John Cage's Theatre Pieces (Contemporary Music Studies)
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The experimental composer John Cage (1912-1992) is best known for his works in percussion, prepared piano, and electronic music, but he is also acknowledged to be one of the most significant figures in 20th century theatre. In Cage's work in theatre composition there is a blurring of the distinctions between music, dance, literature, art and everyday life. Here, William Fetterman examines the majority of those compositions by Cage which are audial as well as visual in content, beginning with his first work in this genre in 1952, and continuing through 1992.
Much of the information in this study comes from previously undocumented material discovered among the unpublished scores and notes of Cage and his frequent collaborator David Tudor, as well as author's interviews with Cage and with individuals closely associated with his work, including David Tudor, Merce Cunningham, Bonnie Bird, Mary Caroline Richards, and Ellsworth Snyder.
do during the vacation to improve his work. And I came to Toshi Ichianagi, and I told him his work was very interesting but I thought it could be a little more interesting, and so I told him the direction — I forget what it was — that I thought he should take. And without looking at me or anything, he simply said very quietly when I finished, he said “I am not you” (laughs). And that was the greatest lesson I learned. Isn’t that marvelous (laughs)? I am, if I may say so, a good teacher, but I
University. 1952 Current Chronicle – New York. The Musical Quarterly Vol. XXXVIII, no. 1 (January): 126-136. Culver, Andrew 1988 Interview by author, 23 November, New York. 1992 Interview by author, 20 October, New York. 1993a Sample computer print-out for ONE12, sent to the author. 1993b Telephone interview by author, 1 July. Cunningham, Merce 1944 Four Walls. 6 min. color silent film, collection of the Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Archive. 1964 Story. Produced by Finnish
206 Richter, Hans Dreams That Money Can Buy 91 Reihn, Rainer 167, 197, 202 Rigg, Jean 225 Riley, Terry InC 143 Rist, Simone 151–3, 165 Roldan, Amadeo Rit micas 1 Rolich, Eavon 117 The Rolling Stones 138 Ross, Alex 226 Rothenberg, Jerome 221 Rothstein, Edward xvi The RSO Ensemble 81 Russell, William 3–5, 9 Made In America 4 Three Dance Movements 9 Russolo, Luigi “The Art of Noise” 3 “Psofarmoni” 7 Sabatini, Arthur xvii, 205 Sarabhai, Gita 16 Satie, Erik 7, 16, 21, 116, 150,
final mechanical recording of note (to date) is a short holograph performed by John Cage in the early 1980s. This lasts approximately thirty seconds, in which one sees Cage sitting at the piano, closing and then raising the keyboard cover at the end (Cage ca. 1982). Cage was not known as the usual performer of 4’ 33”. Both Cage and Tudor exemplify a very nondemonstrative style of performance, and it might be interpreted that Cage’s holograph was a personal acknowledgement of Tudor’s long-term
increases, possibilities diminish [mystery] of “inner world” feelings, drama as mystery increases[,] so does fluency sober + quiet the mind thus: conversation with others ” ” ourselves cues + timelessness + theatre my notion of “cue” = the actions of others give me less obligation to act myself no parameters out of chaos or the most necessary in any direction (Cage 1963b) What is perhaps most extraordinary with Cage’s performance notes to Variations III is the combination of