Pioneering German composer Stockhausen dies

Fri Dec 7, 2007 6:22pm EST
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BERLIN (Reuters) - German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, one of the world's most influential 20th century composers and a pioneer of electronic music, has died aged 79.

German broadcaster WDR, with whom Stockhausen worked closely for more than two decades, said in a statement he had died on Wednesday after a short illness at his home near Cologne in western Germany.

Best known for experiments with electronic music in the 1960s and 70s, Stockhausen, who composed more than 300 individual works, also had a significant impact on avant-garde and classical music.

The Beatles paid tribute to Stockhausen by putting him along with other icons on the cover of "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." Miles Davis and more recently Bjork have cited him as a musical influence.

"Any sound can become music if it is related to other sounds ... every sound is precious and can become beautiful if I put it at the right place, at the right moment," he once said in an interview. He also said he loved silence.

Stockhausen came under fire for comments about the September 11 attacks on the United States. He was quoted as saying the strikes were "the greatest work of art imaginable."

"Minds achieving something in an act that we couldn't even dream of in music, people rehearsing like mad for 10 years, preparing fanatically for a concert and then dying, just imagine what happened there," he was quoted as saying. He later said he meant that only the devil could have orchestrated the attacks.


Early in his career, Stockhausen dabbled in "musique concrete," recording everyday sounds, distorting them electronically and joining them together to form a composition.   Continued...