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We're still on the year one thousand fifty six. And today we'll hear three of the most famous works of the last decade. They can become sacrum of Stravinsky. Xander unilingual and side master both by Karlheinz Stockhausen. Stravinsky's can become sacrum was written on commission from the city of Venice in Italy specifically for performance in the famous beautiful 12th and 13th century church of St. Mark's. It was Stravinsky's first large scale work in serial technique and the first work which in some sections employs 12 tone series. Agathon is of course the other work from this period with similar qualifications but it was not finished till 1957. That is after the county cum sacrum had had its premiere in St. Mark's in Venice. Although it that is our gun was started back in 1953. Well so much for chronology. The full title is in Latin.
Country comes out on autumn sun nominees meaning sacred canticle in honor of the name of St. Mark. Who is by the way the patron saint of Venice. This dedication is actually composed into the work and is sung in Latin at the very beginning by the two male soloists accompanied by two trombones. The main body of the work has five movements corresponding to the five domes of St. Marks with the central part like the central dome the largest. The other movements are balanced against this central movement in a symmetrical pattern. So that the first and fifth and second and fourth are corollary movements in consideration of the acoustics of St Mark's. The music is kept simple in any of the louder full sections while the more intricate sections are for solo voices
and single instruments used in the new sparsely polyphonic style of Stravinsky's serial technique. They can become is an interesting work stylistically because it not only shows us Devinsky style in transition but also combines both his new style and the previous one in one single work. The two outer movements are totally based and use the familiar homophonic and rhythmic approach we associate with the neo classic Stravinsky including the ambiguous major and minor third and ostinato patterns. The three middle movements on the other hand are 12 tone pieces and it is a mark of Stravinsky's genius and individuality that no one is aware of this stylistic dichotomy in the work. One does not find it disturbing from a purely aural point of view it somehow all relates chemically internally and forms a unified work.
As for the 12 tone sections they are adamant brulee admirably thought out and composed. But I am not entirely convinced that Stravinsky felt completely at home as he had in his newly adapted serial procedures. The music has an ascetic at times stiff and unresolved quality which I can only ascribe to the fact that Stravinsky was at such times caught somewhere in that no man's land where technique has not yet become freed unrestrained music where the friction between self-imposed limitations and intuitive impulses has not yet ignited into sparks of inspiration. These actions have since been thoroughly analyzed and their legitimacy technically has been firmly established. It has also been stated that the ascetic and sort of an involved quality of these sections is merely a conscious attempt to write a
non-dramatic objective objective in quotes liturgical music. I don't quite buy that and believe it to be more an after the fact rational rationalization than the original intent. Especially after the proof of Stravinsky's most recent serial music like Noah and the sermon and there are different prayer where such unresolved areas no longer occur. Here now is the five movement con to come sacrum Meister Minsky composed in 1956. Was AOL the answer. The I was the I the s. I
was the end loader. The.
Lol. Was. Was was. Was that
was. On. He. Was. Asked.
Loaf. Eat eat.
Why. You are.
Why you. Oh.
Oh Meat Loaf. Oh.
You're. Sure.
Them. On the moon.
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh. Oh the.
And who. Entered. The a new NG. The NG. Wrong. You just heard the country come sacrum by Stravinsky. The soloists were Richard Robinson tenor Howard John baritone and the composer himself conductor of the Los Angeles festival August from Congress. Stravinsky is very reserved in his praise of other composers. He's
highly selective taste and critical faculty and his not always erring standards have permitted him the luxury of praise on only very rare occasions. One young composer who has been so blessed is calm and Stockhausen and the remaining two works on this program will be by Stockhausen 1956 saw the completion of two of his major works compositions that have occupied his attention for at least two or three years. These were the electronic peace songs of the youths and the work for woodwind quintet which is the German term for Temple actually in the plural sense tempos in the sense that it was the first major large scale electronic piece and any remarkable compositional creative and technical tour de force one thousand nine hundred fifty six was quite a year for Stockhausen. I would like to save his master for
the last and play. First the thing that I'm not equipped to discuss this piece on any technical basis. I don't know that much about electronic music and I have not seen a score and it was never issued though promised. And I have not been so moved by the piece that I felt I must engage in lengthy correspondence with the composer to unravel its secrets. Anyhow even if I knew more about the piece and even if I were more knowledgeable in electronic music I doubt if I would choose the medium of the radio to discuss matters of such a highly technical nature. But on the most general terms I can tell you that the piece is composed for two basic types of sound sources. One of the voice of a young boy and the other electronically generated sounds and noises Stockhausen uses and mixes these two sources. These two types of sources in such a way
as to dis establish two scales of continuity patterns. One is a continuum of gradations between the human voice and electronic sounds and the other a continuum pertaining to the intelligibility or non intelligibility of the text. In the first mention continuity scale Stockhausen treats the boy's voice electronically so as to converted in varying degrees of modification into what appeared to be electronic sounds. The human voice is sensitized so to speak on D naturalized. It can be so filtered and modulating as to become unintelligible as a human voice Stockhausen plays with these correspondence in the manifold ways that the electronic medium permits and thereby creates a staggering number of permutations and variations of the spoken voice. Similarly he treats the voice and its song text taken from the Book of Daniel in such
ways as to achieve gradations of textual comprehensibility and non comprehensibility. That is words may become may turn into sound into musical sounds. They become music where they become abstract and then become words again. This is done not only by manipulating the components of the sounds but also by manipulating the syllables of the words in the text or combinations of the two procedures. In a sense it is a gigantic experiment in analyzing and integrating musically a certain repertoire of sound sources which consists in this particular case of 11 elemental electronic sounds or sound producing methods and then the recorded human voice. And in this experiment Stockhausen discovered that the nature of these components or elements could be altered could be even fundamentally changed to the point where they became another element and that heretofore accepted
illusions of perceptible A-T could be used in a new objective materialized way by analyzing the component structure of sounds a whole new world of sonic relationships was discovered and with it an almost inexhaustible array of compositional and methodological possibilities. As for Stockhausen's choices within these compositional possibilities I'm not sure that can survive a more penetrating analysis on the basis of the highest president the president established artistic criteria. What has seemed to me as a listener and in this case I am a lay listener to be certain a certain obviousness and haphazardness and the individual momentary compositional choices is I am told by some of my friends in the electronic music field just that an arbitrariness in the methods of serialization which arbitrariness permeates every phase of the work
in its methods and techniques because it comes as much under the heading of numerology. We're playing games with numerical series than that of responsible creative composing. Neither electronic music nor music conquered it has for me. After a while a self cancelling negating effect as in some of Stockhausen's other non-electronic music the intellectual attitudes do not always graduate to becoming music. Or sometimes they result in something other than what they were intended to be. The endless manipulations of the voice voiced by fairly pre-determined methods for example. However ingenious on paper as a sonic experience become for me after a while simply annoying precisely because they were arbitrarily manipulated and because we hear the thing for what it is and not for what Stockhausen intended it to be. And these are not always the same. But undoubtedly such problems will and should not
be discussed on such a nontechnical basis as I'm doing now. And I think we had best get to the experience of hearing the word and leave the discussions to others more actively involved with these problems. Oh yes there is one thing it should be noted that in its original conception it was intended to be heard on six loud speakers or loud speaker groups stationed in different parts of the auditorium and the directionality of the sounds is according to Stockhausen and integral structural part of the work. Needless to say the recording issued by a gramophone is a monophonic recording by Stockhausen in an electronic realization made at the electronic studios of the West German radio in Cologne Germany.
Oh. What. Do you mean.
Oh. A.
For. Potter around the cattle farm. Yeah. Whoa whoa whoa whoa. Oh. Shit.
Whoa. Mm. Hmm. It's just.
OK. Oh.
Yeah. You just heard is under you and the electronic piece by the German composer and Stockhausen also by Stockhausen M.. Unlike because under you nothing is a work about which I have no fundamental reservations or minor ones perhaps but not fundamental ones. I think it is one of the most convincing and genius and inspired works of the whole post vagrants serial period. And for me along with group marks the high point in Stockhausen development and career. It is not generally known that side Massa started as a rather innocuous piece of music and then through a three year
period and in constant almost daily consultation with five wind players of the Cologne Radio Orchestra and through endless revisions the work gradually achieved its final form. Stockhausen studies in electronic music and specifically his work on designing a youngling which was done almost simultaneously also had a profound influence on the final outcome of typecasting. In any case by whatever method it worked finally evolved which is a remarkably concise and brilliant statement of what serial music can produce. And at the same time a refreshing stylistic renewal of the musical language as well as a whole new point of view towards problems of technique and style and regard to wind instruments. On all these fronts Stockhausen contributed a major achievement in composing sadness. Again the work is in its technical aspects too complicated to be able to do much with on a radio broadcast. These things are better left to individual study
of the score on the music. But again as a very general point of reference one should know that sight master as the title suggests is a creative compositional investigation of the function and nature of time in music. In short of temple in our musician's sense. Again Stockhausen sets of various content new ohms between contrast in components. The most interesting of these is the one that relates music with a beat to music without a central beat. The piece contains both types of continuity and many gradations or combinations of the two. In the area of non beat music which Stockhausen evolved a very interesting class the improvisational approach based on the specifics of the instrument and player in question. That is he will for example Mark certain phrases as fast as possible. This will vary on various instruments and with various players obviously. Or he'll mark it as
slow as possible in one breath. In such a case the somewhat variable factor of a certain player is breath control determines the speed of that particular passage and all the other parts that may happen to be structurally enmeshed with it. There are also passages in which each player plays at a different speed or metronome marking all the individual lines are of course so composed as to take into consideration this variability of temple. In other words the actual performance the performance details of such passages these Kweisi improvised passages are in the hands of the players while the overall structural control is still in the hands of the composer. Such new approaches to improvisational techniques are I think extremely valuable though they seem to be limited in scope. That is their value lies in their existence as a technique and not so much in the exact nature or scope of that technique. I mean once you have written a few passages controlled by
the breath control control factor of the player that's the extent of the idea and not much more can be done with it. You can't cannot alter the fact that any variability here is a matter of degree and not major a fundamental factor. The challenge therefore lies more in how these ideas are used in conjunction with other improvisational procedures or completely composed controlled sections. Stockhausen exploits virtual virtually all these possibilities as well as the juxtaposition and contrast ing of beat and non beat sections and homophonic with polyphonic structures. The latter is fairly obvious as you listen to the piece. In fact in contrast to some of Stockhausen's later works as it is a model of internal balance and contrast. Also for once I cannot make my usual complaint that the paper aspects of the work are not fulfilled in the sounding effect. Everything in this piece sounds
and sounds exactly as it was written. And I think this is a refreshing departure. It is difficult playing outside my ass is difficult but its difficulties and complexities are those rightful legitimate difficulties which seem impossible only initially but which actually are challenging and rewarding in whatever. Effort one makes to overcome these difficulties. And very soon the difficulties seem to have even disappeared. I do think Stockhausen's long session with his five wind players in Cologne really paid off. You know it is Karlheinz Stockhausen side massive for flute oboe English on clarinet and bassoon.
The one thing. Yes.
A. Oh.
Contemporary Music in Evolution
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Contemporary Music in Evolution is a radio program hosted by Gunther Schuller, which traces the evolution of Western classical music from 1899 to 1961. Each episode focuses on a specific year and chronicles some of the significant works, schools, and composers of the time. Schuller introduces several performance recordings in each episode, and gives commentary and analysis that also touch on previous episodes.
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Host: Schuller, Gunther
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 64-36-27 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 01:14:40
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Chicago: “Contemporary Music in Evolution; 27; 1956,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed January 27, 2023,
MLA: “Contemporary Music in Evolution; 27; 1956.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. January 27, 2023. <>.
APA: Contemporary Music in Evolution; 27; 1956. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from