Stockhausen's Hymnen

Thursday 26 April 2018,
Room 2
Free, just drop in, limited seating

The festival is organised by the British Museum and the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden and made possible by the Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany.

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The works of Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928–2007) are integral to 20th-century music. In this performance, Kathinka Pasveer and Phil Wright present his seminal 1966/67 piece of electronic music and musique concrète, Hymnen.

Hymnen is a massive tape soundscape using samples of 40 national anthems, various field recordings of public events, a few dialogue ‘inserts’, shortwave radio noise and synthesized sound (from sine and pulse generators) to create a kind of ‘portrait of humanity’ as it melts together, bursts apart, and then is reborn as a new utopian entity.

One of the main ideas behind the use of these national anthems is to have them act as signposts for listeners, as they travel through this unknown world of sound, noise and disconnected voices. Stockhausen felt that ‘everyone knows the anthem of his own country, and perhaps those of several others, or at least their beginnings.’ Another thing that Stockhausen has always enjoyed presenting is ‘an apple on the moon’ – that is, a mundane object, trivial in normal surroundings, but interesting in the middle of a jarringly unexpected environment.

These anthems were altered in many various ways electronically, and sometimes one anthem would affect another. They appear with concurrent ‘scenes from daily life’ – field recordings of civic events and rural environments native to that country, all in a quadrophonic soundscape.

Stockhausen’s works from this period are concerned with collecting the world as a means of understanding the world, which directly resonates with the idea behind this gallery (Room 2), Collecting the world.

Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928–2007)
Hymnen (Anthems)

Kathinka Pasveer sound design
Phil Wright sound engineering

Kathinka Pasveer studied at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague with Frans Vester, winning the Nicolai Prize in 1983. She worked extensively with Stockhausen from 1982 until his death. The composer’s Kathinka’s Chant as Lucifer’s Requiem for flute and 6 percussionists (the second scene of Samstag aus Licht) was composed for her in 1983, and later that year she performed the world première during the Donaueschinger Musiktage. Stockhausen continued to compose many works for her, and she has performed the world première of all of them, including many of the sections from Stockhausen’s opera cycle Licht: die sieben Tage der Woche (Light: The Seven Days of the Week). Pasveer assisted Stockhausen from 1983 until 2007 in all realisations of his music in the Studio for Electronic Music of the WDR, at IRCAM, and in private studios. She also assisted in all mix-downs of his music, and assisted him with the sound projection of all of his concerts worldwide. She has performed on many recordings of Stockhausen’s works.

For two decades Phil Wright has specialised as a live sound designer for large scale classical, broadcast, dance, live cinema and operatic productions. After training at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, he worked at Sound By Design Ltd, during which time he handled the Royal Albert Hall in-house sound contract. From 2000 to 2012 he managed the SBD team handling the BBC Proms live sound requirements. His previous Stockhausen concert experience includes Gesang de Junglinge, Gruppen, Kontakte, Mittwoch aus Licht – Welt – Parlament, Stimmung, Klang 13th Hour – Cosmic Pulses and Klang 5th Hour – Harmonien.

Please note that this performance replaces the one featuring Stockhausen’s Telemusik and Nachtmusik. The original performers, Ensemble für Intuitive Musik Weimar, had to withdraw due to unforeseen circumstances.

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