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O sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His Name; proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.
Psalm 96, 1-2

The tones of air, I know not how they flow; where'er they move, all things melodious grow.
Faust PT II, Goethe

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Lost World Tango

Two Lonely People

Galaxy

Elysium

Blues for Zarathustra

Wings of the Morning

Cycles

Doloroso

17 Solo Piano Improvisations

Music in Three Parts

House of Counted Days

Voyage to Arcturus

Ron Thomas performances, recordings, teaching, composition and essays.

Fragments: An Autobiography

page 3 -- Click on any thumbnail to see a larger photo.

During 1963 Glenn and Steve attended a lecture demonstration given by Karlheinz Stockhausen (thumbnail, left) at the University of Pennsylvania. Stockhausen was thirty-five years old when Glenn and Steve saw him. They told me of their encounter with him in a near hysterical frenzy of excitement. He had accepted a position as a Visiting Composition Professor for the spring term of 1964 at the University of Pennsylvania. Glenn and Steve urged me to study with him. At first I was apprehensive. Their persuasions won me over. Soon, I too succumbed to the ‘Artist Of The Age’ image so capably represented by Karlheinz! The “Debussy Trail”, as I have come to call it, had led swiftly and directly to Stockhausen’s work and persona and now, here I was, preparing to study with him!

(Thumbnails, above right and below left, are of Ron Thomas during this time.)

I rented a room on Hamilton Street in Powelton Village for $40 a month. Karlheinz was living in New York City, touring the United States with Max Neuhaus and David Tudor, and traveling to Philadelphia for a full day of teaching each week. I frequently arranged to meet him on the train since I went home often to Montclair by way of Newark (his route as well). Often, en route to his next college-lecture-performance gig, he flew out of Philadelphia on the evening of our class. We frequently dined and rode to the airport by cab together. In this way I was able to spend a lot of time with him outside the class. It is clear at this distance (2000) that I got a rare glimpse of Karlheinz as a very human and personable individual and for this I am very grateful.

He praised my seriousness, and I think he had a good opinion of the two works I had brought with me to show him. (The Piano Work 1 [Sonata] 1963 and Desire Caught by the Tail 1963 [revised in 1965] Incidental music for Pablo Picasso’s play). He had brought with him tapes of European performances of his music which he played for us and analyzed. My first hearing of Carre for 4 orchestras and 4 choruses was devastating. I came to know a lot about this piece and even these many years later there are passages in it that still choke me up when I hear them. The unique and appealing sensibility of Stockhausen’s musical world is perfectly displayed by this unusual masterpiece. My awe of him and his music became inordinate to the point of folly and it took until 1972 to shake my hero-worship of him.

(Thumbnail is of a slide rule made during this period.)

He divided his teaching day between a morning of listening to and analyzing his works, and an afternoon studying his recently completed Plus Minus, a plan by which a composer may fashion a musical/dramatic work conceived along the lines of his formal principles. We helped him finalize a German to English translation of the instruction booklet. These classes were excellent. Quirky as Karlheinz was and is, the legend that his classes were foolish and frivolous is entirely false. Plus Minus was a formidable and valuable discipline. It is also a perfect self-analysis by Karlheinz of the compositional methods he had in fact created during the '50s and '60s.

Mary Bauermeister on occasion came to the class with him. Mary, an outstanding artist in her own right, became Karlheinz’ second wife. She knew many prominent people in the New York art world and took Karlheinz and me, often in the company of Korean Video-Artist Nam June Paik, on whirlwind tours of studios and parties where we met Andy Warhol, Larry Rivers, Jim Dines, Jasper Johns, and Morton Feldman. Before Karlheinz returned to Germany in 1964, I persuaded Glenn to give him an original work of his. Mary saw and loved it, as we had hoped she would, and subsequently visited our studio in New Jersey. She assured Glenn that she would find buyers for Glenn’s work in Europe and those sales enabled him to move to Europe in 1970. But I’m slightly ahead of the story.

Glenn and Steve left the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art after one year. (Thumbnail, left, is recent photo of Glenn.) While I studied with Stockhausen they visited various art-sites in France and Italy, most of them suggested by Hobbson Pittman, who heartily approved of, and substantially planned, their trip. I was invited to return to Germany with Karlheinz where I would have joined the list of English-speaking assistants he always hires. Perhaps I should gone but I had to get away from him.

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