John Cage

John Cage-For 100th Anniversary of the Pioneer of Musical Avant-garde

The American composer John Cage, born on 5.Sept.1912 in Los Angeles, is with its revolutionary principles of composition one of the innovators of the music of 20th century. As student of Arnold Schoenberg and Henry Cowell ,he gave to the avant-garde the main impetus for starting the new course away from compositions of the classical genre. His use, e.g. the “prepared piano” by changing concert wing with using by screws, bolts, glass etc. altered in sound drastically or by including by chance as a compositional structure the everyday sounds in his works , made him the undisputed leading figure of the scene. In its anniversary year, hence worldwide special events and happenings have been performed again from his extensive work.

John Cage, as the son of an inventor and engineer in Los Angeles, studied after his matriculation exam in 1928 music and architecture. In the 30ees, he toured through Europe and met there the modern music of the time. In 1933, he returned to New York, where he studied under Adolph Weiss and Henry Cowell composition, then he became in California student of Arnold Schoenberg in the subjects counterpoint and analysis. Later, he was teacher at several U.S. universities and wrote for the dance group of the dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham different pieces of music. This became later his life partner.

The philosophy of his work founded Cage so, that only the experience, that you do, counts for a new work; so far as any existing sounds and noises, which are perceived, should be included. Artworks are for him so no immutable facts, but are as images of everyday life and sounds of life merely material. The contact with the world is essential for him, so that the non-intentional comes to the fore. So from him the following statement is well known: “In the late 40ees I discovered experimentally (I went into the anechoic chamber at Harvard University),that the silence, the calm of silence is not audible. It is a change of consciousness, a change ……. My work is an exploration of the wicked intention. To consistently meet her, I have developed a complicated method of composition, in which I made use of the I Ching chance operations, …… ”

From this statement, it is clear that the Far Eastern music and philosophy for Cage was particularly of interest, etc. he was concerned intensively with Zen Buddhism and made the coincidence to the composer.so he determined pitch and duration with cubes and the throwing of sticks, or took the night sky as a model for his score.

By a growing of desubjectification, his compositions waived such as in one of his most revolutionary pieces perfectly to the external effects, such as in “piece 4.33 (1952)”: The players sit silently on the stage, the music consists of what within the period of 4 minutes and 33 seconds of noise in the hall is created – by the public, the external noise, the air conditioner, etc. -. Here, the audience is exposed solely to their own imagination.

John Cage was also famous for his musical happenings and his contribution to the aesthetics of the “Fluxus” like the concept art. Derived experiences and ideas went about in the major project “Musicircus” in Newark ,1967: This consisted of simultaneous performances of musicians, singers, dancers in the areas of vocal music, rock, jazz and electronics. The aim was simply to invite people to play at the same time and the same place. On the same concept later also was based the work “Europeras”, of which the 1st and 2nd part was first performed in Frankfurt 1987.In the work, opera arias and orchestral parts are listed from famous operas and at random, but the supposed chaos is determined exactly. (Especially on timing, but also on the spatial subdvision ).

The up to old age active Polyartist”,with its attitude of full creative energy , was also still in many other fields of science engaged, such as philosophy, literature, the visual arts as well as a recognized mushroom expert. He died in his 80th year in New York on Aug 12, 1992,as a result of a stroke.



Source:  http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/leon.2007.40.1.20



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