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A Testament To Stockhausen: Stockhausen’s Final Works And A Festival He Shaped

United States
English
18 April 2008 — Southbank Centre today announced a major Stockhausen festival as a centrepiece of its 2008/09 classical music season. KLANG: A Tribute to Karlheinz Stockhausen, a week- long festival including UK premieres of several major Stockhausen works, starts November 1st and will be curated by Southbank Centre Associate Artist Oliver Knussen. Knussen was in close touch with Stockhausen before his sudden death in December 2007 and it was to him that Stockhausen had entrusted the performance of what turned out to be his last work, Zodiac.

Oliver Knussen says: ‘Stockhausen’s reputation rests on a number of path-breaking works from the first half of his career which are indisputable modern classics. But within the huge projects which occupied him for the rest of his life can be found similarly extraordinary and innovative compositions which have yet to be experienced by audiences here, for example the amazing Luzifers Tanz from Samstag aus LICHT. The works which make up the recent KLANG cycle represent in my view a remarkable distillation of ideas and ideals which Stockhausen pursued throughout his musical life, and he was very much in accord with the idea that these would be central to our festival. I look forward to participating in this project, of course, but am looking forward just as much to being part of the audience!’

Pioneer of electronic music, composer of grandly imagined music dramas, a seeker after the spiritual in music and an inspiring force for several generations of composers, artists and pop musicians, Stockhausen was unique among contemporary composers in that he became an iconic figure who captured the popular imagination as well that of the avant- garde. He was composing right up to his death, working on KLANG, a cycle of pieces representing the 24 hours of the day (21 out of the 24 were completed). KLANG (meaning ’sound’) is the title given to Southbank Centre’s festival in his honour. In addition to Zodiac, the festival will present the UK premieres of several pieces from the KLANG cycle including Glanz for ensemble and Freude for two Harps, as well as the London premieres of two sections of Stockhausen’s monumental LICHT cycle, Luzifers Tanz for symphonic wind ensemble and Orchester-Finalisten. In addition there will be performances of Stockhausen classics such as Mantra, Stimmung and Trans.

Performers include the London Sinfonietta conducted by Oliver Knussen, the Asko Ensemble from Holland, a range of soloists chosen by Stockhausen who worked closely with him, and young musicians from the Royal College of Music and the Royal Northern College of Music.

Gillian Moore, Head of Contemporary Culture at Southbank Centre said: ’Knowing that Stockhausen was about to be 80, we began planning a festival in celebration of this musical giant of our time with Oliver Knussen, who is a knowledgeable and accomplished interpreter of Stockhausen’s music and an ideal curator for such a festival. For Knussen, it was important that we reflect Stockhausen’s recent work, especially the cycle depicting the 24 hours of the day entitled KLANG, as well as some of the earlier classics. When I wrote to Stockhausen to tell him about the festival, he replied ’your letter makes me very happy: one does not reach eighty regularly’. Very sadly, Stockhausen did not reach 80 and the festival is now a homage in memory.’

Full details of the festival will be announced 6 June.

About Southbank Centre:

Southbank Centre is the UK’s largest arts centre, occupying a 21-acre site that sits in the midst of London’s most vibrant cultural quarter on the South Bank of the Thames. The site has an extraordinary creative and architectural history stretching back to the 1951 Festival of Britain. Southbank Centre is home to the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and The Hayward as well as The Saison Poetry Library and the Arts Council Collection. The Royal Festival Hall reopened in June 2007 following the major refurbishment of the Hall and redevelopment of the surrounding area and facilities.

Karlheinz Stockhausen

(b 22 Aug 1928. d 5 December 2007). The leading German composer of his generation, he has been a seminal figure of the post-1945 avant garde, and major figure in the whole history of 20th-century music. A tireless innovator and influential teacher, he largely redefined notions of serial composition, and was a pioneer in electronic music. His seven-part operatic cycle LICHT, based on the seven days of the week is possibly the most ambitious project ever undertaken by a major composer. He composed prolifically right up to his death and completed 21 of the 24 movements of KLANG, based on the 24 hours in the day.
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