Atmen gibt das Leben

Last updated
Atmen gibt das Leben
Choral opera in two parts by Karlheinz Stockhausen
Karlheinz Stockhausen par Claude Truong-Ngoc 1980.jpg
The composer in 1980
EnglishBreathing Gives Life
Catalogue39
Composed1974 (1974)/1976–77
Duration50 minutes
Scoringchoir a cappella with solo parts, in Part II also orchestra (playback)
Part I
"Atmen gibt das Leben"
EnglishBreathing Gives Life
TextAphorism by Inayat Khan
LanguageGerman
Composed1974 (1974)
Dedication Doris Stockhausen
Scoringchoir a cappella
Premiere
Date16 May 1975 (1975-05-16)
LocationHamburg
Performers NDR Chor
Part II
"Sing ich für Dich, singst Du für mich"
EnglishIf I sing for thee, you will sing for me
Textby Shiki, Buson, Issa, Socrates, Thomas, Meister Eckhart
LanguageGerman, English, and French
Composed1976 (1976)–1977
DedicationChristel Stockhausen
Scoring
  • choir
  • orchestra
Premiere
Date9 May 1977 (1977-05-09)
LocationBiennale Zagreb
PerformersNDR Chor and orchestra
Part II – 2
"Eine Welt von Sorge und Schmerz"
EnglishA World Full of Sorrow and Pain
Premiere
Date22 May 1977 (1977-05-22)
Location Marc Chagall Museum, Nice
PerformersNDR Chor and orchestra

Atmen gibt das Leben (Breathing Gives Life), is a choral opera with orchestra by Karlheinz Stockhausen, written in 1974 and expanded in 1976–77. It is Number 39 in the catalogue of the composer's works, and lasts about 50 minutes in performance.

Contents

History

The first part of Atmen gibt das Leben was composed for a cappella choir during a composition seminar on 1 February 1974. This was in response to a request from the German Choral Association for a piece that could be sung by amateur choirs, and Stockhausen's original idea was that his students should each write a simple choral piece using a text from The Bowl of Saki, by Inayat Khan, and then all the pieces would be published together in a single volume. Not all of his students reacted favourably, and so the piece he composed himself for the project became the first part of Stockhausen's choral opera. [1] This part was premiered by the NDR Chor, the choir of the Norddeutscher Rundfunk, in a public concert in Hamburg as part of the series Das Neue Werk on 16 May 1975. The choir soloists in this performance were Susanne Denman (soprano) and Ulf Kenklies (tenor). This first version of the score is dedicated to Stockhausen's first wife, Doris on her birthday, 28 February 1974. [2] [3]

Stockhausen interrupted work on Sirius in order to compose two further sections in December 1976 and January 1977, this time with an orchestra (which may be played back on tape) to support and colour the choir. The first of these additions, "Sing ich für Dich, singst Du für mich" (If I sing for thee, you will sing for me) was premiered by the NDR Chor on 9 May 1977 at the Biennale Zagreb. The same choir gave the premiere of the third part, "Eine Welt von Sorge und Schmerz" (A world full of sorrow and pain), as part of the first integral performance of the work on 22 May 1977 at the Marc Chagall Museum in Nice, as a pre-celebration of Chagall's 90th birthday, made possible by a commission from the French Minister for Religious Affairs. The two new sections (printed as a single part II in the score) were dedicated to the composer's daughter Christel Stockhausen on the occasion of her 21st birthday, 22 January 1977. [4] [5]

Structure and technique

The libretto is by the composer, with the German text of part one being based on an aphorism by Inayat Khan. [6] The German, English, and French text for the remainder incorporates six quotations: three haiku (by Shiki, Buson, and Issa), and one passage each from Socrates, the Gospel according to St. Thomas, and Meister Eckhart. [3] There is no plot, and though the score is furnished with copious instructions and photographs of the German premiere in 1979, very little stage action is actually specified. [7]

The musical core of the work is a four-voice refrain consisting of canonic variations on a serial formula. This theme is relatively diatonic, and more than one commentator has noticed a similarity to Stockhausen's chromatically tonal student choral compositions, written under the tutelage of Hermann Schroeder, some of which Stockhausen released on the same recording as the 1974 version of the choral opera. The similarity is especially close to the Chöre für Doris (1950) which, like the first part of Atmen gibt das Leben, is dedicated to Stockhausen's first wife. [8] [6]

By comically juxtaposing a variety of texts and references to different world cultures, Stockhausen creates a "phantasmagoria about the universe" and, in so doing, ensures that the "humble posture of admiration for God in the process of listening does not turn into bigoted false piety". [9]

Orchestra

The orchestra is scored for:

The number of string players per part is ad libitum ; the score suggests 9–9–6–6–4 as an example.

Discography

Related Research Articles

Karlheinz Stockhausen German composer

Karlheinz Stockhausen was a German composer, widely acknowledged by critics as one of the most important but also controversial composers of the 20th and early 21st centuries. A critic calls him "one of the great visionaries of 20th-century music". He is known for his groundbreaking work in electronic music, for introducing controlled chance into serial composition, and for musical spatialization.

Kontra-Punkte is a composition for ten instruments by Karlheinz Stockhausen which resolves contrasts among six instrumental timbres, as well as extremes of note values and dynamic levels, into a homogeneous ending texture. Stockhausen described it: "Counter-Points: a series of the most concealed and also the most conspicuous transformations and renewals—with no predictable end. The same thing is never heard twice. Yet there is a distinct feeling of never falling out of an unmistakable construction of the utmost homogeneity. An underlying force that holds things together—related proportions: a structure. Not the same Gestalten in a changing light. But rather this: various Gestalten in the same light, that permeates everything".

<i>Licht</i>

Licht (Light), subtitled "Die sieben Tage der Woche", is a cycle of seven operas composed by Karlheinz Stockhausen between 1977 and 2003. The composer described the work as an "eternal spiral" because "there is neither end nor beginning to the week." Licht consists of 29 hours of music.

<i>Momente</i> Musical work by Karlheinz Stockhausen

Momente (Moments) is a work by the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, written between 1962 and 1969, scored for solo soprano, four mixed choirs, and thirteen instrumentalists. A "cantata with radiophonic and theatrical overtones", it is described by the composer as "practically an opera of Mother Earth surrounded by her chicks". It was Stockhausen's first piece composed on principles of modular transposability, and his first musical form to be determined from categories of sensation or perception rather than by numerical units of musical terminology, which marks a significant change in the composer's musical approach from the abstract forms of the 1950s.

<i>Amour</i> (Stockhausen)

Amour is a cycle of five pieces for clarinet by Karlheinz Stockhausen, composed in 1974–76. The composer thought of each piece as a gift for a close friend. The cycle is given the number 44 in Stockhausen's catalogue of works.

Sirius: eight-channel electronic music and trumpet, soprano, bass clarinet, and bass is a music-theatre composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen, composed between 1975 and 1977. It is Nr. 43 in the composer's catalogue of works, and lasts 96 minutes in performance.

<i>Trans</i> (Stockhausen)

Trans is a composition for orchestra and tape by the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, written in 1971. It is Number 35 in the composer's catalog of works.

Carré (Square) for four orchestras and four choirs (1959–60) is a composition by the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, and is Work Number 10 in the composer's catalog of works.

<i>Punkte</i>

Punkte (Points) is an orchestral composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen, given the work number ½ in his catalogue of works.

Formel (Formula) is a composition for chamber orchestra by Karlheinz Stockhausen, written while he was still a student in 1951. It is given the number ​16 in his catalog of works, indicating that it is amongst the pieces preceding the composition he recognised as his first mature work, Nr. 1 Kontra-Punkte.

<i>Stop</i> (Stockhausen)

Stop is a composition for orchestra by Karlheinz Stockhausen, work-number 18 in the composer’s catalogue of works, where two performing realisations are also found as Nr. 18½ and Nr. 18⅔.

<i>Ylem</i> (Stockhausen)

Ylem is a composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen for a variable ensemble of 19 or more players, and is given the work number 37 in his catalogue of compositions.

<i>Herbstmusik</i>

Herbstmusik is a music-theatre work for four performers composed by Karlheinz Stockhausen in 1974. It is Nr. 40 in his catalogue of works, and lasts a little over an hour in performance.

Schlagtrio is a chamber-music work for piano and two timpanists composed by Karlheinz Stockhausen in 1952. It is Nr. ⅓ in his catalogue of works.

Sonatine (Stockhausen)

The Sonatine (Sonatina) for violin and piano is a chamber music composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen, written while he was still a student in 1951. It carries the work-number ⅛ in his catalogue of works.

Drei Lieder, for alto voice and chamber orchestra, is a song cycle by Karlheinz Stockhausen, written while he was still a conservatory student in 1950. In the composer's catalogue of works, it bears the number 1/10.

Spiel is a two-movement orchestral composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen, written in 1952. Withdrawn by the composer after its first performance, it was later revised and restored to his catalogue of works, where it bears the work-number ¼. The score is dedicated to the composer's first wife, Doris.

Chöre für Doris, after poems by Paul Verlaine, is a three-movement a cappella choral composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen, written in 1950 and later given the number 1/11 in the composer's catalogue of works. The score is dedicated to the composer's first wife, Doris Stockhausen, née Andreae.

"Choral" (Chorale) is a short a cappella choral composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen, who wrote both the words and music in 1950. It was later given the number 1/9 in the composer's catalogue of works and lasts about four minutes in performance. The score is dedicated to the composer's first wife, Doris Stockhausen, née Andreae.

Helmut Franz was a German academic teacher and conductor who was known particularly for his work as a choral conductor. He was the director of NDR Chor, based in Hamburg, from 1966 to 1987, focused on a cappella music and contemporary music.

References

  1. Kurtz 1992, 195–196.
  2. Stockhausen 1978, 243.
  3. 1 2 Stockhausen 1979.
  4. Kurtz 1992, 208.
  5. Stockhausen 1978, 243–244.
  6. 1 2 Maconie 2005, 360.
  7. Maconie 2005, 360, 362.
  8. Frisius 2008, 285.
  9. Peters 1999, 110–111.

Sources

Further reading