The Musical Legacy of Karlheinz Stockhausen: Looking Back and Forward ed. by M. J. Grant and Imke Misch (review)
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The Musical Legacy of Karlheinz Stockhausen: Looking Back and Forward. Ed. by M. J. Grant and Imke Misch. pp. 162. (Wolke Verlag, Hofheim, 2016, €22. ISBN 978-3-95593-068-4.)

The editors of this brief volume, M. J. Grant and Imke Misch, caution the reader from the outset that its contents, derived from the 2011 conference whose title the volume shares, represent the work in progress of individual researchers (p. 7). [End Page 667] As such the volume makes no claims to comprehensiveness, nor promises a lack of loose ends. The contents broadly follow a chronological order, with particular weight given to the 'classically' serial Stockhausen of the 1950s and to LICHT (1977–2003), a trajectory highlighted in Misch's introductory essay, which, too, draws out important themes for Stockhausen, many of which the volume returns to: the quest for innovation, the question of the parameter and its subdivision, the musicalization of text and action, and the relation of music to faith.

The volume begins in fine form, with a set of excellent contributions from Mark Delaere, Maarten Quanten, Marcus Zagorski, and You Nakai. Delaere's contribution develops his recent work on the history of early serialism and, in particular, Karel Goeyvaerts's influence on Stockhausen as revealed through the correspondence between the two composers. As Delaere observes, the correspondence is revealing in biographical terms, showing Stockhausen's rapidly developing technical abilities, the evolving compositional work of both composers, and their (sometimes biting) judgements of the work of their contemporaries. Perhaps most significantly, it allows a richer assessment of the early aesthetics of post-war European serialism, particularly in the ways in which the categories of the static, the pure, the truthful, and the spiritual were negotiated by the two composers.

Maarten Quanten's contribution represents the analytical counterpart to Delaere's archival-aesthetic essay. Though he perhaps goes too far in suggesting that Stockhausen's observation of the continuum between pulses and pitch might be regarded 'a map to the holy grail of early multiple serialism' (p. 35), the analyses he performs of the Konkrete Etüde and Klavierstück I (both 1952), which pre-date this 'discovery' in 1953, show both pieces, at the very least, already pointing directly forward to it as well as to Stockhausen's group technique.

As in the case of Delaere's contribution, Zagorski's can perhaps be read most fruitfully in the context of his earlier, equally fine, contributions investigating the parallels between Adornian historiographies and aesthetics and the thinking of post-war composers. Here Zagorski provocatively but convincingly suggests that an important part of Dahlhaus's historiographical model was directly shaped by his understanding of Stockhausen. In particular, Zagorski argues that Dahlhaus's 'problem-history' of music is indebted less to Thomas Kuhn than it is to the balance between Erfindung (invention) and Entdeckung (discovery), which Stockhausen argued was essential to composition.

This 1961 text, 'Erfindung und Entdeckung' forms the starting point for You Nakai's contribution; the same text marks the end point of the first long sequence of Stockhausen's theoretical writing, a task he would not resume until the beginning of the 1970s. Here, Stockhausen argues, among other things, that the composer's discovery and invention of form 'is repeated in the perception of the listener', that '[t]he creation of form is only complete when it is perceived accurately … [which] means in this case, to listen carefully and unite all thoughts … into a single entity', but that 'there cannot be a singular form that would be the same for all listeners' (p. 66). Moment form, then, proved a singularly problematic one: always described from a listener's perspective and, as such, almost always (radically) different and, in any case, immeasurably distant from whatever structuring devices the composer may have established. Nakai's explanation of why this realization should have led to a decade-long theoretical silence on Stockhausen's part is that, as he began to work with the Stockhausen Ensemble, he devised scores that would necessarily turn performers into listeners seeking to create form (on the basis of parametric transformations of Stockhausen's own music in Prozession, for instance) and, in...