Nam June Paik (1932-2006)

1. Etude for Pianoforte, October 1960
Atelier Bauermeister Köln

""One review of the music action gives the following account: 'On top of the ladder sat the poet Helms, reading the score from a roll of toilet paper. Beneath him were the instruments: two pianos (one of which had no keys), tape recorders, tin cans with stones, a toy car, a plastic train, an egg, a pane of glass, a bottle holding the stump of a candle, and a music box. The audience was urged to be careful: Stand back, please! The cries of twenty distressed virgins rang out from the tapes, then came the WDR news broadcast. (...) In the fourth movement, the finale furioso, Paik ran about like a madman, sawed through the piano strings with a kitchen knife and then overturned the whole thing. Pianoforte est morte. The applause was never-ending.' Paik repeated the action a number of times in Mary Baumeister's Cologne studio in June, 1960. In October of the same year, the studio also hosted a joint concert by Cage and Paik, who in the course of his 'Etude for Piano' cut off Cage's tie then washed his co-performer's hair with shampoo." (

2. My Jubilee Ist Unverhemmet

Label: Edition Lebeer-Hossmann
Format: Vinyl, LP, Single Sided
Country: Germany
Released: 1977

...In 2 weeks I will be 45. It is time for Archeology of Avantgarde. I lived in Korea in the 40's, where only available informations were from Japanese books printed before world War II. Therefore it was great luck that I heard the name of Arnold Schoenberg in 1947 or so. He immediately interested me, because he was written as a devil or the most extreme avantgarde. However there were no record or scores of Schoenberg available in Korea in 1947, except for a pirate edition of his op 33 a piano piece. It took 2 or 3 years of desperate struggle to find only available record, which was released in the pre-war Japan, Verklarte Nacht. I will not forget forever the exitement of holding this fragile 78 RPM record in my hand like a jewel from Egyptian tomb. And I cannot forget the disappointment of this record, which was purely a Wagnerian Quatsch.

Korean war came soon after.

25 years after this experience I found the same record of Schoenberg in a flea market in New York. I played this record 4 times slower (on 16 RPM) in a Merce Cunningham dance event. Merce smiled and said: "You improved Schoenberg". Hamburg 2/7/1977 Nam June Paik (liner notes).

B-side has grey/black art by Nam June Paik. Hand numbered and signed by the artist on the record label. Edition of 100 copies.

3. Abschiedssymphonie, Side A
(Perf: Henning Christiansen (p), Nam June Paik (p, voice), Joseph Beuys (telephon)

4. Abschiedssymphonie, Side B
(Perf: Henning Christiansen (p), Nam June Paik (p, voice), Joseph Beuys (telephon)

5. In Memoriam George Maciunas, 1931-1978
(Perf: Nam June Paik, Joseph Beuys (telephon)

6. 17. Nam June Paik, "My Jubilee ist Unverhemmet," 1977 (5:15)

from Fluxus Anthology

7. John Cage and Nam June Paik in Conversation
University of California San Diego, circa 1985

Part 1
Part 2

8. Prepared Piano For Merce Cunningham (1977) 28:33
Piano [De-tuned] – Paik

9. Hommage à John Cage (1958-59) 4:10
Musik für tonbänder und klavier - 1958-59

10. Simple (1991) 0:21

10. Duett Paik/Takis (1979) 25:46

Performer [Metal Sculptures] – Takis
Piano, Voice – Paik


Abschiedssymphonie / 1988

Cover: one color print. 30cm, 33RPM, 1988, Edition Block, Berlin + Lebeer Hossmann, Hamburg / Brussel, No. EB 118.

The opus 177 of the Danish composer is based on sound-material of the opening-concert to the "Peace Biennale" in Hamburg, November 29, 1985.

In Memoriam George Maciunas, 1982

3-sided LP, Edition Block, Germany, GR-EB 113/14, 1982 Klavierduett: Joseph Beuys & Nam June Paik Fluxus-Soiree der Galerie Rene Block in der Aula der Staatlichen Kunstakademie, Dusseldorf Frietag, 7.Juli 1978, 20 Uhr

In 1978 George Maciunas, founder and chairman of FLUXUS, died in New York at the age of 47. In invert of these numbers the duration of the piano-duett, performed to his memory by Joseph Beuys and Nam June Paik was planned for 74 minutes. The end of this memorable evening at the Kunstakademie of Dusseldorf was determined by an alarm-clock, set for 9.14 pm.

Korean born artist Nam June Paik is widely credited as the founder of video art and for over 40 years his work and performances have crossed paths with the Fluxus group and such experimental luminaries as John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Joseph Beuys. "Works" is the first CD release of Paik's music and it contains 5 tracks spanning 21 years and ranging from 20 seconds to nearly 29 minutes. The first, "Prepared Piano for Merce Cunningham" from 1977, is the lengthiest and is much more atmospheric than melodic. Paik (rhymes with 'cake') improvises on and moves about a de-tuned piano, the majority of the piece composed of dampened lower register notes with an eerie timbre that resembles that of gently struck steel drums. From the 1958-61 period, "Hommage A John Cage", "Simple" and "Etude for Pianoforte" are all short hand spliced tape collages. 'Samples' of varying length - prepared piano, sped-up songs, crying babies, Paik screaming - seem to be randomly, yet skillfully, juxtaposed. "Duett Paik/Takis" is just that, about 26 minutes worth of Paik improvising on piano while Greek kinetic artist Takis performs on his sculptures. By 'perform' I mean sporadically slamming pieces of metal while Paik softly, non verbally hums/sings and quietly plays a pretty but sad song, never breaking concentration despite the very jarring interruptions. It makes for a very strange effect in that an austere beauty is forced to cohabit a space with industrial noise, neither apparently mindful of the other. Oddly enough, for the final 6 minutes Takis audibly bows out and Paik switches to what I'm guessing is a harpsichord for a much brighter conclusion. While the 3 shorter pieces are yet another reminder that someone else has already done most everything that's being done today many years ago, the 2 longer pieces are truly, curiously compelling works of music/art that bear repeated listening ..

Nam June and Charlotte Moorman in UbuWeb Sound
Nam June Paik in UbuWeb Film