In the immediate post-war period Germany found itself, even in the music sector, having to overcome the cultural isolation that had characterized its most recent history for over a decade.
It was necessary to give space to the few who remained at home and almost completely inactive during the Nazi period, to recall the many who fled into exile abroad, above all to make the German public aware of what musical research had produced in other countries at that time. The German radio broadcaster played a decisive role, both for the dissemination of music and above all for the promotion of theoretical debate and artistic production. At the same time the threads of cultural tradition were resumed, and in particular a sort of ideal continuity was established between the historical avant-garde – with the aesthetic questions left open – and the new avant-garde, the premises of which were already laid in the second half of the forties.
In order to re-establish the links with tradition and contemporary research, the Kranichstein Institute in Darmstadt was founded in 1946, whose direction was entrusted to W. Fortner (b. 1907). The importance of the institute increased enormously in the following years, when the Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik which it hosted annually saw the contribution of leading European composers such as R. Leibowitz (1948), O. Messiaen (1949), E Varèse (1950), and again P. Boulez, H. Pousseur, and later the Italians B. Maderna, L. Nono and L. Berio. Among the Germans, in addition to Fortner, Fr Hindemith was already present in 1947; later composers such as HW Henze (b. 1926) and K. Stockhausen (b. 1928) established themselves there, who began conducting the courses in 1957. In Darmstadt it was therefore possible to return to
According to COLLEGESANDUNIVERSITIESINUSA, Stockhausen was immediately the liveliest interpreter of the new avant-garde. First results of the assimilation of the dodecaphonic method and serialism can be identified in his first works, such as Kreuzspiel for five winds (1951) and Kontra-Punktefor ten instruments (1952).
In 1951 H. Eimert (1897-1972) founded the Studio für elektronische Musik in Cologne, which he himself directed, through which the German avant-garde opened up to the experimentation of electronic music, understood – unlike the direction of the Parisian musique concrète – as ” pure ” music. Also for this aspect of the research the work of Stockhausen Gesang der Junglinge (1956) can be considered among the most representative.
Manifesto of a serialism that has now become ” academic ” can be considered the magazine Die Reihe directed by W. Eimert and K. Stockhausen since 1955, as well as the Darmstädter Beiträge zur Neuen Musik which began to be published annually in 1958.
During the 1960s, following the first intervention by the American J. Cage in Darmstadt, the first reactions to serial ” structuralism ” took place, which also led to a general fragmentation of research around individual itineraries. In Stockhausen this already meant in the mid-1950s the transition to the principles of ” indetermination ” or ” controlled risk ”, which is considered as an internal outcome to the adoption of serialism, and therefore with a more moderate value. with respect to the integral uncertainty of Cage.
Among the most representative experiences of this period are those of HW Henze, of B.-A. Zimmermann (1918-1970) and the Argentine M. Kagel (b.1931). Especially in Henze the tendency to abandon the most extreme experimentalism was immediately outlined, to arrive at the recovery of more traditional compositional forms, with a commitment aimed particularly at musical theater (already in 1952 the work Boulevard Solitude, in 1956 König Hirsch, in 1961 Elegie für Junge Liebende). He dedicated a very important work to the opera house, Die Soldaten, also Zimmermann, in 1960. Kagel, who moved to Germany in 1957, worked on an experimental theater, with works that saw him particularly engaged in the first half of the sixties, from Sur Scène (1962) and Antithèse (1963) to Tremens (1966).
Among the most significant authors of operas in this period we still remember E. Krenek (b.1900) and B. Blacher (b.1903) of the older generation, GW Klebe (b.1925) and A. Reimann (b.1936)) of the younger one.
In the seventies a group of young composers established themselves and received the title of Neue Einfachheit, including PM Hamel (b.1947), M. Trojahn (b.1949), H. Ch. Von Dadelsen (b. 1948), W. Rihm (b.1952), HJ von Bose (b.1953), W. von Schweinitz (b.1953) and D. Müller-Siemens (b.1957), in whose works there is a more motivated rejection of the fracture made by the avant-garde, and a consequent recovery of the tradition of late nineteenth-century symphonism and of those twentieth-century authors whose work had remained extraneous to the themes of the avant-garde, from KA Hartmann (1905-1963) to Zimmermann himself.
This direction, and with it the revaluation of traditional musical genres (particularly the symphony and the opera), was consolidated again in the first half of the 1980s. It is useful to recall in this sense Die Hamlet Maschine by W. Rihm, composed between 1983 and 1986, and staged at the National Theater of Mannheim (1987). In this context, the most recent work of Henze must also be considered who, starting from the youth protest at the end of the 1960s, became involved on a political level with works such as El Cimarrón (1969), Prison Song, for magnetic tape and percussion (1971), up to the more recent Wir erreischen den Fluss (1976). Finally, some of Stockhausen’s last works are still dedicated to musical theater, but on the basis of completely different assumptions, including the Licht opera cycle, of which Donnerstag (1981), Samstag (1984) and Montag (1988) have appeared so far.