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All Things Cage: John Cage performing "Communication"

Dec 09, 2023: 7pm - 8pm
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All Things Cage: John Cage performing "Communication" Broadcast Image

All Things Cage: John Cage performing "Communication" Broadcast Image. Courtesy the John Cage Trust.

Hosted by Laura Kuhn, Executive Director of the John Cage Trust.

Today on “All Things Cage” we’ll listen to John Cage reading a lengthy excerpt from his Communication, one of the three lectures he performed in Darmstadt, along with Indeterminacy and Changes, in 1958. This recording is the only one of the three lectures held in audio form in the Darmstadt archives; sadly, it is incomplete, missing its first few minutes, but I’ll simply read the beginning of Communication before we settle into Cage’s reading, which will pick up where I leave off. This is the best recording we have of this work at the John Cage Trust, which was recorded on Sept. 9, 1958, in Darmstadt, with pianist David Tudor, who performs simultaneously and in interpolations from Christian Wolff’s For Piano with Preparations (from 1957) and from Bo Nilsson’s Quantitaten (from 1958). Cage’s first appearance in Darmstadt was a “red-letter event in the history of music,” and as one critic wrote, with his three lectures, Cage “cracked open the little world of contemporary music, sowing the seeds for a rich, burgeoning, heterogeneous landscape of sound with many different concepts of what music is and can be.” - Laura Kuhn

"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!

Playlist:
  • Communication 1 / John Cage
  • For Piano with Preparations / David Tudor
  • Communication 3 / John Cage
  • 1. Quantitaten / David Tudor
  • Rozart mix / John Cage
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