Karlheinz Stockhausen

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Karlheinz Stockhausen.

Karlheinz Stockhausen (August 22, 1928 in Mödrath, Germany – December 5, 2007 in Kürten, Germany) was a German composer and one of the most influential composers of the mid-20th century. He has written orchestral, choral, and instrumental works, including some which combine electronic and normal sonorities, such as Kontakte (1960), and parts of a huge operatic cycle, "Licht" ("Light").


He studied at Cologne and Bonn, joined the musique concrète group in Paris, and experimented with compositions based on electronic sounds. In 1953 Stockhausen helped found Cologne's important Electronic Music Studio, and became director in 1963. His works include the wind quintet "Time Measure" (1956), "Gruppen" (1955-1957), written for three orchestras; "Zyklus" (1961), for solo percussionist; the multimedia work "Beethausen von Stockhoven" (1970); and the chamber works "Ylem" (1973) and "Tierkreis" (1977). "Youthsong" (1956) projects a singing boy's voice, mingled with electronic sounds, through five spatially separated loudspeakers. In 1971 he was appointed professor of composition at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne.

Zappa and Stockhausen

Karlheinz Stockhausen is included in the list of influences inside the sleeve of Zappa's debut album Freak Out! (1966), under the title: "These People Have Contributed Materially In Many Ways To Make Our Music What It Is. Please Do Not Hold It Against Them". He also appears on the cover of The Beatles's Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), which, given that Paul McCartney liked Freak Out!, is an interesting side note.

In The Fanzine Questionnaire (1966) Zappa described his "Dream Girl": "I might even like her better if she can play Stockhausen on the piano – Klavierstücke XII."

Zappa mentioned Gesang der Jünglinge/Kontakte as one of his favorite albums in My Favorite Records, Hit Parader magazine, 1967.

Zappa about Karlheinz Stockhausen

"I bought my first Boulez album when I was in the twelfth grade: a Columbia recording of 'Le Marteau Sans Maître' (The Hammer Without a Master) conducted by Robert Craft, with 'Zeitmasse' (Time-mass) by Stockhausen on the other side."

Frank Zappa, The Real Frank Zappa Book, 1989.

"Stockhausen isn't really an influence. That is, I have some of his records but I don't play them much."

Frank Zappa, Zappa and the Mothers: Ugly Can Be Beautiful by Sally Kempton in "The Age Of Rock" by Jonathan Eisen, 1968.

"I'm still quite fond of Boulez's music, but not so much so of Stockhausen's stuff."

Frank Zappa, Modern Music Is a Sick Puppy by Steve Birchall, Digital Audio, 1984.

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