Vexations by Erik Satie

Eccentric composer Erik Satie wrote "Vexations," a four-line piece of music, around 1893, though that date is a guess because it remained undiscovered until his death in 1925. It was an unexceptional piece of music (by design), except for the instructions he attached that seemed to indicate that it should be played "840 times in succession" by a pianist who should "prepare oneself beforehand, in the deepest silence, by serious immobilities." It's not clear why he chose the number 840.

It was first performed in September 1963 at the Pocket Theater in Manhattan. Composer John Cage arranged for a relay team of 10 pianists to play the entire thing, 840 times. The entire performance lasted 18 hours and 40 minutes.

There was a $5 admission fee for audience members, but you got 5 cents back for every 20 minutes you listened to it. Joel Meltz sat through the whole thing, so ended up getting a refund of $2.80.

It's subsequently been performed a number of times and is, of course, available on YouTube. Check out the video below of the guy who plays the entire thing, alone, in under 10 hours.

San Bernardino County Sun - Sep 11, 1963

     Posted By: Alex - Mon Apr 17, 2017
     Category: Boredom | Music | 1960s

Reminds me of watching a little kid pestering his mother in a grocery store for a candy bar: "Mpmma, please?"
"Mpmma, please?"
"Mpmma, please?"
"Mpmma, please?"

Oh, I lasted for 2 minutes and thirty eight seconds.
Posted by KDP on 04/17/17 at 08:39 AM
This might be the origin of the phrase that begins: "If I had a nickel for every time (insert event) happens,I'd be rich."
Posted by Fritz G on 04/17/17 at 08:48 AM
I figured it would be worth listening to once thru, but not so much. Mr. Meltz' picture must have been taken well into the performance, judging from his glazed eyes. The woman behind him is in deep sleep.

Posted by Virtual on 04/17/17 at 10:07 AM
This was my first introduction to Satie in 1968. I was 12. Made an impression. (It's only the first 2:25 of this video.)
Posted by Frank P on 04/17/17 at 01:04 PM
Longest piece of music is 639 years and should be finished in 2640.
Posted by BMN on 04/17/17 at 07:51 PM
BMN: it is now, it wasn't then. In 1963, this probably actually was the record holder.
Posted by Richard Bos on 04/19/17 at 11:59 AM
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