Elektra

Elektra

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Vexations

At the Guggenheim Museum this week, a tag-team of pianists did a complete performance of Erik Satie's mad piano piece "Vexations." A tag-team is necessary because if you take the score literally - it's not clear whether you should -- the piece is supposed to be played 840 times. NY Times arts reporter Joshua Barone was there, and reports hilariously on it.

This isn't the first time this has been done in NYC. A memorable team that included John Cage, John Cale, composer Christian Wolff, and musicologist/conductor/pianist Joshua Rifkin had performed the thing in 1963. Three decades later, Alex Ross reviewed a different team.

Here are the relevant links:

  • Joshua Barone, NY Times (2017). The pianists included some of the survivors of the 1963 marathon, including Rifkin, with whom I took a couple of fabulous classes at Brandeis in the late 1970s.
  • Alex Ross, NY Times (1993, reprinted on his blog)
  • Alex Ross reports about the 1963 performance on his blog; follow the links!

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