Arts & Events

Berkeley Arts Festival presents: Erik Satie's Vexations: September 8 & 9, 2012 - Saturday 6 pm through Sunday around 2 pm

By Diane Caudillo
Monday September 03, 2012 - 09:56:00 AM

The act of performing or listening to a complete performance of Erik Satie's Vexations cannot be compared to any other musical experience. 

On September 9, 1963, avant-garde history was made when John Cage presented the world premiere of Satie's Vexations, played by a team of pianists, in New York City. A short theme with 2 harmonizations, the piece is to be repeated 840 times, and the pianist must prepare himself "in deepest silence, by means of serious stillness". The performance lasted about 19 hours and the experience was transforming: "I had changed and the world had changed," Cage said. 

Since that time, there have been other complete performances of Vexations, including one at Roulette in New York City in 1993, the 100th anniversary of the composition, with 20 pianists, lasting over 20 hours.  

A group of Bay Area pianists, including Sarah Cahill, Luciano Chessa, Patti Deuter, and Roger Rohrbach, propose to perform Vexations once again, beginning at 6 pm Saturday, Sept. 8, finishing around 2 pm Sunday, Sept. 9, the 49th anniversary of the first performance, by Cage. 

Everyone is invited to come and go throughout the duration and the performance is free.