Is a 693 year symphony serious art, a parody, or just plain nuts?



The first notes have been played. The first 72 years have been written, if that’s what “mapped out” means.

I can’t seem to take this seriously. But it does seem like one of the the greatest grant proposal schemes ever. A real career maker for the artist-in-charge. Nay, a whole career in itself.

What do you think?

[Simpsons]“Ooh, ‘An Evening With Philip Glass’. Just an evening?”[/Simpsons]

Yes, even though an evening is enough for Philip Glass, it’s not enough for John Cage. That rat bastard demands a whole whack of centuries. :wink:

I love William Orbits’ version of In a Landscape, though.

Do they really think that in 693 years, people will still be fiddling around with this? That’s so many lifetimes, I’d think that someone would eventually put a stop to the madness.

Well, it seems to be art taken to absurdity for promotion’s sake. It certainly will get them in the record books which will mean tourists will be coming by to say they heard part of it. Not quite serious art in my book.

Damn, and I thought this was a Zork Joke. Apparently truth IS stranger then fiction.

From the timeline found in “Zork Grand Inquistior”:

739 GUE: The first and last decent Symphony, a work by Johann Sebastian Flathead, age 11, is performed by the Frobozz Philharmonic Orchestra. As years go by, J.S. Flathead would write many much longer symphonies with decreasing popularity. His Symphony # 981, for example, so-called the “Infinite Symphony,” contained over 60,000 movements. During it’s only performance, several members of the audience retired and were replaced with their childern, and eventually, their childern’s childern.

To write a 693-year-long symphony is parody.

To start to play the thing is a personal statement that you don’t need your entire budget.

Just plain nuts. What more can be said, really?

Will the performance be shown on PBS?

Well, nobody wrote a 693 year symphony. They decided 693 years as the time between the present and a significant moment in the past was important to use. Took this guy’s normal length symphony and stretched out to 693 years.

I hope no poor souls are living next to that church. I can’t imagine anything more annoying then notes being held for a year or more.

I think it’s an intriguing concept. It kind of reminds me of a bit in one of Jack Vance’s short stories or novels (sorry, I can’t remember which one). Artists would take centuries and even millenia working on pieces.

One thing can be said: it’s actually only slated to last 639 years.

(See the link in the OP.)


I think it’s cool.

Music nerd nitpick: the work in question “As Slow as Possible” isn’t a symphony. A symphony is an orchestra piece that typically follows a very strict structure.

I think I have some problems with the whole idea, but I’m not quite sure yet.

Having read books by and about John Cage and listening to a lot of his music, I certainly understand what the organisers were trying to achieve, artistically.

The article mentions eternal flames, and that’s what was my first though when I heard about the project. I suppose the idea is that it’s a piece that’s there to be taken care of more than to be listened to.

Three words: Why? Why? Why?

Because there is great value in doing pointless things.

They’ll probably stream this over the net sooner or later.

Wow, how you nested that URL is pretty cool.


I am sad that I likely won’t be there for the end. Then I could yell, “Encore!.”

I met John Cage once, interesting fellow. Actually I met him the same year I bought my copy of “The Straigth Dope” by one Cecil Adams.

Both are geniuses and have had an effect on my life.

Wasn’t Cage the one who wrote the symphony for radios, also?

And anyway, as a musician, all I have to say is that if I had to listen to a G and G# at the same time for two years, I’d kill whoever was in charge.

From the article:

Not a G natural against a G sharp.

What? And break the 693 year long pledge drive?