A composition entitled “As Slow as Possible” by American composer John Cage is played in Halberstadt in Germany for 639 years


Entitled “As Slow as Possible”, the composition by the late American composer John Cage is due to be played out over 639 years at the St. Burchardi church in Halberstadt in Germany. The performance started in 2001 on an organ specially built which emits a continuous sound thanks to an energy-generating compressor in the church basement. If all goes to plan, the performance will come to an end in 2640. Avant-garde composer John Cage, also considered a philosopher, painter and man of letters, was born in Los Angeles in 1912 and died in New York in 1992. n 1997, five years after Cage’s death, an organ symposium in the German town of Trossingen questioned how the piece should be understood and, ultimately, performed.


The location and duration of the ongoing “concert” are significant. The world’s first large organ was built in Halberstadt in 1361. At the turn of the millennium, 639 years had passed since the organ’s creation — and so it was decided that “As Slowly as Possible” should be performed over the same duration. Hundreds of fans of the late avant-garde composer John Cage gathered in Halberstadt, Germany over the weekend to witness a chord change. It’s the piece’s first new sound in six years and 11 months, as it was made manually by soprano singer Johanna Vargas and organist Julian Lembke.