John Cage

~ Person


Annotation last modified on 2015-04-16 10:39 UTC.


John Milton Cage Jr. (September 5, 1912 – August 12, 1992) was an American composer, music theorist, writer, and artist. A pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments, Cage was one of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde. Critics have lauded him as one of the most influential American composers of the 20th century. He was also instrumental in the development of modern dance, mostly through his association with choreographer Merce Cunningham, who was also Cage's romantic partner for most of their lives.

Cage is perhaps best known for his 1952 composition 4′33″, which is performed in the absence of deliberate sound; musicians who present the work do nothing aside from being present for the duration specified by the title. The content of the composition is not "four minutes and 33 seconds of silence," as is often assumed, but rather the sounds of the environment heard by the audience during performance. The work's challenge to assumed definitions about musicianship and musical experience made it a popular and controversial topic both in musicology and the broader aesthetics of art and performance. Cage was also a pioneer of the prepared piano (a piano with its sound altered by objects placed between or on its strings or hammers), for which he wrote numerous dance-related works and a few concert pieces. The best known of these is Sonatas and Interludes (1946–48).

His teachers included Henry Cowell (1933) and Arnold Schoenberg (1933–35), both known for their radical innovations in music, but Cage's major influences lay in various East and South Asian cultures. Through his studies of Indian philosophy and Zen Buddhism in the late 1940s, Cage came to the idea of aleatoric or chance-controlled music, which he started composing in 1951. The I Ching, an ancient Chinese classic text on changing events, became Cage's standard composition tool for the rest of his life. In a 1957 lecture, Experimental Music, he described music as "a purposeless play" which is "an affirmation of life – not an attempt to bring order out of chaos nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply a way of waking up to the very life we're living".

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Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1967 New Electronic Music from Leaders of the Avant-Garde John Cage / Milton Babbitt / Henri Pousseur 3 3
1969 Cage & Hiller: HPSCHD / Johnston: String Quartet no. 2 John Cage & Lejaren Hiller, Ben Johnston 5 1
1973 John Cage: Three Dances, for 2 amplified prepared pianos / Steve Reich: Four Organs, for 4 electric organs & maracas John Cage, Steve Reich; Michael Tilson Thomas, Ralph Grierson 2 1
1976 Voices and Instruments Jan Steele, John Cage 1
1977 Cheap Imitation John Cage 1
1980 Nocturne - Six Melodies - Amores - A Valentine Out of Season - Music for Marcel Duchamp John Cage 1
1984 Sixteen Dances John Cage 1
1985 Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano John Cage; Yuji Takahashi 1
1986 Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano (1946-1948) (Darryl Rosenberg) John Cage 1
1987 Thirty Pieces for Five Orchestras / Music for Piano John Cage - Peter Eötvös 1
1988 Music of Changes (piano: Herbert Henck) John Cage 1
1988 Works for Piano & Prepared Piano, Volume I John Cage 1
1989 The Complete String Quartets, Volume 1 (Arditti Quartet) John Cage 1
1991 Music for Merce Cunningham John Cage 2
1991 Music for Five John Cage 1
1991 Sixty-Two Mesostics Re Merce Cunningham (Eberhard Blum) John Cage 1
1991 Works for Cello - Lecture on Nothing John Cage; Frances-Marie Uitti 1
1991 Works for Percussion John Cage 1
1991 Works for Piano, Toy Piano & Prepared Piano, Volume III (1944-1960) John Cage 1
1992 Fifty-Eight (Pannonisches Blasorchester feat. conductor: Wim van Zutphen) John Cage 1
1992 Indeterminacy: New Aspect of Form in Instrumental and Electronic Music John Cage & David Tudor 1
1992 Litany for the Whale John Cage; Theatre of Voices, Paul Hillier 3
1992 Pianos and Voices John Cage, Meredith Monk; Anthony de Mare 1
1992 Roaratorio John Cage 1
1992 The Barton Workshop Plays John Cage John Cage 1
1993 The Complete String Quartets, Volume 2 (Arditti Quartet) John Cage 1
1993 Concert for Piano and Orchestra / Atlas Eclipticalis John Cage; The Orchestra of the S.E.M. Ensemble, Petr Kotik, Joseph Kubera 1
1993 Etudes Australes John Cage 1
1993 Music for ... John Cage 1
1993 Winter Music John Cage 1
1993 Works for Prepared Piano John Cage; Nigel Butterley 1
1994 Freeman Etudes, Books One and Two John Cage; Irvine Arditti 1
1994 Daughters of the Lonesome Isle John Cage 1
1994 Europera 5 John Cage 1
1994 Freeman Etudes, Books Three and Four John Cage; Irvine Arditti 1
1994 Sixteen Dances John Cage; Ensemble Modern, Ingo Metzmacher 1
1994 Ten / Ryoanji / Fourteen John Cage; Ives Ensemble 1
1995 In a Landscape John Cage 1
1995 Annum per annum Cage, Pärt, Scelsi; Christoph Maria Moosmann 1
1995 Europeras 3 & 4 John Cage 1
1995 New York School 3 Earle Brown, John Cage, Morton Feldman, Christian Wolff; Eberhard Blum, Art Lange, Jan Williams 1
1995 Six Melodies / Thirteen Harmonies John Cage; Irvine Arditti, Stefan Hussong 1
1995 Sonatas & Interludes for Prepared Piano John Cage; Maro Ajemian 1
1995 The Number Pieces I John Cage 1
1996 Imaginary Landscapes John Cage 2
1996 John Cage: One⁸ / Sofia Gubaidulina: Zehn Präludien für Violoncello solo John Cage, Sofia Gubaidulina; Julius Berger 1
1996 Music for Eight John Cage; Ensemble Avantgarde, Salome Kammer, Leipziger Streichquartett 1
1996 Ryoanji John Cage 1
1996 The Lost Works John Cage 1
1997 Complete Piano Music, Volume 1: The Prepared Piano 1940-1952 John Cage; Steffen Schleiermacher 1

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