nam june paik

Works 1958-1979

CD jewel case with booklet


The essential compiled by Stephen Vitiello
This is a wide panorama of Nam June Paik work as musician - Hommage à John Cage (1958-1959), Étude for Pianoforte (1959-1960) and Simple (1961) are good exemple of neodada music and de-structuration in the late 50', this is basically irreverent audio-collages. Prepared Piano for Merce Cunningham (1977) captures an improvised performance by Paik on a de-tuned piano. while Prepared Piano for Merce Cunningham was later mixed and edited for use by Cunningham, this raw, straight -to-tape version is favored by Paik. Duett: Paik/Takis (1979) this is the only piece already released (20 years ago on a limited vinyl edition). Paik improvises on piano and voice, while Takis performs on his metal sculptures.

A short biography
Nam June Paik, was born in Seoul, Korea in 1932. After a move to Japan, where he studied the work of composer Arnold Schönberg, Paik came to Germany in 1956 to continue his studies in the history of music. His interests soon turne away from the university setting, to less traditional forms of music leading him the Westdeutsche Rundfunk's Studio for Electronic Music, where Karlheinz Stockhausen was working. To date, there have been only a handful of limited edition lp and cassette releases of Paik's music, primarily documenting collaborative performances with colleagues and friends such as Joseph Beuys and Charlotte Moorman. This is the first CD release of Paik's music and the first ever release of the early tape collage pieces that were to inform the video and performance works that he has continued to produce over the last forty years.

Neodada, Cage & Fluxus
"Cage recalls Étude for Pianoforte's first performance vividly. It is hard to describe why his performances are so terrifying' he said not long ago. You get the feeling very clearly that anything can happen, even physically dangerous things. In the Étude for Pianoforte, whose premiere was in Mary Bauermeister's studio, Paik played some Chopin on the piano, broke off, weeping, and got up and threw himself on the innards of another eviscerated piano that lay scattered on the floor, then picked up a wickedly long pair of scissors and leaped down to where Cage, the pianist David Tudor and Karlheinz Stockhausen were sitting in the front row. He removed Cage's suit jacket and started to slash away at his shirt with the scissors. After doing so, he poured a bottle of shampoo over Cage's head and also over David Tudor's. (As Stockhausen edged nervously away, Paik shouted "Not for you!").


01 Prepared Piano for Merce Cunningham (1977) 28:33
02 Hommage à John Cage (1958-59) 4:10
03 Simple (1961) 0:21
04 Duett Paik/Takis (1979) 25:46
05 Etude for Pianoforte (1959-60) 2:49