WGXC-90.7 FM

All Things Cage: James Pritchett

Mar 08, 2021: 4am - 5am
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Hosted by Laura Kuhn, Executive Director of the John Cage Trust.

James Pritchett is my first guest on “All Things Cage” who almost doesn’t need an introduction, as he’s the author of The Music of John Cage, published by Cambridge University Press in 1993, well known to Cage enthusiasts and still the only comprehensive survey of all of Cage’s music. But his earlier doctoral dissertation, The development of chance techniques in the music of John Cage, 1951-1956, completed in 1988 for NYU, is every bit as useful, being a detailed study of the processes Cage used in his seminal chance compositions. James and I talk a bit about his research at Cage’s NYC loft in the mid-1980s, and a lot about his latest project, writing the liner notes for a new CD due out in early summer from Mode Records that features a little-known arrangement by Morton Feldman of Cage’s Cheap Imitation for flute, glockenspiel, and piano. And, courtesy of Mode Records, we’ll listen to a movement!

All Things Cage is a weekly program featuring conversations between Laura Kuhn, Director of the John Cage Trust, and Cage experts and enthusiasts from around the world. If you’d like to propose a guest or a topic for a future program, write directly to Laura at lkuhn@johncage.org. She’d love to hear from you.

The late Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Kenneth Silverman once described his Begin Again: A Biography of John Cage (Knopf, 2012) as the hardest book he’d ever written. This was because, as he put it, pick up any rock and there’s John Cage! Indeed, Cage was not only a world-renowned composer, numbering among his compositions the still notoriously tacet 4’33”, but a ground-breaking poet, a philosopher, a chess master who studied with Marcel Duchamp, a macrobiotic chef, a devotee of Zen Buddhism, a prolific visual artist, and an avid and pioneering mycologist. He was also life partner to the celebrated American choreographer, Merce Cunningham, for nearly half a century, and thus well known in the world of modern dance.

No wonder, then, that nearly everyone who encounters the man or his life’s work has something interesting to say about John Cage!