How Stockhausen composed his own oblivion
May 26, 2014 by norman lebrecht
Tim Page, in a typically incisive essay for the New York Review of Books, remarks on the disappearance of Karlheinz Stockhausen who, along with Pierre Boulez, led the post-War avant-garde in European music.
Very little Stockhausen is available on record and scores are obtainable only from his estate at outrageous prices. Eead Tim here.
I happen to remember when the madness set in and Stockhausen began clawing back all of his music from publishers and record labels.
He was about to premiere one of the segments of his week-long Licht opera at La Scala in the late 1980s when a photographer approached me, saying the the great man had agreed to one session of portraits and a conversation with a journalist. Would I be up for it?
Like a shot. Nothing is more magnetic to a curious writer than a self-declared hermit with a built-in harem.
Then the conditions started coming in. Stockhausen demanded copyright in all photographs, because he was the ‘sole owner of his own image’. Not my problem, but the snapper looked worried.
Then he demanded physical ownership of any tape I recorded of him speaking. He was the owner of his own voice. I said I’d think about it.
Then he asserted copyright ownership over every word that he uttered and I wanted to quote.
End of conversation. Bye-bye Karlheinz Stockhausen.
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