The Devil and the Details: Negotiating Virtuosity, Agency, and Authenticity in Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Kathinkas Gesang als Luzifers Requiem for Solo Flute
Description: Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Kathinkas Gesang als Luzifers Requiem presents mental, physical, and musical challenges that go beyond the usual expectations of an instrumentalist, extending and redefining the traditional idea of virtuosity. Using firsthand performance experience, score and recording study, and flutist interviews, this document explores the effects of some of these heightened demands and argues that the particular performance situation presented by Kathinkas Gesang brings up critical questions about the performer’s role, the nature of performance and of the musical work, and the existence of an authoritatively “authentic” interpretation. Employing an expanded definition of virtuosity that includes interpretation and encompasses both choices and actions, the document discusses the extensions of virtuosity into two main areas: first, memory; and second, staging and movement, covering both practical suggestions and larger implications. Finally, it examines how the performer’s negotiation of these challenges relates to questions about authenticity and agency. Performance is defined here as a creative and collaborative act, not attempting to duplicate previous performances or recordings, but rather to give the best realization of the piece possible in the given circumstances, according to the individual’s interpretation of the score’s directions. There is no single “authentic” interpretation, but rather a rich multiplicity of possibilities, and the performer’s creative agency and personal authenticity are necessary for the full realization of the work.
Date: May 2015
Creator: Chambo, Wayla Joy Ewart