As Slow As Possible


The longest concert was recorded in Japan in 2007, lasting 182 hours.   La Monte Young, a pupil of John Cage, wrote a minimalist piano piece in 1964,  entitled The Well-Tuned Piano, which takes over 5 hours to play and in December 1999 Jem Finer’s composition Longplayer began to be played, and is set to continue for 1000 years.

On a more modest scale, a project in Halberstadt, Germany celebrates John Cage’s 89th birthday by performing his composition A Slow as Possible,  or “Organ2/ASLSP” an organ piece adapted from the piano in 1987 [lasting just over 29 minutes], playing it as slow as possible, and hoping that the music will last 639 years.  The project began on 5 September 2000 and aims to finish  in 2639.  As the music began in 2000 with a rest [which lasted 18 months] nothing could be heard until 5 February 2003, until the first chord was struck.  Notes are now sounded twice a year, on the fifth day of the month, muffled so as not to disturb residents of the town.

The current organ in the cathedral in Halberstadt was built by Christoph Jesse between 1785 and 1787,  the original organ, with a moden-style keyborad, having been being buit around 1361 by Nikolaus Faber, was repaired or rebuit in 1495, and said to have had twenty-two keys with wind power supplied by twenty bellows, operated by 10 men.  One of the most accomplised organists to use the instrument was  Michael Praetorius, who worked for the Bishop of Halberstadt as organist.  Take 1361 from the year 2000 and the result is 639 – the length of the the Halberstadt project.

If you would like to learn more about John Cage and the Halberstadt project, please see the links below.


John Cage Orgalprojekt

First notes for 639-year composition  – BBC

The Evolution of The Well-Tuned Piano

Restoration of the Organ in Moritzkirche, Halberstadt

 Music at Loughborough University


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