Witness to a 639 year-long concert

Halberstadt Travel Blog

 › entry 10 of 13 › view all entries
Memorial showing the destruction of Allied bombing after WWII
The city of Halberstadt is about a 15 minute train ride from Quedlinburg. In April 1945, the city was almost completely decimated by allied bombing, but the past 60 years have given the people of Halberstadt more than enough time to rebuild. The most important building in the city is the Dom (Cathedral). The original building was built in the 800's. Three reconstructions, 600 years, and a bishopry later, it became the Dom that (kinda) stands today. I say kinda, because parts of the building were demolished during World War II, including twelve direct hits on one of the wings of the Cathedral. Today, the Dom has been almost completely restored and Dr. Hollins, our group leader, secured us a concert in the High Choir section of the church.
Martinikirche, no longer a working church.
The main claim to fame of the Dom, other than it's history, is the fact that it contains a treasury. The treasury houses the bones of saints, pieces of the true cross, 800 year old tapestries, 15th century bishop's robes and the one of the stones "used" in the stoning of St. Stephen. It is an incredible exhibit, I wish photos were allowed, but unfortunately they aren't.
About 100 people gathered to watch us sing. Not a bad crowd, considering there was no advertisement. After the concert, our group was given the opportunity to go into the loft that holds a pipe organ with almost 5000 pipes. Halberstadt is famous for another reason, it was the first city where the modern pipe organ was invented. Herr Heinrich, the music director of the Dom, played a Bach piece for us on the organ at the church.
Blown glass bowl at an art exhibit in Martinikirche
Dr. Hollins played as well. It was amazing to hear the sound of giant instrument in a church like that.
When we left the church, a wonderful gentleman, who's name escapes me at the moment, guided us through the streets of Halberstadt to an old monastery, now home to the John Cage Project. I don't know the entire history of John Cage, but what I found out yesterday is that he is a radical musician most famous for his composition, "4:33." Basically he sat at a piano for 4 minutes and 33 seconds and played nothing. His explanation of the piece was that the sounds of the world around the stage and audience were the music, inspired by an artist who presented blank canvases at exibitions.
Cage composed a piece for piano called ASLAP, As Slow as Possible. He later rewrote it for organ. The piece consists of 8 parts that can be repeated any number of times. The premire was 29 minutes long and the second was 71 minutes. The funny thing about this piece is that Cage never specified a specific amount of time for the piece. So a group got together and discussed the philosophy of as slow as possible. The decided that the piece would start in the year 2000 and last until 2639, 639 years. The first organ was built in 1361, 639 years before 2000. Hence the number 639. The longest sustained note will last about 58 years. Pretty cool, huh?
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Memorial showing the destruction o…
Memorial showing the destruction …
Martinikirche, no longer a working…
Martinikirche, no longer a workin…
Blown glass bowl at an art exhibit…
Blown glass bowl at an art exhibi…
Blown glass sphere at Martinikirche
Blown glass sphere at Martinikirche
Painting at Martinikirche
Painting at Martinikirche
Glass and Metal angel at Martiniki…
Glass and Metal angel at Martinik…
Just thought Sugar Balls was fun…
Just thought "Sugar Balls" was fu…
Memorial showing the rebuilt Halbe…
Memorial showing the rebuilt Halb…
Halberstadt Dom
Halberstadt Dom
Dom Organ
Dom Organ
Dom Stained Glass
Dom Stained Glass
700 year old Jesus
700 year old Jesus
Halberstadt Dom
Halberstadt Dom
John Cage organ (it only has 3 pip…
John Cage organ (it only has 3 pi…
Halberstadt
photo by: Polar15