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Music theatre with Kontakte by
Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F004566-0002, Darmstadt, Internationaler Kurs für neue Musik.jpg
The composer in 1957
Catalogue 12⅔
Performed 1961 (1961)

Originale (Originals, or "Real Characters"), musical theatre with Kontakte, is a music theatre work by the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, written in collaboration with the artist Mary Bauermeister. It was first performed in 1961 in Cologne, and is given the work number 12⅔ in Stockhausen's catalogue of works.

Composition history[edit]

Sunset over Lake Saimaa, where Originale was composed

Originale was commissioned from Stockhausen and Bauermeister by Hubertus Durek, manager of the Theater am Dom in Cologne, and his stage director, Carlheinz Caspari, who wanted "ein Stück, in dem Schauspieler, Maler, andere Künstler oder eben einfach »originale« Menschen frei in spontanen Aktionen auftreten sollten" ("a piece in which actors, painters, other artists, or just simply 'genuine characters' would appear freely in spontaneous actions") (Bauermeister 2011, 64). It was created while the pair were visiting Finland in August 1961. Stockhausen had been invited to lecture at the Summer University of Jyväskylä where, at a presentation of Kontakte, they met the piano virtuoso and Sibelius biographer, Professor Erik Tawastjerna. Together with the Finnish architect and designer Alvar Aalto, a summer house north of Helsinki on Lake Saimaa was put at their disposal, and the score of Originale was completely worked out there in just two weeks. The "silence" scene, in which the events on stage and the music stop for just one minute, and then everything resumes again, was inspired by the "unearthly" effect of the northerly summer light, which remained in the sky for just two hours or so during which the sun briefly dipped below the horizon, then rose again, "as the birds began to twitter, the fish stirred again, the wind came up, and there was day" (Bauermeister 2011, 64–66; Kurtz 1992, 114).


Role Premiere cast (Cologne, 1961) New York cast (1964) San Francisco cast (1990) Sindelfingen cast (2007) New York cast (2014) Berlin cast (2015)
Pianist David Tudor James Tenney Michael Orland Aya Inokuchi Stephen Drury Adrian Heger
Percussionist Christoph Caskel Max Neuhaus Don Baker Christian R. Wissel Stuart Gerber Ni Fan
Sound Engineer Leopold von Knobelsdorff David Behrman Ed Herrmann, Richard Zvonar Wolfgang Mittermaier Joe Drew Sébastien Alazet
Cameraman Wolfgang Ramsbott Robert Breer Paula Levine Simone Speer A.L. Steiner Vincent Stefan
Lighting Director Walter Koch (Theater am Dom) Gary Harris
Billy Klüver
Jim Quinn Nikolaus Pirchtner Brittany Spencer Irene Selka
Stage Director Carlheinz Caspari Allan Kaprow Henry Steele Claudine M. Kolbus (choreographer) Caden Manson/Jemma Nelson Georg Schütky
Action Composer Nam June Paik Nam June Paik Michael Peppe Robin Rhode Rachel Mason/Colin Self Antinational Embassy
Child Markus Stockhausen
Christel Stockhausen
Anton Kaprow Milena Meret Zyrewitz Raul de Nieves Marcelo Renne
Fashion model Edith Sommer Olga Klüver / Lette Eisenhauer Chris Maher Sonja Kunz Justin Vivian Bond Caterina Pogorzelski
Street Singer / String player Belina/
Kenji Kobayashi (violinist)
Charlotte Moorman (cellist) Pamela Z David Stützel Nick Hallett Miloš Kozon
Cloakroom attendant Liselotte Lörsch Marje Strider Jan Martin-Risk Rita Borchtler-Kracht threeASFOUR Ilona Schwabe
Newspaper Seller Frau Hoffmann Michael Kirby an original from Sindelfingen Saori Tsukada
Conductor Karlheinz Stockhausen Alvin Lucier Randall Packer Manfred Schreier Zach Layton Max Renne
Animal Attendant a woman from the Cologne Zoo Keeper from the Bronx Zoo with a large ape
(replaced on one night by a small lady with a dog)
Jasmin Held Narcissister FUmanoids
Painter Mary Bauermeister Robert Delford Brown (1st night only) /
Hitomi Ikuma Steffi Stangl /
Ole Aselmann
Joan Jonas Thomas Goerge
Poet Hans G Helms Allen Ginsberg Michael Peppe Hans G Helms Eileen Myles Gerhard Rühm
Actor Ruth Grahlmann Vincent Gaeta Chris Maher Jerry Willingham Nao Bustamante Kader Traoré
Actor Eva-Maria Kox Gloria Graves Diane Robinson Barbara Stoll Ishmael Houston-Jones Friederike Harmsen
Actor Alfred Feussner Dick Higgins Lisa Apfelburg Birgit Heintel Niv Acosta Nora-Lee Sanwald
Actor Harry J. Bong Jackson Mac Low Traci Robinson Dorothee Jakubowski Alexandro Segade Irm Hermann
Actor Heiner Reddemann /
Peter Hackenberger
Peter Leventhal Elena Rivera Markus Schlueter Lucy Sexton Günter Schanzmann

Performance history and protests[edit]

Performances of Originale subsequent to the twelve first performances in Cologne between 26 October and 6 November 1962 have been rare. Productions took place in New York in September 1964, organized jointly by Mary Bauermeister and Charlotte Moorman (Bauermeister 2011, 161), in 1990 in San Francisco directed and organized by Randall Packer (Kosman 1990; Tucker 1990), and on 21 January 2007 in connection with a 2006–2007 exhibition of Mary Bauermeister's tetralogy Fama FluxusMythos BeuysLegende PaikAtelier Mary Bauermeister in Sindelfingen (Bauermeister 2011, 294).

The New York performances took place at Judson Hall as part of the second annual New York Festival of the Avant-Garde, during the early performative period of the avant-garde movement Fluxus. Outside the concert hall on the opening night, 8 September 1964, several New York artists calling themselves Action Against Cultural Imperialism, including Fluxus founder George Maciunas, Concept Art creator Henry Flynt, poet, journalist, and activist Marc Schleifer, violinist and filmmaker Tony Conrad, and actor/poet Alan Marlowe protested against Stockhausen as a "cultural imperialist" because of some reportedly disparaging remarks about jazz and folk music he was supposed to have made at Harvard in 1958 (Bauermeister 2011, 163; Fricke 1998, passim; Goodman 1964; Piekut 2011, 65–66). Some of the protesters seen before the event were actually performers involved in the piece, including poet Allen Ginsberg who, enlisting the support of Schleifer, extorted his way into the picket line against Flynt's wishes. Claims by Moorman and Stage Director Allan Kaprow that they also joined the pickets have been disputed (Bauermeister 2011, 162; Piekut 2011, 66). Meanwhile, Maciunas had recruited cast member Robert Delford Brown as a saboteur. Brown, performing the part of the Painter, came costumed as a huge papier-mache penis and, some way into the performance, lit a stink bomb on stage. This forced an evacuation of the hall and an unscheduled intermission to clear the air. Edgard Varèse, who had been seated near the front as guest of honor, had a violent coughing attack and had to be assisted out to the street. Needless to say, Brown disappeared during the interruption and in subsequent performances was replaced by the Japanese artist Ay-O, who was living at that time in New York. Thrilled press reviews reported that the protest and sabotage were actually part of the performance, a publicity stunt staged by Stockhausen himself (Bauermeister 2011, 164; Kohl 1999, 77; Piekut 2011, 65–66; Schonberg 1964; Sigmon 1964). Brown disputed the accounts that he was an intentional saboteur or that any rift developed between him and his friend Kaprow (Bloch 2008, 3). Brown's only interest was to create as outrageous a spectacle as possible and embody the personna of the "Artist." His own documentation left no evidence of being involved in any way with Maciunas (Bloch 2008, 38–45)[verification needed].

The May 1990 performance produced and directed by Randall Packer in San Francisco was presented by Zakros InterArts at Theater Artaud. It was the first West Coast performance of Originale and was the first time it had been performed since the 1964 New York City performances (Packer n.d.). The production draw from recent technological advancements to introduce digital techniques of sound manipulation and live video, replacing the analog media of the 1960s, to disrupt the linear flow of the work and to enhance its qualities of fragmentation and deconstruction of everyday events.[citation needed]

A performance celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1964 New York performance was produced in 2014 by composer/performers Nick Hallett and Zach Layton (Smith 2013).[not in citation given]

In 2015 the Berlin State Opera produced a new version of Originale staged by Georg Schütky (Herzfeld 2015; Pachl 2015; Röhling 2015). It featured a mainly Berlin-based cast (e.g., Irm Hermann, Gerhard Rühm, Thomas Goerge, Max Renne, Vincent Stefan). The performances took place in the Werkstatt im Schillertheater which allowed the realisation of Stockhausen's principle of an inverted arena situation.[clarification needed]

Concept and form[edit]

The surreal absurdity of Originale recalls Samuel Beckett, Alain Robbe-Grillet's books and film L 'année dernière à Marienbad, and, in its use of the commonplace, Harold Pinter (Harvey 1975, 90). It combines the rigorous, tightly controlled compositional form of Stockhausen's serial music with the loosely structured improvisational framework of the early Happenings. The score to Originale is groundbreaking for its incorporation of performance events and other assorted "actions" into a musical organization with precise "timepoints" or temporal markings, typical of Stockhausen's musical scores. Within the 94' duration of Originale is a performance of Stockhausen's Kontakte for piano, percussion, and electronics, that is woven throughout the work, providing a central unifying element to this often disjointed work. In addition to Kontakte, the Cologne performances included tape-recorded excerpts from Stockhausen's Carré for four orchestras and choirs, Gesang der Jünglinge, Gruppen for three orchestras, and Zyklus for a percussionist (Dörstel 1993, 199).

An unusual assortment of "characters" are introduced in Originale, including a pianist, a percussionist, a sound technician, a stage director, a cameraman, a lighting technician, an action composer, an action painter, a poet, a street singer, a coat checker, a newspaper vendor, a fashion model, a child (playing with blocks), an animal handler with animal, a conductor, and five actors reading a collage of unrelated texts (Stockhausen 1964, 111).

According to the musicologist Karl Heinz Wörner, "Originale is a musical composition. The macrorhythm of scene continuity and the ordering of moments are musical. The individual scenes are composed musically, regardless of whether or not there is any 'music' in them. The verbal counterpoint is musical, as are the 'monodic' word melodies and the polyphony of speaking voices" (Wörner 1973, 192). Originale is constructed in 18 scenes, grouped into seven self-sufficient "structures", which may be performed in any order, either successively or with as many as three structures simultaneously, on three separated stages (Stockhausen 1964, 110). Each character's actions are specified to take place within a specified number of seconds or minutes, and at one point the actors even speak in what Stockhausen calls "formant rhythms": in a span of four minutes one actor speaks three equally spaced words, a second actor has five equally spaced words, a third has eight, and yet another has thirteen, while a fifth provides a "noise band" of completely irregular rhythms (Harvey 1975, 90).


  • Bauermeister, Mary. 2011. Ich hänge im Triolengitter: Mein Leben mit Karlheinz Stockhausen. Munich: Edition Elke Heidenreich bei C. Bertelsmann. ISBN 978-3-570-58024-0.
  • Bloch, Mark. 2008 "On Originale" (excerpt: pages 1–5, 7, and 8). In Robert Delford Brown: Meat, Maps and Militant Metaphysics, edited by Mark Bloch,[page needed] with reviews reproduced from international press clippings. Wilmington, NC: Louise Wells Cameron Art Museum. ISBN 978-0-9793359-2-1.
  • Dörstel, Wilfried. 1993. "Situation, Moment, Labyr, Fluxus, oder, Das verbrannte Original: Das Musiktheater Originale von Karlheinz Stockhausen". In Intermedial, kontrovers, experimentell: Das Atelier Mary Bauermeister in Köln 1960–62, edited by Wilfried Dörstel, 186–205. Cologne: Emons. ISBN 3-924491-43-7.
  • Fricke, Stefan. 1998. "Attacken auf Karlheinz Stockhausen: Fluxus im 'Kampf gegen das musikalische Dekor des Faschismus'", Neue Zeitschrift für Musik 159, no. 4 (July–August): 38–41.
  • Goodman, Susan. 1964. "Anti-Art Pickets Pick on Stockhausen." Village Voice (10 September)
  • Harvey, Jonathan. 1975. The Music of Stockhausen: An Introduction. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-02311-0.
  • Herzfeld, Isabel. 2015. "Ein Hauch von Wirklichkeit". Der Tagesspiegel, Berlin, 15 June 2015.
  • Kohl, Jerome. 1999. "Die Rezeption der Musik und Gedanken Karlheinz Stockhausens in Amerika". In Internationales Stockhausen-Symposion 1998: Musikwissenschaftliches Institut der Universität zu Köln, 11. bis 14. November 1998. Tagungsbericht, edired by Imke Misch and Christoph von Blumröder, 74–86. Signale aus Köln 4. Saarbrücken: PFAU-Verlag. ISBN 3-89727-050-1.
  • Kosman, Joshua. 1990. "Doing Stockhausen in Boxer Shorts". San Francisco Chronicle [final edition] (5 May): C7.
  • Kurtz, Michael. 1992. Stockhausen: A Biography, translated by Richard Toop. London and Boston: Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-14323-7 (cloth) ISBN 0-571-17146-X (pbk).
  • Maconie, Robin. 2005. Other Planets: The Music of Karlheinz Stockhausen. Lanham, Maryland, Toronto, Oxford: The Scarecrow Press, Inc. ISBN 0-8108-5356-6.
  • Pachl, Peter P. 2015. "Vom Hochsitz aus, mit Kinderlichtschwert". neue musikzeitung, 14 June 2015.
  • [Packer, Randall]. n.d. "Originale: Music Theater". Zakros Interarts website (accessed 25 December 2015).
  • Piekut, Benjamin. 2011. Experimentalism Otherwise: The New York Avant-Garde and Its Limits. California Studies in 20th-Century Music 11. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. ISBN 9780520948426.
  • Schonberg, Harold C. 1964. "Music: Stockhausen's 'Originale' Given at Judson". New York Times (9 September).
  • Röhling, Lisa Maria. 2015 "Mit Drehorgel und Mischpult". Der Tagesspiegel (13 June).
  • Sigmon, Carl P. 1964. "Festival of the Avant-Garde". Musical America 84, no. 7 (October): 52–54.
  • Smith, Steve. 2013. "Hanging in with a Demanding Composer: Stockhausen’s Work Flourishes Five Years After His Death". New York Times (Sunday, 14 July): AR9.
  • Stockhausen, Karlheinz. 1964. "Originale (1961), musikalisches Theater". In his Texte zur Musik 2, edited by Dieter Schnebel, 107–29. Cologne: Verlag M. DuMont Schauberg.
  • Tucker, Marilyn. 1990. "Avant-Garde Icon Of '60s Revived: Theatrical Touches in Stockhausen Music". San Francisco Chronicle [final edition] (2 May): 2.
  • Wörner, Karl Heinz. 1973. Stockhausen: Life and Work, revised edition, introduced, translated, and edited by Bill Hopkins. London: Faber and Faber; Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-02143-6.

Further reading[edit]

  • Anon. 1964. "Avant-Garde: Stuffed Bird at 48 Sharp". Time (18 September): 81.
  • Colton, Jack. 2014. "Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Originale at The Kitchen". Snack Art Review (7 November; accessed 23 July 2015).
  • Custodis, Michael. 2004. Die soziale Isolation der neuen Musik: Zum Kölner Musikleben nach 1945. Beihefte zum Archiv für Musikwissenschaft 54, edited by Albrecht Riethmüller, with Reinhold Brinkmann, Ludwig Finscher, Hans-Joachim Hinrichsen, Wolfgang Osthoff, and Wolfram Steinbeck. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag. ISBN 3-515-08375-8.
  • Fricke, Stefan. 2004. "Inklusieve Vergnügungssteuer: Karlheinz Stockhausens Originale und Fluxus". In Experimentelles Musik- und Tanztheater, edited by Frieder Reininghaus, Katja Schneider, and Sabine Sanio, 161-165 Handbuch der Musik im 20. Jahrhundert, no. 7. Laaber: Laaber-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-89007-427-6, ISBN 3-89007-427-8.
  • Griffiths, Paul. 1981. "Review: 4711". The Musical Times 122, no. 1664 (October): 685.
  • Johnston, Jill. 1964. "Dance: Inside Originale". Village Voice (1 October): 6 & 16.
  • Kirby, Michael, and Richard Schechner. 1965. "An Interview with John Cage". Tulane Drama Review 10, no. 2 (Winter): 50–72.
  • Krones, Hartmut. 2008. "Sprachkompositionen in der Musik des 20. Jahrhunderts, inbesondere am Beispiel Österreich". In Музички модернизам—нова тумачења: Зборник радова са научног скупа одржаног од 11. до 13. октобра 2007 [Rethinking Musical Modernism: Proceedings of the International Conference Held from October 11 to 13, 2007], edited by Dejan Despić, Melita Milin, and Danica Petrović, 231–45. Naucni skupovi, no. 122; Odelenje likovne i muzicke umetnosti, no. 6. Belgrade: Srpska Akademija Nauka i Umetnosti. ISBN 978-86-7025-463-3.
  • Oren, Michel. 1993. "Anti-Art as the End of Cultural History". Performing Arts Journal 15, no. 2 (May): 1–30.
  • Prial, Frank. 1964. "'Originale': A Wacky Show with Frenzied Story Line". New York World-Telegram and Sun (9 September).
  • Rich, Alan. "Stockhausen's 'Originale'". New York Herald Tribune (9 September).
  • Rigoni, Michel. 1998. Stockhausen: ... un vaisseau lancé vers le ciel, 2nd edition, revised, corrected, and enlarged. Lillebonne: Millénaire III Editions. ISBN 2-911906-02-0.
  • Ruppel, Karl Heinz. 1961. "Neodadisten". Süddeutsche Zeitung (3 November).
  • Siano, Leopoldo. 2016. "Between Music and Visual Art in the 1960s: Mary Bauermeister and Karlheinz Stockhausen". In The Musical Legacy of Karlheinz Stockhausen: Looking Back and Forward, edited by M.J. Grant and Imke Misch, 90–101. Hofheim: Wolke Verlag. ISBN 978-3-95593-068-4.
  • Straebel, Volker. 1995. "'...that the Europeans become more American': Gegenseitige Einflüsse von Europa und Nordamerika in der Geschichte der Musikperformance". In Musik, Labyrinth, Kontext: Musikperformance, 80–94. Schriftenreihe Offenes Kulturhaus, no. 13. Linz: Offenes Kulturhaus des Landes Oberösterreich. ISBN 978-3-85307-003-1, ISBN 3-85307-003-5.
  • Uroskie, Andrew V. 2012. "Visual Music After Cage: Robert Breer, Expanded Cinema and Stockhausen's Originals (1964)". Organised Sound: An International Journal of Music Technology 17, no. 2 (August): 163–69.

External links[edit]