Serving Imperialism in Heaven?


Crude title, I know, but Karlheinz Stockhausen, (in)famous German composer, died today at the age of 79:

Stockhausen, who gained fame through his avant-garde works in the 1960s and ’70s and later moved into composing works for huge theaters and other projects, died Wednesday, Germany’s Music Academy said, citing members of his family. No cause of death was given.

Stockhausen was considered by some an eccentric member of the European musical elite and by others a courageous pioneer in the field of new music. Rock and pop musicians such as John Lennon, Frank Zappa and David Bowie have cited him as an influence, and he is also credited with having influenced techno music.

Stockhausen sparked controversy in 2001, when he described the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States as ”the greatest work of art one can imagine” during a news conference in the northern German city of Hamburg, where several of the suicide pilots had lived.

The composer later apologized, but the city still canceled performances of his concerts.

While not one of my favorites, the man was still a major force in 20th Century music, and he certainly influenced many others as well (some in what not to do). Probably none so vividly as his one-time assistant Cornelius Cardew, who later rebelled against his father figure in his famous Stockhausen Serves Imperialism tract (available for download here).

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