Watch the making of Stockhausen’s Helicopter String Quartet

Something for the weekend perhaps?

The ever excellent Ubuweb (seriously spend an evening going through their site) recently upped to their archives this documentary film about the making of  Karlheinz Stockhausen‘s piece Helicopter String Quartet with the Arditti String Quartet. The title of piece alone should give you an idea of just how complex and brain-melting a concept this is even by the German composer’s standards.

Dedicated to all astronauts, Helicopter String Quartet was composed for a very classical formation, the string quartet, in a very unusual setting: four players in four different flying helicopters, synchronized by means of voice signals and click marks. Stockhausen once had a dream. He was at some high-class party where he didn’t feel welcome, and he just wanted to fly away from there. He suddenly starts flying in the air and through the objects, performing an elegant flight that mesmerises the tuxedo-clad party guests who had snubbed him before. This was, the composer says, the very origin of this controversial piece…

No idea what I’m on about? Here’s the Elysian Quartet performing it in 2012 in Birmingham, UK.


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