A while back, Stephen Colbert made fun of John Zorn on the Colbert Report, and I’m pleased to report that tonight he referred, if not by name, to La Monte Young. At the beginning of a segment on Art, he talked about feeding hay to a piano, which as you know clearly refers to Young’s 1960 piece “Piano Piece for David Tudor #1.”
The piece is one of several text instruction pieces from 1960 and its instructions read: “Bring a bale of hay and a bucket of water onto the stage for the piano to eat and drink. The performer may then feed the piano or leave it to eat by itself. If the former, the piece is over after the piano has been fed. If the latter, it is over after the piano eats or decides not to.”
Tom Johnson reviewed a September 1973 performance of the piece in The Village Voice, saying “I have always thought of the piece as conceptual art and never expected it to come off in an actual performance, but I discover that I was wrong. The way Jim Burton interprets the score, the piano really starts to look like a horse, and the audience is delighted with the absurdity of the situation. So much for any theories about La Monte Young as a conceptual artist.”
Two questions: Does anybody know of any more recent or upcoming performances? And which piano companies make the hungriest pianos?