Which music album has the longest title?

The 11 longest pieces of music of all time

My personal top 11 of the longest pieces of music of all time. For very specific good reasons there are eleven - and not ten pieces of music. (Because I didn't want to start with bad Max Richter but with good Morton Feldman music). I also remember a 16-hour performance by the soloist ensemble Kaleidoskop. However, this was linked to Wagner's "Ring" and does not appear here. I am also aware that there are certainly hundreds of other pieces of music of similar magnitude that are not gathered here. But I ask you to refrain from know-it-alls and instructions. Because I don't read them at all. I also find perfection (mostly) boring. (Incidentally, I did not do any research myself, but listed the things here as I found them in my memory. I don't always have to google to be able to create meaningless lists!)


Basically, it should be said that there is of course long-lasting music that I don't or still knows nothing or the question is whether something really is Aesthetic is meant. (Although I would not like to point out for the first time that the author's intention in musicology - completely naive and unreflective - still plays far too big a role; as if Roland Barthes had never lived). Another thing is the "works" (sets) that are created by DJs in clubs - and which, depending on the length of the shift, can last extremely long and without any pause.

We do not want to forget, for example, accidentally (for example before our own death, after which one is only found salivated by maggots in his apartment weeks later) or end devices that have been intentionally put in permanent operation. However, we have to restrict them, but these play several titles in a row (such as on YouTube and Spotify). So no “long whole”.

Again, music-like noises work differently, such as those from energy sources or at least somehow humming or humming machines or other technical objects. If you looked at these noises as music and asked about the age of the respective device or the respective reactor or the like as well as about repairs or maintenance-related breaks, you could certainly come across many years of “music” there. Likewise, one could consider the noises of a never-silent jungle as a “symphony of nature” (always only in two movements: day and night, perhaps to align the picture with traditional compositional history, with twilight as an - albeit unusually short - adagio and dawn as a scherzo ; or the other way around). All of this is not meant, but rather the typically occidental - and therefore certainly vulnerable - idea of ​​a "work". But not really either. That's why I wrote “music” about it. Haha.

11th place: Morton Feldman (1926-1987): String Quartet No. 2 (1983)
Duration: 5 1/2 hours
Restriction: none

Morton Feldman's String Quartet No. 2, composed in 1983. At five and a half hours, it is definitely the longest string quartet to date. Feldman was prone to extremes - also because of his close ties to John Cage. At the same time he deliberately pretended to be anti-institutional - and yet the institutional representatives were preparing to sell Feldman's works often cool and with drinks and chill offerings as an “immersive time experience” (the new term for the outdated “event”) , collected. It is interesting that Feldman is better known among visual artists than almost any other composer of the 20th century. Feldman's time dimensions alone create a bridge to “standing” visual art (if not an installation anyway, but rather a sculpture or other spatial object). Because time stands still here. Nice.

10th place: Max Richter (* 1966): Sleep (2015)
Duration: 8 hours
Limitation: bad, stupid music (as always with Max Richter).

Less beautiful. It's just unbearable: Max Richter released an eight-hour track in 2015 that is actually intended for sleep, for falling asleep. In fact, many listeners do de facto fall asleep to a Bruckner symphony, for example. Bruckner symphonies are all very long - and some listeners find this music uniform. Comparing Bruckner and Richter is absurd, however.

The work was premiered at MaerzMusik 2015. Namely in the Berlin power plant on level 8. There, the visitors were offered sleeping places. You had to bring your own sleeping bags. Somewhat frightening is the statement that can still be found on the Internet: "Bringing drinks and food is not permitted." (Presumably, however, you could buy food and drink there.)

Max Richter's “music” is not even minimal music. Max Richter is pure nothing. Music for stupid people. Smooth and boring, without resistance - with harmony at the lowest level for beginners. And no, I'm not jealous. I am very happy. But I want to be with and at Excite music, keep moving - and when I come to rest, then in silence. Bamm, take that, Max-Richter-gut-finder! In your face!

9th place: Richard Wagner (1813-1883): The Ring d. Nibelungen (1848-76)
Duration: 16 hours
Limitation: The work actually consists of several parts and is not intended to be performed one after the other.

Richard Wagner had to deal with the times, for example with the way to avoid harmonic end turns as much as possible (“infinite melody”). Not to forget Parsifal's “Time becomes space here”… It was consequent to compose a tetralogy with just two and a half hours “Rheingold” evening, which I - forgive myself - completely: love.

Of course, hardly anyone listens to all four parts one after the other without a break. But it would be possible. And it might even be good.

8th place: Erik Satie (1866-1925): Vexations (approx. 1893)
Duration: 19 hours
Restriction. It is not clear whether the statement by the composer (play 840 times) was meant seriously.

"Vexations" (French for "torments") is a piano piece by Erik Satie, which was probably composed in 1893. Basically there are just a few brittle sounds on the piano, but - according to the instructions in the sheet music - should be repeated 840 times. And indeed, as it goes on, "it will be good (in view of the very many repetitions) to prepare for it, and to do so in the greatest silence, with serious immobility."

The piece was not printed until 1949, long after Satie's death. Soon John Cage became interested in the piece. The premiere took place on September 9, 1963 with several pianists in New York, including Cage himself. At that time the piece lasted 18 hours and 40 minutes. You started at 6 p.m. and finished at 12.40 p.m. the next day. Further performances followed - right up to our time. The duration of the performance can vary widely, supposedly from 12 to 28 hours.

Quite nice, but unfortunately it is not known whether Satie was really thinking of such a long work. Sure, he would have had fun, provided enough drinks were available.

7th place: Pharrell Williams (* 2013): Happy (24-hour video version) (2013)
Duration: 24 hours
Restriction: repetitive. Song is simply repeated in the 24-hour video.

In 2013 Pharrelll Williams brought out his greatest hits and the best-selling single in Germany since 1975: "Happy". A 24-hour video was created that shows Pharrell Williams and others - including celebrities like Jamie Foxx and Steve Carell - dancing through the city. The four-minute song is simply repeated, but the video track is actually different. And depending on when you switch on the video, it starts exactly where you are on the clock.

A fine idea, even if the song is only repeated and one cannot really speak of a continuous “work”.

6th place: Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007): LICHT (1977-2003)
Duration: 29 hours
Restriction: The work (as with some other examples, there are also different details regarding the total duration) consists of several parts and is not intended to be performed one after the other.

"Light. The seven days of the week ”is a seven-part opera cycle by Karlheinz Stockhausen. Composed between 1977 and 2003 (I still remember when it was said, “Stockhausen has finished his opera”). So every day of the week is its own opera.

Stockhausen wanted to musicalize the hours of the day as well as the minutes of the hour and the seconds of the minute. However, due to his death in 2007, which brought him back to the Sirius, where he had once been trained, he was no longer able to do that.

5th place: Terre Thaemlitz (* 1968): Canto V: Meditation On Wage Labor And The Death Of The Album (2008)
Duration: 30 hours
Limitation: Not a real one. However, “only” performance.

This year Terre Thaemlitz was not a guest at the MaerzMusik Festival for the first time - and was involved in several concerts. From March 17th to 18th, the 30-hour world premiere of “Canto V: Meditation on wage labor and the death of the album” took place with the help of a number of pianists.

I was not there. But 30 hours is a pound, of course. Whereby I find the implementation of gender, sex, racism and other discussions on music almost always problematic (either pure assertion, because the music sounds like always - or too naive to me).

4th place: John Cage (1912-1992): ORGAN2 / ASLSP (1987)
Duration: 639 years
Limitation: The duration of the performance is a (fine) Halberstadt marketing idea.

With his work "4,33", John Cage is probably the best-known music-time artist of all times. A lot has been written about "4,33" - and far too many artists have seen the work as fun.

A few months ago I wrote a text about this work for the Bochumer Symphoniker, which should just as an aside bring the discussion about this piece to an end (and to really authentic performances full of inwardness!).

It is perhaps the most legendary piece of avant-garde music of all time: 4'33 "by John Cage. The piece that every classically trained musician has made or at least heard a joke about at least once in their life. Countless music students have already thought about whether the choice of this most famous work by Cage as a “contemporary work” might be permissible, for example in a final examination, during which a composition from the second half of the 20th century may be compulsory.
Because the interpreter - the line-up is freely selectable - does not play a single note for four minutes and 33 seconds (the work is usually performed with a stopwatch). For the three movements - the form of this piece, notated in 1952, is basically very traditional and by no means avant-garde - the composer prescribed “Tacet”. The instruction "Tacet" (Latin for: he / she / it is silent) usually appears in the notes of orchestral musicians who, for example, have nothing to play during a single symphony movement (the harp is a relatively popular tacet victim).
Cage was inspired to compose the piece by visiting an anechoic room, the non-echo of his own and foreign noises made a lasting impression on him. When the pianist David Tudor performed it in New York in the late summer of 1952, the expected scandal arose, the residual wind of which can still be felt today when the work is performed in front of an audience that was not yet aware of this piece of silence.

The work of Cage is great for philosophizing. But the discussion is often covered up by questions that are only meant rhetorically anyway, such as “Is that still music?” - a close relative of the actually unreasonable and ultra-conservative “Is this art - or can it go away?” -; yes, the reception of Cage's best-known work seems to have arrived in pure slapstick in recent years. Because the really interesting questions are: Why is this piece still provoking today? Have we forgotten how to enjoy silence together in the fully digitized 24/7 accessibility society? As music lovers in the concert hall, do we realize how loud - and really annoying, yes, indeed not the least bit weird - coughing during a fragile piece of music can be? Is the apparent impossibility of really mutual silence in the concert hall really a social phenomenon? Or is this impossibility related to the situation in which we find ourselves with other concertgoers, namely strangers, so that we are unable to enter into the almost erotic intimacy of not making any noise? After all, it is said that human relationships are particularly auspicious when both partners can sometimes be silent together. But why don't we just use this often ridiculed - in reality serious, yes: existentialist - composition by Cage to have a very special experience?

But now to the piece of my Top 11: In 1987 the same John Cage composed an organ piece with the title "ORGAN² / ASLSP" (where the "ASLSP" stands for "As slow as possible").

According to Cage, an eight-page piece for organ should be played “as slowly as possible”. So a matter of interpretation.

At a symposium in Halberstadt in the late 1990s, a few organ experts had the idea to perform this piece - and to take the title very seriously. The organ in Halberstadt Cathedral was 639 years old in 2000, one of the oldest surviving organs in the world. And people thought: let's take the year 2000, or rather: it was the year 2001 - and extrapolate the playing time originally conceived by Cage (almost 30 minutes) to 639 years.

So in 2001 they started. For this purpose, however, an extra organ was built into the Sankt Burchardi Church in Halberstadt. (The organ in Halberstadt Cathedral is still played normally.) The piece begins with a pause - and so from 2001 to 2003 there was initially no sound. Every change of tone is now a real event, to which many listeners drive to Halberstadt. Be it granted to the people of Halberstadt.

The current sound is dis ’, a sharp’ and e ’’ and has been sounding since October 5, 2013. The next new sound (namely g sharp, e ’) will come on September 5, 2020.

George Crumb (* 1929): Macrocosm I. No. 8: The Magic Circle of Infinity (1972)

3rd place: George Crumb (* 1929): Makrokosmos I. No. 8: The Magic Circle of Infinity (1972)
Duration: In theory from 1972 until the end of the world / sound
Limitation: Theoretical length, not explicitly requested by the composer.

In 1972 George Crumb wrote the two piano cycles "Makrokosmos I and II". Some of the scores are not arranged horizontally but, for example, round, including "The magic circle of infinity (lion)", which according to the score instructions begins with the horizontal part in the middle of the circle (see picture), which should be followed by two and a half revolutions.

If we take “infinity” seriously, the work could sound uninterrupted since its release in the early 1970s; and (hopefully?) many more years to come. At least more than 639 (says a friend who is trained in astronomy).

La Monte Young (* 1935): Composition 1960 # 7 ("To be held for a long time")

2nd place: La Monte Young (* 1935): Composition 1960 # 7 ("To be held for a long time")
Duration: In theory from 1960 until the end of the world / sound
Limitation: Musically a bit under-complex (or not). "Long time" is a matter of interpretation. Rather not meant "infinitely".

In 1960 the composition “Composition 1960 # 7” by La Monte Young was created with the subtitle “To be held for a long time”, which of course screams for a whole range of possible interpretations. The openness of the cast as well as the apodictically humorous brevity of this Fluxus composition have led to a number of events around the world at which this beautiful fifth was heard and continues to be heard.

I had made up my mind not to use a single YouTube link in this article (because we don't know how long YouTube will be around; my article is written to last forever; for the time being!), But if you want to look: There is a very good one ironic rendition of the piece for piano solo. A conceivable performance since the work's publication in the 1960s would be more sustained, for example by strings - naturally paid in a humane manner and only used alternately in certain periods of time.Theoretically, this performance could have taken place uninterrupted since then - and (see place 3) continue for many centuries.

Pythagoras of Samos (approx. 570-510 BC)


1st place: The harmony of the spheres
Duration: for 4.57 billion years
Limitation: no real composition. Is based on a wrong assumption, because without air there can be no sound between the planets and therefore no sounds audible for humans.

Pythagoras of Samos and his homies had the idea that the heavenly bodies are supported by transparent spheres. When these celestial bodies move, sounds are created. These tones are sometimes higher, sometimes lower - depending on the distance and speed of their respective movement. This idea that the celestial bodies remain in a kind of permanent harmony of the spheres persisted for a long time.

In 1619 Johannes Kepler came back to this ancient Greek shit with his "World Harmony" ("Harmonice mundi"). And in fact there are serious researchers who recently thought that Kepler had landed extremely astonishing mathematical “hits” in his portrayal of the spherical harmonic idea with regard to the correspondence of musical intervals and cosmic angles. (I've lost the link to a corresponding article. Maybe I'll add that here for a few days. But I actually didn't want to use any links. Then I would send the article by post. To those interested, for whom it is okay that innocent trees to die.)

So if we assume that spherical harmonies exist, we cannot hear them (since there is almost no sound in space), but at the same time we state: This is probably the longest music of all time. And also (let's be realistic) difficult to top,

Because our solar system is an estimated 4.57 billion years old. And if we assume that the harmony of the spheres does not end so quickly at first (because of public-law austerity measures, Donald Trump or something), it will probably go a little longer ...

Wouldn't be nice.

Arno Lücker was born in Braunschweig in 1979. He has lived in Berlin since 2003. There he works as a moderator and dramaturge. He is artistic director of the astronomical music series "Heavenly Scores" in the Zeiss-Großplanetarium Berlin, worked for the Konzerthaus Berlin, the Brucknerhaus Linz and many others, writes program texts for numerous orchestras (Vienna Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic), gives concert introductions in the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, the Cologne Philharmonic and elsewhere. He is also a bathroom blog author from the very beginning and works as a curator for the music streaming app IDAGIO.