All Things Cage: Laura Kuhn and John Cage
90.7-FM in NY's Upper Hudson Valley and wgxc.org/listen everywhere
wavefarm.org/listen and 1620-AM at Wave Farm
Hosted by Laura Kuhn, Executive Director of the John Cage Trust.
John Cage was a singularly inventive American composer whose principal contribution to the history of music was his systematic establishment of the principle of indeterminacy: by adapting Zen Buddhist practices to composition and performance, Cage succeeded in bringing both authentic spiritual ideas and a liberating attitude of play to the enterprise of Western art. He developed methods of selecting the components of his pieces by chance, early on through the tossing of coins and later through the use of random number generators on the computer to simulate the coin oracle of the I Ching. Thus, Cage's mature works did not originate in psychology, motive, drama, or literature, but, rather, were just sounds, free of judgments about whether they are musical or not, free of fixed relations, free of memory and taste. His most enduring composition is 4'33" (1952), a work in three movements during which no sounds are intentionally produced. Cage is with us in spirit throughout all of the programs created for “All Things Cage,” but tonight we’ll be listening to an archival recording of his own reading of one of his most noteworthy text works, Lecture on Nothing (1950).
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 firstname.lastname@example.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!