PARIS — The composer Joseph Bertolozzi, bearing a meditative look, stood with his feet apart in front of a door frame inside the Eiffel Tower. Then, 187 feet above the Champ de Mars garden, he pulled a latex mallet from his tool bag and hit the frame hard, and then softer, with agility and rhythm.
“That one was beautiful!” said Paul Kozel, a sound engineer, who recorded the dull thuds.
Mr. Bertolozzi, who lives in Beacon, N.Y., is in Paris harvesting sounds for what he calls a “public art installation,” a musical project that has taken him, Mr. Kozel and a team of seven to one of the most visited monuments in the world.
His mission is to “play the Eiffel Tower” by striking its surfaces, collecting sounds through a microphone and using them as samples for an hourlong composition called “Tower Music.” He eventually hopes for a live, on-site performance of the work to celebrate the tower’s 125th anniversary next year.
“I’m exhilarated to be here,” Mr. Bertolozzi said, just before striking a wall with a sheepskin-padded log hanging from a leather strap. “I’ve been planning this for so long.”Knowing no French and lacking contacts in Paris, Mr. Bertolozzi has spent more than four years on his quest. He raised $40,000 from private donors and convinced the Eiffel Tower administration that he was a legitimate musician.
“Improbable” yet “extraordinary,” Jean-Bernard Bros, the president of the Eiffel Tower operating company, said of the project, which he called “exceptional because it is rare, it is unique, it never happened before.” Mr. Bros, however, was noncommittal about allowing a live performance. “Let’s see first what the sounds produce — the fruit of his effort,” he said.
Here’s some footage from Vimeo:
and a short retrospective of his work for the release of the Bridge Music album. It seems he is also a pianist and organist who has played at many places in the world, including the Vatican. Perhaps the next project would be to play the Vatican itself?