Pioneering Electronic Composer Dies

Stockhausen Tribute      09/12/07

Pioneering Electronic Composer Dies


Avante garde electronic composer Karlheinz Stockhausen has died at the age of 79.
During a long and prolific career he composed a total of 362 works.
His compositions consistently challenged convention and classification and he was all too familiar with carefully defining the line between genius and absurdity.

He is known for building his intricate layered soundscapes using a combination of electronics, unconventional instruments and found sound. Notably he once composed an opera in 7 parts with duration of 29 hours.
Other Masterworks included Gruppen composed for 109 players divided into 3 sections and situated on 3 sides of the audience.
In 1967 he wrote a piece that included snatches from 137 radio transmitted national anthems with static and crowd noises.
Keen to experiment with juxtaposition, ‘Gesang der Junglinge’ places a young boys voice against an unearthly electronic backdrop.

He has accumulated a number of awards and honours including the Distinguished Service Cross (1st Class), membership of the Philharmonic Academy of Rome, the Academy of the Arts in Berlin, the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and honoury membership of the Royal Academy of Music in London.

A major influence on contemporary music of the 50s and 60s, artists such as Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa and notably The Beatles have all paid homage to his genius. The Beatles offering the ultimate accolade with his inclusion among the cut out icons on the cover of Sgt. Peppers.

The composer was married twice and had six children. He will be buried in a forest cemetery in the town of Kuerten, near Cologne.

There will be further reference to Stockhausen’s work in Sonic State’s upcoming series on the world of found sound, The Art Of Sampling.

  • Official Stockhausen Website
  • Stockhausen Discography
  • Top 5 Greatest Samplers Episode One

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