Many of you will probably already be familiar with the idiosyncratic and ambitious composer Stockhausen. Fabled for his pioneering contribution to electronic music, he has gone on to inspire artists including Bjork, The Beatles, Miles Davis, and Pink Floyd, just to name a few.
From pieces devoted to the snow-capped Austrian Alps, written for 300-piece orchestras, to single-page scores in which the musician can choose to play notes in any order, his music is marked by an experimental, somatic and theatrically complex approach.
During his lifetime, Stockhausen claimed not to be from planet Earth, but in fact said he was born on Sirus, a star located 8.60 light-years away, in the Milky Way Galaxy. Upon viewing this documentary, which examines his legacy alongside the realisation of his magnum opus, Licht, one is inclined to believe him.
A truly intergalactic production, Licht, as are told, is performed by 500 musicians, dancers and 4 helicopters. With a run time of a little over 2 days, Stockhausen spent 26 years writing the piece, and it was completed only in 2003, shortly before his death. Over the course of the film, we’re presented with many questions: What does it mean to faithfully reproduce a work? How do we begin to unpack our complicated and contradictory memories of a person, an artistic vision? What the hell is Licht even about? Yet these lines of inquiry, like the man himself, remain elusive.
Licht: Stockausen’s Legacy screened as part of the fifth In-Edit NL Music Documentary festival at Amsterdam’s Melkweg Cinema.
– Hannah Pezzack
Featured Image: Claude Truong-Ngoc, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons