RIP Karlheinz Stockhausen

We have lost another of our musical heroes this year:

German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen has died at the age of 79.

Best known for his avant-garde electronic work, Stockhausen was an experimental musician who utilised tape recorders and mathematics to create innovative, ground-breaking pieces.

His Electronic Study, 1953, was the first musical piece composed from pure sine wave sounds.

Electronic Study II, produced a year later, was the first work of electronic music to be notated and published.

But the composer rejected the idea that he was making the music of the future, writing in 1966: “What is modern today will be tradition tomorrow.” [BBC]

In addition to being a strong influence on my own music, Stockhausen worked his way into my regular rotation of music. I can recall many Sunday mornings in Berkeley with coffee, fresh bagels, the New York Times and Stockhausen's Kontakte. This was a groundbreaking work of electronic music, but it was also one that I enjoyed just listening to, the way others might enjoy classical piano music on a weekend. And so, at least for me, Stockhausen's music did indeed pass into “tradition.”

You can sample some of Stockhausen's music here – I recall NPR using Kontakte in their obituary piece as well.

Here is a lecture on “sound” from YouTube:

3 thoughts on “RIP Karlheinz Stockhausen

  1. I saw you are packing and Luna seems to be taking it well. It's nice that she got her own gifts; it will help her with the changes. But she's going to do fine.

    My parents took us to all sorts of concerts in the sixties (mostly piano recitals) and I am sure I heard Stockhausen. And Cage. At that age, I didn't understand or like the new music. I am appreciating it historically and sometimes musically now. It's a shame Stockhausen has died. I never kept up with his music at all, so I appreciate the links.

  2. It still amazes me how some electronic music, such as yours and Stockhausen's, have been around since the '50s, and still considered to be 'new'.

    Thanks for the links.

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