21 June, 2008
Karlheinz Stockhausen 1964
In 1961, at age 33, Karlheinz Stockhausen was already among the most well-known of living composers, though not yet the guru figure of Beatles tributes and electronica lore. He had just finished composing Kontakte, a piece for electronic four-channel tape and piano/percussion duo, in which he attempted a high degree of interaction between live performers and taped sounds, as well a new degree of theatricality in the onstage movements of the musicians. He received a commission for a "theatrical" work from a theater producer in Cologne, and Originale (Originals) was scripted rapidly during a visit to Finland in July of 1961.
The stage actions consisted largely of normal activities undertaken by actors who were basically playing themselves: a poet played himself as "the poet," reading poetry on stage; a "painter" paints; a "film man" and "lighting man" and "models" go about their normal business, all within their allotted times (hence the title of the piece: "originals" playing themselves).
The premiere of the work in Cologne in autumn 1961 was a success for the participants and a scandal for the organizers, who pulled funding two days into the twelve-day run, forcing composer and company to take financial responsibility for the rest of the run.
Cast includes Allan Kaprow, Nam June Paik & Allen Ginsberg
Stockhausen's Originale: Doubletakes, The Film (1964)
1964-94, 30:05 min, b&w, sound