Karlheinz Stockhausen

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Stockhausen in 1994.

Karlheinz Stockhausen (22 August 19285 December 2007) was a German composer, and one of the most controversial composers of the 20th century. He is best known for his ground-breaking work in electronic music and controlled chance in serial composition.


  • New methods change the experience, and new experiences change man. Whenever we hear sounds, we are changed, we are no longer the same, and this is more the case when we hear organized sounds; music.[1]
Tuning In (1981) BBC documentary on Stockhausen.
  • And when they encounter works of art which show that using new media can lead to new experiences and to new consciousness, and expand our senses, our perception, our intelligence, our sensibility, then they will become interested in this music.


  • [The attacks of September 11 were] the greatest work of art in the cosmos … compared to that, we composers are nothing.
According to Stockhausen, a journalist in Hamburg seriously distorted his statement, and Stockhausen claims that he referred to the attacks as "Lucifer's greatest work of art". [2]

Quotation about Stockhausen[edit]

  • Sir Thomas Beecham was asked if he had ever conducted any Stockhausen. He said, "No, but I once trod in some."
  • I had always written in a circular way and through Stockhausen I could see that I didn't want to ever play again from eight bars to eight bars, because I never end songs: they just keep going on. Through Stockhausen I understood music as a process of elimination and addition.
    • Miles Davis; As quoted on p. 329. in his autobiography with Quincy Troupe, "Miles", published by Simon & Schuster, 1989.
  • For my generation, Stockhausen's published lectures had unbelievable impact. He was the most hopeful of figures: the 21st century was going to be great. The classical teachers in my school, meanwhile, kept moaning about the good old days of music and changing the masses of music pupils into slave performers, putting to sleep any creative thought or the will to make new things.

External links[edit]

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