BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: Entertainment: Music
Front Page 
UK Politics 
TV and Radio 
New Media 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Friday, 21 September, 2001, 12:47 GMT 13:47 UK
Barbican stands by Stockhausen
Stockhausen's Hamburg concerts were cancelled
German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen's concerts at London's Barbican will go ahead as planned, despite his reportedly controversial comments about the attacks on the US.

Stockhausen, 73, was banned from giving four concerts in Hamburg, Germany after he reportedly described the suicide attacks on New York as "the greatest work of art ever".

But the director of the Barbican, John Tusa, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme it would have been "unconscionable even to consider cancelling" the composer's October concerts in London.

It would have been unconscionable to even consider cancelling concerts that form a major part of the creative dialogue in this country

John Tusa, director of the Barbican

Stockhausen denied that he made the reported comments on Sunday. He claims that they were taken out of context.

Mr Tusa added: "We are concerned with Stockhausen as a major composer of avant-garde of the late 20th Century and 21st Century.

"He is not just a classical composer or someone who influences classical music, he also influences people as diverse as Talvin Singh and Björk.

"It would have been unconscionable to even consider cancelling concerts that form a major part of the creative dialogue in this country."


Stockhausen, one of Germany's best-known post-war composers, reportedly said: "That minds accomplish in one act something that we in music can't dream of, that people rehearse like mad for 10 years - totally fanatically - for a concert and then die - that's the greatest work of art there is in the entire cosmos."

Organisers of a music festival in Hamburg cancelled Stockhausen's appearances on the request of the local cultural authorities and festival sponsors.

Karlheinz Stockhausen and King Carl XVI Gustaf
Stockhausen was a winner of the Polar Prize for Music

The composer issued a statement on Monday saying that he was sorry for the upset caused but that he had been misquoted.

Stockhausen said he had been asked whether characters in his work, such as Lucifer, were historical. He said his reply was: "They are always contemporary, for example Lucifer in New York.

"I recalled the destruction of art. Any other words outside of this context have no relation to what I meant," Stockhausen insisted.

Hamburg's culture minister Christina Weiss said of the decision to cancel the concerts: "In the present situation we had no alternative, we had to cancel the concerts. It was too shocking and frightening."


Mr Tusa refused to offer a firm opinion on the decision taken by the Hamburg authorities. But he suggested that the move could have been politically driven.

But, Mr Tusa highlighted Stockhausen's past "humanitarian" actions and concluded that he was confident that audiences at the Barbican concerts would have a worthwhile experience.

"If anyone believes this is such an outrage that they merge Stockhausen the composer with Stockhausen the individual, no doubt they won't come," said Mr Tusa.

"They also realise that he has a considerable record of humanitarian action, and a distinguished wartime record.

"When you take the man as a whole, I think the audiences will come down entirely in favour of Stockhausen."

See also:

06 Sep 01 | Arts
Barbican to get listed status
16 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Barbican gets £6m makeover
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Music stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Music stories