|Full name||: Karlheinz Stockhausen|
|Alias||: Karlheinz Stockhausen|
|Animals||: The Dragon|
|Father||: Simon Stockhausen|
|Wife||: Mary Bauermeister (m. 1967–2007), Doris Andreae (m. 1951)|
|Children||: Markus Stockhausen, Simon Stockhausen|
|Education||: Hochschule für Musik Köln University of Cologne University of Bonn|
Karlheinz Stockhausen was a German composer who is widely regarded as one among, if not the most influential figure of the world of music in the 20th century. Stockhausen’s contribution to the world of music is most aptly reflected by the title given to him as the ‘Father of electronic music’. He was one of the earliest composers who used electronically created sounds to create works of music and definitely the person who changed the landscape of electronic music forever. Karlheinz Stockhausen will rightly be remembered as the person who brought about a radical shift in the methods of work of a composer. He was a pioneer in the field of using electronically produced sounds in compositions when most others could not or would not think beyond what was conventional and traditional. To say Stockhausen changed the landscape of music composition would never be an exaggeration. The very fact that The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Yoko Ono, Frank Zappa and Miles Davis among many others cite him to be their influence speaks volumes of the impact that Stockhausen had on the musical scene. Read his complete biography given below.
Karlheinz Stockhausen composed more than 300 pieces of music in genres as varied and as different from each other as one could imagine. It looked like he was set on the unconventional from the beginning. Even his earliest experiments included the use of tape recorded sounds of glass, metal and wood among other unconventional sources. His earliest experiments in the field of electronic music were the pieces Kreuzspiel (Cross Game) and Kontra Punkte (Counterpoint), which he composed in the years 1951 and 1952 respectively. Following a pattern of athematic serial, through these works Stockhausen laid a precursor for what was to follow. The piece that made the world sit up and take serious note of him followed soon enough with Gesang der Jünglinge (Song of the Youths), in 1956.
It was during this period that Stockhausen also started experimenting with spatial music. Spatial music refers to the use of localization of sounds in physical space for assimilation in compositions. He also started focusing on aleatory in compositions. This includes leaving certain portions of the music to chance, a part left to the disposition of the performers. The routine nature of compositions and the manner in which they were composed prompted Stockhausen to dabble with the elements of composition. The result was what he called ‘variable form’. Herein the players’ capabilities and the settings in which the music was played came to the forefront. The use of graphic notations (diagrams and other representations in place of conventional notations), followed with the scores often being written in a manner that allowed performers to start from any page, from right to left or even upside down. His works came in different forms—open, closed and polyvalent.
The 1960’s saw Stockhausen continue with his experiments. He continued to compose with the aid of electronically produced sounds. He also continued with experimentation on spatial arrangements. He was of the view that concert halls should be built in a manner that suits spatial experimentation in music. He produced many major compositions, which laid down different theories and concepts of composition in this decade. Major works of this decade include Momente (Moments) in 1962-1964, Telemusik in 1966 and Hymen (Hymns) in 1967 among others.
By 1970’s, Stockhausen had reverted to composing music based more on instruments. In the 1970 World Fair at Osaka, all the existing compositions of Stockhausen were presented before an appreciative audience in daily sessions that were as long as five hours or more. These performances took place in a spherical amphitheater, which was built according to Stockhausen’s specifications. He developed a technique called ‘formula composition’, which he employed in many of his works of this decade including Mantra and Inori.
Karlheinz Stockhausen was born in the town of Modrath, on the suburbs of Cologne, in Germany, on August 22, 1928, to Simon and Gertrud Stockhausen. Simon was a school teacher while Gertrud was an amateur pianist. Karlheinz’s early life was one of hardships. In the two years following Karlheinz’s birth, Gertrud gave birth to a daughter, Katherina and a second son, Hermann-Josef. She suffered a mental breakdown in 1932 following which she was institutionalized. A few months later, Karlheinz lost his younger brother Hermann. His father remarried their family housekeeper. Stockhausen had an unhappy relationship with his stepmother due to which he became a boarder at the teachers training college in Xanten, in 1942. The World War II years continued to be hard on Stockhausen. He received the news that his mother had died in 1942. Though the cause was stated as leukemia, it was widely believed that she was also a victim of the Nazi policy of getting rid of invalids. His father had gone to war and never returned. Karlheinz himself worked as a stretcher carrier at an army hospital at the age of 16. All these experiences were said to have left their imprints on the works of Stockhausen.
Karlheinz Stockhausen was married twice, both of which ended in divorce. In his first marriage, with Doris Andreae, in 1951, he had four children—Suja, Christell, Markus and Majella. In his second marriage, with Mary Bauermeister, a German artist, he had two children—Julika and Simon. Four of his children followed him into the world of music in various capacities. Stockhausen even composed some of his works specifically for them.