13. March 2023

Paper Piece – A Christmas gift for the family


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Benjamin PattersonPaper Piece (1960)
for 3 players

Marco Blaauw
Benjamin Kobler
Dirk Rothbrust

Janet Sinica, video/edeting
Stephan Schmidt, recording producer
Martin Schmitz, light
recorded live from Montagskonzert “UMA BOLA E UM SOL POBRE” in october 2022

Last October, at one of our Monday concerts, Marco Blauuw, Benjamin Kobler and Dirk Rothbrust performed Benjamin Patterson’s work Paper Piece. This piece has a fascinating history:

While in Cologne in December 1960, Benjamin Patterson wrote a letter to his parents in Pittsburgh, sending them the score of his latest composition called “Paper Piece”. This work was a radical innovation for Patterson, who was actually a classically trained double bassist, and called for five performers to shake, break, crumple, rub, scrub, twist, blow and bang various sheets of paper.

Unable to spend Christmas at home, he hoped his family would perform the piece in his absence with wrapping paper from unwrapped gifts for joy and pleasure (“However save all the christmas papers, wripping, newspapes, etc. and then you can present it to yourselves, when I send the copy.”) .

This early version of Paper Piece later became a standard at Fluxus festivals in the 1960s and 1970s, embodying the spirit of generosity and the search for easily accessible materials and processes that inspired Patterson’s performance and visual art.

Benjamin Patterson. Paper Piece. 1960 ©MoMA
Petterson - Paper Piece Partitur ©Ben Petterson
©Ben Petterson

Benjamin Patterson writes in his letter about Paper Piece:

“I think you will find that this is really ‘modern music’. It´s you can see I am using sounds in this piece which until new have not been considered ‘musical’. However if you performes this and listen carefully to the different varieties of sound and how they work together, I think you will find that they are at least amusing and even enjoyable. And music should be allowed to do no more than that sometimes.”


The complete letter from Benjamin Petterson to his parents can be viewed at MoMA in New York.

However, if you can’t make it to New York, you can also read it online at: