#Music: Vexations - by Erik Satie (1893)

In the mid-twentieth century, Satie’s music mesmerized John Cage, who saw it as a challenge not merely to extant harmony but to the very idea of musical form. Cage took a special liking to a short, gnomic, harmonically directionless 1893 piece called “Vexations,” at the beginning of which Satie wrote, “To play this motif eight hundred forty times in a row, it would be advisable to prepare oneself beforehand, in the deepest silence, through serious immobilities.” In 1963, Cage took that instruction at face value, organizing an epic performance in which a rotating team of pianists repeated “Vexations” for nearly nineteen hours. Because “Vexations” belongs to Satie’s Rosicrucian period, the Guggenheim will stage its own daylong marathon, in September. Having attended a “Vexations” event some years back, I can advise prospective listeners that they may experience hallucinations of the Sphinx before the performance is done. (via)