Sunday, December 09, 2007

I'm unable to follow Stockhausen's intellectual and, in particular, spiritual development

Renewable Music Saturday, December 08, 2007 A Legacy
The assessment of a composer's legacy is always a function of time, a judgment speaking more of the moment than of the achievement itself...
Stockhausen had passionate loyalists and equally passionate former loyalists, and among the latter, the discussion over the point of disaffection was frequent. Personally, I always have the impression that he got lost in Kontakte, a score in which the principle of tight organization and a joy in improvised discovery found themselves in significant and unresolved conflict, and a similar conflict played intself between the score for instrumentalists and that for recorded sounds. Like others, I'm unable to follow Stockhausen's intellectual and, in particular, spiritual development, in which it appears that the same naiveté that surrounded the Kölner catholicism of his use was carried forward in his later engagements with such as Sri Aurobindo or the Urantia Book. (To contrast: John Cage, who for all his interests in spiritual matters and a decided ambiguity about his disciples who chose to confuse him with another J.C., kept a cool head when a famous critic claimed that one of his pieces based upon star charts would last forever, because God created the heaven so that the pieces were, in effect, written by God, responding: No, I wrote the piece and there is no God.)
But taking any composer's mythology or theology serious is probably always going to be a tricky proposition (just think of Mozart's Masonism, Liszt's Catholicism, or the Mormon elements in La Monte Young's work), and with Stockhausen, a bit of anthropological distance is always in order... Posted by Daniel Wolf at 11:13 PM

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