An Inclusive Litany

9/19/01

German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen apologized for referring to the attack on the World Trade Center as "the greatest work of art one can imagine." "That minds accomplish in one act something that we in music can't dream of, that people rehearse like mad for ten years—totally fanatically—for a concert and then die—that's the greatest work of art there is in the entire cosmos," he said the Sunday after the attack.

The composer told angry Hamburg officials—who canceled four performances of his work at a music festival—that he meant to say the attack was "a production of the devil, Lucifer's work of art." Stockhausen also appeared to have referred to "art" in the broad, modern sense that includes that which is appalling. Stockhausen gained fame through his avant-garde works in the 1960s and '70s, but later moved on to less popular musical theater projects, some of which involved the use of military equipment.

[Ed.: Berlin's minister for culture Adrienne Goehler, a psychologist, also got into hot water when she referred to the twin towers as "phallic symbols" in a public meeting following the attack.]

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