MUSIC DID YOU SAY WAS LONGEST?
Frank J. Oteri, Editor/Publisher,
as I enjoyed following your February 18 link to the Music
"The Meaning of Life in 80 Minutes," [The
Independent] I have to take exception to the description
of Ronald Stevenson's Passacaglia as the longest piece of
solo piano music or the longest single-movement work of any
type in the repertoire. Neither is true.
important chamber works by Morton Feldman last several hours
and are each in single continuous movements, including his
"For Philip Guston," which has been recorded four
times and is widely available, which is in one continuous
movement and lasts well over 4 hours, as well as his legendary,
though never commercially recorded, single-movement six-hour-long
String Quartet No. 2 in which the bows are never lifted off
Jeanrenaud, who premiered this work when she was a member
of the Kronos Quartet, had some interesting things to say
about performing this work in a conversation I had which her
which is featured
in the latest issue of NewMusicBox.
far as solo piano repertoire goes, two composers have him
[Stevenson] beat: the British Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji who
wrote the 4 1/2 hour "Opus Clavicembalisticum" in
1930 (which has been recorded twice BTW), and of course lest
we not forget minimalist pioneer LaMonte Young whose "Well
Tuned Piano" lasts 5 hrs, 1 minute and 49 seconds in
the widely diseminated 21x81 version (a.k.a. the original
1964 conception realized on October 21, 1981 which was released
on CD by Gramavision in the 1980s).
said, I'd still love to hear Stevenson's Passacaglia, so thanks
for sharing the information about it!
TEST: "At 80 minutes
in duration, Scottish composer Ronald Stevenson's 'Passacaglia'
is not only the longest piece of music in the piano repertoire;
it's the longest continuous stretch of music composed for
any instrument in history. And yet it's based on a mere four
notes, which also makes the work one of the most extraordinary
pieces of musical architecture ever conceived." Is it
any wonder only six pianists have performed it in 20 years?
Independent (London) 02/17/01