Marcel Duchamp, classical music composer

Marcel Duchamp


Marcel Duchamp (28 July 1887 – 2 October 1968) was a French artist whose work is most often associated with the Dadaist and Surrealist movements. Considered by some to be one of the most important artists of the 20th century, Duchamp's output influenced the development of post-World War I Western art. He advised modern art collectors, such as Peggy Guggenheim and other prominent figures, thereby helping to shape the tastes of Western art during this period.

Duchamp challenged conventional thought about artistic processes and art marketing, not so much by writing, but through subversive actions such as dubbing a urinal art and naming it Fountain. He produced relatively few artworks, while moving quickly through the avant-garde circles of his time.

Between 1912 and 1915, Duchamp worked with various musical ideas. At least three pieces have survived: two compositions and a note for a musical happening. The two compositions are based on chance operations. Erratum Musical, written for three voices, was published in 1934. La Mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires même. Erratum Musical is unfinished and was never published or exhibited during Duchamp's lifetime. According to the manuscript, the piece was intended for a mechanical instrument "in which the virtuoso intermediary is suppressed". The manuscript also contains a description for "An apparatus automatically recording fragmented musical periods", consisting of a funnel, several open-end carss and a set of numbered balls. These pieces predate John Cage's Music of Changes (1951), which is often considered the first modern piece to be conceived largely through random procedures.

In 1968, Duchamp and John Cage appeared together at a concert entitled "Reunion", playing a game of chess and composing Aleatoric music by triggering a series of photoelectric cells underneath the chessboard.


Composer Title Date Action
Marcel Duchamp Erratum Musical 'Staccato' ( live rec - piano version ) 10/02/2011 Play Add to playlist