Milan Knížák (b. 1940)

Broken Music (1979)

  1. 01 Broken Music (28:35)

  2. 02 Broken Music (32:04)

Total time 60:39

In 1965 Knížák began creating broken music by damaging gramophone records, scraping them, sticking tape on them, applying paint, burning, breaking them, gluing fragments of different records together, playing them and recording the results. New recordings created in this manner were issued as vinyl records as early as the 1970s, in several editions of Broken Music.

Milan Knížák 1979's masterpiece never re-released in vinyl before: classic collages of noises created during performances and happenings, widely regarded as important sound art documents on record.

Milan Knížák (born 1940 in Plzeň, Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, today Czech Republic) is a Czech performance artist, sculptor, musician, installation artist, dissident, graphic artist, art theorist and pedagogue of art.

Before everyone else—Christian Marclay, Philip Jeck, eRikm, Martin Tétreault, Otomo Yoshihide—there was Milan Knížák. In 1964, Knížák, a member of Fluxus from behind the Iron Curtain, sat down on a sidewalk near the Charles Bridge in Prague, laid down a paper carpet right into the street, and starts tearing pages out of books and burning them... Around the same time, he began to create music from defective, worn, damaged or broken LP's, which would ultimately result in 1979's Broken Music, his major musical work. Leading figure of contemporary art in Eastern countries before the fall of USSR, Milan Knížák directed the National Gallery in Prague and teaches since 1990 at the Academy of Fine Arts, Prague.

K7 in special packaging + inserts, Edition Hundertmark, Cologne. Germany, 1983

Issued by Armin Hundertmark publisher, a Cologne imprint specialized in artist books and multiples (now relocated in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria), who also published a few cassettes by Henri Chopin, Philip Corner, Henry Flynt or Hermann Nitsch. This limited edition of 40 signed copies of Czech artist Milan Knížák. Broken Music is an artist multiple including a melted record, one cassette and various texts in a special 27.1 x 21 cm box. The music comes from damagedLP recordings, with a few ralentandos and speed changes by the artist here and there. The discs used by Knížák are probably similar to the ones pictured above, especially the 4-pieces glued together. The result is different from the monotonous 1979 LP of the same name (unauthorized CD reissue, Ampersand, 2002). This one is varied and Knížák is actually playing and composing with the LPs. The primary source of information on Knížák's music is Petr Ferencís 2003 article: Milan Knížák the Musician. -- Continuo

Various Tracks

Milan Knizak - Bossanova Suite (1990)

Recorded at Radio Vienna, Austria, 1990


- 2 records players playing my destroyed music
- 2 taperecorders with tapes of my older pieces
- 2 synthesizers played by myself
- piano & voice also by myself

(Milan Knizak)
From Fluxus Anthology Box, 30th Anniversary

"Broken Music Composition," 1979, (3:26)
From Fluxus Anthology

Presented in collaboration with Continuo