|Chamber music by Karlheinz Stockhausen|
|Performed||26 May 1953|
Kontra-Punkte (Counter-Points, or Against-Points) 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" ( Stockhausen 1963 , 37).
The first, untitled version, written in 1952–53, was a sparse-textured, "punctual" composition scored for flute, E-flat clarinet, contrabass clarinet, contrabassoon, trumpet, contrabass tuba, piano four hands, harp, violin, and double bass ( Assis 2011 , 260). This score was almost immediately rejected by the composer, who created a new version in the spring of 1953 for flute, clarinet in A, bass clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, piano (one player), harp, violin, and cello. This version has the distinction of being "Nr. 1" in the composer's catalog of works, although the Klavierstücke I–IV , designated "Nr. 2", were actually composed in the previous year.
The hyphenated title signifies a "counter-action" against the punctual style currently in vogue in the early 1950s, an action embodied in the composition itself as a process of transforming dissociated "points" into cohesive "groups" of notes, and therefore from an essentially static condition to an audibly dynamic one. The title also implies a criticism of Stockhausen's own earlier composition Punkte , as well as of his friend Pierre Boulez's 1951 work Polyphonie X —a criticism for which Boulez seems to have forgiven Stockhausen ( Maconie 2005 , 116–17).
Kontra-Punkte was first performed during the ISCM World Music Days in Cologne on 26 May 1953 by members of the WDR Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Hermann Scherchen. This performance, however, was only of roughly the first two-thirds of the work, owing to lack of sufficient time for the pianist to prepare the extremely difficult closing part. Later that same year, Scherchen conducted the first complete performance on a Domaine musical concert in Paris ( Kurtz 1992 , 58). One review of the 1953 (partial) premiere reported that Scherchen immediately repeated the piece because, shortly after the beginning of the first performance, the pianist had gotten two bars behind, despite being assisted by the composer "who from time to time played a note obviously not within the capacity of ten fingers but required by the score" ( Wolf 1953 , 606).
Somewhat confusingly, an earlier, orchestral work by Stockhausen was titled "Kontrapunkte" (without the hyphen: "Counterpoints"). This work, suppressed by the composer at the time on grounds that it was unplayable, was drastically recomposed in 1962 and issued under the title Punkte (Points), by which name the original work is also now called (Kurtz 1992 , 52; Blumröder 1993 , 99).
"A 'punctual' ensemble style using ten soloists divided into six sound groups ((1) flute-bassoon, (2) clarinet–bass clarinet, (3) trumpet-trombone, (4) piano, (5) harp, (6) violin-violoncello) is transformed irregularly but steadily into a soloistic style articulated by 'groups', gradually focussing on the piano part" ( Stockhausen 1964 , 20). This version adds progressively longer insertions of denser note groups, often in single instruments, while at the same time gradually replacing more and more long notes with groups of rapid, shorter ones in a technique called Ausmultiplikation ( Kohl 2004 ). This gradual erosion of the originally sparse texture, reflected in the hyphenated title (meaning "Against Points"), complements three parallel processes already present in the first version: (1) the heterogeneous timbres of the full ensemble are gradually reduced to the "monochrome" of the solo piano; (2) widely fluctuating durations reduce to similar values; (3) wide-ranging dynamics reduce to a generally soft level. This unidirectional process has been compared on the one hand to that of Maurice Ravel's Boléro ( Pousseur 1970 , 246), and on the other to Haydn's "Farewell" Symphony ( Maconie 2005 , 116). Countless minor changes have been introduced in subsequent revisions, the last of which, in January 2004, replaced the A clarinet with the B-flat instrument.
In chronological order of recording.
Kreuzspiel is a composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen written for oboe, bass clarinet, piano and four percussionists in 1951. It is assigned the number 1/7 in the composer's catalogue of works.
Aus den sieben Tagen is a collection of 15 text compositions by Karlheinz Stockhausen, composed in May 1968, in reaction to a personal crisis, and characterized as "Intuitive music"—music produced primarily from the intuition rather than the intellect of the performer(s). It is Work Number 26 in the composer's catalog of works.
Gruppen for three orchestras (1955–57) is amongst the best-known compositions of German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, and is Work Number 6 in the composer's catalog of works. Gruppen is "a landmark in 20th-century music. .. probably the first work of the post-war generation of composers in which technique and imagination combine on the highest level to produce an undisputable masterpiece".
Tierkreis (1974–75) is a musical composition by the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. The title is the German word for Zodiac, and the composition consists of twelve melodies, each representing one sign of the zodiac.
The Klavierstücke constitute a series of nineteen compositions by German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen.
In Freundschaft is a composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen, number 46 in his catalogue of works, which is playable on a wide variety of solo instruments. It was first performed on a clarinet on 28 July 1977.
Adieufür Wolfgang Sebastian Meyer is a composition for wind quintet by Karlheinz Stockhausen composed in 1966. It is Number 21 in the composer's catalog of works, and the second of Stockhausen's three wind quintets.
Zeitmaße is a chamber-music work for five woodwinds composed in 1955–1956 by German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen; it is Number 5 in the composer's catalog. It is the first of three wind quintets written by Stockhausen, followed by Adieu für Wolfgang Sebastian Meyer (1966) and the Rotary Wind Quintet (1997), but is scored with cor anglais instead of the usual French horn of the standard quintet. Its title refers to the different ways that musical time is treated in the composition.
Mixtur, for orchestra, 4 sine-wave generators, and 4 ring modulators, is an orchestral composition by the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, written in 1964, and is Nr. 16 in his catalogue of works. It exists in three versions: the original version for full orchestra, a reduced scoring made in 1967, and a re-notated version of the reduced scoring, made in 2003 and titled Mixtur 2003, Nr. 162⁄3.
Refrain for three players is a chamber music composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen, and is number 11 in his catalog of works.
The Konkrete Etüde is the earliest work of electroacoustic tape music by Karlheinz Stockhausen, composed in 1952 and lasting just three-and-a-quarter minutes. The composer retrospectively gave it the number "1⁄5" in his catalogue of works.
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 1⁄6 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.
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.
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.
The Dr K–Sextett is a short, occasional composition for six instrumentalists, written in 1969 by Karlheinz Stockhausen and given the number 28 in his catalogue of works.
A Garland for Dr. K. is a set of eleven short compositions created in 1969 for the celebration of the eightieth birthday of Dr Alfred Kalmus, the director of the London branch of Universal Edition. It is also the title of an album containing these eleven pieces of music, recorded in 1976.
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.
Für kommende Zeiten is a collection of seventeen text compositions by Karlheinz Stockhausen, composed between August 1968 and July 1970. It is a successor to the similar collection titled Aus den sieben Tagen, written in 1968. These compositions are characterized as "Intuitive music"—music produced primarily from the intuition rather than the intellect of the performer(s). It is work number 33 in Stockhausen's catalog of works, and the collection is dedicated to the composer's son Markus.
Ensemble is a group-composition project devised by Karlheinz Stockhausen for the 1967 Darmstädter Ferienkurse. Twelve composers and twelve instrumentalists participated, and the resulting performance lasted four hours. It is not assigned a work number in Stockhausen's catalogue of works.