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Cage, John

 Person

Dates

  • Existence: 1912 - 1992

John Cage was born in Los Angeles in 1912. He studied composition with Richard Buhlig, Henry Cowell, Adolph Weiss, and Arnold Schoenberg. In 1938 he began working as an accompanist for dance and a teacher at the Cornish School of the Arts in Seattle, Washington. It was here that he first met the dancer Merce Cunningham, with whom he would have a lifelong working relationship. Together they were responsible for a number of radical innovations in musical and choreographic compositions, such as the use of chance operations and the independence of dance and music. Cage was musical adviser for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company until his death in New York City on August 12, 1992.



In the 1940s, Cage moved to New York and joined a group of avant-garde artists, including Cunningham, and painters Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. During this period, Cage became interested in Eastern thought, particularly Zen, and while his compositions continued his use of carefully structured segments of time, he began to fill them in with materials derived by chance processes. In perhaps the ultimate statement of this aesthetic, he wrote 4′33″, a piece of total silence on the part of the performer into which the random sounds of the world enter. In 1952, at Black Mountain College, he presented a theatrical event considered by many to have been the first Happening.



Cage was the recipient of many awards and honors, beginning in 1949 with a Guggenheim Fellowship and an award from the National Academy of Arts and Letters. He was awarded membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1978), American Academy of Arts and Letters (1989); named Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Legion d'Honneur (1982), laureate of the Kyoto Prize given by the Inamori Foundation (1989); and recipient of an honorary doctorate in performing arts the California Institute of the Arts (1986). Cage was the Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard University for the academic year 1988-1989.



Cage is the author of many books including Silence, A Year from Monday, M, Empty Words, and X (all published by the Wesleyan University Press). Cage's music is published by C. F. Peters Corporation.
Citation
Courtesy of the John Cage Trust

Found in 5 Collections and/or Records:

American Music Edition records

 Collection
Identifier: AME
Scope and Contents Manuscript scores, business records, and correspondence that reflects AME’s repertoire of new American music by Green, Carl Ruggles, Halsey Stevens, and others, as well as the interactions Green had with many key figures in twentieth-century music, including John Cage, Henry Cowell, Charles Ives, Gunther Schuller, William Grant Still, Virgil Thomson, and many others.

John Cage correspondence

 Collection
Identifier: Cage Correspondence
Scope and Contents The Cage Correspondence collection is comprised of correspondence and ephemera including letters, cards, clippings, catalogs, photographs, negatives, cassette tapes, music scores, and art.  Early materials focus on family correspondence and newspaper clippings and are interspersed with Cage's own notes and manuscripts.  Later correspondence is enhanced through Cage's use of "Note-o-Grams" which provides carbon copies of his sent messages.

John Cage correspondence addenda

 Collection
Identifier: Cage Addenda
Abstract This is correspondence that is related to John Cage but was not given to Northwestern by the composer. Letters are between Cage and the person in the folder's title unless otherwise indicated in the container list. Of particular interest are letters from John and Xenia Cage to friends in California that relate their experiences while living in Chicago in the early 1940s.

John Cage Notations Project collection

 Collection
Identifier: Cage Notations
Abstract John Cage was already established as an influential American composer and important leader of post-World War II avant-garde music when he began his Notations project in the mid-1960s. In 1965 the Notations project was born. Cage sent letters to hundreds of composers, visual artists, and writers soliciting manuscripts for possible inclusion in a book to benefit the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts. Some sent Cage recent creations while others contributed older works. Cage published...

John Cage scrapbooks

 Collection
Identifier: Cage scrapbooks
Overview The John Cage Scrapbooks are comprised of 9 scrapbooks constructed by John Cage's mother, Lucretia Cage, spanning the years 1916-1954. The scrapbooks contain newspaper clippings, programs, ticket stubs, correspondence, and a few photographs. They document Cage's early life, mostly in photographs, and his early to mid career.