2nd Annual Conference of the Critical Theory for Musicology Study Group

  • William Fourie (Speaker)

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference


Biko, Stockhausen and the Emancipatory Potential of Musical Modernism in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Musical modernism occupied an ambivalent position in South Africa under the apartheid regime. On the one hand, it was promoted by state cultural institutions because it represented a form of cultural capital that whites were to accrue. On the other, the aesthetic found little traction among conservative white Afrikaner audiences. Karlheinz Stockhausen’s 1971 visit to South Africa illustrates this ambivalence: despite considerable costs, state-sponsored institutions felt that audience ‘should be exposed’ to his music and thus brought him out for a lengthy national tour. In disparaging counterpoint to this sentiment, Stockhausen’s concerts were met with audience walk-outs. There, however, exists a third—and most veiled—aspect to Stockhausen’s reception in South Africa: his meeting with the leader of the Black Consciousness movement, Steve Biko, in Soweto. No official record of this meeting exists and we cannot be sure what was exchanges by the two figure. Yet the meeting does prompt an interesting questions the convergence between musical modernism and Black Consciousness thought. I use Biko and Stockhausen’s meeting as an impetus for theorising the emancipatory potential of modernism in post-apartheid South Africa.
Period12 Jan 2018
Event typeConference
LocationLondon, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational