Twenty hours on the piano: The pianist Igor Levit (33) wants to play the piano continuously from this Saturday until about Sunday noon. With Erik Satie’s longest work in music history – “Vexations” (such as torture) – he wanted to draw attention to the plight of the musicians in the face of the restrictions caused by the corona pandemic.

“This time is brutal for us artists – physically, mentally, emotionally. And that’s why, I think, this work fits so well: to draw attention to the condition we are in, ”said Levit of the German Press Agency. The concert will be streamed on Saturday (May 30th) from 2 p.m. from a studio in Berlin via several channels, including via Levit’s Twitter and Instagram accounts.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Igor levit (@igorpianist) on May 24, 2023 at 10:43 am PDT

20-hour piano piece

It had always been his wish to play “Vexations”. “It just hasn’t worked so far. How is that supposed to work, a piece that is around 20 hours long? ”. Satie (1866-1925) composed the work at the end of the 19th century. It fits on a note page and requires 840 repetitions. In its monotony and borderline, the composition was “like a silent scream,” said Levit.

“Artists need the stage. The situation now is just extremely draining, so I’m talking about myself, ”said the pianist. Given the restrictions on cultural events, the outlook is “dark” – not only for musicians, but also for dancers, for example. “They don’t have that many years to go ahead in their job. They are currently losing a very important part of their working life. ”

Artists have to create relevance

Levit fears that the pandemic will divide society even more sharply into winners and losers. “That is why we artists now have the task not only to demand relevance, but to create relevance and not to freeze in fear.” Corona also offers an opportunity for something new.

He is not particularly preparing for the upcoming “physical and mental borderline experience” this weekend. “I don’t know whether I’ll take breaks, for example. I have no plans. I have never sat on the piano for longer than two and a half hours, and now I have 20 to 21 hours to go. ”(Dpa / KT)


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