Last updated
Music theatre with Kontakte by
Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F004566-0002, Darmstadt, Internationaler Kurs fur neue Musik.jpg
The composer in 1957
Performed1961 (1961)

Originale (Originals, or "Real Characters"), musical theatre with Kontakte , is a music theatre work by the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, written in collaboration with the artist Mary Bauermeister. It was first performed in 1961 in Cologne, and is given the work number 12⅔ in Stockhausen's catalogue of works.


Composition history

Sunset over Lake Saimaa, where Originale was composed Saimaan aalto.jpg
Sunset over Lake Saimaa, where Originale was composed

Originale was commissioned from Stockhausen and Bauermeister by Hubertus Durek, manager of the Theater am Dom in Cologne, and his stage director, Carlheinz Caspari, who wanted "ein Stück, in dem Schauspieler, Maler, andere Künstler oder eben einfach »originale« Menschen frei in spontanen Aktionen auftreten sollten" ("a piece in which actors, painters, other artists, or just simply 'genuine characters' would appear freely in spontaneous actions"). [1] It was created while the pair were visiting Finland in August 1961. Stockhausen had been invited to lecture at the Summer University of Jyväskylä where, at a presentation of Kontakte, they met the piano virtuoso and Sibelius biographer, Professor Erik Tawastjerna. Together with the Finnish architect and designer Alvar Aalto, a summer house north of Helsinki on Lake Saimaa was put at their disposal, and the score of Originale was completely worked out there in just two weeks. The "silence" scene, in which the events on stage and the music stop for just one minute, and then everything resumes again, was inspired by the "unearthly" effect of the northerly summer light, which remained in the sky for just two hours or so during which the sun briefly dipped below the horizon, then rose again, "as the birds began to twitter, the fish stirred again, the wind came up, and there was day". [2] [3]


RolePremiere cast (Cologne, 1961)New York cast (1964)San Francisco cast (1990)Sindelfingen cast (2007)New York cast (2014)Berlin cast (2015)
Pianist David Tudor James Tenney Michael OrlandAya Inokuchi Stephen Drury Adrian Heger
Percussionist Christoph Caskel Max Neuhaus Don BakerChristian R. WisselStuart GerberNi Fan
Sound EngineerLeopold von Knobelsdorff David Behrman Ed Herrmann, Richard ZvonarWolfgang MittermaierJoe DrewSébastien Alazet
CameramanWolfgang Ramsbott Robert Breer Paula LevineSimone Speer A.L. Steiner Vincent Stefan
Lighting DirectorWalter Koch (Theater am Dom)Gary Harris
Billy Klüver
Jim QuinnNikolaus PirchtnerBrittany SpencerIrene Selka
Stage DirectorCarlheinz Caspari Allan Kaprow Henry SteeleClaudine M. Kolbus (choreographer) Caden Manson/Jemma Nelson Georg Schütky
Action Composer Nam June Paik Nam June PaikMichael PeppeRobin RhodeRachel Mason/Colin SelfAntinational Embassy
Child Markus Stockhausen
Christel Stockhausen
Anton KaprowMilenaMeret ZyrewitzRaul de NievesMarcelo Renne
Fashion modelEdith SommerOlga Klüver / Lette EisenhauerChris MaherSonja Kunz Justin Vivian Bond Caterina Pogorzelski
Street Singer / String playerBelina/
Kenji Kobayashi (violinist)
Charlotte Moorman (cellist) Pamela Z David Stützel Nick Hallett Miloš Kozon
Cloakroom attendantLiselotte LörschMarje StriderJan Martin-RiskRita Borchtler-Kracht threeASFOUR Ilona Schwabe
Newspaper SellerFrau HoffmannMichael Kirbyan original from SindelfingenSaori Tsukada
Conductor Karlheinz Stockhausen Alvin Lucier Randall Packer Manfred SchreierZach LaytonMax Renne
Animal Attendanta woman from the Cologne ZooKeeper from the Bronx Zoo with a large ape
(replaced on one night by a small lady with a dog)
Jasmin Held Narcissister FUmanoids
Painter Mary Bauermeister Robert Delford Brown (1st night only) /
Hitomi IkumaSteffi Stangl /
Ole Aselmann
Joan Jonas Thomas Goerge
Poet Hans G Helms Allen Ginsberg Michael PeppeHans G Helms Eileen Myles Gerhard Rühm
ActorRuth GrahlmannVincent GaetaChris MaherJerry WillinghamNao BustamanteKader Traoré
ActorEva-Maria KoxGloria GravesDiane RobinsonBarbara Stoll Ishmael Houston-Jones Friederike Harmsen
ActorAlfred Feussner Dick Higgins Lisa ApfelburgBirgit HeintelNiv AcostaNora-Lee Sanwald
ActorHarry J. Bong Jackson Mac Low Traci RobinsonDorothee JakubowskiAlexandro Segade Irm Hermann
ActorHeiner Reddemann /
Peter Hackenberger
Peter LeventhalElena RiveraMarkus Schlueter Lucy Sexton Günter Schanzmann

Performance history and protests

Performances of Originale subsequent to the twelve first performances in Cologne between 26 October and 6 November 1962 have been rare. Productions took place in New York in September 1964, organized jointly by Mary Bauermeister and Charlotte Moorman, [4] in 1990 in San Francisco directed and organized by Randall Packer, [5] [6] and on 21 January 2007 in connection with a 2006–2007 exhibition of Mary Bauermeister's tetralogy Fama FluxusMythos BeuysLegende PaikAtelier Mary Bauermeister in Sindelfingen. [7]

The New York performances took place at Judson Hall, 165 West 57th Street, across from Carnegie Hall, [8] as part of the second annual New York Annual Avant Garde Festival, during the early performative period of the avant-garde movement Fluxus. Outside the concert hall on the opening night, 8 September 1964, several New York artists calling themselves Action Against Cultural Imperialism, including Fluxus founder George Maciunas, Concept Art creator Henry Flynt, poet, journalist, and activist Marc Schleifer, violinist and filmmaker Tony Conrad, and actor/poet Alan Marlowe protested against Stockhausen as a "cultural imperialist" because of some reportedly disparaging remarks about jazz and folk music he was supposed to have made at Harvard in 1958. [9] [10] [11] [12] Some of the protesters seen before the event were actually performers involved in the piece, including poet Allen Ginsberg who, enlisting the support of Schleifer, extorted his way into the picket line against Flynt's wishes. Claims by Moorman and Stage Director Allan Kaprow that they also joined the pickets have been disputed. [13] [14] Meanwhile, Maciunas had recruited cast member Robert Delford Brown as a saboteur. Brown, performing the part of the Painter, came costumed as a huge papier-mache penis and, some way into the performance, lit a stink bomb on stage. This forced an evacuation of the hall and an unscheduled intermission to clear the air. Edgard Varèse, who had been seated near the front as guest of honor, had a violent coughing attack and had to be assisted out to the street. Needless to say, Brown disappeared during the interruption and in subsequent performances was replaced by the Japanese artist Ay-O, who was living at that time in New York. Thrilled press reviews reported that the protest and sabotage were actually part of the performance, a publicity stunt staged by Stockhausen himself. [15] [16] [12] [17] [18] ) Brown disputed the accounts that he was an intentional saboteur or that any rift developed between him and his friend Kaprow. [19] Brown's only interest was to create as outrageous a spectacle as possible and embody the persona of the "Artist." His own documentation left no evidence of being involved in any way with Maciunas. [20]

The May 1990 performance produced and directed by Randall Packer in San Francisco was presented by Zakros InterArts at Theater Artaud. It was the first West Coast performance of Originale and was the first time it had been performed since the 1964 New York City performances. [21] The production draw from recent technological advancements to introduce digital techniques of sound manipulation and live video, replacing the analog media of the 1960s, to disrupt the linear flow of the work and to enhance its qualities of fragmentation and deconstruction of everyday events.[ citation needed ]

A performance celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1964 New York performance was produced in 2014 at The Kitchen by composer/performers Nick Hallett and Zach Layton. [22] [23]

In 2015 the Berlin State Opera produced a new version of Originale staged by Georg Schütky. [24] [25] [26] It featured a mainly Berlin-based cast (e.g., Irm Hermann, Gerhard Rühm, Thomas Goerge, Max Renne, Vincent Stefan). The performances took place in the Werkstatt im Schillertheater which allowed the realisation of Stockhausen's principle of an inverted arena situation.[ clarification needed ]

Concept and form

The surreal absurdity of Originale recalls Samuel Beckett, Alain Robbe-Grillet's books and film L 'année dernière à Marienbad , and, in its use of the commonplace, Harold Pinter. [27] It combines the rigorous, tightly controlled compositional form of Stockhausen's serial music with the loosely structured improvisational framework of the early Happenings. The score to Originale is groundbreaking for its incorporation of performance events and other assorted "actions" into a musical organization with precise "timepoints" or temporal markings, typical of Stockhausen's musical scores. Within the 94' duration of Originale is a performance of Stockhausen's Kontakte for piano, percussion, and electronics, that is woven throughout the work, providing a central unifying element to this often disjointed work. In addition to Kontakte, the Cologne performances included tape-recorded excerpts from Stockhausen's Carré for four orchestras and choirs, Gesang der Jünglinge , Gruppen for three orchestras, and Zyklus for a percussionist. [28]

An unusual assortment of "characters" are introduced in Originale, including a pianist, a percussionist, a sound technician, a stage director, a cameraman, a lighting technician, an action composer, an action painter, a poet, a street singer, a coat checker, a newspaper vendor, a fashion model, a child (playing with blocks), an animal handler with animal, a conductor, and five actors reading a collage of unrelated texts. [29]

According to the musicologist Karl Heinz Wörner, "Originale is a musical composition. The macrorhythm of scene continuity and the ordering of moments are musical. The individual scenes are composed musically, regardless of whether or not there is any 'music' in them. The verbal counterpoint is musical, as are the 'monodic' word melodies and the polyphony of speaking voices". [30] Originale is constructed in 18 scenes, grouped into seven self-sufficient "structures", which may be performed in any order, either successively or with as many as three structures simultaneously, on three separated stages. [31] Each character's actions are specified to take place within a specified number of seconds or minutes, and at one point the actors even speak in what Stockhausen calls "formant rhythms": in a span of four minutes one actor speaks three equally spaced words, a second actor has five equally spaced words, a third has eight, and yet another has thirteen, while a fifth provides a "noise band" of completely irregular rhythms. [27]

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. He is known for his groundbreaking work in electronic music, for introducing controlled chance into serial composition, and for musical spatialization.

Fluxus International network of artists, composers and designers

Fluxus was an international, interdisciplinary community of artists, composers, designers and poets during the 1960s and 1970s who engaged in experimental art performances which emphasized the artistic process over the finished product. Fluxus is known for experimental contributions to different artistic media and disciplines and for generating new art forms. These art forms include intermedia, a term coined by Fluxus artist Dick Higgins; conceptual art, first developed by Henry Flynt, an artist contentiously associated with Fluxus; and video art, first pioneered by Nam June Paik and Wolf Vostell. Dutch gallerist and art critic Harry Ruhé describes Fluxus as "the most radical and experimental art movement of the sixties."

Madeline Charlotte Moorman was an American cellist, performance artist, and advocate for avant-garde music. Referred to as the "Jeanne d'Arc of new music", she was the founder of the Annual Avant Garde Festival of New York and a frequent collaborator with Korean artist Nam June Paik.

Tape loop

In music, tape loops are loops of magnetic tape used to create repetitive, rhythmic musical patterns or dense layers of sound when played on a tape recorder. Originating in the 1940s with the work of Pierre Schaeffer, they were used among contemporary composers of 1950s and 1960s, such as Éliane Radigue, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, and Karlheinz Stockhausen, who used them to create phase patterns, rhythms, textures, and timbres. Popular music authors of 1960s and 1970s, particularly in psychedelic, progressive and ambient genres, used tape loops to accompany their music with innovative sound effects. In the 1980s, analog audio and tape loops with it gave way to digital audio and application of computers to generate and process sound.

Henry Flynt

Henry Flynt is an American philosopher, musician, writer, activist, and artist connected to the 1960s New York avant-garde. He coined the term "concept art" in the early 1960s, during which time he was associated with figures in the Fluxus scene. He later received attention for his anti-art demonstrations against New York cultural institutions in 1963 and 1964.


Stimmung, for six vocalists and six microphones, is a piece by Karlheinz Stockhausen, written in 1968 and commissioned by the City of Cologne for the Collegium Vocale Köln. Its average length is seventy-four minutes, and it bears the work number 24 in the composer's catalog.

George Maciunas Lithuanian artist

George Maciunas was a Lithuanian American artist, born in Kaunas. A founding member and the central coordinator of Fluxus, an international community of artists, architects, composers, and designers, he is most famous for organising and performing early happenings and for assembling a series of highly influential artists' multiples.

George Brecht

George Brecht, born George Ellis MacDiarmid, was an American conceptual artist and avant-garde composer, as well as a professional chemist who worked as a consultant for companies including Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Mobil Oil. He was a key member of, and influence on, Fluxus, the international group of avant-garde artists centred on George Maciunas, having been involved with the group from the first performances in Wiesbaden 1962 until Maciunas' death in 1978.

<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.

In music, moment form is defined as "a mosaic of moments", and, in turn, a moment is defined as a "self-contained (quasi-)independent section, set off from other sections by discontinuities".

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".


Kontakte ("Contacts") is an electronic music work by Karlheinz Stockhausen, realized in 1958–60 at the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) electronic-music studio in Cologne with the assistance of Gottfried Michael Koenig. The score is Nr. 12 in the composer's catalogue of works, and is dedicated to Otto Tomek.

<i>Mikrophonie</i> (Stockhausen)

Mikrophonie is the title given by Karlheinz Stockhausen to two of his compositions, written in 1964 and 1965, in which "normally inaudible vibrations ... are made audible by an active process of sound detection ; the microphone is used actively as a musical instrument, in contrast to its former passive function of reproducing sounds as faithfully as possible".

Mary Bauermeister German artist

Mary Hilde Ruth Bauermeister is a German artist who works in sculpture, drawing, installation, performance, and music. Influenced by Fluxus artists and Nouveau Réalisme, her work addresses esoteric issues of how information is transferable through society. "I only followed an inner drive to express what was not yet there, in reality or thought", she said of her practice. "To make art was more a finding, searching process than a knowing." Since the 1970s, her work has concentrated on the themes surrounding New Age spirituality, specifically geomancy, the divine interpretation of lines on the ground.

Experimental music is a general label for any music that pushes existing boundaries and genre definitions. Experimental compositional practice is defined broadly by exploratory sensibilities radically opposed to, and questioning of, institutionalized compositional, performing, and aesthetic conventions in music. Elements of experimental music include indeterminate music, in which the composer introduces the elements of chance or unpredictability with regard to either the composition or its performance. Artists may also approach a hybrid of disparate styles or incorporate unorthodox and unique elements.

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.

Studie I is an electronic music composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen from the year 1953. It lasts 9 minutes 42 seconds and, together with his Studie II, comprises his work number ("opus") 3.

<i>Refrain</i> (Stockhausen)

Refrain for three players is a chamber music composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen, and is number 11 in his catalog of works.

Prozession (Procession), for tamtam, viola, electronium, piano, microphones, filters, and potentiometers, is a composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen, written in 1967. It is Number 23 in the catalogue of the composer’s works.

<i>Plus-Minus</i> (Stockhausen)

Plus-Minus, 2 × 7 pages for realisation, is a composition for one or several performers by Karlheinz Stockhausen, first written in 1963 and redrafted in 1974. It is Nr. 14 in the composer's catalogue of works, and has a variable performing length that depends on the version worked out from the given materials. The score is dedicated to Mary Bauermeister.


  1. Bauermeister 2011, 64.
  2. Bauermeister 2011, 64–66.
  3. Kurtz 1992, 114.
  4. Bauermeister 2011, 161.
  5. Kosman 1990.
  6. Tucker 1990.
  7. Bauermeister 2011, 294.
  8. Bloch 2008, 2.
  9. Bauermeister 2011, 163.
  10. Fricke 1998, passim.
  11. Goodman 1964.
  12. 1 2 Piekut 2011, 65–66.
  13. Bauermeister 2011, 162.
  14. Piekut 2011, 66.
  15. Bauermeister 2011, 164.
  16. Kohl 1999, 77.
  17. Schonberg 1964.
  18. Sigmon 1964.
  19. Bloch 2008, 3.
  20. Bloch 2008, 38–45.
  21. Packer 2020.
  22. Smith 2013.
  23. Anon. 2014.
  24. Herzfeld 2015.
  25. Pachl 2015.
  26. Röhling 2015.
  27. 1 2 Harvey 1975, 90.
  28. Dörstel 1993, 199.
  29. Stockhausen 1964, 111.
  30. Wörner 1973, 192.
  31. Stockhausen 1964, 110.

Cited sources

Further reading