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Tuesday, February 10


lame article about an amazing event

Time for John Cage

The world’s longest performance of a piece of music is being played in Germany, and it will go on playing for another 639 years.

John Cage's composition ASLSP, or to give it its full title As Slow As Possible, is part of what organisers have described as ‘a revolution in slowness.’

Famously quoted as saying, ‘if my work is accepted I must move on to the point where it isn’t’, Cage continually pushed back artistic boundaries and led audiences to the edge of reason.


Now, nine years after his death, the memory of Cage most certainly lives on.

Last week, The John Cage Project launched what they claim will be the world's longest musical recital.

Organ2/ASLSP is due to be performed on the town organ in Halberstadt in northern Germany over a decidedly leisurely 639 years.

Apparently some 360 spectators, paid DM30 (UK£10) to see the recital's organist inflate his instrument's bellows and they'll have to come back in another 18 months time in order to hear him play the first chord - and one each year or so thereafter.

Providing that sponsors can be found, the performance is scheduled to reach its finale in 2640, with a half time interval planned in 2319.


Although Cage originally wrote ASLSP in 1992 as a 20-minute piece for piano, for many years musicologists have deliberated over just how slow, as slow as possible really is.

Whilst purists have argued that time is infinite, the John Cage Organ Foundation agreed on the figure of 639 years to correspond with the number of years since the construction of Germany’s first block single organ.

The performance has been presented as the ultimate antidote to a fast paced world. As organiser, Michael Betzle, has explained:

‘The long period of time is supposed to form a contrast to the breathless pace of change in the modern-day world.’

It is certainly very slow, but as music critic Michael White, explains this is not necessarily how John Cage intended the music to be performed:

‘It is in the spirit of John Cage… he was an outrageous character, in a sense, he was the emperor of the avant-garde.’

‘His whole life was spent creating events and happenings… they were meant for you to go away and think about some principal or philosophical idea that each piece embodied and reflected.’

When asked about his thoughts on death, John Cage famously replied:

‘That's a mystery the solution of which interests me very much.’




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