John Cage

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John Cage (1988)

John Milton Cage Jr. (born September 5, 1912 in Los Angeles , † August 12, 1992 in New York City ) was an American composer and artist. With more than 250 compositions, which are often viewed as key works of new music , he is considered one of the world's most influential composers of the 20th century. In addition, there are works on music and composition theory of fundamental importance. Cage is also a key figure in the happening movement that emerged in the late 1950s and an important stimulus for the Fluxus movement and new improvisation music . In addition to his compositional work, he was also active as a painter and dealt with mycology , the science of mushrooms.


Childhood and school days

John Cage was born on September 5, 1912, the only son of the engineer and inventor John Milton Cage Sr. (1886-1964) and his wife Lucretia ("Crete") Harvey (1885-1969). The mother worked as an editor for the Los Angeles Times . Both parents had never gone to college .

Cage spent his early childhood in Long Beach , California . The family later moved to Detroit and Ann Arbor , Michigan, and eventually returned to California in 1920, where Cage received his first piano lessons in Santa Monica . After the family moved near Glendale, he was taught by his aunt Phoebe James, herself a singer and pianist, and Cage, who was now enthusiastic about the music of Edvard Grieg , received his first piano. In 1922, Cage attended Los Angeles High School, where he was co-editor of the French-language school newspaper Le Flambeau . In 1927, Cage represented his high school in the Southern California Oratorical Contest at the Hollywood Bowl and won the competition with a speech on Pan-Americanism . The following year he graduated with the highest score ever in the history of the school. After leaving school, he first studied literature for two years at Pomona College in Claremont , where the first poems were written and published in the college magazine Manuscript . During this time he was interested in the poems of Gertrude Stein , whereupon Cage decided to become a poet.

Studied in Paris, Los Angeles and New York

In 1930 Cage went to Europe for 17 months and studied Gothic and Greek architecture in Paris for six months in the Bibliothèque Mazarin with Ernő Goldfinger , as well as the piano with Lazare Lévy , who made him familiar with the music of Johann Sebastian Bach . He wrote poetry. Don Sample, a student at the Sorbonne , drew Cage's attention to the magazine Transition , founded by Eugene Jolas in 1927 , which was devoted to music, literature, the visual arts and film and which was characterized by a comprehensive overview of the European avant-garde. By reading the magazine, Cage got to know the latest artistic developments, such as the work of Hans Arp , Hugo Ball , Marcel Duchamp , James Joyce , László Moholy-Nagy and Kurt Schwitters . Cage, who traveled with Sample through Europe, including Germany, Sicily, Algeria and Spain, painted and wrote poetry during this time. Cage's first compositions were written in Mallorca, where they stayed for a month.

“The music I composed followed a mathematical method that I don't remember. It didn't feel like music to me so I left it when I left Mallorca so as not to weigh down my luggage. On a street corner in Seville, I noticed the variety of simultaneous visual and audible events that all converged in my own experience and aroused pleasure and joy. For me that was the beginning of theater and circus. "

Home of Rudolph and Pauline Schindler, King's Road, West Hollywood.

In December 1931, Cage and Sample returned to the USA, where they both lived in Los Angeles at Rudolph and Pauline Schindler's house and together studied the Bauhaus books that Sample had brought with them from Europe . After financial difficulties, which forced Cage to work as a gardener and give small lectures for housewives on modern art and music, he finally lived with Sample in a loft in Santa Monica. In 1932, Cage began studying composition, initially with Richard Buhlig. In 1933, in his mother's art supply store, Cage met Xenia Andreyevna Kashevaroff, a high school graduate and later art student, who was a year younger than him, and fell in love with her, despite her relationship with Don Sample. Both married on June 7, 1935 in the desert city of Yuma .

Alexej von Jawlensky: Meditation (1934), acquired from John Cage.

From mid-April 1934, Cage studied harmony with Adolph Weiss, Arnold Schönberg's first US student , and took courses in modern harmony at the New School of Social Research, New York, with Henry Cowell . In 1935 he returned to Los Angeles and took private lessons in the composition technique of counterpoint from Schönberg until 1937 . In that year, Cage began a relationship with Pauline Schindler, 23 years his senior, and met the gallery owner Galka Scheyer , from whom he bought the 1934 painting Meditation by Alexej von Jawlensky for 25 US dollars , which he paid for with one dollar. Through Scheyer he got to know Oskar Fischinger , filmmaker and pioneer of abstract film , "whose idea of ​​a soul inherent in all things that can be liberated by making the object sound," impressed Cage. He also got to know the collector couple Walter and Louise Arensberg, whose collection made it possible for John Cage to deal with the work of Marcel Duchamp for the first time . In 1937, Cage moved to Santa Monica with his wife Xenia, where they lived and learned to bind in the house of bookbinder Hazel Dreis. Cage designed the book covers, and his wife later made Duchamp's Big Boxes . In 1938 Cage moved to San Francisco and met Lou Harrison at Mills College , where he was engaged in accompaniment for dance classes . Harrison placed Cage at the Cornish College of the Arts , where he worked as a pianist and répétiteur for the dance classes of the choreographer Bonnie Bird ( Martha Graham group).

Composer and link to the avant-garde

In 1938 John Cage moved to Seattle, gave lectures and founded a drum ensemble . Here he met the then 19-year-old dancer Merce Cunningham , his future work and life partner, who insisted on occasionally playing in his percussion band. Between January and March 1939 he organized a small exhibition at the Cornish School in Seattle with works by Paul Klee , Alexej von Jawlensky and Wassily Kandinsky . In 1940 Cage returned to San Francisco and took part "as the musical accompanist for the dance class in the summer program of Mills College in Oklahoma." There he met László Moholy-Nagy , who was performing in his drum ensemble on July 18. To accompany a choreography for the dancer Syvilla Fort, a student at the Cornish School, he shortly afterwards composed Bacchanale , his first composition for the prepared piano he had invented , on whose strings and hammers he mounted erasers, nails and other small parts to make the piano one give special timbre . In the same year, Cage continued to play in Living Room Music as a preliminary to the Pop Art environments . A story uses everyday living room objects to generate sound. At the invitation of László Moholy-Nagy, he taught a class in experimental music at the Chicago School of Design in 1941. There Cage met Max Ernst and Peggy Guggenheim , who invited him to New York.

In New York City, where Cage and his wife moved in 1942, both initially lived with the Ernst and Guggenheims and were introduced to a circle of musicians and visual artists there. Cage met Piet Mondrian , André Breton and Marcel Duchamp , for example . With a percussion concert, which he performed on March 7, 1943 at the Museum of Modern Art , Cage became known in New York avant-garde circles and made contacts with visual artists as well as dancers and musicians. Among other things, he often met Marcel Duchamp and composed the Duchamp sequence in the experimental film Dreams that Money Can Buy (1947) by Hans Richter in 1943 . As a contribution to the exhibition The Imagery of Chess at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York, to which Duchamp had invited, Cage painted the picture Chess Pieces . In addition to John Cage, André Breton, Alexander Calder , Max Ernst, Man Ray , Jean Tinguely , Roberto Matta , Robert Motherwell , Dorothea Tanning and others were represented as artists in this exhibition . That year, Cage separated from his wife Xenia and filed for divorce the following year.

Lecturer at Black Mountain College

Lake Eden campus, home of Black Mountain College from 1941 to 1957, is currently part of Camp Rockmont, a summer camp for boys.

In 1946, Cage moved into a loft - Bozza's Mansion , as he called it from the landlord's last name, in Lower Manhattan , where artists such as Richard Lippold, Sonja Sekula and Ray Johnson met. Together with Hans Arp , Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still , he planned an experimental cultural center on the west coast of the United States. Through the Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi , Cage met the Indian musician Gita Sarabhai, whereupon he began to study Zen as well as the music and philosophy of India. The sets for the numerous dance productions by Cage and Cunningham that followed were initially designed by Noguchi and the surrealist sculptor David Hare . Cage met Josef and Anni Albers and Buckminster Fuller in 1948 while teaching at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, whose school concept based on the Bauhaus impressed him . At a Satie Festival he organized, Cage gave a lecture on Ludwig van Beethoven and Erik Satie , Defense of Satie , which led to a scandal due to his critical view of the composer Beethoven. In 1949, Cage received a Guggenheim Fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation, as well as an award from the America Academy of Arts and Letters with prize money of US $ 1,000, which enabled him and Cunningham to visit Europe again. They visited Amsterdam, Brussels, Palermo, Milan and Paris, where Cage met Pierre Boulez , with whom he was in close correspondence until 1954. In Paris, John Cage visited Alberto Giacometti and Ellsworth Kelly , who dedicated his work White Relief (1950) to him.

In 1950 John Cage returned to New York and met the pianist David Tudor and the composers Morton Feldman and Christian Wolff . Wolff gave him the Chinese Book of Changes published by Pantheon Verlag , which became an important "auxiliary instrument for his artistic work on the basis of chance operations". On this basis, John Cage realized, among other things, Music of Changes in 1951 , his first piece based entirely on the random process. In the same year Cage participated in the events of the New York Artist's Club founded by Robert Motherwell in 1948, a "stronghold of Abstract Expressionism". Members included Franz Kline , Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Mark Rothko , Ad Reinhardt as well as the art dealer Leo Castelli and the art and culture critic Harold Rosenberg .

In the summer of 1952, John Cage had another teaching assignment at Black Mountain College and staged the first ever happening that year with Untitled Event . At the suggestion of Mark Tobey , Cage took two years of Zen courses from Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki at Columbia University .

Fluxus and mushrooms

Several friends of John Cage's graduates from Black Mountain College formed a cooperative commune in 1954 in Stony Point, New York. Cage, in search of a simple life, moved there this year to devote himself intensively to collecting mushrooms, as well as their destination and preparation. With David Tudor he went on an extensive concert tour through Europe and met Karlheinz Stockhausen in Cologne .

In 1956, Cage taught at New York's New School for Social Research and opened his classes to those interested. His guest audiences included Jim Dine , Larry Poons and George Segal . As a teacher, John Cage had a great influence on the beginnings of the Fluxus movement, as many of the artists involved were among his students at the time, such as George Brecht , Al Hansen , Dick Higgins , Jackson MacLow , Toshi Ichiyanagi , Yoko Ono and Allan Kaprow as well from 1960 George Maciunas and La Monte Young . During a European tour with David Tudor in 1958, Cage taught at the Darmstadt Summer Courses , where he met the young Nam June Paik .

In 1959, Cage taught again at the New School for Social Research in New York, this time on the subjects of mushroom identification and experimental composition. The following year he took a post as a research fellow at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, where he worked on Silence (1961), the first anthology of his lectures and writings. In August, during a joint European tour with Cunningham and Tudor, he visited Mary Bauermeister's studio in Cologne. In New York, he founded the Mycological Society in 1962 and, accompanied by Peggy Guggenheim, went on a six-week tour with David Tudor through Japan, where he visited the ancient rock garden of the Ryōan-ji temple on the occasion of the performance Fuck Yeah by Yoko Ono , where he played music and visual work. In 1965 John Cage began his text project Diary: How to improve the world (You will only make matters worse) , the structure of which is determined by chance operations. That year he became President of the Cunningham Dance Foundation and Director of the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts , which was funded through the sale of works of art and for whose project Cage was able to attract 70 visual artists. He was given a special honor in this context, as the internationally recognized Cortinarian specialist Jacques Melot named a type of mushroom after him: Cortinarius cagei , with the German name two-colored water head.

Farah Diba welcomes John Cage (second from left) and Merce Cunningham to the 1972 Shiraz Arts Festival.

In 1963 he initiated the world premiere of the composition Vexations by Erik Satie, a short piece with 840 repetitions and a duration of more than 19 hours in which he alternated with pianists such as David Tudor, Philip Corner , John Cale and 16 other participants played. In the early 1970s, like Tudor, Cunningham and Stockhausen, he took part in the Shiraz art festival in Shiraz . In 1972 he was a guest in the artist program of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in Berlin , led by Karl Ruhrberg . Cage suffered from progressive arthritis and began a macrobiotic diet on the advice of Yoko Ono in 1977. In 1968 he was admitted to the American Academy of Arts and Letters and in 1978 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences . In 1983, Cage was elected an honorary member of the International Society for Contemporary Music ISCM .

Last years

On January 1, 1984, in the so-called Orwell-year and 35 years after the publication of the novel 1984 by George Orwell , John Cage took in a live global circuit via satellite on TV project Good morning Mr. Orwell (Bonjour Mr. Orwell) of Nam June Paik. Cage, who produced noises in New York with a bird's feather, appeared in the media together with Joseph Beuys , who with his daughter Jessyka in the Center Georges-Pompidou carried out the Orwell leg - trousers for the 21st century with a pair of jeans processed by the artist. By means of technical image manipulation it was possible to have Paik, Cage and Beuys appear simultaneously on the television screen.

In the exhibition The 60s - Cologne's Way to the Art Metropolis. From happening to art market , a new version of 4'33 ″ was premiered on August 31, 1986 by John Cage himself. On the occasion of his 75th birthday in February 1987, Westdeutsche Rundfunk hosted a 24-hour NachtCageTag and for documenta 8 in Kassel, Cage realized the sound installation Writings through the Essay: On the Duty of Civil Disobedience . On November 15, the world premiere of Europeras 1 & 2 (1985/87) took place in the Frankfurt Opera , the composition of which was initiated by Heinz-Klaus Metzger and Rainer Riehn , who was entrusted by Gary Bertini in 1987 with the chief dramaturgy of the Frankfurt Opera . The Europeras 3 to 5 followed as individual works . The first complete performance of all five Europeras took place in 2001 at the Hanover State Opera .

John Cage and Renate Hoffleit in Assisi , 1992.

At the Chicago International Art Exposition in 1987 Allan Kaprow curated the exhibition A Tribute to John Cage for the Carl Soloway Gallery in Cincinnati , which was also dedicated to his 75th birthday. The catalog box Prepared Box for John Cage was published for this purpose ; loose leaves in a box designed by John Cage. Among the 40 artists who contributed to this "object" are, for example, Joseph Beuys, Alison Knowles , Joseph Kosuth , Richard Long , Claes Oldenburg , Ben Patterson and Takako Saito.

With Without Horizon , John Cage designed his last graphic works in 1992. In June of this year he finished work on his film One , which was made in collaboration with Henning Lohner - a 90-minute black and white feature film about light. He conceived his last musical work with Michael Bach : “ONE13” for violoncello with round arch and three loudspeakers, which was published years later. Three weeks before his 80th birthday, John Cage died of a stroke in his New York apartment.


Imaginary Landscapes

At the Cornish School in Seattle, Cage began a series of so-called Imaginary Landscapes ("imaginary landscapes"). A total of five pieces were written between 1939 and 1952. Imaginary Landscape No. 1 (1939) for four players, premiered on March 24, 1939, as well as a prepared piano and a Chinese cymbal, two record players with variable speeds can be heard. The records were the measuring plates used in studios for checking turntables with test tones. The electronic components were found and not specially composed. The piece is not intended to be played back in a concert hall, but via radio.

Imaginary Landscape No. 3 (1942) was written by John Cage for cans, a muffled gong , electronic and mechanical devices, including audio frequency generators , a turntable with variable rotation speed for playing audio frequency recordings and generator noises, a buzzer, as well as a wire spool with amplifier and an amplified marimba .

In 1951 Cage composed the work Imaginary Landscape No. 4 (1951). Twelve radios were played by two people each by turning the transmitter or volume control, although it was not previously possible to determine which transmitter would play what at what time. Here John Cage first used mass media as an instrument.

The "original happening"

In the summer of 1952, when John Cage was teaching at Black Mountain College, he staged Untitled Event, the first ever happening , and this long before the word came. Participating artists were Merce Cunningham, Charles Olson , Robert Rauschenberg , Mary Caroline Richards and David Tudor. The score by John Cage gave the participating artists “the times when they should perform something, take a break or be quiet”, whereby they were free to choose the exact activity. The happening was inspired by Antonin Artaud's Le Theater et son double . The auditorium, the college dining room, was divided into four triangles aligned with a center within the room. A film was shown on one wall of the room and slides were projected on the opposite wall, while Cage stood on a ladder and gave a lecture with silent passages. A second ladder was used alternately by Olson and Richards. Robert Rauschenberg, whose White Paintings hung on the ceiling next to a picture by Franz Kline , played music on a phonograph to which the Nipper logo was attached. David Tudor played the piano, and Merce Cunningham and other dancers danced through and around the audience.

4'33 ″

The piece 4'33 " was premiered on August 29, 1952 at the Maverick Concert Hall in Woodstock , New York . The inspiration for the score was , among others, the White Paintings by Robert Rauschenberg. The title specifies a performance duration of 4 minutes and 33 seconds, whereby the lengths of the three movements - with the instruction Tacet for all three movements, that is, no audible tones, only silence are produced in the entire work - with the I Ching were determined. In the world premiere, the pianist David Tudor displayed the three movements by closing and opening the piano lid. According to the score, the duration of the piece can be freely selected, and only the title should specify this value in minutes and seconds. Even though, strictly speaking, the title can vary depending on the duration selected, the designation 4'33 ″ has prevailed, the value of the premiere. The number of performers and the type of (un) used instruments can also be freely selected. In almost every performance there are noises caused by listeners who are not familiar with the work as a sign of impatience. There are also frequent applause during the performance by listeners familiar with the work. As a result, every performance of 4'33 " sounds " different.

One 11

Shortly before his death, Cage completed his only film, One 11 (1992). The 90-minute, completely black-and-white film has no cinematic, narrative or musical theme, except for light. An orchestra made up of 103 musicians performs the orchestral work 103 (1991), the imagery is limited to spotlight projections. The nature of the lighting effects, the camera movements and the details of the editing process are based on Cage's methodology of random operations. Instead of a plot, the film shows the almost elegiac movement of light, the contours of which slowly shift in front of the camera.

Number pieces

John Cage and Michael Bach in Assisi, June 1992.

In the last six years of his life (1986–1992) Cage composed a series of so-called number pieces . In total there are 52 compositions for one to 108 musicians. The pieces are named only after the number of musicians planned. If there are several pieces with a certain number of performers, this is indicated by superscript numbers. Four² is therefore the second piece for four musicians.

Cage wrote the majority of the number pieces for traditional instruments. Exceptions are pieces for the shō , a Japanese mouth organ and for conch horns . Instrumental innovations interested him very much, such as B. the round arch for violoncello by Michael Bach .

In most of the compositions in this series, Cage uses what he calls “time brackets” to specify flexible periods of time for each sound in which the sounds must begin and end.

Examples of number pieces:

  • One (1987) for piano
  • One 2 for 1 to 4 pianos (one player)
  • One 4 (1990) for drum
  • One 8 (1991) for cello with round arch (dedicated to Michael Bach)
  • One 13 (1992) for cello with round arch (co-author is Michael Bach)
  • Two (1987) for flute and piano; Duration: 10 minutes
  • Two 2 (1989) for 2 pianos (dedicated to Double Edge); Duration: 15 minutes
  • Two 3 (1991) for Sho and five mussel horns (one player)
  • Two 6 for violin and piano; Duration: 20 minutes
  • Three (1989) for 3 recorder players (dedicated to the Trio Dolce)
  • Three 2 for three percussionists; Duration: 9 minutes
  • Four (1989) for string quartet (dedicated to the Arditti Quartet), duration: 30 minutes
  • Four 2 (1990) for mixed choir (dedicated to the madrigal choir of Hood River Valley High School), duration: 7 minutes
  • Four 6 for any four instruments; Duration: 30 minutes
  • Five (1988), for any five voices or instruments (for Wilfried Brennecke and the Witten Days for New Chamber Music ); Duration: 5 minutes.
  • Five 5 for flute, two clarinets, bass clarinet and percussion.
  • Thirteen for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, tuba, two percussionists, string quartet; Duration: 15 minutes
  • Twenty-Six for 26 violins; Duration: 26 minutes
  • Sixty-Eight for orchestra
  • 101 for orchestra
  • 103 for orchestra
  • 108 for orchestra

Literary works

Works today

The sound and light installation Essay (Writings through the Essay: On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, 1985/91) has been on permanent display in the Kunsthalle Bremen's collection since 1998 . John Cage showed this work in 1987 as part of documenta 8 in the Karlskirche in Kassel .

A realization of the complete organ works » ORGAN² / ASLSP " (As Slow (ly) and soft (ly) as Possible), the "slowest concert of the world", since 5 September 2001 in Halberstadt in St. Burchardi Church listed . This performance is to last until September 4, 2640, for a total of 639 years.

Key elements in Cage's work


In Cage's view, there is no such thing as absolute silence in the traditional sense. This is based, among other things, on his observation that there are still noises even in an anechoic room . As an experiment, he locked himself in such a room at the end of the 1940s and discovered that individual things can also be heard there: his heartbeat, the rush of blood in his veins and frequencies produced by the nervous system. Inspired by this experience, he created his famous silent piece 4'33 ″ (1952), in which no notes are played. Instead, Cage wanted to create a framework in which the audience could make this discovery for themselves and focus their attention accordingly on the noises of the environment, on unintentional sounds and the sounds produced by the audience themselves. "The silence of John Cage is an open ear for the tone of the world", as Boris Parena put it in 1978 when the composer was presented at the Bologna Music Festival .

The question of intentionality is central to understanding Cage's concept of silence. If one follows his considerations, one usually speaks of silence when no intentionally produced tones are perceptible or the intentions cannot be inferred and therefore no or only a few tones are audible. Accordingly, noise is characterized by many tones, but according to Cage, like silence, it is free of intentions.

“I distance myself from all actions that highlight things that happen in the course of a process. What interests me much more - much more than anything that happens - is what it would be like if nothing happened. Right now it is very important to me that the things that are happening do not extinguish the spirit that was there before them without anything having happened; and when I say today, 'without anything having happened', I mean silence, that is, a state free of intentions. We always have sounds around us and we have no silence at all in the world. [...] What silence and noise have in common is the state of lack of intention, and it is this state that interests me. "

The French musician and philosopher Daniel Charles refers to the ironic title of Cage's work “Il Treno. Alla Ricerca del Silenzio Perduto ” (The Train. In Search of Lost Silence) and the closeness to Heidegger's “ Thing ”. While Heidegger is looking for closeness in vain, under the false assumption that it is to be equated with a short distance, with Cage it is the futile search for silence - in vain insofar as, according to Cage, it is silence in the sense of absolute There is no silence.

Chance and Autonomy

For Cage, random operations were a suitable means of enabling unintentional events. He has been using them for all of his music since the early 1950s. It wasn't about creating chaos. Instead, he aimed to give events autonomy, says Daniel Charles: “In Cage's eyes, syntax and logic select only the 'good' connections between the tones from the totality of possible relationships or connections. This leads to the listener becoming a police officer - he makes the inventory of the relationships, he no longer hears the sounds himself. "

In this context, Cage also speaks of used sounds, “used up by intellectualization”. As a result, he turned to noises - everyday sounds that are not pre-assigned when listening to them. Only after some distance did he manage to hear “old sounds” again “fresh and new”, which brought him back to working with sounds.

The 64 images (hexagrams) of the I Ching , the interpretation of which Cage used to answer predetermined questions about the composition.

Most of the time, Cage realized the random phenomena on the basis of decisions made by the I Ching , the "Book of Changes" - a Chinese oracle collection. In doing so, certain oracle texts and possible courses of action are determined through random operations, for example tossing coins. For example, Cage also used coin flips to determine the type of piano preparation. The materials to be used were divided into five categories:

  • P - plastic, bone, glass, etc.,
  • M - metal,
  • S - fabric, fibers, rubber,
  • H - wood, paper,
  • X - different material, special circumstances, free choice.

He also determined three preparation changes that were carried out randomly: simple change of position, total or partial addition of objects and total or partial removal of objects.

Another random method was aimed at observed defects in sheets of paper. Based on the shortcomings, he determined certain aspects of the sound, B. in Music for Piano , a series of 85 pieces of music for piano.

At the same time, Cage strengthened the interpreter's autonomy. In this way he developed scores that cannot be performed directly, but require a quasi-compositional realization. The piano part of the Concert for Piano and Orchestra (1957/58) already points in this direction, which was consistently carried out in the graphic score by Fontana Mix (1958). The score by Fontana Mix consists of ten pages, each with six differently curved lines and ten transparent foils with freely arranged points. Cage thus only provides general rules there and often later, according to which the performers compose or improvise the music in the first place.

further reading

  • Ralf Beil, Peter Kraut (eds.): A House Full of Music: Strategies in Music and Art . Catalog for the exhibition at the Mathildenhöhe Institute , Darmstadt, from May 13 to September 9, 2012. Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern-Ruit 2012, ISBN 978-3-7757-3318-2 .
  • Ulrich Bischoff (Ed.): Art as a border crossing: John Cage and the modern . Cat. Exhib. State Gallery of Modern Art, Munich, 1991.
  • René Block , Gabriele Knapstein (concept): A long history with many knots. Fluxus in Germany. 1962-1994. Institute for Foreign Relations , Stuttgart, 1995.
  • Moritz von Bredow: rebellious pianist. The life of Grete Sultan between Berlin and New York. (Biography, 60 figs.) Schott Music , Mainz, 2012, ISBN 978-3-7957-0800-9 .
  • John Cage: Pour les oiseaux. Editions Pierre Belfond, Paris, German as: John Cage: For the birds. Merve Verlag Berlin, 1976, ISBN 3-88396-042-X .
  • Daniel Charles: John Cage or The Music Is On. Merve Verlag Berlin, 1979, ISBN 3-88396-006-3 .
  • Daniel Charles: Musketaquid. John Cage, Charles Ives, and Transcendentalism. Merve Verlag, Berlin 1994, ISBN 3-88396-118-3 .
  • Peter Dickinson (Ed.): CageTalk. Dialogues with and about John Cage. Boydell & Brewer, Woodbridge 2006, ISBN 1-58046-237-5 .
  • you. The magazine of culture . Issue 603: Composer John Cage. Concepts against compulsion. Tages-Anzeiger AG, Zurich 1991, DNB 974768014 .
  • Monika Fürst-Heidtmann: The prepared piano of John Cage. Bosse Verlag, Regensburg 1979, ISBN 3-7649-2183-8 .
  • Nikša Gligo: What kind of work is "A Collection of Rocks" by John Cage? A contribution to the determination of work in experimental music. In: Otto Kolleritsch (Hrsg.): Entbegrenzungen in der Musik (= studies on valuation research. Volume 18). Universal Edition, Vienna 1989, pp. 83-103.
  • Wulf Herzogenrath, Andreas Kreul (Ed.): Sounds of the Inner Eye. Mark Tobey • Morris Graves • John Cage. Kunsthalle Bremen, Schirmer / Mosel, Munich 2002.
  • Richard Kostelanetz : John Cage. Original texts and documents. Translator: Iris Schnebel, Hans Rudolf Zeller. DuMont Schauberg, Cologne 1973, ISBN 3-7701-0677-6 .
  • Richard Kostelanetz: Interview with John Cage. DuMont, Cologne 1989, ISBN 3-7701-2279-8 .
  • Christoph Metzger: John Cage. Abstract Music. Twelve lectures. Pfau, Saarbrücken 2011, ISBN 978-3-89727-421-1 .
  • Heinz-Klaus Metzger, Rainer Riehn (ed.): John Cage (= music concepts special volume ). Munich 1978, ISBN 3-921402-69-7 .
  • Heinz-Klaus Metzger, Rainer Riehn (ed.): John Cage II. (= Music concepts special volume ). 2nd Edition. Munich 2000, ISBN 3-88377-315-8 .
  • Jean-Jacques Nattiez (Ed.): Pierre Boulez. John Cage. The correspondence. European Publishing House, Hamburg 1997, ISBN 3-434-50098-7 .
  • David Nicholls (Ed.): The Cambridge Companion to John Cage. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2002, ISBN 0-521-78968-0 .
  • David Nicholls: John Cage. University of Illinois Press, Champaign, IL 2007, ISBN 978-0-252-03215-8 .
  • James Pritchett: The Music of John Cage . Cambridge 1993, ISBN 0-521-56544-8 .
  • David Revill: Thundering silence. A John Cage biography. List-Verlag, Munich 1995, ISBN 3-471-78553-1 .
  • Philipp Schäffler: The idea of ​​education in the work of John Cage. Schott, Mainz et al. 2009, ISBN 978-3-7957-0647-0 .
  • Walter Zimmermann, Marie Luise Knott (Eds.): John Cage: Empty Mind . Suhrkamp Verlag, 2012, ISBN 978-3-518-22472-4 .


  • A Composer's Confessions. Address given before the National Inter-Collegiate Arts Conference, Vassar College, February 28, 1948 / Lecture at the National (John Cage) Interdisciplinary Arts Conference, Vassar College, February 28, 1948. In: MusikTexte 40/41, August 1991, 55– 68.
  • On opposite sides. To the orchestral musicians of the Zurich Opera. In: MusikTexte. August 1991, 111.
  • "There is never any silence". Music and especially silence in the work of Jackson Mac Low. In: MusikTexte. 49, May 1993, 40-42.
  • "There will never be silence ...". A previously unpublished correspondence between Helen Wolff and John Cage. In: MusikTexte. 106, August 2005, 47-50.
  • Laura Kuhn Love, Icebox - Letters from John Cage to Merce Cunningham , John Cage Trust, New York 2019, ISBN 978-1-942884-38-5 .


  • Conversation with Morton Feldman, John Cage: Nov. 19/83. A conversation between John Cage, Morton Feldman, Francesco Pellizzi and Bunita Marcus. In: MusikTexte. 5, July 1984, 21-27.
  • "I'd like to be surprised". John Cage in conversation with Scott Sommers. In: MusikTexte. July 15, 1986, 23-26.
  • “The universe should be like Bach, but it's like Mozart”. John Cage and Conlon Nancarrow in conversation with Charles Amirkhanian. In: MusikTexte. October 31, 1989, 35-45.
  • “I feel like I'm listening all the time”. John Cage in conversation with Paul van Emmerik. In: MusikTexte. 40/41, August 1991, 75-83.
  • Communicate with ourselves through Joyce. John Cage in Zurich in conversation with Thomas Meyer. In: MusikTexte. 40/41, August 1991, 112-113.
  • “Lascia o Raddoppia?” John Cage in the RAI TV quiz (commented and translated by Harald Muenz), in: MusikTexte 106, August 2005, 50–52.


Web links

Commons : John Cage  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. See John Cage List of Works (Music) ( December 1, 2007 memento from the Internet Archive ), accessed April 15, 2011.
  2. ^ Frank N. Magill: Chronology of twentieth-century history: arts and culture. Fitzroy Dearborn, 1998, p. 1090.
  3. a b Berno Odo Polzer, Thomas Schäfer (Ed.): John Cage. An autobiographical statement. In: Catalog Wien Modern 2004. Pfau, Saarbrücken 2004, pp. 9–13. ( Available online as a PDF file, accessed September 16, 2011. )
  4. a b Wulf Herzogenrath, Barbara Nierhoff-Wielk (ed.): "John Cage and ..." Visual artists - influences, suggestions . DuMont, Cologne 2012, p. 292.
  5. ^ Wulf Herzogenrath, Barbara Nierhoff-Wielk (ed.): "John Cage and ..." Visual artists - influences, suggestions. Cologne 2012, p. 292 f.
  6. a b c Wulf Herzogenrath, Barbara Nierhoff-Wielk (ed.): "John Cage and ..." Visual artists - influences, suggestions. P. 293.
  7. a b c d Wulf Herzogenrath, Barbara Nierhoff-Wielk (Ed.), P. 295.
  8. Wulf Herzogenrath, Barbara Nierhoff-Wielk (Ed.), P. 294.
  9. Wulf Herzogenrath, Barbara Nierhoff-Wielk (Ed.), P. 73.
  10. a b c Wulf Herzogenrath, Barbara Nierhoff-Wielk (Ed.), P. 296.
  11. Wulf Herzogenrath, Barbara Nierhoff-Wielk (Ed.), P. 297.
  12. a b c d e Wulf Herzogenrath, Barbara Nierhoff-Wielk (Ed.), P. 299.
  13. Wulf Herzogenrath, Barbara Nierhoff-Wielk (Ed.), P. 298.
  14. a b Wulf Herzogenrath, Barbara Nierhoff-Wielk (Ed.), P. 300.
  15. ^ Wilhelm Schlueter: Mushrooms in E-Music. In: The Tintling . 95, edition 4/2015, pp. 35–48.
  16. Detlef Stein: John Cage and Joseph Beuys - "more than just a personal thing". In: Wulf Herzogenrath, Barbara Nierhoff-Wielk (Ed.), P. 169.
  17. Erik Satie - Writings. ed. by Ornella Volta. 2nd Edition. Wolke Verlag, Hofheim 1990, ISBN 3-923997-26-4 , p. 442 (5)
  18. ^ Robert Gluck: The Shiraz Arts Festival: Western Avant-Garde Arts in 1970s Iran ,, accessed on May 3, 2012.
  19. ^ Berliner Künstlerprogramm (DAAD) ,, accessed on May 11, 2012.
  20. Wulf Herzogenrath, Barbara Nierhoff-Wielk (Ed.), P. 303.
  21. ^ Members: John Cage. American Academy of Arts and Letters, accessed February 20, 2019 .
  22. ^ ISCM Honorary Members
  23. Detlef Stein in: Wulf Herzogenrath, Barbara Nierhoff-Wielk (ed.), P. 171.
  24. a b Wulf Herzogenrath, Barbara Nierhoff-Wielk (Ed.), P. 304 f.
  25. Wulf Herzogenrath, Barbara Nierhoff-Wielk (Ed.), P. 306.
  26. Maria Müller-Schareck: “It's a slow path.” John Cage, Galka Scheyer and the art of the “Blue Kings”. In: Wulf Herzogenrath, Barbara Nierhoff-Wielk (Ed.), P. 54.
  27. ^ Rudolf Frisius: The musical emancipation of sounds and noises , accessed on May 3, 2012.
  28. Jeffrey Saletnik: Lázló Moholy-Nagy, John Cage and the creative dynamic. In: Wulf Herzogenrath, Barbara Nierhoff-Wielk (Ed.), P. 63.
  29. ^ Yvonne Ziegler: John Cage's references to performance art. In: Wulf Herzogenrath, Barbara Nierhoff-Wielk (Ed.), P. 142.
  30. ^ Wulf Herzogenrath: John Cage: Music - Art - Life. Thoughts on Cage as a visual artist. In: Wulf Herzogenrath, Barbara Nierhoff-Wielk (Ed.), P. 37.
  31. Wulf Herzogenrath in: Wulf Herzogenrath, Barbara Nierhoff-Wielk (Ed.), P. 32.
  32. ^ Joseph Tate: The Music and Art of Radiohead. Ashgate Publishing, 2005, ISBN 0-7546-3980-0 .
  33. Jeffrey Saletnik: Lázló Moholy-Nagy, John Cage and the creative dynamic. In: Wulf Herzogenrath, Barbara Nierhoff-Wielk (Ed.), P. 69.
  34. ^ The Mushroom Book. Review ( April 16, 2009 memento on the Internet Archive ), accessed April 2, 2012.
  35. Ulrich Stock: The hum of God. In: time online. August 5, 2011, accessed September 17, 2011.
  36. Spahn: Nothing to be heard. In: The time. No. 7, February 9, 2006, accessed online September 17, 2011.
  37. Daniel Charles: John Cage or The Music Is On. Merve Verlag, Berlin 1979, p. 9.
  38. ^ John Cage talks to Roger Smalley and David Sylvester. BBC interview in December 1966, quoted in after Daniel Charles: John Cage or The music is going on. Merve, Berlin 1979, p. 24f.
  39. Daniel Charles: John Cage or The Music Is On. Merve Verlag, Berlin 1979, pp. 40f.
  40. John Cage: Silence. From the American by Ernst Jandl. First edition. of the anniversary edition. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2011, p. 20.
  41. ibid. P. 20f.
  42. ibid. P. 84.
  43. ibid. P. 88.
  44. Further information at