december 9 - 2007

goodbye karlheinz stockhausen

      my relationship to karlheinz stockhausen can be found in the process of creating. he always saw himself functioning as a medium. apart from the fact that we say good bye to one of the greatest composers of the 20th century with strongest influences on music which didn't even belong to his battlefield like rock and pop, film or commercial I rather prefer to recall some personal moments with him.

the first time I met stockhausen must have been around 1960 when he appeared live in the conservatory in duisburg, germany performing his electronic studies 1 + 2 . he had a great talent to explain the audience what was driving him to compose the way he did. a man (music teacher) rose up his hand and shouted : ''mr. stockhausen, behind all what you do is that you want us to get shocked and make a lot of money.'' he replied that he did it only for musical reasons. he didn't need the money because he had married a rich wife.
from this moment I knew what I had to do in order to survive in case my talent creating uncompromising music should faint.
another man this evening got the chance to speak saying that everyone could compose the way he did. one needed only to hit the keys of the piano in a wildly chaotic way.
stockhausen invited him to come on stage and let him demonstrate.
''quite good for the beginning'', he commented ''but you certainly can do better if you get deeper into it, don't you think so? '' a laughing audience applauded.

     from 1963 till '66 I attended to his composers seminar in cologne. I introduced myself to him as someone who got thrown out from all music schools, someone who never successfully passed an exam and that I couldn't play any instrument.
he asked what I wanted to become and I answered ''composer''.
he looked at me quite some time till he said: ''your story sounds good, you can stay.''

      one year later when the lecture had a break he turned towards me and remarked:
''czukay, it seems that you are thinking too much.''
''that doesn't speak for your human knowledge, mr. stockhausen'' I replied. and he continued:
''don't get me wrong but I can see that you are putting too many questions to the notes when it comes to write them down.''
stockhausen obviously had hit my achilles' heel and so he told me that he had known a belgian composer writing good music till he was questioning so much that he couldn't write anything anymore. ''I also found myself in such a situation'' he said. ''an invincible wall was rising up in front of me when composing which I had to overcome without knowing where it would lead me to and now it is your turn no matter where it will take you.''
that evening I went home by train sitting alone in a compartment crying. so much I felt that his words had moved a big rock away from my chest. one year later he suddenly turned towards me saying:
''when the bird is able to fly it will leave its nest.'' and towards his colleges he remarked that ''this man will go a different way than we did''.

2 months later I left the nest and flew in my car to switzerland where I hoped to find a rich girl same way like stockhausen did and became a teacher of music in one of the most noble and expensive public schools. but instead of concentrating myself on the girls I concentrated on one young gentleman who took a few guitar lessons from me. we both left the school simultaneously, he because he had successfully finished it and me because I got fired. his name was michael karoli and together we became the first cell of the group can.

when I sent karlheinz stockhausen my congratulations to his 75th birthday 4 years ago he wrote back: dear holger, you are your work. I am astonished. Is lion a female or male? your congrats made me really happy. may god protect you with his goodness. devout as always. yours ? stockhausen, with thanks for your wishes.

     november 30 this year, 6 days before he died I performed live in copenhagen, denmark where I presented a new piece with brian eno and myself playing live. stockhausen appeared sampled as a singer. I started playing the piece and in the middle I turned down the volume saying that this was him singing.

according to what he always stated he will continue composing after his death in form of energy pulses. sure he will.

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