Stockhausen On Sirius

for ensemble

for IEMA International Ensemble Modern Academy

„The German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928–2007) was born on the star Sirius. There he received his musical education, and he would return to the star following his death. At least, that is what was revealed to him through visionary dreams. Such mystification is not unique in the sphere of music. For instance, the composer and jazz pianist Sun Ra (1914–1992) claimed that he hailed from Saturn. True or not, these are interesting biographies. In any case, the Czech composer František Chaloupka used Stockhausen's cos­mological body of thought for his most recent composition, Stockhausen on Sirius. He could not get the image of his precursor, dreaming of his star, out of his head. The music is repetitive. However, not the mawkish sort used to lard Hollywood movies. On the contrary, it grates, cuts and stings. It ferments from the inside and swells like the incessantly intensifying interference in a radio signal. It would not be out of place as a soundtrack to a cult film or science fiction classic. Stockhausen composed the music theatre work Sirius between 1975 and 1977. The backstory revolves around four emissaries, orbiting the star, who bring a message to earth. Chaloupka, for his part, regards Stockhausen on Sirius as a message in return: an ‘ambient’ postcard, a greeting to the grandmaster of the avant-garde.“

Jan Nieuwenhuis

„Sirius is an important star for Stockhausen's cos­mology – through revelatory dreams, Stockhausen believed he was born and finished his musical education there. He also claimed that on Sirius: "…everything is music or the art of co-ordination and harmony of vibrations. The art is very highly developed there, and every composition on Sirius is related to the rhythms of nature, the seasons, the rhythms of the stars.“ Between 1975–77, Stockhausen composed an eight-channel electronic piece called „Sirius“, in which four emissaries from a planet orbiting the star, bring a message to earth. The title „Stockhausen on Sirius“ came to my mind as a message. I wasn't looking for it and initially didn't know what it meant. I liked the image of Stockhausen sitting on Sirius, pondering, and with the composition being performed, I sent the message back as a greeting – an ambient postcard."

František Chaloupka