No composer had a greater appetite for revolution than Stockhausen, who was embarking on a quest that would occupy him for more than half a century, and which would take in a whole gamut of constantly re-defined objectives – among them “point music”, “spatial music” and “multi-formula composition”.
‘Stockhausen’s influence has been enormous. He invented a new kind of relationship between music’s components. He has changed our view of musical time and form.’ Pierre Boulez
Something truly radical happened to the European classical music tradition in the years after the Second World War. At a time when the revolutionary principle of 12-tone composition instigated by Schoenberg was beginning to be regarded among young composers as passé, some had witnessed the horrors of war and for them in particular, the need to make a definitive break with the past and the conventions and conflicts which sprang from it was paramount.
Across Europe, composers like the young German Karlheinz Stockhausen, the Romanian-born architect Iannis Xenakis, and the Frenchmen Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry were among those who began to seek out new ways of organising sound. Some looked to science for inspiration. If, to society at large its logic held out the promise of a new civilisation unsullied by such dark forces as nationalism; might it not do the same for the arts?
These composers constructed their music according to differing philosophies, systems, formulae and beliefs. What they had in common was a hunger for new sounds and soundscapes that might celebrate the rejuvenation of civilisation and point to a future where war had no place.
No composer had a greater appetite for revolution than Stockhausen, who was embarking on a quest that would occupy him for more than half a century, and which would take in a whole gamut of constantly re-defined objectives – among them “point music”, “spatial music” and “multi-formula composition”. His early electronic compositions such as the Studies were painstakingly and meticulously constructed using magnetic tape, to be followed over the ensuing decade by the works which ranked among the masterpieces of electronic music, Gesang der Jünglinge (Song of the Youths) and Kontakte (Contacts).
All of these unprecedented early electronic works are included in this 3 CD box set presentation which also incorporates such visionary creations of intellect and sensitivity as Pierre Boulez’ orientally flavoured ‘Le Marteux Sans Maitre’, recorded under the baton of Robert Craft, Xenakis’ brilliant explorations of the dramatic and colouristic properties of concrète sound, ‘Poème électronique’, Edgard Varèse’s extraordinary response to a commission from Le Corbusier for music for the pavilion of the 1958 Brussels World Fair, and Ligeti’s “conversation without words”, ‘Artikulation’, alongside the audacious Cartridge Music, for “amplified small sounds” constructed by John Cage, using phonograph cartridges inserted with feathers, lengths of wire, toothpicks, pipe cleaners, small twigs, wire coils and nails to make audible otherwise indiscernible sounds.
The pioneering work of these composers proved an inspiration for future generations of artists looking to free themselves from the dead weight of convention. Ligeti’s music would be used to memorable dramatic effect by Stanley Kubrick in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Frank Zappa long-championed Varèse. When in 1967 Paul McCartney discovered just how far Stockhausen had already progressed with ‘Gesang der Jünglinge’, he encouraged the Beatles to experiment with techniques – ranging from the use of reversed tapes to the total abandonment of metre and melody – which most notably reached expression on ‘Revolution 9’.
ADVENTURES IN SOUND
CINQ ETUDES DE BRUITS (FIVE STUDIES OF NOISES)
1. ÉTUDE AUX CHEMINS DE FER
2. ÉTUDE AUX TOURNIQUETS
3. ÉTUDE VIOLETTE
4. ÉTUDE NOIRE
5. P A THÉTIQUE
6. STUDIE NR. 1
7. STUDIE NR. 2
8. GESANG DER JÜNGLINGE
9. DIAMORPHOSES 10. CONCRET PH
11. POÈME ÉLECTRONIQUE
12. VOILE D’ORPHÉE (VEIL OF ORPHEUS)
NEW DIRECTIONS IN MUSIC
1. ÉTUDE CONCRÈTE
2. NR. 5 ZEITMASSE (TIME- MEASURES) FOR FIVE WOODWINDS
LE MARTEUX SANS MAITRE (THE HAMMER WITHOUT A MASTER) (1953-55)
3. AVANT “L’ARTISANAT FURIEUX”
4. COMMENTAIRE I DE “BOURREAUX
5. “L’ARTISANAT FURIEUX”
6. COMMENTAIRE II DE “BOURREAUX DE SOLITUDE”
7. “BEL EDIFICE ET LES PRESSENTIMENTS”, VERSION PREMIERE
8. “BOURREAUX DE SOLITUDE”
9. APRES “L’ARTISANAT FURIEUX”
10. COMMENTAIRE III DE “BOURREAUX DE SOLITUDE”
11. “BEL EDIFICE ET LES PRESSENTIMENTS” DOUBLE
ELECTRONIC MUSIC FOR THE MIND AND BODY
1. KONTAKTE (CONTACTS) (FOR ELECTRONIC SOUNDS)
4. CARTRIDGE MUSIC
5. ARIA WITH FONTANA MIX