In 1975, Karlheinz Stockhausen composed the enigmatic work, Musik im Bauch (Music in the Belly), for the French ensemble Percussions de Strasbourg. The score contained more stage directions and performance notes than music – and the music consisted of twelve melodies linked to the signs of the zodiac, the Tierkreis cycle, and embodied in music boxes that the composer had made himself.
The idea for the piece and its title came from his daughter Julika’s surprise when, at the age of two, she discovered faint noises inside her, stomach rumbling. “You have music in your belly”, Stockhausen joked, and she wouldn't stop laughing about this idea, but repeated the sentence until she finally fell asleep. A few years later, Stockhausen woke up one morning having dreamed about the performance and started to put it down on paper.
Nearly fifty years after the composition and premiere of the work at the Royan Festival, Percussions de Strasbourg have asked Simon Steen-Andersen to imagine a new interpretation and staging. While remaining faithful to the score and without changing a single note, Steen-Andersen proposes his vision of the work's potential for the eyes and ears of today through the use of simple scenic concepts and technologies directly inspired by other pieces by Stockhausen. A simple question guided Steen-Andersen’s approach: what might Music in the Belly have looked and sounded like inside Stockhausen’s dream before he woke up?
Simon Steen-Andersen's Staging of Stockhausen's 'Music in the Belly' is premiered at Festival Musica Strasbourg by Percussions de Strasbourg, Wednesday 28 September at 20.30 in the théâtre de Hautepierre.