John Cage

Real Name:
John Milton Cage, Jr.
Profile:
John Cage (born September 5, 1912, Los Angeles, California, USA - died August 12, 1992, New York City, New York, USA) was an American composer, music theorist, writer, philosopher, and artist. He is best known and lauded as a pioneer of post-war avant-garde composition.

He left Pomona College early to travel in Europe (1930-31), then studied with Henry Cowell in New York (1933-4) and Arnold Schoenberg in Los Angeles (1934): his first published compositions, in a rigorous atonal system of his own, date from this period. In 1937 he moved to Seattle to work as a dance accompanist, and there in 1938 he founded a percussion orchestra; his music now concerned with filling units of time with ostinatos (First Construction in Metal, 1939). He also began to use electronic devices (variable-speed turntables in Imaginary Landscape n.1, 1939) and invented the 'prepared piano', which involves placing a variety of objects between the strings of a grand piano in order to create an effective percussion orchestra under the control of two hands.

He moved to San Francisco in 1939, to Chicago in 1941 and back to New York in 1942, all the time writing music for dance companies (notably for Merce Cunningham with whom he formed a lifelong relationship), nearly always for prepared piano or percussion ensemble. There were also major concert works for the new instrument: A Book of Music (1944) and Three Dances (1945) for two prepared pianos, and the Sonatas and Interludes (1948) for one. During this period Cage became interested in Eastern philosophies, especially in Zen.

Working to remove creative choice from composition, he used coin tosses to determine events (Music of Changes for piano, 1951), wrote for 12 radios (Imaginary Landscape n.4, also 1951) and introduced other indeterminate techniques. His 4'33" (1952) has no composed sound -- only that of the environment in which it is performed; the Concert for Piano and Orchestra (1958) is an encyclopedia of indeterminate notations. Yet other works show his growing interest in the theatre of musical performance (Water Music, 1952, for pianist with a variety of non-standard equipment) and in electronics (Imaginary Landscape n.5 for randomly mixed recordings, 1952; Cartridge Music for small sounds amplified in live performance, 1960), culminating in various large-scale events staged as jamborees of haphazardness (HPSCHD for harpsichords, tapes etc, 1969). The later output is various, including indeterminate works, others fully notated within a very limited range of material, and pieces for natural resources (plants, shells).

Cage appeared widely in Europe and the USA as a lecturer and performer, having an enormous influence on younger musicians and artists.

He was married to Xenia Cage from 1935 until their divorce in 1945.
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Albums

875 John Cage - Piano Compositions By Alan Hovhaness And John Cage album art Alan Hovhaness, John Cage Alan Hovhaness, John Cage - Piano Compositions By Alan Hovhaness And John Cage(2xShellac, 12", Album) Disc Records 875 US 1947 Sell This Version
877 John Cage - Three Dances for Two Pianos album art John Cage, Maro Ajemian, William Masselos John Cage, Maro Ajemian, William Masselos - Three Dances for Two Pianos(3xShellac, 12", Album) Disc Records 877 US 1947 Sell This Version
19, 20 John Cage - Sonatas And Interludes For Prepared Piano album art John Cage Sonatas And Interludes For Prepared Piano (Album) Dial Records (3), Dial Records (3) 19, 20 US 1951 Sell This Version
19 John Cage - Sonatas And Interludes For Prepared Piano Volume One album art John Cage Sonatas And Interludes For Prepared Piano Volume One(LP) Dial Records (3) 19 US 1951 Sell This Version
20 John Cage - Sonatas And Interludes For Prepared Piano Volume Two album art John Cage Sonatas And Interludes For Prepared Piano Volume Two(LP) Dial Records (3) 20 US 1951 Sell This Version
ML 4495 John Cage - Sonatina For Violin And Piano / String Quartet In Four Parts album art Walter Piston / John Cage Walter Piston / John Cage - Sonatina For Violin And Piano / String Quartet In Four Parts Columbia Masterworks ML 4495 US 1953 Sell This Version
none John Cage - The 25-Year Retrospective Concert Of The Music Of John Cage album art John Cage The 25-Year Retrospective Concert Of The Music Of John Cage (Album) Not On Label none US 1959 Sell This Version
FT 3704 John Cage - Indeterminacy: New Aspect Of Form In Instrumental And Electronic Music album art John Cage, David Tudor John Cage, David Tudor - Indeterminacy: New Aspect Of Form In Instrumental And Electronic Music (Album) Folkways Records FT 3704 US 1959 Sell This Version
58000 John Cage - Concert Percussion For Orchestra album art John Cage, Henry Cowell, Lou Harrison, Amadeo Roldán, William RussellPaul Price John Cage, Henry Cowell, Lou Harrison, Amadeo Roldán, William RussellPaul Price - Concert Percussion For Orchestra (Album) Time Records (3) 58000 US 1961 Sell This Version
58003 John Cage - Circles / Frammento / Aria With Fontana Mix album art Luciano Berio - E. E. Cummings / Sylvano Bussotti / John Cage Luciano Berio - E. E. Cummings / Sylvano Bussotti / John Cage - Circles / Frammento / Aria With Fontana Mix (Album) Time Records (3), Time Records (3) 58003 US 1962 Sell This Version
S/8009 John Cage - John Cage ? Christian Wolff album art John Cage ? Christian Wolff John Cage ? Christian Wolff - John Cage ? Christian Wolff (Album) Time Records (3) S/8009 US 1963 Sell This Version
3230, SDBR 3230 John Cage - Variations IV Volume II album art John Cage Assisted By David Tudor John Cage Assisted By David Tudor - Variations IV Volume II (Album) Everest 3230, SDBR 3230 US 1965 Sell This Version
M-133 John Cage - Fontana Mix-Feed album art Max Neuhaus & John Cage Max Neuhaus & John Cage - Fontana Mix-Feed Mass Art Inc. M-133 US 1966 Sell This Version
Everest LPBR 6132 John Cage - Variations IV album art John Cage With David Tudor John Cage With David Tudor - Variations IV (Album) Everest, Everest Everest LPBR 6132 US 1966 Sell This Version
TV 4046 John Cage - Electronic Music album art John Cage, Luciano Berio, Ilhan Mimaroglu John Cage, Luciano Berio, Ilhan Mimaroglu - Electronic Music (Album) Turnabout TV 4046 US 1966 Sell This Version
FYLP-X102 John Cage - Sonatas And Interludes Vol. 2 album art Yuji Takahashi Plays John Cage Yuji Takahashi Plays John Cage - Sonatas And Interludes Vol. 2(LP) Fylkingen Records FYLP-X102 Sweden 1966 Sell This Version
FYLP-X101 John Cage - Sonatas And Interludes Vol. 1 album art Yuji Takahashi Plays John Cage Yuji Takahashi Plays John Cage - Sonatas And Interludes Vol. 1(LP) Fylkingen Records FYLP-X101 Sweden 1966 Sell This Version
32 16 0156 John Cage - Extended Voices album art The Brandeis University Chamber Chorus, Alvin Lucier, Pauline Oliveros, John Cage, Robert Ashley, Toshi Ichiyanagi, Morton Feldman The Brandeis University Chamber Chorus, Alvin Lucier, Pauline Oliveros, John Cage, Robert Ashley, Toshi Ichiyanagi, Morton Feldman - Extended Voices(LP, Album) Odyssey 32 16 0156 US 1967 Sell This Version
MS 7051 John Cage - Variations II / Trois Visages De Liège / Ensembles For Synthesizer album art John Cage, Milton Babbitt, Henri Pousseur John Cage, Milton Babbitt, Henri Pousseur - Variations II / Trois Visages De Liège / Ensembles For Synthesizer (Album) Columbia Masterworks MS 7051 Canada 1967 Sell This Version
H-71202 John Cage - Concerto For Prepared Piano & Orchestra / Baroque Variations album art John Cage / Lukas Foss, Yuji Takahashi John Cage / Lukas Foss, Yuji Takahashi - Concerto For Prepared Piano & Orchestra / Baroque Variations (Album) Nonesuch H-71202 US 1968 Sell This Version
none John Cage - Sounds album art John Cage And David Tudor / Country Joe & The Fish* John Cage And David Tudor / Country Joe & The Fish* - Sounds(10") Communicating The Gospel Today none US 1968 Sell This Version
M 1 John Cage - Musica Presents The Music Of John Cage album art John Cage Musica Presents The Music Of John Cage(LP, Mono) Minerva (2) M 1 UK 1968 Sell This Version
643 543 John Cage - Atlas Eclipticalis ? Winter Music ? Cartridge Music / Glossolalie album art John Cage / Dieter Schnebel John Cage / Dieter Schnebel - Atlas Eclipticalis ? Winter Music ? Cartridge Music / Glossolalie Deutsche Grammophon 643 543 Germany 1969 Sell This Version
M2S 819 John Cage - Music For Keyboard 1935 - 1948 album art John Cage Music For Keyboard 1935 - 1948 (Album) Columbia Masterworks M2S 819 US 1970 Sell This Version
H-71237 John Cage - The Contemporary Contrabass album art Bertram Turetzky - John Cage, Pauline Oliveros, Ben Johnston Bertram Turetzky - John Cage, Pauline Oliveros, Ben Johnston - The Contemporary Contrabass (Album) Nonesuch H-71237 US 1970 Sell This Version

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slow_d

slow_d

October 25, 2005
edited over 15 years ago
It is worth noting that Cage's famously note-less 4'33" was not meant to deliver actual silence to the audience, but instead to draw attention to the additional sounds that invariably surround anyone listening to any music at any time. In a performance hall, this would include traffic outside, the building's ventilaiton system, coughing and stirring of audience members, etc.

As Cage himself commented, “There is no such thing as silence. Something is always happening that makes a sound.” To the extent that we use Brian Eno's original definition of "ambient" music as low-volume audio to enhance someone's perception of their surroundings, 4'33" could be seen as an ultimately 'ambient' composition.
jaxxalude

jaxxalude

November 26, 2003
He may not be exclusively "electronic". But the daring and truly groundbreaking work John Cage started to develop in the 1930's set the stage for many things to come. Including his (in)famous piece "4:33", which consisted in 4 minutes and 33 seconds of... silence! Which goes to show that the silences are as important as the sound itself in music. A true visionary!

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