Thursday, 5 March, 2009

Karlheinz Stockhausen - Sirius (1977)

Sirius has been described as "a modern mystery play, clothed as a science fiction story" (Kurtz 1992, 207). While not described by the composer as an opera, it is nevertheless a musical drama, in which four emissaries from a planet orbiting the star Sirius bring a message to earth. "This was to be the big leap into theatre proper. . . . Sirius is the key work that leads to his magnum opus LICHT (LIGHT)" (Ball 1997).

When Stockhausen's daughter, Julika (aged 5 or 6 at the time), asked for a dog, he obtained one for her and named it Sirius, after the star in the constellation Canis Major, which was in his mind because he had just finished composing Sternklang ("Star-sound", 1971). Shortly afterward, he chanced upon a passage in a book by Jakob Lorber describing Sirius as the sun at the center of our universe, and this fired his imagination:

Other snippets of vitally important information then came to me through a couple of revelatory dreams. Crazy dreams, from which it emerged that not only did I come from Sirius itself, but that, in fact, I completed my musical education there. (Tannenbaum 1987, 34–35)

Stockhausen never explained these dreams in detail (Kurtz 1992, 207), maintaining that "It would lead to misunderstanding and false interpretation" (Stockhausen 1989, 18). In the composer’s imagination, for beings from the planets of the Sirius system, "everything is music, or the art of co-ordination and harmony of vibrations. . . . The art is very highly developed there, and every composition on Sirius is related to the rhythms of nature . . . the seasons, the rhythms of the stars." Stockhausen’s composition therefore is based on "the cycles and rhythms of nature—of the seasons—with all of their characteristics, and to the planets, animals, and to the twelve main characters of human beings" (Stockhausen 1989, 17–18).

Sirius was commissioned by the West German government to celebrate bicentenary of the United States, and is dedicated to the "American pioneers on earth and in space". Composition was begun in 1975, and the first performance was given before an invited audience at the opening of the Albert Einstein Spacearium in Washington, D.C., on 15 July 1976, though only the "summer" section had been completed by then. The "autumn" portion was added in time for performances later that year in Japan, France, Germany, and Italy. After interrupting work in order to compose the second part of his choral opera Atmen gibt das Leben and the orchestral Jubiläum, Stockhausen finished Sirius and the première of the complete form took place on 8 August 1977 at the Aix-en-Provence Festival (Kurtz 1992, 208–209).

Sirius consists of three main parts: "Presentation", "The Wheel" (subdivided into four sections, corresponding to the four seasons), and "Annunciation". The words were written by Stockhausen, except for a text by Jakob Lorber used in the Annunciation. The musical material consists of the twelve zodiac melodies of Tierkreis, originally composed for music boxes in connection with the percussion sextet Musik im Bauch (Music in the Belly). Four of these melodies are principal, each associated with one of the protagonists, and are subjected to a variety of transformations, even undergoing metamorphosis from one to another. The remaining eight melodies serve a subsidiary role. In the Presentation, the four characters introduce themselves and their attributes. They are:

* North (bass): Earth, Man, Night, Winter, Seed
* East (trumpet): Fire, Youth, Morning, Spring, Bud
* South (soprano): Water, Woman, Midday, Summer, Blossom
* West (bass clarinet): Air, Friend/Beloved, Evening, Autumn, Fruit.

The main, central "wheel" lasts over an hour, and can be rotated, according to the season of the performance, to produce four different forms:

* Winter version, beginning with "Capricorn"
* Spring version, beginning with "Aries"
* Summer version, beginning with "Cancer"
* Autumn version, beginning with "Libra".

The total duration of Sirius is 96 minutes.

The eight-channel electronic music was realized in the Electronic Music Studio of WDR, Cologne in 1975–77, using an EMS Synthi 100 synthesizer. The electronic music can be performed by itself, without the four soloists, and there are also three excerpted versions, each for a soloist with a specially prepared version of the electronic music: Aries, for trumpet, Libra, for bass clarinet, and Capricorn, for bass voice.

[in wikipedia, more info @ ]

link@128 [except part 4 @192] (parts 1 to 3 vinyl rip _ part 4 cd rip)


wightdj said...

Good stuff, thanks.

icastico said...

Haven't heard this one. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

side 4 is missing???

Russell Scarbrough said...

Side 4: Do you mean that side 4 is BLANK, or that side 4 exists somewhere, but you just don't have it? I'd hate to get 3/4 of the way through and not know how it turns out in the end.

Unknown said...

As soon I saw you published from Stockhausen I almost had a Heart-Attack. Love Him! Thanks, I've been following your blog for a while, and let me tell you it is AMAZING! keep it this way...

bravo juju said...

Dear all, thanks for your generous comments!
Hope you enjoyed the great Sirius piece.

R, unfortunately the mp3 collection we had access, containing this Stockhausen work, is missing 12min, corresponding to the 4th side of the vinyl.
But as this blog's aim is to share and stimulate the curiosity and interest of music, and not to serve as a warehouse of ripped music to be downloaded in substitution of the original records, we advise you, if you enjoyed the piece, to purchase it.
This should be, we think, the proper common sense attitude to conceive, for the mp3 serves the purpose to get acquainted with the works, but the real experience should happen when one hears the record in a good sound system, in a cd, or, preferentially, on vinyl formats (if possible).

Musical Regards to everyone!

Anonymous said...

You are 100% correct, Herr Juju, but promise us you will buy the record and share side 4 with us... :) If I do find the CD out there, I will certainly rip it and share side 4 with you :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this amazing piece of music. I know most of K.S. works but this is new to me. 3 sides are better than none.
Congrats for the fine blog you have here.

Anonymous said...

Here is Part 4:

Courtesy of Professor Snufkin

bravo juju said...

Dearest Rabu Dahjan;

We thank you very much for the 4th part of Sirius. We'll actualize the mp3 package with a new and complete link.
Thanks and come again!

Stay tunned for more rock'n'soul

Anonymous said...

Not to complain --- but --- the added fourth track is from the CD version - not the DG vinyl. Would be nice if a rip from the DG vinyl could surface. And, one more thing; the new link is not '@320', it does not contain any 320kbps file. Still the 128kbps + the last track at 192kbps.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't mind if the double CD would be uploaded as well. I'm sure you'd agree on THAT one.

bravo juju said...

Dear FYI;

Thanks for the observation, in fact we made a mistake regarding the bit rate of the files. We've corrected it.
We found the 4th part ripped from a CD only, hence the schizophonic mixed upload...
If we'll do find either a vinyl or cd complete new rip, we'll upload it.


Thank you very much. my father used to play me this album from 1979 until at least 1983, then it disappeared frm our home and I was looking for it for years. I only found an old tape that I made by myself at that time (I must've been 11!) of my favourite parts of the labum. and just this morning I was thinking again about it... serendipity or how you wanna call it EXISTS!
thank you again

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