Weekend planner: Music
Eccentric French minimalist composer Erik Satie particularly loathed the music of Richard Wagner. As an ironic response to the German romanticist’s “unending melody,” he came up with “Vexations” (1893), a work for keyboard consisting of a short theme that the composer apparently intended to be repeated 840 times (the inscription on the score is ambiguous so there is some dispute). The piece only received its first performance in 1963 at a concert organized by John Cage in New York City; engaging a sequence of 12 pianists, it ran 18 hours and concluded with one of the six remaining masochists in the audience shouting “Encore!”
Hoping to whittle down the running time to seven hours, the organizers of the Smith College Festival of Sound and Space have scheduled their performance to start at 2:30 p.m. today in Smith Helen Hills Hills Chapel. Along with over a dozen area pianists, the event will feature a silent video installation — “Electric Vexation” — by Max Suechting. The public is invited to drop in for whatever portion(s) of the concert they might choose.