BBC Music Magazine




LIFE: Karlheinz Stockhause­n is born in Burg Mödrath, near Cologne. His father is a schoolteac­her and his mother, a fine singer, comes from a wealthy farming family.

TIMES: With the German federal election resulting in a coalition government, the Social Democratic Party’s Hermann Müller is appointed Chancellor. The Nazi Party secures only 12 seats.


LIFE: Having recently attended the Darmstadt summer school for new music, he goes to Paris to study with Messiaen. There, he meets fellow modernist Pierre Boulez, among others.

TIMES: Beginning with a strike in East Berlin, a major uprising involving over a million people spreads across East Germany. It is brutally suppressed by occupying Soviet forces.


LIFE: He completes his Helicopter Quartet, in which four members of a string quartet perform from four airborne helicopter­s. It later forms part of the opera Mittwoch aus LICHT. TIMES: Ben and Jonathan Finn launch their Sibelius music notation software, which allows composers to write music directly onto a computer screen rather than by hand.


LIFE: Stockhause­n’s mother Gertrud dies in an asylum, almost certainly killed as part of a Nazi euthanasia programme. Stockhause­n later imagines the scene in his opera Donnerstag aus LICHT. TIMES: The US responds to the Japanese air attack on its naval base at Pearl Harbor by declaring war on the country. Germany, in turn, declares war on the US.


LIFE: Stockhause­n accepts an invitation by Japanese Radio (NHK) to spend a few months in Tokyo. He immerses himself in Japanese culture, and the experience has a big impact on his outlook and music. TIMES: At the Fifa World Cup final at Wembley, Germany loses 4-2 to England. Striker Geoff Hurst scores three goals, but there is debate over whether one of them crossed the line.


LIFE: He dies of a heart attack on 5 December at home in Kuertenket­tenberg, Germany, having completed his final commission the night before.

TIMES: Count Gottfried von Bismarck, the notoriousl­y dissolute great-greatgrand­son of former Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, dies of a cocaine overdose at his flat in London.

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