1968’s radical revolution: Riley, Berio, Stockhausen, Henze

Posted on: April 25, 2018

“In December 1968, I cut class and joined a queue on Telegraph Avenue, waiting for Discount Records to open [to buy] the first recording of Terry Riley’s transformative ‘In C,’ ” writes Mark Swed in Saturday’s (4/22) Los Angeles Times. “ ‘In C’ would ultimately be credited with formulating the Minimalist movement in music…. Between Oct. 10 and Dec. 9, 1968, three other radical and radically original works had their premieres.” Each would “permanently transform how we think about and make music…. The first was Luciano Berio’s Sinfonia, [which] single-handedly revived the symphony, then thought dead, as a viable genre for progressive composers…. Two months later … Karlheinz Stockhausen unveiled ‘Stimmung.’ Nicolas Slonimsky … described that premiere as ‘six shoeless singers sitting cross-legged in a circle with musical material selected from a matrix of 50 one-pitch patterns and occasionally intoning “magic names.” ’ … On the same December day … Hans Werner Henze attempted to conduct the first performance of his ‘The Raft of the Medusa’ in Hamburg, Germany. The politically pointed oratorio was dedicated to Ché Guevara…. The police were called and the librettist was arrested…. The left-wing composer canceled the premiere … proclaiming world revolution more important than new music.”

Posted April 25, 2018