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All Things Cage: Martin Friedman and "Il Treno di John Cage"

Nov 20, 2023: 5am - 6am
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All Things Cage: Laura Kuhn on Martin Friedman and "Il Treno di John Cage" Broadcast Image

All Things Cage: Laura Kuhn on Martin Friedman and "Il Treno di John Cage" Broadcast Image. Courtesy the John Cage Trust. ©Corinto Marianelli.

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

This week Kuhn returns to the subject of John Cage’s All Ricerca del Silenzio Perduto (1978), familiarly known as Il Treno, by reading a piece written by Martin Friedman about his attendance at the inaugural performance of Cage’s composition in Bologna, June 26-28, 1978. Friedman, who died in 2016, was an American museum curator well known as the long-time director of the Walker Art Center. Friedman sent Kuhn this piece, which he’d entitled “Il Treno di John Cage,” not long before he died, both to place in the archives of the John Cage Trust but also looking for a publisher. She cautioned him that it was too short to stand alone and offered to publish it on the John Cage Trust’s website, johncage.org. He declined, choosing to continue searching. Kuhn was happy to learn recently that the piece has since been published at the Walker Art Center’s own website, walkerart.org, as the sixth installment of its ongoing series “Art (re)Collecting.” This is a beautiful recollection of Friedman’s 1978 trip to Bologna to witness Il Treno, and hence serves as a beautiful introduction to the extended excerpt we listen to in the second half of the program. This recording is drawn from one of the CDs contained in a stunning bilingual book by Baskerville Art Books in Bologna, published in 2008 simply as Alla Ricerca del Silenzio Perduto – Il Treno di John Cage.

"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!

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