Helicopter string quartet, by Karlheinz Stockhausen: A dream?

Weird scenes inside my head

of helicopters flying across the sky

a big burly man intent, barking orders,

players bowing their instruments,

and life speeding on,

its all coming together

in a tense strange sound,

which makes the big man smile

as the quartet each in their

own helicopter play away

with great animation,

yelling out numbers in various languages,

and then the crowd is clapping

wildly and the musician have landed

and take a bow

with the composer,

and I wonder if this was a dream.

I have just finished watching a wonderful documentary by Frank Scheffer on the premier of this work in Holland. It is a wonderful, and very unusual work, the complexity of it has probably never been equaled and probably never will, as all 4 players play on their won in a helicopter in the air, not being able to see each other, and are kept in the loop by a click track that they are all listening too. It was fascinating to see the rehearsals, each player was in a different room, Stockhausen sat in front of a consul in another room, and made suggestions, and the players commented back, a decisions was taken, and the scores and parts amended. The players were the Arditi Quartet, who premiered the piece.

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6 thoughts on “Helicopter string quartet, by Karlheinz Stockhausen: A dream?

    • It was fascinating, he claimed that he had a continuous dream that he should produce a piece of music with flying musicians, hence the helicopters idea. I wonder though how many times it will be played, imagine the expense of hiring 4 helicopters, preparing them for the musician and keeping them in the air for about 20 minutes. I think, it could be played by dividing the stage into 4, so that the public could see the players, but the players could not see each other. Very interesting work and film though. Best wishes and blessings, Charles.

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