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John Cage (1912-1992)


John Cage main page on UbuWeb Sound



Various Lectures & Interviews


  1. John Cage on Rauschenberg, Duchamp, Johns, Part 1 (undated)
  2. Jasper Johns: Stories & Ideas (undated)
    Pacifica Radio Archive

  3. Studio reading of "Mureau"; "She Is Asleep"; "Six Melodies for Violin and Keyboard"
    Recorded at Naropa, January 1, 1979

  4. Interview (until 18'00") and Empty Words, Part 1
  5. Empty Words, Part 2
    Recorded at Naropa, August 1974

  6. Laughtears, Part 1 (16'13")
  7. Laughtears, Part 2 (14'51")
    A Conversation between John Cage & Klaus Schöning on Roaratorio, 1979

  8. John Cage Interviewed by Jonathan Cott (1963) (50'21")

    A lively 1963 interview of John Cage by Jonathan Cott. The discussion covers several aspects of Cages creative process and aesthetic. At every turn Cott antagonizes Cage with challenging questions. In addition, he quotes from numerous sources (including Norman Mailer, Michael Steinberg, Igor Stravinksy and others) criticizing Cage and his music. Includes a performance of Aria with Fontana Mix featuring vocalist Cathy Berberian.

    This program is notable particularly for the challenging stance of the hostan unusual document that provides many moments of amusement as Cage parries Cott's thrusts with a veritable tai chi practice of music theory. The exchange over the quality of Cage's Concert for Piano and Orchestra vs. Schoenberg's Piano Concerto is one of the funniest exchanges in the history of new music broadcasting. Mr. Cott explains that he was 19 at the time!


  9. John Cage Considered: An Introduction (March 22, 1965)

    A tentative introduction and preliminary remarks about the music, aesthetics and phenomenon of John Cage. Recorded in 1965 this program contains the comments of Charles Shere on the life and music of the most famous of American avant-garde composers. The program, which relies on a 1964 New Yorker article about Cage, a catalogue of his works published by Peters Edition, and Cages own book of essays Silence, for its background information, starts with a description of Cages early education and career as a lecturer on modern art. Shere then goes on to play excerpts from a number of Cages early compositions in order to illustrate Cages evolution from a student of Schoenberg to a composer experimenting with new sounds and techniques. By 1951 Cage had begun to become interested in Zen Buddhism and the role of chance operations in composition, two ideas that would influence all his later works. Shere plays a recording of the premiere performance of Cages Imaginary Landscape No. 4 scored for 12 radios. This performance which relies completely on chance operations for its structure, was given at Columbia University on May 1, 1951 and shocked the musical world, thus setting Cage firmly upon the road to becoming the most controversial composer of his generation. New York Times music critic, Virgil Thomson famously suggested that future performances of the piece never be done before a paying audience.


  10. John Cage at Putah Creek Lodge in Davis, California (1969)

    Duration: 59 min
    Event Type: Music
    Program Origin: KPFA

    At 5 p.m. a private "concert-concert" (as Cage was fond of calling it) of Erik Satie's music was held in Putah Creek Lodge on the campus of the University of California in Davis. The concert was invitational, limited to one hundred persons at a charge of $5 each. Patricia Lee performed several nocturnes for solo piano; Patricia Woodbury sang three songs with Cage accompanying her on the piano; and Peggy and Milton Salkind performed a newly finished, unpublished transcription for two pianos by Cage of Satie's “Socrate”.

    That evening, several concerts were held at different locations on the campus. From 7:30 p.m. until midnight, Satie's “Furniture Music” for orchestra was played continuously by members of the University Symphony Orchestra in the lobby of Freeborn Hall. One had to walk through this orchestra in order to reach the performing area where Cage's new piece for the occasion, “33 1/3”, was being played for the major portion of the evening.
    Musical Selections: Furniture Music / Erik Satie -- Socrate / Erik Satie [arr. by John Cage]
    Performers: Peggy Salkind, piano (Socrate) Milton Salkind, piano (Socrate)
    Genre: New Music
    Subject: New music; Orchestral music; Aleatory music; Piano music
    People: Cage, John; Austin, Larry; Satie, Erik, 1866-1925; Salkind, Peggy; Salkind, Milton
    Recording Date: 11/21/1969


    Each year for some time the music department at the University of California Davis invited a well-known musician to lecture for a term on material of his own choice. John Cage accepted such an appointment for Fall, 1969. In addition to his class, John Cage scheduled a one-day musical exposition for November 21, 1969, centering around the music of Erik Satie. It was to be called Godamusicday, a title which, because of a university policy banning obscene language, was ultimately rejected. Undaunted, Cage wryly changed the name to MEWANTEMOOSIECDAY

    Several events took place during this day: an 18-hour performance of the Vexations by Erik Satie, performed 840 times, a performance of Cage's new piece 33 1/3 , a lecture by John Cage, performances of the University orchestra and band, film presentations etc.

    What you hear for the first 30 minutes is a performance by a chamber orchestra of Satie's "Furniture Music" repeated many times. In the background are continuous performances of various pieces by John Cage playing simultaneously. Midway the venue changes to a private performance by Milton and Peggy Salkind of Cage's 2 piano version of Satie's "Socrate". At times, its a bit hard to figure out what is going on.


  11. The first lecture in John Cage's class on "Music in Dialogue" (1969)

    Duration: 109 min
    Event Type: Lecture / Panel Discussion
    Program Origin: KPFA

    This program contains the lecture given by John Cage on October 7, 1969, at the University of California Davis during the first meeting of his class on “Music in Dialogue”. In typical Cagian style the rather informal presentation covers such subjects as Buckminster Fuller, Zen Buddhism, philosophy, and the role of art and technology in modern society. The obvious delight of the students at having the opportunity to be taught by such a revolutionary composer is quite evident in their laughter and questions.
    Genres: New Music; Avant-Garde
    Subject: Fuller, R. Buckminster (Richard Buckminster), 1895-1983; Music--History and criticism; Philosophy; Zen Buddhism; Art and society
    People: Austin, Larry; Cage, John
    Recording Date: 10/7/1969
    First Broadcast Date: 11/4/1969


    John Cage at KPFA on July 29, 1971, Part 1 (59 minutes)
    John Cage at KPFA on July 29, 1971, Part 2 (61 minutes)

    This is an interview with John Cage & David Tudor, conducted in French and English. This particular interview was purportedly recorded on May 29, 1972, a time at which both John Cage and David Tudor were on a European tour featuring performances in London, Bremen, Paris and other European cities. Cage talks about the influence that Henry David Thoreau, Marcel Duchamp, and others have had on his own artistic output. Works discussed include Cage’s “Mureau” and David Tudor’s “Rainforest,” which were performed simultaneously during their 1972 European concerts. Another pairing of the two composer’s works, Cage’s “62 Mesostics Re Merce Cunningham,” and Tudor’s “Untitled” is also discussed. Towards the end of the program David Tudor talks about his decision to play the piano less, and instead focus on his own electronic music.


  12. An Interview with John Cage & David Tudor (May 29, 1972)

    This is an interview with John Cage & David Tudor, conducted in French and English. This particular interview was purportedly recorded on May 29, 1972, a time at which both John Cage and David Tudor were on a European tour featuring performances in London, Bremen, Paris and other European cities. Cage talks about the influence that Henry David Thoreau, Marcel Duchamp, and others have had on his own artistic output. Works discussed include Cage’s “Mureau” and David Tudor’s “Rainforest,” which were performed simultaneously during their 1972 European concerts. Another pairing of the two composer’s works, Cage’s “62 Mesostics Re Merce Cunningham,” and Tudor’s “Untitled” is also discussed. Towards the end of the program David Tudor talks about his decision to play the piano less, and instead focus on his own electronic music.


  13. John Cage - In Celebration of his 65th Birthday (September 5, 1977), Part 1
  14. John Cage - In Celebration of his 65th Birthday (September 5, 1977), Part 2

    This is an interview with John Cage & David Tudor, conducted in French and English. This particular interview was purportedly recorded on May 29, 1972, a time at which both John Cage and David Tudor were on a European tour featuring performances in London, Bremen, Paris and other European cities. Cage talks about the influence that Henry David Thoreau, Marcel Duchamp, and others have had on his own artistic output. Works discussed include Cage’s “Mureau” and David Tudor’s “Rainforest,” which were performed simultaneously during their 1972 European concerts. Another pairing of the two composer’s works, Cage’s “62 Mesostics Re Merce Cunningham,” and Tudor’s “Untitled” is also discussed. Towards the end of the program David Tudor talks about his decision to play the piano less, and instead focus on his own electronic music.


  15. Mureau and Q&A (Cabrillo Music Festival) (1977, Part 1)


    Duration: 112 min
    Event Type: Lecture / Panel Discussion
    Program Origin: KPFA

    The lecture begins with reading of “Mureau”, which is based on a text by Henry David Thoreau. The program concludes with a lengthy question and answer session that followed Cage’s appearance at the Cabrillo Music Festival in August 1977. It is often in addressing the public’s questions that Cage’s brilliance is most memorable, and this example is no exception. Of particular interest is his description of how he uses chance operations in his creative processes.
    Part 1 of 2:
    Musical Selections: Mureau / John Cage
    Genre: Literature
    Subject: Cage, John; Tudor, David, 1926-1996; Literature, Experimental; Aleatory music; Chance operations; Cut-ups (Literary form)
    People: Cage, John; Thoreau, Henry David, 1817-1862

    Part 2 of 2:
    Genres: New Music; Avant-Garde
    Subject: Cage, John; Stockhausen, Karlheinz, 1928-; Avant-garde (Art); Avant-garde (Music) ; New music; Aleatory music; Chance operations; Aesthetics, Comparative; Zen Buddhism
    People: Cage, John

    Mureau
    Category: Musical composition
    Dated: November 1970
    Instrumentation: One or more speakers with tape ad lib.
    Duration:
    Premiere and performer(s): March 1971, New York, performed by John Cage, accompanied by 3 tapes. (?)
    Dedicated to:
    Choreography: ---
    Published: Partly in "Synthesis" [Minneapolis], 1970. Complete publication: MUSIK/FILM/DIA/LICHT-Festival, Josef Anton Riedl: Neue Musik, Sondernummer (for the art program of the 1972 Munich Olympic Games), München, 1972. Also published in John Cage: M (without preface)
    Manuscript:

    Previous titles: Music of Thoreau and Mueau, which explains the current title.
    This is a text based on material (referring to sounds, silence and music) from Henry David Thoreau's Journals: using I-Ching chance operations Cage selected sentences, phrases, words syllables and letters from the journals to create this text, written as prose (not as a lecture).
    It was written for the Minneapolis "Synthesis" magazine.
    The texts are an attempt to free the English language from syntax.

    Sources: James Pritchett: The Music of John Cage; Richard Kostelanetz: John Cage (ex)plain(ed); Martin Erdmann: Chronologisches Verzeichnis der musikalischen Kompositionen, Schriften, Gespräche, Hörspiele, Bilder, Objekte und Filme. In: Musik-Konzepte Sonderband - John Cage II; For the Birds - John Cage in conversation with Daniel Charles


  16. Vision #4 - Word of Mouth (1980)

    from VISION #4 Word of Mouth

    Prepared talks by 12 artists recorded on Ponape, an island in the Pacific Ocean


  17. John Cage / Wim Mertens "So that each person is in charge of himself.

    From Chicago '82: A Dip in the Lake


  18. John Cage at Crown Point Press, (1982)

    Part 1
    Part 2

    Duration: 104 min
    Event Type: Spoken Word
    Program Origin: KPFA

    A reading at Crown Point Press at the opening of John Cage's exhibit of etchings on April 18, 1982. This program includes an interview with Crown Point Press founder Kathan Brown, an excerpt from Cage's “Indeterminacy”, as well as live readings from Cage’s “Composition in Retrospect”, and “Diary: How to Improve the World, You'll Only Make Matters Worse” (Continued 1972 - 1982).

    Part 1 of 2:
    Musical Selections: Indeterminacy [excerpts] / John Cage & David Tudor
    Subject: Cage, John; Coolidge, Clark, 1939-; Literature, Experimental ; Art, Modern; Etching; Tales; Musique concrète; Music, concrete; Aleatory music; Chance operations; Electro-acoustic; Electronic music; Poetry; Cut-ups (Literary form)
    People: Amirkhanian, Charles; Brown, Kathan; Cage, John; Tudor, David, 1926-1996
    Recording Date: 4/18/1982

    Part 2 of 2:
    Musical Selections: Composition in Retrospect [experimental prose piece] -- Diary: How to Improve the World, You Will Only Make Matters Worse [continued 1972-82]
    Subject: Cage, John; Literature, Experimental ; Art, Modern; Cut-ups (Literary form)
    People: Cage, John
    Recording Date: 4/18/1982


  19. John Cage and Nam June Paik in Conversation
    University of California San Diego, circa 1985

    Part 1
    Part 2


  20. Speaking of Music: John Cage (1987)

    Part 1
    Part 2

    Duration: 128 min
    Event Type: Interview and Music
    Program Origin: KPFA

    Charles Amirkhanian interviews John Cage on January 8, 1987, as part of the San Francisco Exploratorium’s Speaking of Music series. The program begins with a discussion of two of Cage’s pieces of aleatoric music, “Music For” which is scored for any number of instruments, and “Thirty Pieces for Five Orchestras”. Also discussed in detail is “EurOperas 1 & 2”, which was intended to be an opera like no other, and in that regard it has no real libretto or plot. However the majority of this program is dedicated to questions from the audience. In his answers Cage continues to confound expectations with his comments about why he composes using chance operations (to free his music from his likes and dislikes), the role of silence in music (to listen to the sounds everyone ignores), and the role of music (to quiet the mind). Cage also wanders into the realm of political science by commenting on the work of Buckminster Fuller and the role of Anarchism in any future utopia . As with any program with Cage, regardless of what he is talking about, the humor and warmth of his personality always shines through.

    Part 1 of 2:

    Musical Selections: Music For [excerpt] (1984-87) (2:18) -- Thirty Pieces for Five Orchestras [excerpt] (1981) (9:09) -- Essay [excerpt, un-stratified version, text by Henry David Thoreau] (1986) (3:10) -- Essay [excerpt, un-stratified version, text by Henry David Thoreau] (1986) (1:24)
    Subject: Cage, John; New music; Aleatory music; Chance operations; Orchestral music; Cut-ups (Literary form); Electronic music

    People: Amirkhanian, Charles; Cage, John; Thoreau, Henry David, 1817-1862

    Recording Date: 1/8/1987

    Part 2 of 2:

    Musical Selections: EurOperas 1 & 2 [excerpt from the libretto, read by Cage] (1987) (3:47)

    Subject: Cage, John; New music; Opera; Cut-ups (Literary form); Politics and culture; Anarchism

    People: Amirkhanian, Charles; Cage, John

    Recording Date: 1/8/1987


  21. John Cage at the San Francisco Art Institute (1991)

    John Cage at the San Francisco Art Institute
    Item Type: Sound Recording
    Duration: 77 min
    Event Type: Lecture / Panel Discussion
    Program Origin: C Amirkhanian

    John Cage reading his composition "One 7" and answering questions from a capacity audience at the theater of the San Francisco Art Institute. “One 7” is approximately 30 minutes long and consists of brief vocalizations interspersed with long periods of silence. The questions from the audience range from inquiries about the process by which Cage composes, his lack of interest in pleasing an audience, his love of mushrooms, Buddhism, chance operations, and whether Cage can stand on his head.

    Musical Selections: One 7 / John Cage
    Subject: Cage, John; Poetry; Silence in literature; Cut-ups (Literary form); Chance operations; Aleatory music; Zen Buddhism
    Recording Date: 1/9/1991


  22. Conversations With John Cage, Christian Wolff, Hans G Helms

    from the LP box set Music Before Revolution 1972 [EMI 1 C 165 - 28 954 / 57 Y]









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