The emailed announcements are trickling in, and the official obits (NYT/AP and Guardian) have begun to appear, so it must be true: Karlheinz Stockhausen, the man most identified by the public with the classical avant-garde, died two days ago. Composer Stacy Garrop points out that this means that he and Mozart died the same day. (Update: Garrop points out that December 5 is her birthday, as well as Osvaldo Golijov's.) That should make you wonder about the existence of God, or fate, for a considerable time. His website (Stockhausen's, not God's) touchingly states that "The composer Karlheinz Stockhausen expects his 80th birthday in the year 2008." It's a glorious mess, but his two-hour electronics plus orchestra work Hymnen still stands as a mighty ode to international harmony.
CSO bassist Michael Hovnanian, however, is still very much alive, and wrote a fun, "Life in the Orchestra," post with more lines worth quoting than I probably should. Basically, conductor Mark Elder places the basses on stage right this week and next, from their usual spot stage left, and this has occasioned much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Some juicy tidbits:
"We used to sit this way all the time under some guy who was music-director here; his name escapes me."
"It is always interesting to see what happens when creatures, almost deformed by habit, are asked to do something a little bit different."
"We are pointedly not represented in the ‘inner circle’ (the first stands of violins, violas and cellos surrounding the conductor) that Algonquin Round Table where bowings, articulations, and other lofty matters pertaining to the strings are discussed."
His blog just keeps getting better.