Thursday, September 3, 2015


(1977 sketch, colors added)
Nr. 45: JUBILÄUM (JUBILEE) for orchestra
(1977, rev. 1980) [approx. 15 min.]

     JUBILÄUM (JUBILEE) was commissioned for the 125th Anniversary Jubilee of the Hanover Opera House and premiered in 1977.  Like many of Stockhausen's other works of the 1970's, it is not a serial work in the Webernian sense, but instead uses a melodic (and in this case harmonic) formula as it's basic theme.  In some ways one could think of this work as a natural progression from INORI

Thematic Formula
     Everything in JUBILÄUM is based on a 15-note theme, or "formula".  Unlike the formulas used in INORI, HARLEKIN, IN FREUNDSCHAFT, etc... the central tones of this formula have harmonies built directly into them.

     The picture above shows that there are 2 peaks of highest harmonic density, specifically at G#-D# and G-E (Stockhausen characterizes this as "2 waves").  In a different harmonic process, the 15 chords begin as an octave on C, progress towards a dissonant minor 9th in the central B, and then back towards a consonant perfect 5th on the final G (1 wave).  In between the 5 groups of notes ("5 limbs") are rests, which become increasingly longer.  These rests are called "colored pauses", because they are represented in JUBILÄUM by string and brass harmonics.

Form Structure
Form structure redrawn and colored from Stockhausen's original sketch.
In the top 3 rows, the lighter colors indicate aleatory loops, and the darker colors represent a formula refrain.
The timings are based on the 2010 recording conducted by Oliver Knussen on Stockhausen Edition CD 100.
(click to enlarge)
     The orchestra in JUBILÄUM is divided into 4 groups based on register (high, middle, low, very low).  Basically, members of the high/mid/low groups independently (aleatorically) play continuous loops (ostinati) of the 15-note formula sequence, the high group slowing down, the low group speeding up, and the middle group slowing down and then speeding up.  These ritornelli are played quietly using string and wind harmonics, and they continue throughout, except during 2 "sound windows" (below).  Before the final tutti statement of the formula (which I characterize as a "coda", but is more like a fanfare, actually), each of the 3 groups get to play the formula "together" once indicated by the darker shades above).

     At the same time, the 4th group (very low register) slowly repeats the formula (synchronously) at different tempi.  The rests notes of the formula here are called "colored pauses", because these pauses are colored by the quiet loops of the higher register instruments, which still continue.  The column divisions in the graphic above are based on 4th group formula refrain repetitions.  In the final coda, all 4 groups play the formula together at a brisk pace.

     Interrupting the main structure are 2 "sound window" events where the orchestra falls silent and a supplementary instrumental group is featured from off-stage (balcony/rear of the hall, outside the hall).  In the 1st sound window, a trombone and tuba are featured, and in the 2nd, 4 oboes.  These supplementary groups play the formula as well.

     In a 1980 revision, 6 accumulating layers of solo instruments (horn (with bassoon during the formula rests), trombone, violin, flute, oboe, and high metal percussion) were added on top of the main structure.  They are generally polyphonic, but closer to the last formula refrain they become a bit more homophonic.

      From a spatial perspective, the instrumentation is arranged on stage (and on CD) from lowest instruments on the left, to highest on the right.  The "sound window" events are appropriately enough, "farther away".

Sound Impressions
     This genesis of this work reminds me of the development of a few of Beethoven's overtures, such as "The Ruins of Athens" (Op. 113), "Consecration of the House" (Op. 124), and "King Stephen" (Op. 117).   Like those works, this was also created to commemorate the inauguration of a new theater.  Also, like those works, this work is probably not that well-known, though it actually has a very "accessible" form and texture.

     It feels like this was sketched out fairly quickly, but Stockhausen has orchestrated it with a high level of craftsmanship, and the textures are always changing (beyond the simplified descriptions above).  The 3 sections in between the 2 sound windows are very interesting in that, by that point, all 4 layers are at their closest tempo-wise, and a greater sense of orchestral polyphony can be heard.  In other words, at the beginning and just before the coda, the texture is something like a prominent chord harmony surrounded by fluttering textures.  In the central section, the fluttering textures have slowed down enough so that they have themselves almost become recognizable as chord harmonies.  The 1980 additional solo parts are also very welcome, but it would be very interesting to hear the original version without them as well...

     The general feeling I get listening to this orchestral work is one of epic wonder, like discovering an ancient ruin in the forest.  The fleeting ritornelli are kind of like wisps of wind, or maybe birds flying around in the forest.  The final refrain in the coda is quite a fanfare, and if this were used as part of a procession, I can imagine them reaching the throne at that point.  This, along with the "İ(k)" moment of MOMENTE, makes JUBILÄUM one of Stockhausen's most evocative pieces.

JUBILÄUM samples, track listings and CD ordering
Purchase the Score
Wiki Entry
YouTube Clip 

No comments:

Post a Comment