Stockhausen is Missing

In the latest idiotic example of failing to mention a composer when writing about his composition, the BBC reports on a production of Stockhausen’s Mittwoch aus Licht that won an award from the Royal Philharmonic Society. Besides giving the false impression that the entire opera consisted of the famous sequence involving a string quartet played in helicopters, the article completely omits the name of the composer,  referring to the piece as “Birmingham Opera Company’s Mittwoch aus Licht”. See more examples of composers gone missing here, here, here, and here. I think these things sometimes happen because pop music’s emphasis on the performer, often assuming the performer and the composer are one and the same, is getting carried over into the classical realm.

3 thoughts on “Stockhausen is Missing

  1. It’s interesting to observe peripherally that it’s traditional for ballets to identify works by their choreographer only (as if Les Sylphides was by Fokine), and operas to identify works by the composer but not the librettist. None of that justifies the omissions you’ve noted, I’m just sayin’.

    1. Interesting point about Les Sylphides, about which you are quite correct. However, Fokine drew on already existing music of Chopin (even Glazunov’s orchestrated version already existed), so in a sense it is not Chopin’s ballet in the sense that it is Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. I’m not sure about this, but my impression is that dance critics speak of “Balanchine’s Agon“, while music critics speak of “Stravinsky’s Agon“. A video my kids used to watch is titled George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, but that is a modern anachronism, like the recent production of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess.

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