|The barn used for performances of Péter Eötvös' Oeldorf Group (circa 2013, but "artistically-colored").|
Musical Theatre for 4 players
(1974) [50-70 min.]
Nr.40 1/2: LAUB UND REGEN (Leaves and Rain),
final duet of HERBSTMUSIK for clarinet and viola
(1974) [11 min.]
HERBSTMUSIK is a theatrical piece portraying a "scene from daily life". Richard Toop describes (in his article "Stockhausen's Secret Theatre - Unfinished Projects..."), sketches for a 1969 work called OPER (Opera), where some scenes consist of "abstract" activities which create musical sounds, and some other scenes consist of more typical "daily life" activities, but which emphasize the "ambient" noises of these scenarios (or add musical signals). HERBSTMUSIK, written a few years later, is kind of a combination of these two ideas, and portrays typical rural activities in a barn (or at least what I assume to be typical, having never played in a barn myself), set to various regular and irregular rhythms. The activities (hammering, breaking wood branches, threshing straw, rolling around in a pile of leaves, etc...) are organized so that the sounds of their stage actions are "musical". These were designed to create a kind "autumnal sound environment", and were probably informed by Stockhausen's own nostalgia for earlier times.
The rural setting of the work is also inspired by a concert series held in an actual barn (see top of page), located next to Péter Eötvös' home as part of his "Oeldorf Group" activities. This was a kind of "composers collective", where semi-exclusive performances of avant-garde electro-acoustic works were presented. It was during these rehearsals and concerts that Stockhausen met the American woodwind player Suzanne Stephens, who would continue to be one of Stockhausen's closest collaborators in the future.
The work is in 4 Movements which segue into each other without a break. Each Movement has its own grouping (duo to quartet) and each takes place at one of four "stations", where the players use rural "found objects" to create rhythm and timbre modulations:
|1||Ein Dach vernageln
(Nailing a Roof)
|duo (with accompaniment)||A wooden house with hammers, boards, nails in 5 different sizes, and stepladders|
|quartet||4 piles of dry (beechwood) twigs and branches of 3-4 different sizes (with chairs)|
|trio||A huge pile of straw (30 sheaves of grain) with threshing flails|
|4||Laub und Regen
(Leaves and Rain)
|duo (with accompaniment)||A huge pile of leaves, with 2 raised, functioning shower heads for creating "rain"|
|Each of the "stations" are shown here, going clockwise from top left. |
At bottom right is a scene from the clarinet and viola final duet.
The world premiere in Bremen was performed by Suzanne Stephens, Joachim Krist, Péter Eötvös and Stockhausen.
Score cover. (© www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
HERBSTMUSIK is designed to create a structured musical atmosphere from the sounds of everyday rural tasks and activities. All of the Movements act as arenas upon which the players must create "soundworlds" from the natural resources at hand: metal, wood, air, earth, leaves and water.
|1st Movement: Nailing a Roof (trio) |
This movement explores various timbres created from a hammer, nails and a board of wood. These are used by P1 and P2 (Player 1 and Player 2) to create as many different sounds as possible (rocking, scraping or rubbing the hammer on the nails, trilling on 2 nails, creating melodies and glissandi with different intensity attacks, etc...). P4, a young girl, enters with a clarinet and intermittently practices fragments of a simple melody ("good to whistle along with"). During this 1st movement, the hammering players also freely whistle melodic fragments in dialogue with the clarinet. The sounds are expressed in a number of musical figures, rhythms, and timbral developments which include:
|2nd Movement: Breaking Wood (quartet)
During this movement, all 4 players create many timbres and rhythmic textures by breaking different sized twigs and branches, as well as making "ambient" noises (from dropping, picking up, rubbing, scraping, etc...).
|3rd Movement: Threshing (trio)
The trio here explores straw-threshing rhythms in triplet and duple rhythms, as well as shared rhythmic phrasing (1 beat per person). Despite the rhythmic nature of the threshing, Stockhausen indicates that the threshing here is always relaxed and should not imply physically-demanding work. The scene includes these elements:
|4th Movement: Leaves and Rain (duo)
This movement has the most "story" to it, and basically portrays a playfully adolescent (yet sexually-charged) "leaf fight". At the end, the girl uses her clarinet to teach the male player how to play a beautiful melody on the viola.
The clarinet and viola duo starts with Clarina stating the main melody slowly. Gradually the viola player learns the melody and the two instruments play a romantically-tinged duet, with a harmony statement of the main melody in the middle and at the end. After the 1st successful statement of the melody (track 11, Reh.Nr. 14), the 2 players somewhat "reinterpret" the previous 4 movements of HERBSTMUSIK. For example, the ensuing dialogue of tremolo and scalar figures are from the hammering patterns in Movement 1, and the "passing around notes" section (track 20) is an echo of the Movement 3 threshing trio. The CD track numbers below are from Stockhausen Edition CD 32.
|CD Track||Reh. Nr.||Music|
|1||1||Slow statement of the main melody by solo clarinet|
|(1)2-5||2-7||Variations on melody fragments (tremoli, ostinati, scalar figures, wide interval leaps, etc...) ending on a flutter-tongued note|
|6-10||8-13||Viola enters "badly", but is gradually taught the clarinet's melody, 1 note at a time|
|11||14||Duo plays the complete melody together (fast) "successfully"|
|12-19||15-25||Counterpointed fragments (brief unison "heads")|
|20-23||26-30||Passing around parts of a 3-note fragment (echo of Mvmt 3 threshing rotation)|
|(23) 24||31-33||A few unison harmony events mixed into dialogue|
|29||39||Final statement of the complete melody in high register|
Concert version of the 4th Movement's final duet: LAUB UND REGEN (Leaves and Rain), version for clarinet and basset-horn (Petra Stump and Heinz-Peter Linshalm, 2003 Stockhausen Courses):
LAUB UND REGEN on Stockhausen Edition CD 32
Buy the Score
2013 Performance clips, Südgelände Berlin (Vimeo)
2013 performance webpage with YXUS Ensemble
"Stockhausen's Secret Theatre - Unfinished Projects from the 60s and Early 70s " (Richard Toop, Perspectives on New Music 36.2)
Oeldorf Group Wiki Entry