The Hannover Opera House, for whose 125th anniversary Jubiläum was composed

Jubiläum (Jubilee) is an orchestral composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen, work-number 45 in the composer’s catalogue of works.


Jubiläum is a relatively short work of about 15 minutes duration, written in 1977 on commission for the 125th-anniversary celebration of the Royal Festival Hall, London, by the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Andrew Davis (Kurtz 1992, 208–209; Stockhausen 1989, 126). The score is dedicated to Péter Eötvös.

Character of the work

In Jubiläum, Stockhausen composed an orchestral sound event with superimposed layers of different speeds, degrees of noise, degrees of indeterminacy and integration, and simultaneous transitions from ordered to disordered and back (Maconie 2005, 390). The work is built upon a formula, announced at the beginning as a massive hymn-like chant in the brass and low strings. The harmonic language of Jubiläum is reminiscent of the music of Stockhausen’s teacher Olivier Messiaen, and the dramatic use of space recalls Hector Berlioz. The formula is presented mainly in a series of dense textures overlaid with shimmering glissandos and rapid melodic figurations, in a "mix of majestic confidence and restless activity" that produces a quality of "breathtaking splendour that is Stockhausen's alone" (Griffiths 1980).

The formula of Jubiläum is in the guise of a chorale with a melody containing 15 pitches grouped into five segments of 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 tones:

(C) + (F F) + (G D A) + (C B A E) + (G E B D G).

The five segments have durations of 2, 3 (1 + 2), 6 (3 + 1 + 2), 10 (2 + 4 +1 + 3), and 15 (4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 5) crotchets, and each is followed by a "coloured silence" of 2, 3, 4, 6, and 9 crotchets. These colourations are made in the lower instruments (horns, violas, cellos) by overtone glissandos, in the middle register by natural-harmonic glissandos in the violins, and in the highest register by arpeggios on five triangles and a set of glass chimes (Stockhausen 1989, 127).

Each note of this melody is accompanied by a chord, and these chords fluctuate in density between two and five notes according to a serial distribution: 2 3 4 5 5 4 3 2 3 4 5 5 4 3 2 notes per chord. These chords collectively form a harmonic double "wave", whose chord densities rise and fall twice. At the same time, a single wave of level of dissonance first increases from a unison at the beginning to a minor ninth in the middle, and then decreases back to perfect consonances (octave and perfect fifth) at the end (Stockhausen 1989, 126–27).


There are four superimposed instrumental layers corresponding to different musical processes. Each layer is effectively a melodic "loop" of fifteen notes, constantly repeating but transformed in pitch and speed (Maconie 2005, 391).

The orchestra is arranged on the platform according to register, with the deepest instruments at the left, progressing across the stage to the highest instruments on the right—analogous to a piano keyboard (Maconie 2005, 390). A tenor layer (trumpets, horns, violas, and cellos) begins with a slow statement of the formula, and then the players begin repeating the formula independent of one another, gradually increasing speed until the fifteen notes of the formula compress into a "whirling band of sound" (Stockhausen 1978, 343; Stockhausen 1989, 128).

A mezzo-soprano group (flutes, clarinets, and violins) plays the formula a perfect eleventh higher. This layer begins with the instruments playing independently and very fast, gradually slowing down and becoming synchronised at the middle, then accelerating and becoming independent again at the end. A very high group, recalling the "star-sound" colouring of Stockhausen's Formel, consisting of glockenspiels, piano (treble only, with sustaining pedal), and celesta, plays the formula two octaves and a major seventh higher than the bass group, and begins like the middle-register group, playing fast and independent of one another. They also slow down and begin to differentiate the rhythmic values of the formula, but do this more gradually than the middle-register group, achieving the slowest tempo only near the end, concluding with a synchronised statement of the formula in its slowest tempo, lasting about two minutes. These three layers unfold a combined shape in which the slow chorale is presented on successively higher steps (Stockhausen 1989, 128–29; Maconie 2005, 390).

The fourth, lowest instrumental group (bell plates, bassoons, and double basses) plays the formula seven times as a ground bass, synchronised each time to one of the other three groups:

  1. with the bass group, very slow
  2. with the bass group, accelerando
  3. with the middle group, ritardando
  4. with the middle group, very slow
  5. with the middle group, accelerando
  6. with the high group, ritardando
  7. with the high group, very slow

The low brass break through the musical fabric with a statement of the formula from the back of the hall (or from a projecting balcony at the back or at one side) a little more than three minutes from the beginning, and the four oboes similarly play from offstage about nine-and-a-half minutes through the piece. The composer calls these events "sound windows" (Stockhausen 1978, 344). All four instrumental groups conclude the work with a synchronous formula statement, nearly four times the speed of the slowest tempo, to end in a "festive, brilliant, and confident" mode (Stockhausen 1989, 129).

These elements combine to produce a symmetrical form of nine sections plus the concluding (tenth) statement (Stockhausen 1989, 127):

  1. tenor chorale, ca. 2 mins.
  2. accel./rit., ca. 1½ mins.
  3. first window (trombones and tuba, back of the hall), ca. 1 min.
  4. rit./accel., ca. 1½ mins.
  5. mezzo-soprano chorale, ca. 2 mins.
  6. accel./rit., ca. 1½ mins.
  7. second window (offstage oboes), ca. 1 min.
  8. rit./accel., ca. 1½ mins.
  9. high chorale, ca. 2 minutes
  10. tutti coda, ca. 37 secs.

In the revised version of 1980, one after another six solo instruments step forth from the orchestra, starting in the second stage with the first horn. In the fourth stage (just after the first window), a cumulation begins, first with a duet, then a trio, quartet, quintet, and finally a sextet, linking the polyphonic layers through all the registers and horizontalising their harmonies into concise melodic and rhythmic figures.

  • in the second stage, the first horn
  • from the fourth stage, adding the first trombone
  • from the fifth stage, adding the first violin
  • from the sixth stage, adding the first flute
  • from the eighth stage (just after the second window), adding the first oboe
  • from the ninth stage, adding the piano

Like the rest of the orchestra, these instruments are distinctly separated in space (Stockhausen 1989, 129). Whereas the first version of the score relied solely on acoustical means to achieve dynamic balance, amplification became a requirement for performance after the addition of the soloists in the revised version (Maconie 2005, 393).


  • 4 (or 2) flutes (4th doubling piccolo)
  • 4 (or 2) oboes
  • 4 (or 2) clarinets
  • 3 (or 2) bassoons
  • 1 contrabassoon
  • 4 (or 2) horns (B/F double horns)
  • 3 (or 2) trumpets (all with straight, cup, and wawa mutes)
  • 4 (or 2) trombones (or 3 trombones and 1 additional horn—1st trombone with F-valve attachment)
  • 1 tuba
  • 2 glockenspiels (with pedal)
  • 1 set of hanging glass chimes
  • 5 triangles of different sizes
  • 2 Percussionists:
  • 1 chromatic set of sound plates (or plate bells, or a chromatic set of tuned gongs and tamtams)
  • 1 piano
  • 1 celesta
  • first violins
  • second violins
  • violas
  • cellos
  • double basses
  • (+ 10 microphones, 6 loudspeakers, and a mixing desk for a sound director)

Strings are doubled either as 8-8-8-6-6 or 10-10-8-6-6.


  • Stockhausen, Karlheinz. Jubiläum für Orchester; Tierkreis: Zehn Sternzeichen für Orchester; Tierkreis für das historische Glockenspiel des Kölner Rathauses. BBC Symphony Orchestra, cond. Oliver Knussen (Jubiläum). Orchestra Mozart (Bologna), cond. Oliver Knussen (Tierkreis for orchestra); Cologne Town Hall Carillon, programmed by Bert Augustus (adaptation of a version of Tierkreis by Kathinka Pasveer and Suzanne Stephens). Stockhausen Complete Edition CD 100. Kürten: Stockhausen-Verlag, 2010.


  • Griffiths, Paul. 1980. "Stockhausen: Festival Hall". The Times (10 May): 10.
  • Kurtz, Michael. 1992. Stockhausen: A Biography, translated by Richard Toop. London and Boston: Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-14323-7 (cloth); ISBN 0-571-17146-X (pbk).
  • Maconie, Robin. 2005. Other Planets: The Music of Karlheinz Stockhausen. Lanham, Maryland; Toronto; Oxford: The Scarecrow Press, Inc. ISBN 0-8108-5356-6.
  • Stockhausen, Karlheinz. 1978. "Jubiläum für Orchester (1977)". In his Texte zur Musik 4, edited by Christoph von Blumröder, 341–44. DuMont Dokumente. Cologne: DuMont Buchverlag. ISBN 3-7701-1078-1.
  • Stockhausen, Karlheinz. 1989. "Jubiläum (1977) für Orchester". In his Texte zur Musik 5, edited by Christoph von Blumröder, 126–35. DuMont Dokumente. Cologne: DuMont Buchverlag. ISBN 3-7701-2249-6.

Further reading

  • Frisius, Rudolf. 2008. Karlheinz Stockhausen II: Die Werke 1950–1977; Gespräch mit Karlheinz Stockhausen, "Es geht aufwärts". Mainz, London, Berlin, Madrid, New York, Paris, Prague, Tokyo, and Toronto: Schott Musik International. ISBN 978-3-7957-0249-6.
  • Hewett, Ivan. 2010. "Troublesome Trip to the Heights of Radiance: Proms 2010". Daily Telegraph (30 July): 31.
  • Rigoni, Michel. 1998. Stockhausen: ... un vaisseau lancé vers le ciel, 2nd edition, revised, corrected, and enlarged. Lillebonne: Millénaire III Editions. ISBN 2-911906-02-0.

External links

  • Henkel, Georg. 2011. "Stockhausen-JUBILÄUM". Review of Stockhausen Complete Edition CD 100. Musik an sich.de (January). (Accessed 6 June 2012). (German)
  • Yáñez, Paco. 2011. "Se completa la Edición Stockhausen". Review of Stockhausen Complete Edition CD 100. Mundoclasico.com (26 September) (Accessed 8 November 2011). (Spanish)