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Did Rupert Buy the Times?

Curious item by Daniel J. Wakin buried deep in the bowels of Saturday’s New York Times, the jist of which appears to be the fact that absolutely nobody is upset because Bang on a Can has programmed  Karlheinz Stockhausen’s “Stimmung” as the culminating piece of a 12-hour marathon ending early on the morning of June 1 at the World Financial Center Winter Garden. 

Why might they be?  Well, apparently Stockhausen made one of his nutty comments about 9/11 being “the greatest work of art that is possible in the whole cosmos.”

Call me crazy, but having studied and been in this journalism game for a very long time I’m of the opinion that if the dog didn’t bite the man and the man didn’t bite the dog, you really don’t have much of a story to work with.  I know the cable channels love to gin up this phony controversy crap, but the New York Times…


Comment from jodru
Time: May 4, 2008, 10:31 pm

Total nonsense.

The remark was insensitive, to be sure. The number of outraged comments on that article underscores just how raw those wounds still are for a lot of us.

But talk about a comment stripped of all context! The Times misreported the story along with everyone else when it first happened. Why should they stop now?

Comment from zeno
Time: May 5, 2008, 12:08 pm

Interesting comments, Jerry and Joe. Thanks.

Perhaps the cultural reporter will also wake up and realize that the Metropolitan Opera — under Peter Gelb, no less — has buried in its 2008-09 programming a work by one less than perfect Richard Wagner, called ‘Der Ring des Nibelungen’. (I also can’t quite recall the outcries that greeted Hans Pfitzner’s ‘Palestrina’ being produced on the MET stage a few years back. Maybe someone else can.)

Personally, an announced performance of Stockhausen’s ‘Stimmung’ — even at the WFC — strikes me as less interesting than would an announced performance of Carl Orff’s ‘De temporum fine commedia’ (or even Arnold Schoenberg’s ‘Pierrot lunaire’.)

(It would be another matter if, for example, Gerard Mortier were to hire — for shock value — an avowed anti-Semite, anti-Muslim, or anti-Christian director to stage all seven parts of Stockhausen’s ‘Licht Cycle’ with the NYCO at the NYC Armory…)

Comment from Christopher Zimmerman
Time: May 6, 2008, 12:59 pm

Stockhausen was commenting on and lamenting the fact that mediatized terrorism has usurped the role and impact that the avant-garde ‘traditionally’ held. Don DeLillo in interviews from the ’80’s said some prescient things about the terrorist taking over the role of the novelist.

Comment from Daniel G.
Time: May 6, 2008, 5:48 pm

The NY Times misreporting? No, you don’t say. :D

Comment from Walter Ramsey
Time: May 6, 2008, 6:19 pm

I don’t think it’s phony, and I think people have a right to be offended. Nobody is calling for an outcry because Stockhausen had his 15 minutes in the popular world back in the 60’s.

Even though Wagner didn’t commit any crimes in the Holocaust, nobody would endorse performing Parsifal at Auschwitz. The decision to program Stockhausen at the WFC seems to be analogously insulting. This is what you get when you contaminate arts with politics.

Walter Ramsey

Comment from zeno
Time: May 7, 2008, 10:19 am

Mr Ramsey, I believe that there is a world of moral difference between Stockhausen’s perhaps publicity-seeking, perhaps superphrenic comment after 9/11; and Richard Wagner’s history of published anti-Semitic writings.

You are free to disagree.


Parsifal at Auschwitz/Oswiecim? Nein/nie!
(No operas or music dramas there, for that matter.)

Richard Wagner in Israel? Possible if done carefully, as done by Daniel Barenboim.

Comment from Jerry Bowles
Time: May 7, 2008, 10:52 pm

But, no Death of Klinghoffer anywhere.

Comment from zeno
Time: May 8, 2008, 10:04 am

And no, or little, sign of DOK librettist Alice Goodman anywhere, either.

(Rather, John Adams, Peter Sellers, Alice Goodman, and Penny Woolcock appear to be, at least partially, professionally safe at Peter Gelb’s MET Opera House — as it should be, in my view.)


[On a separate note, I see that the Chicago Lyric Opera production of Doctor Atomic is going to be broadcast on radio, here in D.C., at 1 PM. on Saturday, May 17. I thought that I’d have to wait for the MET Opera production and broadcast next winter.]

Comment from Phil Fried
Time: May 21, 2008, 12:03 am

Remember folks — as the NY Times states:

Bang on a Can is not political, or are they?