This composition for flute(s), oboe, clarinet(s)/sopranosax, trombone/euphonium, trumpet/bugle, piano/synthesizer, two drummers and tape-music, which was premièred in June 1996 as a commissionary work for the International Music Institute in Darmstadt/Germany(Mr. Solf Schäfer), deals with the horror of war and in an abstract way and vicarious for innumerable other war-catastrophies sets into music the air-raid on the city of Darmstadt by allied forces on Septembre 11/12 1944 in which 12.300 people lost their lives within a few hours, burned to death, suffocated, torn to pieces.
Be it Hiroshima, Stalingrad, London or Coventry, be it Afghanistan or Kuwait, be it Tschecenia, Bosnia or the Lebanon, be it in the past or in the present, the composer feels the urge to musicalize these unimaginable apocalypses in order to shake up and senzibilize the listener.
The work`s duration is 36 minutes and it is divided into seven sections: Sirens, rumbling, bombs, fire-storm, individual destinies, correction-attack and casualty-reports.
In this piece S.Stockhausen detaches himself from serial composition-techniques and works a lot with dodecaphonic sequenzes and their permutations, integrates his own texts and lyrics as well as quotes and utilizes historical and contemporary original-recordings from the second world war, current politics and the history of war in the 20th century. An audiomix of the première was transmitted live via ISDN to the city of Graz/Austria, projected on loudspeakers and triggered sounds on an interactive sound-wall constructed by media-artist Richard Kriesche. Those sounds provided by Simon Stockhausen were transmitted back to Darmstadt and integrated into the total-sound of Brandnächte. Towards the end of the performance the piano-part from section 5, during which some of the musicians wandered around the audience, was repeated by a pianist performing in Graz and also transmitted to Darmstadt.
The première was performed by:
Cathy Miliken - Oboe/Voice
Dietmar Wiesner - Flutes/Voice
Ian Stuart - Clarinets/Soprano Sax/Voice
Michael Svoboda - Trombone/Euphonium/Voice
Marco Blaauw - Trumper/Bugle/Voice
Hermann Kretzschmar - Piano/Synthesizer/Voice
Adam Weisman - Percussion/Mallets/Voice
Rainer Römer - Drumset/electronic drums/Voice
Simon Stockhausen - Conductor
Michael Häck - Sound-projection Pianist in Graz - Sandy Lopicic
excerpts from the live-recording of the première
Solo from section 5:Solo from Brandnächte for Oboe, performed by Cathy Miliken live in Melbourne 1996