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October 19, 2004

Andante (Germany)

Germany's best-known living composer, Karlheinz Stockhausen, attacked on Monday [18 October] plans to abolish one of the country's professional choirs as the act of "a common criminal". Stockhausen, 76, whose avant-garde music and disregard for European musical tradition puzzle many concert-goers, was angered by plans to close down the SWR vocal ensemble based in the southwestern city of Stuttgart.

SWR, a public broadcaster, employs four orchestras and the choir mainly for occasional radio concerts. SWR superintendent Peter Voss said Monday budget cuts were necessary because of declining revenues from taxes on television sets in German homes. "Those who abolish or scale back choirs are killing my works, because they can only live with the prescribed number of voices," said Stockhausen, whose choral works sometimes require large numbers of singers to stand apart and "confront" one another with sound. "I am alarmed to be living in Germany in this day and age," he said from his home near Cologne. The final-part of Stockhausen's monumental seven-part composition Licht was premiered this month. He began composing it in 1977. Licht would take more than 29 hours to perform in a single session.

Most of Germany's classical scene is subsidized by broadcasters and municipalities as income from concerts and sales of recordings is tiny. Musicians' pay is comparable with that of schoolteachers.
The SWR choir consumes 36 salaries. Some positions are shared by part-timers.

Posted by acapnews at October 19, 2004 9:11 PM