The Guardian festival blog: The week in classical: Donnerstag aus Licht; La Damnation de Faust; By Voice Alone – review | Music

Guru, inventor, tyrant, magus; wearer of orange jumpers and white trousers; father of electronic music: the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007) was all these things. Read up on him and be nonplussed. The most influential avant garde composer of the 20th century, he exhausted, repelled and inspired. No idea was too epic. A piece for three orchestras and three conductors, dictated by the shape of a Swiss mountain? No problem. That was Gruppen, the 1950s megalith that made his early career. His opera cycle, Licht, 29 hours of music in seven instalments marking the days of the week, occupied him for the last decades of his life (and included the fabled Helicopter quartet).

Fourth in the cycle but the first written, Donnerstag aus Licht (1977-1980) – “Thursday from Light” – consists of three acts, a greeting and a farewell. It requires at least three solo voices, eight solo instrumentalists, dancers, choir,…


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