Karlheinz Stockhausen

The composer of the century, German, a complete genius, still alive. His father died in World War II and his mum was mentally ill and sent to an asylum and put to sleep by the Nazis. Her dad went mad when he found out and signed up to some sort of suicide legion. So Stockhausen was left. He was one of the the first men to discover electronic music in 1950. Look ! [opens book at illustration of musical complexities in graph form which looks like the technological data for an Orbital gig] Like raves today, except now it’s kids’ stuff ! He discovered blips and blops and the electronic sound, complete innovator of the century, had 20 styles. He was asked to write a string quartet for Cologne two years ago and they wanted something safe, so he wrote a piece for four helicopters so people had to go on a hill and watch the four helicopters. He would get a whole orchestra on stage and give them a piece of paper which said that this is what they had to play : ’Think nothing. Wait until it’s absolutely still within you. As soon as you start to think, stop, and try to attain a state of non-thinking and continue to play.’ And that would be the piece of music he’d written. That gave rise to all these arguments about who wrote the music, the person who played it or him ? Fabulous. I wish he was my age. Look ! Isn’t he handsome ? I fancy him.

Sky 12/95