Aus den sieben Tagen

Karlheinz Stockhausen on 2 September 1972 at the Shiraz-Persepolis Festival of Arts, where parts of Aus den sieben Tagen were performed on 7 September (Stockhausen 1978, 158–59)

Aus den sieben Tagen (From the Seven Days) is a collection of 15 text compositions by Karlheinz Stockhausen, composed in May 1968, in reaction to a personal crisis, and characterized as "Intuitive music"—music produced primarily from the intuition rather than the intellect of the performer(s). It is Work Number 26 in the composer's catalog of works.


The seven days of the title were 7–13 May 1968. Although this coincided with the beginning of the May 1968 protests and general strike in Paris, Stockhausen does not appear to have been aware of them at the time. These texts were written at Stockhausen's home in Kürten during the first five of those days, at night or late in the evening (Stockhausen 1978, 149 and 529). During daylight hours, including the remaining two days, Stockhausen wrote “many poems,” as well as reading Satprem’s book on Sri Aurobindo, and experienced “many extraordinary things” (Stockhausen 1978, 528–29). Some of the poems appear in Stockhausen 1971, 368–76.

The first of the pieces to be officially premiered was Es, performed in Brussels on 15 December 1968 on a concert of the Rencontre de Musique Contemporaine, by the Stockhausen Group, joined by Michel Portal, Jean-Pierre Drouet, and Jean-François Jenny-Clark. Setz die Segel zur Sonne followed, as part of a concert at the Théâtre National Populaire, Palais de Chaillot in Paris, on 30 May 1969 (Stockhausen 1971, 123). However, an earlier, unofficial performance of both Es and Treffpunkt, by the Arts Laboratory Ensemble with Hugh Davies and trombonist Vinko Globokar with Stockhausen at the potentiometers, took place on 25 November 1968 in London, as part of the Macnaghten Concerts (Cardew 1969; Kurtz 1992, 169). Unbegrenzt was first given 26 July 1969 during the Nuits de la Fondation Maeght in St Paul de Vence, by Guy Arnaud, Harald Bojé, Jean-François Jenny-Clark, Jean-Pierre Drouet, Johannes G. Fritsch, Roy Hart, Diego Masson, Michel Portal, Michael Vetter, and the composer (Stockhausen 1978, 114). An "ill-fated" performance of the theatre piece Oben und Unten was attempted in Amsterdam at the Holland Festival on 22 June 1969. The three actors were Sigrid Koetse (woman), Jan Retèl (man), and Keesjan van Deelen (child), with the instrumentalists of the Stockhausen Group and the composer doing the sound projection (Stockhausen 1978, 123; Kurtz 1992, 171, 253). Goldstaub was only performed for the first time (though without an audience) for the DG recording made at Stockhausen’s house in Kürten on 20 August 1972, by Péter Eötvös (electrochord, keisu, and rin), Herbert Henck (voice, sitar, cooking pot with some water, two small bells, ship bell), Michael Vetter (voice, hands, recorder), and the composer (voice, conch horn, large cowbell, keisu, 14 rin, jug and key with water, kandy drum, pellet-bells on a strap) (Stockhausen 1978, 146, 150).

Stockhausen described as "crucial" an orchestral performance in London of Set sail for the Sun on 14 January 1970, in which the BBC Symphony Orchestra, rehearsed by the composer, was distributed around the audience in four groups, each with a "core player" from the Stockhausen Group (Stockhausen 1978, 126). Other notable performances include the 1969 Darmstädter Ferienkurse, when the groups that had just finished the recordings for DG performed eleven of the texts in four public seminars, on 1–4 September in the Städtische Sporthalle am Böllenfalltor (Kurtz 1992, 173; Stockhausen 2009, 195, many of the texts in multiple daily performances from 14 March to 14 September 1970 in the spherical auditorium of the German pavilion at Expo '70 in Osaka (Kurtz 1992, 178; Stockhausen 1971, 175–82), and at the 1972 Shiraz Arts Festival, where a day of "Music in the City" on 7 September featured several component pieces of Aus den sieben Tagen performed at various places in the inner city from dawn to dusk (Kurtz 1992, 188; Stockhausen 1978, 158).


The fifteen constituent pieces are:

  1. Richtige Dauern (Right Durations), for ca. 4 players
  2. Unbegrenzt (Unlimited), for ensemble
  3. Verbindung (Connection), for ensemble
  4. Treffpunkt (Meeting Point), for ensemble
  5. Nachtmusik (Night Music), for ensemble
  6. Abwärts (Downward), for ensemble
  7. Aufwärts (Upward), for ensemble
  8. Oben und Unten (Above and Below), theater piece, for a man, a woman, a child, and 4 instrumentalists
  9. Intensität (Intensity), for ensemble
  10. Setz die Segel zur Sonne (Set Sail for the Sun), for ensemble
  11. Kommunion (Communion), for ensemble
  12. Litanei (Litany), for speaker or choir
  13. Es (It), for ensemble
  14. Goldstaub (Gold Dust), for ensemble
  15. Ankunft (Arrival), for speaker or speaking choir

Often regarded as meditation exercises or prayers (Griffiths 2011, 226; Hamel 2009, 76; Jungerman 1999, 52; Willson 2004, 130), all but two of these texts nonetheless describe in words specific musical events: "I don't want some spiritistic sitting—I want music! I don't mean something mystical, but rather everything completely direct, from concrete experience" (Stockhausen, quoted in Ritzel 1970, 15). Despite the manner of notation, Stockhausen's approach remains essentially serial:

In his cycle FROM THE SEVEN DAYS Stockhausen attempts to find musical answers to such fundamental questions regarding the conditions of a harmonious interplay of spirit and matter, which correspond to his serial process thinking and to the maxims of the experimental production of the sound material by composing temporally ordered pulses. . . . As a composer he wants to mediate between the extremes rather than to just follow the preconception of a linear development from the fragmentary and dissonant to the whole and harmonious. (Peters 2003, 226)

Each text focuses on one or several of Stockhausen's main artistic concerns, such as extending the listener's perceptions of time and pitch, reconciling opposing tendencies, or shifting awareness from one perceptual area to another. Specific earlier works may be reflected in certain of the texts. Intensität, for example, suggests a passage from Kontakte, and Unbegrenzt recalls large parts of Carré (Maconie 1975). The influence of performing Prozession and Kurzwellen can be heard in the recordings made by Stockhausen's own ensemble. In addition, pianist Aloys Kontarsky frequently alludes to Stockhausen's Klavierstücke (especially Klavierstück IX in Abwärts) and Harald Bojé sometimes evokes Kontakte with his electronium (Griffiths 1974, 225).

The most detailed text is the central one, Oben und Unten, which gives instructions for three actors and a group of instrumentalists. Twelve of the other pieces describe musical processes or states, in three different general types, and the remaining two, Litanei and Ankunft are more in the nature of manifestos, to be read aloud either by a single speaker or a speaking choir (Kohl 1978; Bergstrøm-Nielsen 1997). In 1997, Stockhausen made a performing version of the former text, considerably reworked under the title Litanei 97, for a speaking choir with occasional sung interjections. This was given the separate work number 74 in Stockhausen's catalogue of works.

Related works

Between 1968 and 1971, Stockhausen composed a companion set of 17 text pieces, titled Für kommende Zeiten (For Times to Come). There are two further text compositions, Ylem (1972) and Herbstmusik (1974), though they are not actually described as "intuitive music", and are considerably more detailed "scripts" for what amount to a large "statistical" structure (Ylem) and a theatre piece (Herbstmusik) with certain features of moment form (Kohl 1981, 232).


In chronological order of recording:


Further reading

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