Catalog number: EM138

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HPSCHD, by John Cage and Lejaren Hiller, is arguably the wildest composition of the 20th century. Big, brash, exuberant, raucous, a performance is about four hours of ongoing high-level intensity. The sound is a mixture of seven amplified harpsichords playing computer-generated variations of Mozart and other composers along with 51 computer-generated tapes playing what could be off-tuned trumpets sounding some musical charge. The thousands of swirling images, overlayed and mixed, of abstract shapes and colors and of space imagery from slides and films borrowed from NASA, create a chaotic riot of shifting form and color. The audience walks through the performance space, between the harpsichord players, around the loudspeakers.

This recording is an event. First, because the quality of the superb sound captures the colors, the details, the exuberance of a performance. Second, because the graphic materials that are included with the recording, fifteen cards that can be assembled into a poster, are so vivid and stunning. More, the notes by Johanne Rivest, Bill Brooks, David Eisenman, Joel Chadabe, and Robert Conant give you the history of the composition, convey the spirit of the first performance, and provide a background for this recording.

Track Samples:

3. HPSCHD Three
4. HPSCHD Four
5. HPSCHD Five
7. HPSCHD Seven
8. HPSCHD Demo 1
9. HPSCHD Demo 2

John Cage’s Bio

Lejaren Hiller’s Bio