Sunday, December 09, 2007
No Stockhausen - no Radiohead
I went into Norfolk's main library on Saturday morning and asked for a book from the reserve collection. The librarian was in his early twenties, had a beard and wore a T-shirt with a slogan. Great to see a hip young person working in a library I thought. When I asked for the copy of a biography of Stockhausen the young librarian looked blank and asked "How do you spell that?"
Clearly the librarian hadn't seen the surprisingly high profile media coverage of Stockhausen's death. But he is also one of the internet generation, and my server data currently shows very few Google searches for Stockhausen. Far lower than, for instance, Rostropovich following his death. Yes, it is a weekend, but internet traffic yesterday was low even for a Saturday.
I wonder if that young librarian read Ed Vulliamy's tribute in today's Observer? - "The fact is: no Stockhausen, no Pink Floyd, no Stockhausen, no Velvet Underground or Yes, certainly no Brian Eno. Probably no Radiohead either".
Have I have accidentally stumbled on the acid test of cultural significance? - can the librarian spell it? No chance for György Kurtág or Peteris Vasks. But I wonder if in thirty years time a librarian will be able to spell Radiohead? Coming to that, I wonder if in thirty years time we will have any librarians?
* Perhaps that young librarian should read Karlheinz Stockhausen - part of a dream?
* Header photo is from one of my recent articles on Pierre Boulez and shows from left to right, Luigi Nono, Boulez and Stockhausen.
* Below is the book that was in the library's reserve collection, the English translation of Michael Kurtz's Stockhausen biography (Faber ISBN 057117146). Is it significant that this book is out of print? The library copy has been on loan ten times since 1996.
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