Karlheinz Stockhausen: Gesang der Jünglinge

The electro-acoustic composition Gesang der Jünglinge was the first to be artistically persuasive in combining a recording of human voice with an electronic media.  Quite original is the manner how Karlheinz Stockhausen settled the relationship between music and text, taken over from the German version of the apocrypha to the Old Testament´s third Book of Daniel, Canticle of the Three Children in the Fiery Furnace. He cut the musical setting of the text, sung by a boy soprano, into words, syllables, vowels and consonants and inserted these isolated elements into the overall structural plan of the composition together with the synthetic elements gained through electronic generators. The composition structure consisted of six sections of unequal durations ranging between one and four minutes: „The meaning of the vocal elements at certain places is comprehensible, elsewhere the purely sonic quality prevails with each section being dominated by the words praising the Lord  („jubelt, preiset den Herren“)…“ The spatial sound projection counts on five sets of speakers distributed in the hall corners and on the ceiling. For technical reasons, the intention was not realized at the premiere in the concert studio of the Cologne Radio in May 30, 1956. Using mix, Stockhausen spread the voice of the fifth set into a four-channel version which he later used as a base for a stereo-version LP recording. Gottfried Michael König cooperated with the author at the realization of the composition in the electronic studio in the Cologne Radio. Stockhausen realized his idea of the ideal spatial music projection in the globe auditorium of the German pavilion at the world exhibition in Osaka only as late as in 1970.

Miloš Haase

 

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