An automated performance of György Ligeti’s Poème symphonique for 100 metronomes at Ubuweb.

Since its world premiere in the Netherlands in 1963, Poème symphonique for 100 metronomes has been very rarely performed in public. The complicated scenographic staging, the detailed preparation by hand, the need for around ten technicians to activate more or less simultaneously the 100 metronomes, makes the demand for performances limited. Thirty-two years after the premiere, the sculptor and installation artist Gilles Lacombe heard a recording of the work. Impressed, he decided to invent a machine able to perform the piece automatically. After six months, he set up this ingenious device. Ever since, Poème symphonique can be performed accurately, at any time, and in public. Please understand that at its world premiere in 1963, the concert was filmed by Dutch television. On that night, after the final tick-tock of the metronome, there was a heavy silence, followed by booing, screaming, and threats. The concert was never broadcast.


And while we’re on the subject, let’s not forget Man Ray’s Object to be Destroyed (1923) (aka Indestructible Object). Richard Cork looked at its origin and meaning for the Tate magazine.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Avant Garde Project

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