Stockhausen Edition no. 44
(Music for Trombone and Euphonium)

Karlheinz StockhausenMusik für Posaune und Euphonium (Music for Trombone and Euphonium): IN FREUNDSCHAFT (1977 / 82) [16:13] for trombone – SIGNALE zur INVASION (1992) [38:28] for trombone, electronic music and sound projectionist – KINNTANZ (1983 / 89) [9:50] for euphonium, percussionist, synthesizer player and sound projectionist

Stockhausen 44. Duration: 66:58


Michael Svoboda [trombone]

Stockhausen’s birthday gift composition for Suzanne Stephens - IN FREUNDSCHAFT - has been played by a number of soloists over the years, i.e., on different kinds of solo instruments. The original score was for clarinet. As often is the case with Stockhausen’s compositions, this one is to be played from memory, and typically, the score prescribes certain motions on stage. At the time of the release of this CD, IN FREUNDSCHAFT had been performed in versions for flute, recorder, oboe, bassoon, basset-horn or bass clarinet, violin, violoncello or double bass, saxophone, horn and trombone.

For convenience I insert my text on
IN FREUNDSCHAFT from Volume 32 of The Stockhausen Edition; the 3-CD set featuring Suzanne Stephens:

Stockhausen works with three layers in IN FREUNDSCHAFT. He calls his method here “horizontal polyphony”, and indicates that it requires “a special art of listening”. This is surely true, but you can also dip into the flow and enjoy without any special preparations. Any set of sensitive ears hooked up to a sensibly sensible brain and mind will open up the world of IN FREUNDSCHAFT to the splendor of Stephens’ garlands of spiraling basset-horn tones, in waves and vibrations of compressions from the shifting pillar of air inside her instrument.

The “special art of listening” that you can practice and train, leads to a deepened and furthered act of hearing, though, and is strongly recommended to those who care very much for music and their perception of it - and I suppose you wouldn’t read this if you weren’t one of those! It is rewarding on many levels. As always in Stockhausen’s music, there are many different levels of possible listening, and like the characters in Herman Hesse’s novels you can develop a deeper understanding by evolving through level after level. This quality of Stockhausen’s music, which always inspires to deeper study and more attentive listening, separates it from all other compositional acts that I have come across, and makes his music so much more meaningful, with implications that go well beyond any purely musical border lines that restrain most other composers, making Stockhausen’s music a universal music, opening up unknown worlds and connecting them in intricate, transparent patterns to our immediate local intellectual, emotional and spiritual neighborhood, in experiences wherein the distant and unknown feels familiar, and the familiar and well-known, on the other hand, strange and wonderful. His music is always, in a way, an educative event; a spiritual refining act. This quality immerses his compositional work, his rehearsals with the musicians - and the minds of those who listen!

The beginning of
IN FREUNDSCHAFT exposes the formula for the whole work. The formula has five “limbs”, separated by pauses.

A trill is developed in the middle register by a gradual accelerando on the last interval of the fifth limb; the minor second. This trill is entrusted the modus operandi of the whole composition.
The Formel – the formula – enters in three layers, and the circumstance that demands a special art of listening mentioned above is at hand. An alternation between the limbs with a tranquil, soft and high layer, and the limbs with a fast, loud and low layer takes place around the trill segments residing in a middle layer. All pitches relate to this middle layer.

A trained ear, combined with a focused attention, will discover the relations of the layers. The high and low layers are indeed reflections of each other in time and space. A score at hand is very helpful to determine this at the first run-throughs. Stockhausen describes in the CD booklet how the layers “move chromatically towards each other in seven stages, exchanging limbs and uniting to form a continuous melody in the same register.” At two points the musician breaks out in “enthusiastic cadenzas.” Stockhausen also says that “in some places the tempo is slowed down so much, or a pitch constellation repeated so fast, that it becomes possible to perceive the finest details of the formula, and the beauty of the sound causes one to forget the development for a moment.”
Then Stockhausen summarizes the piece in this sentence: “Clear differentiation, relation to a common and constant center, exchange, approaching one another, movement of lively ascending elements towards the end of the formula:

A wind instrument like the basset-horn or the clarinet is very closely connected to the body of the performer, of the human being. It works simply as an extension of the person and the personality, and the spirit of the person playing. It is the breath of the player that pours into the instrument, and therefore the active force of that human being, her spirit, is especially apparent, as is also the case with vocal music, with singing. There is an immediacy here, very tender, almost vulnerable, always close-up.

The last paragraphs of course suit Michael Svoboda’s version for trombone well too.

Stockhausen with South African course attendant,
musicologist Sean Adams, August 2004
(Photo: Ingvar Loco Nordin)

The very start comes across in a thoughtful mood, as if from someone speaking silently to himself, involuntarily emitting audibilities into the air around him. Gradually the player becomes more aware of his situation, while also taking responsibility for the sounds, which become more conscious, slowly sliding from a purely unconscious automated emission into an artistically shaped expression, albeit still in a hue of the absentminded concentration of a will at hypnotic rest and effortlessness – making the music all the more beautiful, natural, unaffected by watchful side glances and social residue – like the evolution inside the mind of a child as he slowly becomes aware of the I and the Thou.

From a state of gazing into himself, he gradually swings his attention around, raising his eyelids, facing all that light from the sinister world outside…

He is very apprehensive at first, but as he tries out the laws of nature in the material universe he adopts a positive cosmology, making ample use of the angulations of the trigonometry of the apparent three dimensions, playing tricks on the opposing forces of gravity and centrifugality, swinging about in his trombony, fooling both!

Stockhausen awarding Rumi Sota-Klemm
with one of the performance prizes
at the Stockhausen Courses 2004
(Photo: Ingvar Loco Nordin)

Svoboda the trombonist is like a caterpillar turning into a beautiful butterfly, drying his wings in the starlight, taking off in a glistening shower of wing-span reflections; a surreal psychedelic catharsis.

The playfulness of the score manifests itself brilliantly in Michael Svoboda’s execution, painting the environment in gold and ochre and an almost pre-historic growth of fern. It is a place for the mind to mimic body, a playground for the senses as such, a stage for Plato’s ideas to – for once – feel what it is to be material, to be, as a fact – matter!

It is a joyous feeling to sense the atomic jitter under the vague laws of quantum mechanics, in these sweeping, penetrating and softly soaring trombone figures out of Stockhausen’s delicate score.
IN FREUNDSCHAFT! Spirit and Matter in a merciful dance of Twins – a reconciliation of the I and the Thou, of This and That, of Here and Now in a humorous mirror-play with the false perceptions of Duality!

SIGNALE zur INVASION (SIGNALS to INVASION) for trombone, electronic music and sound projectionist (1992) [38:28]

Michael Svoboda [trombone] – Karlheinz Stockhausen [sound projection]

Stockhausen explains in the booklet that this piece is a musical working out of all the signals from INVASION – EXPLOSION of TUESDAY from LIGHT that are played by a Michael-troop consisting of a tenor, 3 trumpeters, a percussionist and a synthesizer player, and a Lucifer-troop consisting of one bass, 3 trombonists, a percussionist and a synthesizer player – in succession and simultaneously.

The electronic music is Stockhausen’s

In my text on
TUESDAY from LIGHT, I wrote, in connection with INVASION – EXPLOSION:

INVASION – EXPLOSION mit ABSCHIED [INVASION – EXPLOSION WITH FAREWELL], displays more fierce and serious battles taking place between the good and the evil (though Stockhausen is sure to always give the benefit of the doubt, in a Yin and Yang perspective on existence). The electronic music (also released in its pure form on CD 41 as OKTOPHONIE) envisions the turmoil of the battle, sounds coming from all directions, not only left – right and front – back, but also up – down [in an octophonic manner].

A mountainside is revealed on stage, blocking off the combatants. The Lucifer troops attack the obstacle, finding that it really is a metal wall. In the engaged and hard battle the metal wall is crumpling, revealing a solid crystal wall beneath it. This is the wall between this world and the Beyond.

The actions on stage are highly visual and choreographically exciting. The Michael fighters play trumpets, and wear black and blue. They have a commander who is a solo tenor. The Lucifer combatants play trombones, and they wear black and red. Their commander is a bass singer. The two opposing forces also have a percussionist and a synthesizer player, carrying amps and loudspeakers, looking like grotesque practitioners of American football or bopping moon walkers, the equipment making them broad shouldered and mighty.

During a cease-fire a trumpeter lies wounded, resting his head in the lap of a nurse. The trumpeter turns out to be Michael; the nurse is Eve. Michael plays
PIETÀ, a flugelhorn solo, accompanied by Eve.

Marco Blaauw & Barbara Hannigan performing PIETÀ
at The Stockhausen Courses 2004
(Photo: Ingvar Loco Nordin)

As the battle again commences after the mourning peace of PIETÀ, the crystal wall that is blocking off the Beyond is falling apart, disintegrating in loud detonations.

As the opera moves towards its conclusion an alien world of glass is revealed. It is
THE BEYOND. A conveyor belt carries war toys, which are scraped off irregularly by the singers, who utilize croupier rakes to achieve this.
In the end a synthesizer player elegantly moves in, distracting the participants of war games with his music. He is Synthi-Fou. The combatants, spellbound by Synthi-Fou’s magic music, start to sing with his synthesizer tones, dancing into a happy state. At the bow of Synthi-Fou, the curtain is drawn on

OKTOPHONIE is gradually faded in, rising like a black mask with numerous shining diamonds attached to it out of a dark forest pond, breaking the surface of the water that symbolizes the silence from which all sounds arise.

Then, suddenly… a signal! It is the trombone that announces its presence, the sound of a trombone that materializes in the physical world, stirring the air around it in characteristic trombone compressions, spreading around it in rapidly expanding spheres of sound.

The trombone talks and gestures, describing a trombone situation on the backdrop of the ever-present
OKTOPHONIE; blackness and diamonds and cool forest pond water – like an actor on stage, in front of the built-up scenes behind him.

Stockhausen rehearsing with Antonio Perez-Abellán
at the White House in Kürten, July 2004
(Photo: Ingvar Loco Nordin)

The trombone can be a very expressive and… talkative instrument, and Stockhausen has indeed utilized these instrumental properties in this work. You imagine you almost hear the words of the extreme expressiveness of Michael Svoboda’s playing. It’s intensely conversational, or, perhaps better; monologic!
OKTOPHONIE represents or constitutes a milieu, an atmosphere, and the Svobodic trombone explains all the intricate and complex straits of his situation; sometimes playfully, sometimes humorously, sometimes in a fury, working himself up into a rage, only to fizzle out in high altitude conversion layers, observing the dealings of carbon-based beings down in the surface of the planet; businessmen and housewives crawling about like cock-roaches in the dirt.

Stockhausen with Australian course attendant,
clarinetist Karen Heath, August 2004
(Photo: Ingvar Loco Nordin)

OKTOPHONIE is well-known, much heard – but there are still new aspects of it revealed each time you listen; this time too, when it moves to the fore in between the trombonistic exposures. This diamond-strewn black mask of audio all but cancels you out with its piercing forcefulness, its intricate, multi-timbred tsunami gaze out of hidden origins below the horizon of events, from the black hole depths of crystalline beauty beyond the illusions of life and death.

KINNTANZ (CHIN-DANCE) for euphonium, percussionist, a synthesizer player and sound projectionist (1983/89) [9:50]

Michael Svoboda [euphonium] – Andreas Boettger [percussion] – Simon Stockhausen [synthesizer] – Karlheinz Stockhausen [sound projection

KINNTANZ originates in SATURDAY from LIGHT, where it constitutes the last part of LUCIFER’s DANCE.

Stockhausen's rehearsal and archive building
in Kürten, August 2004 (The long, white house)
(Photo: Ingvar Loco Nordin)

In the opera 10 groups of instruments are arranged in the shape of a giant human face. The chin of that face consists of 2 percussionists, 4 euphoniums, 2 tenor horns (or baritones), 2 alto trombones and 4 tubas.

The version on this CD is a trio version that Stockhausen composed in 1989.

I wrote the following about the entire
LUCIFER’s DANCE in my text on SATURDAY from LIGHT:

The third scene is LUCIFER's DANCE for bass voice, piccolo trumpet, piccolo flute / stilt dancer, ballet (or mimes) / wind orchestra (symphonic band). It’s a long scene, which, like KATHINKAS GESANG (the second scene) occupies one CD by itself.

At the end of
Scene 1 of SATURDAY from LIGHTLUCIFER's DREAM or PIANO PIECE XIIILucifer dies… but he is not dead, because there is no death in that sense. After the 2nd SceneKATHINKA’s CHANT as LUCIFER’s REQUIEM – he rises and moves through the hall as a stilt walker and as the mighty dark-veiled spirit that he is, full of temptation and exquisite splendor.

At the back wall of the stage a curtain with a large Boticelli drawing of Lucifer is displayed, and a wind orchestra with percussion is placed in tiers, roughly taking on the stylized shape or outline of a human face - each part of the face consisting of an instrumental group - and Lucifer utilizes this face in his dance, moving from part to part of the face, in incredibly original chiselings from the Stockhausen quarry of musical ideas. The different parts of the face performs their own Lucifer dances, sometimes opposing each other, eyebrow against eyebrow, eye against eye, in an insane quest for independence.

The face dances these 10 soloist dances, each with its individual metre and period:

1. Left-Eyebrow Dance
2. Right-Eyebrow Dance
3. Left-Eye Dance
4. Right-Eye Dance
5. Left-Cheek Dance
6. Right-Cheek Dance
7. Nostril Dance
8. Upper-Lip Dance
9. Tip-of-the-Tongue Dance
10. Chin Dance

Between these dances 9 tutti dances occur, wherein the groups dance increasingly in opposition of each other.

Lucifer raises his voice in a warning:

If you, Man, have never learned from LUCIFER
how the spirit of contradiction and independence
distort the expression of the face,
how brow can dance versus brow,
- eye versus eye,
cheek versus cheek,
nose versus cheek,
lip versus nose,
tongue versus lip
and chin versus tongue –
you cannot turn your countenance in harmony
towards the LIGHT.

At this stage Michael appears in SATURDAY. His ideal is harmony and an orderly playing together; quite the opposite of Lucifer’s quirky, grimacing face dances.

Michael plays his piccolo trumpet in golden garlands of beauty, putting up the fight against the grimacing, incoherent face of Lucifer. Michael is, however (this IS Lucifer’s day!) driven off the property by Lucifer’s seven strokes of the tam tam, which momentarily causes the face to weep a TEAR DANCE. The black cat all of a sudden appears again, right on the tip of the tongue of the orchestral face, playing her TIP-OF-THE-TONGUE DANCE, making it seem as if the face was protruding its tongue in an indecent mockery of Michael – and the audience! The cat has brought a miniscule demon with her, which unfolds fourteen letters of black ribbon, forming the words “Salve Satanelli!”, which may be interpreted as “Greetings, Satan’s children!”

At this Lucifer says:

If you have tested out your tenfold face
in all the dissonances and rhythms of grimaces,
it will fall apart, empty and hollowed out,
before it can rise again, invisible to human eyes,
on Sunday.

Then quite abruptly the course of events take an unexpected turn, as one brass player after the other gets up and leaves his place, referring to the fact that the time agreed on in the contract has been fulfilled. The manager of the theater is summoned, and the conductor is angry. Then LUCIFER's DANCE ends in a chaotic event, leading to complete disintegration of the scene.
This means that
LUCIFER's DANCE actually is cut short by the strike in its opera staging, but Stockhausen prescribes that the piece should be played right through to the end in a concert performance.

In this recording you first here the complete scene played through, and then – after a pause – the sounds of the strike, recorded at the world premier of SAMSTAG aus LICHT in Milan in 1984. At that part you hear the voices of Stockhausen, the conductor H. Robert Reynolds and a Milanese actor playing the part of the general director of La Scala – and it’s very amusing!

A repetitious, slightly “off” and prying quarry sequence opens for Lucifer’s beginning statement, darkly and ominously expressed by the bass singer Matthias Hölle.

The pure density and the trembling ring of the web of sounds transport me eastward, into swaying, rattling bamboo grooves where the smoke of many fires bring tears to your eyes.
The music, though maintaining an extended ring and shimmering timbre, is made up of small, intense events, which keep coming back, in the larger view slowly turning like a galaxy of tones, sparkling…
The tingling of the percussion and the insistent intensity of the trembling pillars of compressed air of the wind instruments build a wondrous web; a tonal tapestry of beauty and excitement! It feels like standing in a snow flurry, looking through a magnifying glass, seeing all the sharp edges and even surfaces of each snow crystal, tumbling down like a Messerschmidt or a Sopwith Camel of old European wars. The metallics of the sound could well be the amplified impacts of snow crystals falling on your eyes…
There is no room here for hazy thoughts or mellow, undecided minds.

The piccolo trumpet cadenza appears in the magnificent mastery of Markus Stockhausen, and I’m happy to have experienced his live performance of
OBERLIPPENTANZ (“Upper-Lip Dance”) at the Stockhausen Courses in Kürten on 10th August 2001, where he performed it with Antonio Pérez Abellán [synthesizer], Andreas Boettger [percussion] and Almut Lustig [percussion]. The same night Andreas Boettger [percussion] and Antonio Pérez Abellán [synthesizer] also performed Stockhausen’s duo reworking of NASENFLÜGELTANZ (“Nostril Dance”).

Stockhausen in Donaueschingen at the premier
of Licht-Bilder, October 2004
(Photo: Ingvar Loco Nordin)

A metallic percussion opens the CHIN DANCE, as the synthesizer paints in earth colors, thickly applied, in heavy strokes smeared across the sounding canvas, across the grainy structure of silence.

The growling euphonium circles the percussion like a wolf, head down, yellow teeth flashing, daring an approach, yet always backing off; the percussion tinkling its fairytale silver in sharp, scarring tones of sonic incantation, eyes lighting up like the tips of cigarettes on the outskirts of euphonium motions in the dark.

The euphonium digs deep down into the lower chakras and comes up with some blistering gut feelings, blurting out like a horse gone weary in his box. The percussion tinkles and twinkles like winter stars above the stable, the jagged spruce horizon barely sensed across the open breaths of the fields – while the synthesizer provides an anatomy of restlessness around this burning feeling of existence…

Glass dish by Kerstin Dreger
at Vaxjo University, Sweden, April 2005
(Photo: Ingvar Loco Nordin)