Today is John Cage’s 100th birthday. Like much of the rest of the artistic universe, I remain quite fascinated by him, his ideas, and his music. I just want to pay brief homage to the man and his memory.
I don’t want to offer up an in-depth discussion of his life, times, and output, but I needed to at least alert regular readers to this day. (I’ll save such time and energy for something I’m much more excited about: Wagner‘s bicentennial.) I always make sure to cover Cage with my music appreciation students. Not only are the responses and assignments interesting to read, but it’s always great to see so many eyes and ears opened. (As with most things, I encourage them to simply react – I don’t care if they like it or not…that isn’t the point.)
For those wanting more information or context, Alex Ross is a great place to start for today’s digital celebration. And below are some videos that I often include in assignments. Ross’s preview post is quite nice, especially this line: “For much of his life, Cage was cast as a court jester or holy fool. As empires crumble, he seems saner than ever.”
John Cage on sound
Cage performing Water Walk on national television
4’33” for full orchestra