22 August 1928 - 5 December 2007

Karlheinz Stockhausen was a German composer, widely acknowledged by critics as one of the most important but also controversial composers of the 20th and early 21st centuries.




a brief bio


More German composers

portrait of Stockhausen


Born: 22 Aug 1928, Mdrath, near Cologne, Germany.
Father: Simon Stockhausen, schoolteacher
Mother: Gertrud (née Stupp) 
Step-mother (from age 10): Luzia, ex family housekeeper.
Siblings: younger sister Katherina, younger brother Hermann-Josef who died in childhood.
Two half-sisters by stepmother Luzia
1st Wife: Doris Andreae
Children by Doris: Suja, Christel, Markus, Majella
2nd wife: Mary Bauermeister.
Children by Mary: Julika, Simon.
Died: 5 December 2007, Kürten, Germany
Cause of death: sudden heart attack.
Grave: Kürten cemetary.


He composed 370 works, about half of them with an electronic element. 
Genres: Opera, chamber music, instrumental, piano, vocal, choral, computer/electronic, keyboard, orchestral and 'miscellaneous'.
Influenced by:  Bartok, Boulez, Cage, Messiaen, Milhaud, Boulez, Schoenberg.
Has Influenced: Riley, Taverner, Bjork, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Yoko Ono, Frank Zappa, the Beatles (he appears on the cover of their Sgt.Pepper album)
Book: Stockhausen on Music.
Notable Examples:
Licht (Light, the Seven Days of the Week) series of 7 operas.
Klavierstücke I-XIX series of 19 piano works
Helicopter String Quartet
Gruppen (orchestral)
Stimmung (vocal)
Telemusik (tape music)

A brief biography 

- 1928: born near Cologne, Germany.

- Age 4: His mother put into mental care home.

- Age 7: Began piano lessons.

- Age 10: His father remarried.

- Age 14: His mother died (probably a victim of the Nazi euthanasia policy).
He is sent to boarding school where he studies piano, violin and oboe.

- Age 16: 1944 Recruited to serve in the war hospital as a stretcherbearer.

- Age 19: Goes to the Cologne Conservatory and Cologne University.

- Age 23: Marries Doris Andreae.

- Age 24: Studies under Messiaen and Milhaud at the Paris Conservatory.

- Age 25: returns to Cologne where he works at the new Electronic Music Studio as an assistant.

- Age 34: He is made Director of the Electronic Music Studio.

- Age 39: Marries Mary Bauermeister.

- Age 42: His work is presented at the Osaka World Fair.

- Age 49: Begins work on 'Licht' - his major work

- Age 79: Dies in Kurten.


- “I was horrible at everything I ever tried to do and people respect me. The American Dream has come true!!”

- "New methods change the experience, and new experiences change man. Whenever we hear sounds, we are changed, we are no longer the same, and this is more the case when we hear organized sounds; music."

- "I'm always interested when other musicians are trying to discover new worlds of sound."

- "Being quiet and meditating on sound is something completely different and will be discovered very soon by a lot of people who feel that the visual world doesn't reach their soul anymore."

- “He has his moments.” Oscar Wilde

Asked if he had ever conducted any Stockhausen, Sir Thomas Beecham once said, "No, but I once trod in some."

Documentary: Tuning In
An Omnibus programme by the BBC (1981) 48minutes.

Helicopter Quartet
A filmed performance (30min)

Klavierstück VIII
A short piano piece (1min 30sec)

An Interview

Links, sources, where to go for more information about Stockhausen

Omnibus: a BBC documentary (48min on Youtube)
The Karlheinz Foundation (official site) 
TheFamousPeople.com profile
Answers.com a number of reference sites including Wikipedia

The Guardian A guide to Stockhausen
The Independent:  'Meeting the guru of Modern music.
Obituary in The Independent

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