the trumpeters have transmitters, so I have to follow them very carefully with potentiometers in the space.

There is an octophonic set-up of speakers. [Eight groups of loudspeakers arranged in a cube, allowing for all kinds of movements of sound; even vertical and diagonal - thus the name OCTOPHONY for the electronic music of Act II of TUESDAY from LIGHT].
There are 3 trombone players. They have the same
[kind of] transmitters, but fortunately, the real sound is always louder than the sound, which is amplified in the space.

There are also 2 percussion players. They have invented percussion instruments, fantasy percussion instruments that they carry on their bodies, and each one has speakers attached to his body, and there are also 2 synthesizer players. They have these rock synthesizer instruments of a plastic material, and they play them, but what comes out of it is totally different, because they carry, on their backs, computers and samplers. When they attack with these portable synthesizers, which are connected to the backpack of each synthesizer player when they run through the space, they have loudspeakers on their shoulders; and it’s rather powerful!

The synthesizer players have loudspeakers on their shoulders and on their backs, but the percussion players have also a loudspeaker on the breast. My son Simon, who is a very tall boy, had really big speakers, and when he would play something and turn to the people, my God, he was really shooting!

Then they run according to a very precise plan of 1st INVASION, which is primarily from the left to the right, in an auditorium, but always at different angles, and there is a defending group. In the 1st INVASION it is the trombones and the synthesizer and the percussionist of the Lucifer group, and there are the attackers, the Michael players; 3 trumpets, one percussionist and one synthesizer player, and so, one by one, during this 1st INVASION, which lasts about eight or nine minutes, they move through the space […]. Look at the photographs in the score from the Leipzig performance. Then they disappear, back, and then comes the electronic music by itself, [where after] Lucifer too is attacking the Michael musicians [in the 2nd INVASION] to this side [Stockhausen pointing to one side], one by one, and then comes the 3rd INVASION.

Later on they storm into the auditorium […] from the back, in different passages through the middle of the audience. There were three [passages] with plexiglass and lamps underneath [at the Leipzig staging], so it was very, very beautiful. Then finally they invade the stage and attack the Michaelists, as I say, who defend the wall between this reality and the Beyond. The whole theme of the INVASION is that Lucifer wants to destroy the wall between the Here and the Beyond. Finally, with a lot of Michaelists killed, the Luciferis succeed. I’ve spoken about this here in the seminar.
So there is space movement, composed very thoroughly – with portable speakers!

Let’s go into the listening experience itself, as I perceive it, though this perceptual, associative and emotional/aesthetic experience always is very personal and varies much from listener to listener, reflecting, naturally, shades and nuances out of the listener’s life (lives…).


WELCOME is the brief beginning part of DIENSTAGS-GRUSS and DIENSTAG. Stockhausen points out that it can be played separately as a kind of fanfare.

It starts in full might, the trombones sounding like they’re forcing the walls of Jericho to crumple, while the trumpets play in fast thrusts, feverishly like tilted light hitting an expanse of hammered copper – in this most enthralling beginning of something ominous which at the same time feels unavoidable and perhaps even good, like a cure you – humanity, the beings of the universe – have to take to be able to go on into the hypothetical pastures of future. This reveille is sounding for one and all. The might of it sweeps all doubts aside, like a spring storm the dried leaves of yesteryear.


(Photo: Stefan Müller)

PEACE GREETING follows immediately on WELCOME, constituting the continuation and conclusion of TUESDAY GREETING.

This is the set-up and the texts that are sung:


We deny
a God
and a Beyond
Stop fighting!
stand by us
stand by us
help us
Need it be?!
Be peaceful, please!
is right
the fight
Right, or not:
get along with each other!
All of you who fight
for your religion
will die away.
whatever you want,
whatever you represent,
Children, women, men,
hear me:
give up the war,
the strife about God and worlds!
Make peace!
Let everyone listen,
let everyone listen,
to his inner,
wait and see if you arise after death
Here on Earth
may life be
holy holy holy
and each human heart.
. Color
May he who has God
and also he who denies God
love his neighbour
and his neighbour's neighbour
neigh-hei-bour's neigh-bour
That gives peace, freedom.
We want peace, freedom
We want peace,
We want peace,
(Anyway, all the best for

The two ensembles – The Lucifer Ensemble and the Michael Ensemble – musically battle each other, while Eve tries to settle their differences. In this feat she appears at different locations on stage as a solo soprano, delivering her message of peace.

With gliding, soaring timbres out of voices and instruments
the PEACE GREETING commences, like trembling light filling the horizon with intensity, the air vibrating with a strange, glowing force from afar.
Vocal peculiarities are injected into the wall of sound like mystical morphemes of an undecipherable language, as layer upon layer of different shades of sound permeate the space, in an oceanic manner, as a swell from distant storms, reaching us in a bulging residue of distant might.
Small dots of whispers prickle the space in a three-dimensional way, like spots of ink on a plexiglass canopy, while wave upon wave of voices reach the shore of hearing.
The first appearance of Eve is clear and bright like striking a match, her light cutting through the wall of sound like life itself through the valley of the shadow of death.
At this stage the vocals take on almost sound-poetic properties, in that you only can hear fragments of what is linguistically conveyed, which makes you instead dwell deep inside the sounding qualities of the voices – the clear timbres and the extraneous noises of whispers etcetera – much the same way you can fall into a complete moment of absentmindedly focused attention in front of an abstract painting.

Stockhausen’s command of choral music once again proves its brilliance, in diamond properties of sound, crystalline essences of the collected voices in absolute, bitter-sweet beauty, in an atmosphere of my own sudden childhood recollections, which leave me lost in the sounds of mosquitoes in the meditative shade of the ice mound in the forest behind the house of my earliest years, kept under thick layers of sawdust for the ice-cupboard that we had before the introduction of refrigerators, the ice being sawed up on the lakes in winters of my first years in this body, in 1952 or 1953… and I sat by that ice-mound – that winter artifact - in the forest stillness in the July focus of my third summer, chewing some sour-sweet wood sorrel (Oxalis acetosella), the sensations of the taste of the wood sorrel leaves and the sound of the hovering mosquito dance in my three-year body in the chilly presence of the ice-mound lifting my perception into an ageless, timeless meditation that I recognize again in this Stockhausen music, so many years later, in my 54-year body…

Oxalis acetosella

The sound of the trumpets shine like gold in sunlight as the darker forces praise their Lucifer, and the opponents deliver their messages in words that are hiding inside the summation of the sounds, welling forth like essence of humanity through time and history – and Eve stands tall, in her second appearance, sowing a seed of doubt with her rhetoric question; Need it be?!
The waves of music rolls on relentlessly, brilliance and starshine about it; the ever-fight of good and evil resounding in choirs, in instruments – and inside the whirling gestures, the evil in good, the good in evil, the complexity of the obvious – and Eve’s voice rises a third time: Right or not: get along with each other… and in my vision I see a President of an arch-western super power and a fallen dictator of Euphrates and Tigris walk hand in hand in the blinding light of God’s face, little children playing their human games on planet Earth… and they disappear into the Light, consumed by the Light… and Eve returns her fourth time in splendor and beauty, with a long solo appearance, reasoning with the forces of evil and good, saying: […] give up the war, the strife about God and worlds! Make peace.

to part 3 of the review