December 5, 2007 – Karlheinz Stockhausen was born on August 22, 1928 near Cologne in Germany. I have hesitated celebrating him in this Ode to Rock and Roll, because strictly spoken he is a composer of music. In the end I felt in favor of inclusion because so many rock performers have admitted to be influenced by the man’s incredible body of work created in electronic music. Pink Floyd, Zappa, the Who, Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Bjørk, Kraftwerk, the Beatles, all reflect his influence on their own avant-garde experiments as well as the general fame and notoriety he had achieved by that time.
As a composer he is widely acknowledged by critics as one of the most important composers of the 20th and early 21st centuries. Critics have called him “one of the great visionaries of 20th-century music”. He is known for his ground-breaking work in electronic music, aleatory in serial composition, and musical.
Some of his notable compositions include the series of nineteen Klavierstücke (Piano Pieces), Kontra-Punkte for ten instruments, the electronic /musique-concrète Gesang der Jünglinge, Gruppen for three orchestras, the percussion solo Zyklus, Kontakte, the cantata Momente, the live-electronic Mikrophonie I, Hymnen, Stimmung for six vocalists, Aus den sieben Tagen, Mantra for two pianos and electronics, Tierkreis, Inori for soloists and orchestra, and the gigantic opera cycle Licht.
It is worthwhile to study his life and beliefs as his mind truly operated on a different platform. I had the ‘interesting’ pleasure of attending some of his lectures from the Cologne Courses at the Music Academy in Cologne in 1967. Hugely stimulating and interactive, but now 50 years later I still don’t think the world is ready for a widespread acceptance of his musical philosophies. He was the square formula of Frank Zappa.
He died from heart failure on Dec 5, 2007 at age 79 in the house he had built in the autumn of 1965.