German Classical Music

Artists of Classical Music
  • Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Gustav Mahler
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Arnold Schönberg
  • Robert Schumann
  • Karlheinz Stockhausen
  • Richard Wagner

Karlheinz Stockhausen, 1928 - 2007

This German musician is one of the greatest vanguard composers of the mid-20th Century. He was born in Mödrath, close to Köln (Germany) and studied with Swiss composer Frank Martin and the French composers Olivier Messiaen and Darius Milhaud. He also studied electroacustics, phonetics and information theory at Bonn University.

In many of his early works, he used an integral serialism of all the sonorous parameters (certain series of pitch, rhythms, tonal colours and other elements), but as from the 1950's, he experimented with indeterminacy (using chance and improvisation) and the musician's freedom to decide on his own rhythm and tempo. In the wind quintet Zeitmasse (1956) structures and various tempos are superimposed. In his work named Gesang der Jünglinge (1956) the voice of a young boy is blended with electronic sounds through five independent loudspeakers.

The great profuseness of ideas originating from spiritual and literary sources and which inspired his monumental works, together with his great personality, gave Stockhausen a degree of popularity during the seventies that greatly exceeded the relatively small number of fans of the decade's contemporary music. In the mid seventies, his fame began to recede. In 1977 he embarked on his most ambitious project, Light, a cycle of 7 operas to be performed on seven consecutive nights, based on the myth of creation and where he uses figures such as Eve, Lucipher and the archangel St. Michael.

Other works include Zyklus (1961) for the drums; the multimedia Beethausen composition , 1970; von Stockhoven (1970) and pieces for chamber orchestras such as Ylem (1973) and Tierkreis (1977). Many of Stockhausen's works have a deep meditative atmosphere to them; examples of this is found in his Mantra compositions (1970) for two pianos and Stimmung (1986) for six voices, lasting 70 minutes in which the different sonorities of an chord are explored.