All Things Cage: Laura Kuhn and John Cage, Lecture on Commitment (Audio)

Sep 04, 2021
Hosted by Laura Kuhn, Executive Director of the John Cage Trust.

On this the eve of what would be John Cage’s 109th birthday, Laura Kuhn talks about and plays a recording of Cage performing a little-known text work entitled Lecture on Commitment, which dates from 1961, the year that his first and still seminal book Silence was being readied for publication by Wesleyan University Press. Lecture on Commitment was published six years later, in 1967, in Cage’s A Year from Monday. Tonight’s “All Things Cage” digs a bit into Cage’s relationship with Wesleyan University, as it was one of the very few venues where Cage held anything resembling an academic position – in its Center for Advanced Studies, where he was in residence in 1960-61 and again in 1969-70. Cage would return to Wesleyan many times over the ensuring years, and in 1988 attended its stellar “John Cage at Wesleyan: A Festival/Symposium About Cage’s Work and Influence,” spearheaded by long-time Wesleyan faculty member, Neely Bruce. And, of course, Wesleyan University Press would be Cage’s principal book publisher throughout his life.

We listen to Lecture on Commitment twice – before and after words about it – and bring the program to a close with a performance of Cage’s Perpetual Tango, yet another adaptation by Cage of a composition originally by Erik Satie, performed here by the pianist Yvar Mikashoff, who requested it for his tango collection. Mikashoff was a much beloved performer who died far too young, on Oct. 11, 1993, a little over one year after John Cage.