A Brief Guide to LICHT - Pt 1: Musical Forces

Stockhausen at Ryoanji, Kyoto Japan 1977
www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
     LICHT (Light) is Stockhausen's 29-hour work for acoustic and electronic operatic forces, divided into 7 days of the week.  Though it is generally considered a cycle of 7 "operas", practically speaking it has almost nothing in common with most operas written in the last 200 years, and is probably better considered as a collection of interconnected vocal concert works with extremely interesting stage design and costuming.  Each of the 7 "operas" has a melodic/thematic backbone (called a "super-formula"), but story-wise, actors and narrative change from act to act and the libretto text very often is made up of non-traditional grammar.  In fact the text begins in German but later includes multiple world languages, even some which Stockhausen created himself.  However the work does revolve around 3 archetype characters, MICHAEL, EVE and LUCIFER, and over the 29 hours each of these characters are introduced, come into conflict, face temptation and finally come into union.

     Each scene and act of LICHT is also designed to be performed individually as a concert work (as opposed to being "staged" within a performance of its actual opera).  Though the musical super-formula of LICHT was developed in 1977, the development of the instrumental forces (arrangements) of LICHT were largely left open, especially after the first opera was completed.  Many times a scene or an act was designed as the result of a commission, or as a gift to one of his musical collaborators (or family members).  What results is that each of the 7 operas has specific themes, but the realization of those themes can be very different.  For example MITTWOCH (Wednesday) includes helicopters in one scene, and a camel from space in another, and from a narrative standpoint they have no connection whatsoever.  However some of the operas do have some more static stage elements, especially if the theme is a very visual one.  For example MONTAG (Monday) revolves around a giant statue of a naked woman giving birth, and this statue remains on stage for the entirety of that day's opera.

     The one thing that truly ties the 7 operas together is the 1 minute long super-formula, which informs just about every note in the entire 29 hours.  The super-formula is rarely played in a classically expository way, but is threaded through the work in various guises, sometimes in atomized form.  In a separate article I'll examine the super-formula in detail.

     This first part contains a very brief synopsis and a list of the instrumental forces utilized in each work.  These guides will generally avoid most of the non-musical staging elements (colors, dancers, costuming, symbolism, etc...) since then this would no longer be very "brief".  However the articles on the individual works on this site (at this writing mostly still forthcoming) will go into those elements in more detail.  Additionally there are several resources on the web that cover these dramatic aspects very well already.

     It may be interesting to note that the themes of the 3 characters of MICHAEL, EVE and LUCIFER are expressed as solos, duos and a trio over the course of the 7 operas of LICHT:

DONNERSTAG  solo MICHAEL
SAMSTAG solo LUCIFER
MONTAG solo EVE
DIENSTAG duo MICHAEL & LUCIFER
FREITAG duo EVE & LUCIFER
MITTWOCH trio MICHAEL, EVE & LUCIFER
SONNTAG duo MICHAEL & EVE

Here is a brief guide to the 7 Days of LICHT:


www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT 
(Thursday from Light) (1977-1980)
(for 3 solo voices, 8 solo instrumentalists (trumpet, bassett horn, trombone, piano, clarinet, contrabass,, saxophones), 3 solo dancers, choir, orchestra and tape)
     DONNERSTAG is MICHAEL's day, the Day of Learning.  It features MICHAEL's representative instrument, the trumpet.  MICHAEL is portrayed as a human, growing from child to man.  He undertakes a journey around the Earth until he encounters EVE and her bassett horn.  Eventually he returns to the Heavens where he describes his experiences to the other heavenly beings.
The color for THURSDAY is LIGHT BLUE, PURPLE

THURSDAY GREETING 8-piece brass ensemble, piano, 3 percussionists

MICHAEL'S YOUTH:

Tenor, Soprano and Bass vocal soloists, 
trumpet, bassett horn,  trombone, piano, dancer,
tapes (INVISIBLE CHOIRS and multi-tracked trumpet, bassett-horn  & trombone)
          CHILDHOOD (featuring Tenor, Soprano and Bass vocal soloists)
          MOON-EVE (feat. Tenor vocal soloist and bassett horn)
          EXAMINATION (feat. Tenor vocal soloist, trumpet and piano (PIANO PIECE XII))

MICHAEL'S JOURNEY AROUND THE EARTH:
Trumpet & Orchestra
          DEPARTURE
          THE 7 STATIONS
          HALT (feat. trumpet & contrabass duo)
          MISSION (feat. trumpet & bassett horn duo)
          DERISION and CRUCIFIXION (feat. sopr. saxophone duo)
          ASCENSION (feat. trumpet & bassett horn duo)

MICHAEL'S HOME-COMING:


Tenor, Soprano and Bass vocal soloists, bassett-horn, trumpet, 
trombone, choir, orchestra, tape (of choir)
          FESTIVAL (and DRAGONFIGHT)
          VISION (feat. Tenor vocal soloist, trumpet and dancer)

THURSDAY FAREWELL

5 Trumpets

Released on Stockhausen Edition CD 30


(from Lucifers Dance)
www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
SAMSTAG AUS LICHT 
(Saturday from Light) (1981-1983)
(for Bass vocalist, 10 solo instrumentalists (piano, flute, percussionists, trombone, piccolo flute, piccolo trumpet...), 2 solo dancers, symphonic wind band, ballet or mimes, men's chorus, organ)
     SAMSTAG is LUCIFER's day, which is the Day of Death (and Resurrection).  It is also the Night of the transition to the LIGHT.  LUCIFER's instrument is the trombone, which is featured in the opening Greeting.  LUCIFER has a dream of death and resurrection, after which a cat-like flautist protects his coffin with musical exercises.  Then an orchestra made up in the image of LUCIFER's face battles itself into self-destruction.  Finally a group of monks release a caged black bird into the sky.

The color for SATURDAY is BLACK.

SATURDAY GREETING 26 Brass instruments and 2 Percussionists

LUCIFER'S DREAM

Bass vocal soloist and piano (PIANO PIECE XIII)

KATHINKA'S CHANT 
(or LUCIFER'S REQUIEM)
Flute and 6 Percussionists

LUCIFER'S DANCE

Bass vocal soloist, piccolo trumpet, piccolo flute, symphonic wind band

LUCIFER'S FAREWELL

Men's chorus, organ, 7 trombones, bells, gong

Released on Stockhausen Edition CD 34



(EVE prepares to give birth)
www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
MONTAG AUS LICHT 
(Monday from Light) (1984-1988)
(for 14 solo voices, 6 solo instrumentalists (piano, bassett horn, flute, piccolo, synthesizer, etc...), 1 actor, choir, children’s choir, girls’ choir, modern orchestra (3 synthesizer players, 1 percussionist, tape))
     MONTAG is EVE's day, the Day of Birthing.  EVE is represented by bassett horn and flute.  EVE gives birth to a new form of Mankind, but the children and their caretakers are mocked by LUCIFER.  In the end a Pied Piper flautist leads the children off into the distance.
The color for MONDAY is LIGHT GREEN.

MONDAY GREETING Bassett horn and tape


EVE'S 1st BIRTH-GIVING: 3 Sopranos, 3 Tenors, Bass, actor, choir, 
children’s choir, 3 synthesizers, perc., tape
         EXPECTING (feat. 3 Sopranos and choir)
         HEINZELMÄNNCHEN (feat. 3 Sopranos)
         BIRTH-ARIAS (feat. 3 Sopranos, 3 Tenors w. choir)
         BOYS' HULLABALOO (feat. choir)
         LUCIFER'S FURY (feat. Bass vocal soloist and vocalizing actor)
         THE GREAT WEEPING


EVE'S 2nd BIRTH-GIVING: 7 Boy vocal soloists, bassett horns, piano, children's choir,
girls' choir, 3 synthesizers, perc., tape
           GIRLS' PROCESSION (feat. girl's choir)
(feat. piano (PIANO PIECE XIV))
           CONCEPTION
           RE-BIRTH (feat. children's choir)
           EVE'S SONG (feat. bassett horn, synthesizer, boy vocalists)


EVE'S MAGIC: Bassett horn, alto flute with piccolo, 
children's choir, 3 synthesizers, perc., tape
           MESSAGE (feat. bassett horn and alto flute soloists)
           THE PIED PIPER/ (feat. alto flute, piccolo, children's choir)
           ABDUCTION


MONDAY FAREWELL Tape featuring piccolo flute, Soprano voices and musique concrete

Released on Stockhausen Edition CD 36



(from the Course of the Years)
 www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
DIENSTAG AUS LICHT 
(Tuesday from Light) (1977, 1987-1991)
(for 3 solo voices, 10 solo instrumentalists (trumpets, trombones, ekectronic keyboards and percussion, synthesizer, flugel horn, etc...), dancer-mimes, choir, synthesizers, perc., tapes)
     DIENSTAG is the Day of War.  LUCIFER and MICHAEL engage in a contest of wills in a "Course of the Years".  Later the opposing forces of each battle in the air and on a futuristic battleground.  The forces of LUCIFER penetrate a crystal barrier to reveal "war gamers".  In the end a clownish figure, the Synthi-Fou defuses the conflict with his good humor.
The color for TUESDAY is RED.

TUESDAY GREETING: Soprano vocal soloist, 9 trumpets, 9 trombones, 
2 synthesizers, choir
     WELCOME (feat. trumpets, trombones, 2 synthesizers)
     PEACE GREETING (feat. Soprano soloist)


COURSE OF THE YEARS Tenor, Bass vocal soloists, dancer-mimes, 3 synthesizers, 3 piccolo flutes, 
3 sopr. saxophones, harmonium, guitar, metal percussion, tape


INVASION – EXPLOSION with FAREWELL: Soprano, Tenor, Bass vocal soloists, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, 
flugel horn, 2 synthesizers, 2 percussionists, choir, tape (OKTOPHONIE)
     OKTOPHONIE (8 channel tape)
     PIETA (feat. Soprano and flugel horn)
     BEYOND (feat. male choir (CT, T, B) and tape)
     SYNTHI-FOU (feat. synthesizer soloist (PIANO PIECE XV))

Released on Stockhausen Edition CD 40


(from Children's War)
 www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
FREITAG AUS LICHT 
(Friday from Light) (1991-1994)
(for Soprano, Baritone, Bass, flute, bassett horn, children’s orchestra, children’s choir, 12 choir singers, synthesizer, 12 couples of dancer-mimes, tape)
     FREITAG is the Day of Temptation where LUCIFER attempts to tempt EVE into joining his revolution against Heaven.  At first EVE resists, but the children of LUCIFER and the children of EVE meet and play together.  However a Children's War soon shatters the union.
The color for FRIDAY is ORANGE.

FRIDAY GREETING 
(Outer Space Pt 1)
Tape (modified vocal and concrete sounds)


FRIDAY TEMPTATION: Soprano, Baritone and Bass vocal soloists, flute, bassett horn, choir, children’s choir and "orchestra", synthesizer, tape (modified vocal and concrete sounds)
     PROPOSAL (feat. Soprano and Bass vocal soloists, flute, bassett horn)
     CHILDREN'S ORCHESTRA (feat. Soprano and Bass vocal soloists, 2-part children's choir and soloists)
     CONSENT (feat. Soprano and Bass vocal soloists, flute, bassett horn)
     FALL (feat. Soprano and Baritone vocal soloists, flute, bassett horn)
     CHILDREN'S WAR (feat. 2-part children's choir & synthesizer (PIANO PIECE XVII))
     REPENTANCE (feat. Soprano vocal soloist, flute, bassett horn)
     ELUFA (feat. bassett horn, flute)
     CHOIR-SPIRAL (feat. 2-part mixed choir)

PAARE VOM FREITAG

Soprano and Bass processed with concrete music
FRIDAY FAREWELL 
(Outer Space Pt 2)
Tape (modified vocal and concrete sounds)

Released on Stockhausen Edition CD 50



MITTWOCH AUS LICHT 
(Wednesday from Light) (1995-1997)
(for flute, bassett horn, trumpet, trombone, string quartet, Bass with short-wave receiver, choir, orchestra, synthesizer, 2 dancer-mimes, tape)
     In MITTWOCH, the Day of Cooperation and Reconciliation, MICHAEL, LUCIFER and EVE attempt to reach common ground through a council on love, a floating orchestra, a flying string quartet, and finally a meeting in interstellar space where a strange camel (LUCI-CAMEL) brings clarity and sends message bearers out into the universe.
The color for WEDNESDAY is BRIGHT YELLOW.

WEDNESDAY GREETING Tape (from MICHAELION)


WORLD PARLIAMENT Vocal soloists, mixed choir


ORCHESTRA FINALISTS Orchestra soloists with musique concrete tape


HELICOPTER STRING QUARTET String quartet, helicopters


MICHAELION Vocal soloists, mixed choir, short-wave radio, flute, bassett horn, trumpet, trombone, synthesizer, tape, toys


WEDNESDAY FAREWELL Tape (from ORCHESTRA FINALISTS)

Released on Stockhausen Edition CDs 66, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55


(from Scents - Signs)
 www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
SONNTAG AUS LICHT 
(Sunday from Light) (1998-2003)
(for 10 vocal soloists, boy’s voice, four instrumental soloists (bassett horn, flute, trumpet, synthesizer), two choirs, two orchestras, electronic music)
     SONNTAG is the Day of Mystical Union between MICHAEL and EVE.  God is praised.  An orchestra atomizes and rotates the themes of MICHAEL and EVE after which a procession of Angels praises the union.  Light Pictures reflect the courtship of the two characters, and the 7 Scents of the Week are celebrated.  Finally, an orchestra and a choral group take turns to finalize the union with recollections of scenes from each day of LICHT.
The color for SUNDAY is GOLD.

LIGHT-WATERS Soprano and Tenor vocal soloists, orchestra, synthesizer


ANGEL PROCESSIONS Choir a cappella (with 4 soloists)


LIGHT-PICTURES Tenor vocalist, bassett horn, ring-modulated flute, ring-modulated trumpet (with synth for controlling ring modulation)


SCENTS – SIGNS Vocal septet (solos, duos and a trio), boy’s voice, synthesizer


HIGH TIMES (MARRIAGES)
     ORCHESTRA VERSION
     CHOIR VERSION
Orchestra
Choir


SUNDAY FAREWELL   Tape (5 synthesizers (PIANO PIECE XIX))

Released on Stockhausen Edition CDs 58, 67, 68, 69, 73, 74


Part 2 of this overview of LICHT ("Super-Formula") is here.


Links:
Albrecht Moritz's Stockhausen Reviews
Bernard Pulham - LICHT Essays
Sonoloco Record Reviews
Wiki Entry on LICHT
Ian Parson's blog article and PBS LICHT broadcast
Malcolm Ball's interview with Stockhausen on LICHT (1997)
The Evolution of Macro- and Micro-Time Relations in Stockhausen's Recent Music (Jerome Kohl)
Into the Middleground: Formula Syntax in Stockhausen's Licht (Jerome Kohl)
Time and Light (Jerome Kohl) 

No comments:

Post a Comment