The 639-Year-Long Concert

“Patience is a nobler motion than any deed.” —C. A. Bartol

In A Nutshell

In 2001, an automatic organ in Sankt Burchardi Church started playing a piece titled As Slow As Possible, written by John Cage. It is scheduled to finish playing the song in the year 2640, making this the longest concert in the world.

The Whole Bushel

John Cage wrote the musical composition As Slow As Possible in 1985 to make a statement about the fast-paced life most people are leading now. As the name implies, the song is played as slowly as possible by the performer. There is even speculation that the piece is meant to be indefinitely played. To this day, no one other than the composer himself knows exactly what speed it should be played at.

In 2001, Sankt Burchadi Church in Halberstadt rose to the challenge of the song by commissioning an automatic organ that is set to play the song for 639 years. Although 639 years may seem like a random number plucked out of a hat, they actually get the number by subtracting 1361 (the year the first modern organ was built) from 2000 (the year the project was supposed to start). The project is code-named “Organ²/ASLSP” so called because the automated organ is built from the first modern organ’s blueprint (Organ²) and ASLSP is just an acronym of “As Slow As Possible.”

It is perhaps interesting to note that the first sound wasn’t heard until two years after the concert began, because the first note of the piece is a rest. Three-hundred-sixty concertgoers parted with real, actual money to “listen” to that first note. The second and third sound were spaced one year each. Sometimes, it isn’t even unusual for a chord to last for many years.

If you would like your name to be immortalized in this concert, it will take a €1,000 donation which will go toward maintaining and building the pipes require to finish playing the piece. A plaque with your name and the year you wish the €1,000 to go to will be on display in the church for all to see.

Fun Fact: John Cage is most known for his 1952 composition 4’33”; a three-movement composition that requires the instrument player to perform the music without playing.

Show Me The Proof

‘As Slow As Possible’: World’s Longest Running Concert At St. Burchard Church Turns 10
As SLow aS Possible
‘World’s longest concert’ resumes
World’s longest concert will last 639 years