World’s Slowest Musical Composition Is Set to Finish Playing in the Year 2640

Organ2/ASLSP (As Slow as Possible) is considered the world’s slowest musical composition and the subject of the longest-lasting musical performance in recorded human history.

Written by the late American composer John Cage, As Slow as Possible has been playing at the St. Burchardi church in Halberstadt, Germany since September 5, 2001. ‘Played’ is perhaps to strong a word to describe the sound coming out of the organ built specifically for this musical piece, as the performance began with a pause that lasted until February 2003, and has since continued with single notes played continuously for several months, sometimes years. For example, the latest note change occurred on September 5, 2020, and the next one is scheduled for February 5, 2022. I think it’s safe to say that none of us will hear the end of this epic performance, as it is meant to end in the year 2640…

Photo: YouTube screengrab

John Cage wrote Organ2/ASLSP in 1985, originally for the piano, and then adapted it for the organ two years later. He cleverly omitted to specify how slow the piece should be played, so various artists did it for as long as they thought it adequate. On February 5, 2009, Diane Luchese performed As Slow as Possible for 14 hours and 56 minutes, and Joe Drew has put on 9 and 12 hour performances, and was planning a 48-hour marathon. A 12-hour performance also took place on September 4–5, 2015, in an all-night concert at Christ Church Cathedral in Montreal, Quebec.

But the most epic rendition of Organ2/ASLSP has been playing since 2001 and is scheduled to end in the year 2640. It all started in 1997, when a group of musicians and philosophers got together to discuss the implications of Cage’s instruction to play the piece “as slow as possible”, considering that an organ imposes virtually no time limits. A properly maintained organ can theoretically last forever, but the consensus was to play the piece slow enough so it will last for 639 years.


An organ was built specifically for the task of playing Cage’s As Slow as Possible and installed in the St. Burchardi church in Halberstadt. The location was not selected as random. The world’s first organ was built in Halberstadt in 1361, and by the year 2000 639 years had passed since the organ’s creation, so it was decided that “As Slowly as Possible” should be performed over the same duration.

The performance began with a year-and-a-half-long pause, followed by a two-year-long note, and the notes will continue changing at intervals raging from several months to several years. Every time the note changes an event is organized at the St. Burchardi church and attended by spectators, and any pipe additions to the organ are also livestreamed.


As Slow as Possible is set to play for a total of 639 years, or as long as the instrument it’s being played on survives.