Karlheinz Stockhausen by Peter Kirn, of Create Digital Music: "A massive pioneer in thought about composition and electronic music in particular, an inspiration to rock and pop figures as well as academics, and sometimes a lightning rod for controversy, Karlheinz Stockhausen died this week.
Stockhausen’s thinking about sound in all his work has had a deep impact on electronic music, particularly in his influential early works for tape and, by the 1960s, live electronics mixed with instruments. And, of course, aside from earning bonus points for showing up on the Sgt. Pepper album cover (the Beatles were big fans), you have to admire a composer who puts a string quartet in helicopters in order to combine the sound of the machinery with choreographed flybys and live video feeds. If that doesn’t make him a hero of ours, nothing will.
Stockhausen also represents the generation of experimental art that was able to escape the grip of the Nazis — an experience that claimed his mother as a victim and haunted his life. He’s part of the legacy of experimentation that Hitler once tried to silence.
I expect that Stockhausen’s death will mean his quote following September 11 will be trotted out again. Press seized upon the phrase “greatest work of art” to describe those events; Stockhausen for his part says he called them Lucifer’s greatest work of art — an enormous difference, coming from someone who survived Nazi Germany. In the years that have past since that quote, however, I personally feel, as a New Yorker there at the time, a growing sense of a day that transformed how many of us feel about art making.
But I’ll stick with Stockhausen’s one fantasy: dreams of flying. And I hope more people compose for helicopter."
SptBlog's favorite piece of Stockhausen - though long lost - remains Song of the Youths / Kontakte, on Deutsche Grammaphon. Don't suppose you'd have a copy of it to loan me, would you?