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Chamber music by Karlheinz Stockhausen
Composed1951 (1951)
Dedication Doris Andreae
Performed1952 (1952)
Scoring (and other stages)

Kreuzspiel (English: Crossplay) is a composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen written for oboe, bass clarinet, piano and four percussionists in 1951 (it was later revised for just three percussionists, along with other changes). It is assigned the number 1/7 in the composer's catalogue of works.



Stockhausen regarded Kreuzspiel as his first original composition, as opposed to the style-imitation exercises he did as part of his music studies. [1] According to the composer, it was influenced by Olivier Messiaen's "Mode de valeurs et d'intensités" (1949) and Karel Goeyvaerts's Sonata for Two Pianos (1950), and is one of the earliest examples of "point" music. Kreuzspiel was premièred at the Darmstädter Ferienkurse in the summer of 1952, conducted by the composer. According to Stockhausen, the performance "ended in a scandal". [2]


Kreuzspiel has been analysed in print more often than any other work by Stockhausen, though all but one [3] restrict themselves to just the first of its three stages.

Though routinely described (by the composer as well as others) as a "serial" composition, Kreuzspiel does not employ a referential, recurring twelve-tone ordered set. Rather, it uses constant reordering of twelve-element (linked pitch, duration, dynamic, and—in the original version—attack) sets—a device sometimes called "permutational serialism" (e.g. Howel) [4] It also uses a permutational seven-element system to control register. [5]

The composition consists of three linked movements, or "stages". In the first stage, six notes begin in the highest register, and six others begin in the lowest register. These gradually move into the four middle octaves until an equal distribution of pitches throughout the entire range is achieved at the centre of the movement. From that point to the end of the movement, the process is reversed, so that all notes arrive again in the two extreme registers, only the six notes originally in the top are now at the bottom, and vice versa. The second movement carries out a similar formal process, only starting in the middle register, spreading out to all seven octaves, and then contracting again to the middle. The third movement superimposes the first two. [6] [7] )

Compositional control of these shapes is determined in the first stage through the parameter of duration, while in the second stage the dominant element is pitch.( Kohl 1981 , p. 18)


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Darmstädter Ferienkurse is a regular summer event of contemporary classical music in Darmstadt, Hesse, Germany. It was founded in 1946, under the name "Ferienkurse für Internationale Neue Musik Darmstadt", as a gathering with lectures and concerts over several summer weeks. Composers, performers, theorists and philosophers of contemporary music met first annually until 1970, and then biannually. The event was organised by the Kranichsteiner Musikinstitut, which was renamed Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt (IMD). It is regarded as a leading international forum of contemporary and experimental music with a focus on composition. The festival awards the Kranichsteiner Musikpreis for performers and young composers.

Darmstadt School

Darmstadt School refers to a group of composers who were associated with the Darmstadt International Summer Courses for New Music from the early 1950s to the early 1960s in Darmstadt, Germany, and who shared some aesthetic attitudes. Initially, this included only Pierre Boulez, Bruno Maderna, Luigi Nono, and Karlheinz Stockhausen, but others came to be added, in various ways. The term does not refer to an educational institution.

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".

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mean that all dynamic degrees are fixed; one point will be linked directly to another on the chosen scale, without any intervening transition or gesture. Line-dynamics, on the other hand, involve the transitions from one given amplitude to another: crescendo, decrescendo and their combinations. This second category can be defined as a dynamic glissando, comparable to glissandi of pitch and of tempi.

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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.

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Quatre Études de rythme is a set of four piano compositions by Olivier Messiaen, written in 1949 and 1950. A performance of them lasts between 15 and 20 minutes.

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.


  1. Stockhausen 1989, pp. 34, 55.
  2. Stockhausen 1964, p. 11.
  3. Borio and Garda 1991.
  4. Howell 1995, p. 111.
  5. Toop 1974, pp. 159–61.
  6. Stockhausen 1964, pp. 11–12.
  7. Stockhausen 1989, pp. 55–56.

Cited sources

Further reading