09/18/2013 02:22 pm ET

Yves Klein's ‘Monotone-Silence' Symphony Comes To Manhattan


The sound, a D major chord produced by an orchestra and a chorus, begins abruptly, full force, and fills the air for 20 minutes, like a sonorous foghorn with a stuck switch. It ends as suddenly as it begins, but there is no applause because the orchestra is only half finished — its members sit without playing or even moving, “performing” silence for just as long.

This highly eccentric symphony, receiving its first New York performance on Wednesday, was created by the artist Yves Klein, who is best known for his monochrome paintings. He harbored no small ambitions when he began thinking in the late 1940s about a kind of musical complement to his visual ideas: a symphony of monotony and silence, a much harder thing to do well than he or anyone imagined.

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