65 Facts About John Cage


John Cage was instrumental in the development of modern dance, mostly through his association with choreographer Merce Cunningham, who was Cage's romantic partner for most of their lives.


John Cage was a pioneer of the prepared piano, for which he wrote numerous dance-related works and a few concert pieces.


John Cage's teachers included Henry Cowell and Arnold Schoenberg, both known for their radical innovations in music, but Cage's major influences lay in various East and South Asian cultures.


John Cage was born September 5,1912, at Good Samaritan Hospital in downtown Los Angeles.


John Cage received first piano lessons when he was in the fourth grade at school, but although he liked music, he expressed more interest in sight reading than in developing virtuoso piano technique, and apparently was not thinking of composition.


John Cage graduated that year from Los Angeles High School as a valedictorian, having in the spring given a prize-winning speech at the Hollywood Bowl proposing a day of quiet for all Americans.


John Cage enrolled at Pomona College in Claremont as a theology major in 1928.

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John Cage persuaded his parents that a trip to Europe would be more beneficial to a future writer than college studies.


John Cage subsequently hitchhiked to Galveston and sailed to Le Havre, where he took a train to Paris.


John Cage stayed in Europe for some 18 months, trying his hand at various forms of art.


John Cage started traveling, visiting various places in France, Germany, and Spain, as well as Capri and, most importantly, Majorca, where he started composing.


John Cage went to Santa Monica, California, where he made a living partly by giving small, private lectures on contemporary art.


John Cage got to know various important figures of the Southern California art world, such as Richard Buhlig and arts patron Galka Scheyer.


Cowell advised that, before approaching Schoenberg, John Cage should take some preliminary lessons, and recommended Adolph Weiss, a former Schoenberg pupil.


John Cage supported himself financially by taking up a job washing walls at a Brooklyn YWCA.


Several months later, still in 1933, John Cage became sufficiently good at composition to approach Schoenberg.


John Cage studied with Schoenberg in California: first at University of Southern California and then at University of California, Los Angeles, as well as privately.


Schoenberg's methods and their influence on John Cage are well documented by John Cage himself in various lectures and writings.


John Cage then said that I would always encounter an obstacle, that it would be as though I came to a wall through which I could not pass.


John Cage studied with Schoenberg for two years, but although he admired his teacher, he decided to leave after Schoenberg told the assembled students that he was trying to make it impossible for them to write music.


John Cage was an Alaskan-born daughter of a Russian priest; her work encompassed fine bookbinding, sculpture and collage.


John Cage produced music for choreographies and at one point taught a course on "Musical Accompaniments for Rhythmic Expression" at UCLA, with his aunt Phoebe.


In 1938, on Cowell's recommendation, John Cage drove to San Francisco to find employment and to seek out fellow Cowell student and composer Lou Harrison.


John Cage left Seattle in the summer of 1941 after the painter Laszlo Moholy-Nagy invited him to teach at the Chicago School of Design.


John Cage taught at the Chicago School of Design and worked as accompanist and composer at the University of Chicago.

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The result, The City Wears a Slouch Hat, was received well, and John Cage deduced that more important commissions would follow.


John Cage countered the lack of percussion instruments by writing, on one occasion, for voice and closed piano: the resulting piece, The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs, quickly became popular and was performed by the celebrated duo of Cathy Berberian and Luciano Berio.


In early 1946 John Cage agreed to tutor Gita Sarabhai, an Indian musician who came to the US to study Western music.


John Cage accepted the goal of music as explained to him by Sarabhai: "to sober and quiet the mind, thus rendering it susceptible to divine influences".


Early in 1946, his former teacher Richard Buhlig arranged for John Cage to meet Berlin-born pianist Grete Sultan, who had escaped from Nazi persecution to New York in 1941.


John Cage felt so overwhelmed by Webern's piece that he left before the Rachmaninoff; and in the lobby, he met Feldman, who was leaving for the same reason.


The I Ching is commonly used for divination, but for John Cage it became a tool to compose using chance.


For John Cage, this meant "imitating nature in its manner of operation".


Nevertheless, John Cage managed to survive and maintained an active artistic life, giving lectures and performances, etc.


John Cage conceived "a silent piece" years earlier, but was reluctant to write it down; and indeed, the premiere caused an uproar in the audience.


John Cage taught at the college in the summers of 1948 and 1952 and was in residence the summer of 1953.


From 1953 onward, John Cage was busy composing music for modern dance, particularly Cunningham's dances, as well as developing new methods of using chance, in a series of works he referred to as The Ten Thousand Things.


From 1956 to 1961 John Cage taught classes in experimental composition at The New School, and from 1956 to 1958 he worked as an art director and designer of typography.


John Cage was affiliated with Wesleyan University and collaborated with members of its Music Department from the 1950s until his death in 1992.


John Cage believed that theater was the closest route to integrating art and real life.


John Cage met Kaprow while on a mushroom hunt with George Segal and invited him to join his class.


In following these developments John Cage was strongly influenced by Antonin Artaud's seminal treatise The Theatre and Its Double, and the happenings of this period can be viewed as a forerunner to the ensuing Fluxus movement.


John Cage's parents died during the decade: his father in 1964, and his mother in 1969.


John Cage had their ashes scattered in Ramapo Mountains, near Stony Point, and asked for the same to be done to him after his death.


Also in 1969, John Cage produced the first fully notated work in years: Cheap Imitation for piano.

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The piece is a chance-controlled reworking of Erik Satie's Socrate, and, as both listeners and John Cage himself noted, openly sympathetic to its source.


Cheap Imitation became the last work John Cage performed in public himself.


In January 1978 John Cage was invited by Kathan Brown of Crown Point Press to engage in printmaking, and John Cage would go on to produce series of prints every year until his death; these, together with some late watercolors, constitute the largest portion of his extant visual art.


In 1987, John Cage completed a piece called Two, for flute and piano, dedicated to performers Roberto Fabbriciani and Carlo Neri.


John Cage went on to write some forty such Number Pieces, as they came to be known, one of the last being Eighty, usually employing a variant of the same technique.


John Cage suffered not only from arthritis, but from sciatica and arteriosclerosis.


John Cage suffered a stroke that left the movement of his left leg restricted, and, in 1985, broke an arm.


Such "nested proportions", as John Cage called them, became a regular feature of his music throughout the 1940s.


In late 1940s, John Cage started developing further methods of breaking away with traditional harmony.


For instance, in String Quartet in Four Parts John Cage first composed a number of gamuts: chords with fixed instrumentation.


The last movement of the concerto was a step towards using chance procedures, which John Cage adopted soon afterwards.


John Cage described himself as an anarchist, and was influenced by Henry David Thoreau.


Since chance procedures were used by John Cage to eliminate the composer's and the performer's likes and dislikes from music, John Cage disliked the concept of improvisation, which is inevitably linked to the performer's preferences.


The work comprises two lithographs and a group of what John Cage called plexigrams: silk screen printing on plexiglas panels.


From 1978 to his death John Cage worked at Crown Point Press, producing series of prints every year.


Between 1979 and 1982 John Cage produced a number of large series of prints: Changes and Disappearances, On the Surface, and Dereau.


The only film John Cage produced was one of the Number Pieces, One, commissioned by composer and film director Henning Lohner who worked with John Cage to produce and direct the 90-minute monochrome film.


John Cage co-founded the New York Mycological Society with four friends, and his mycology collection is presently housed by the Special Collections department of the McHenry Library at the University of California, Santa Cruz.


John Cage's ideas found their way into sound design: for example, Academy Award-winning sound designer Gary Rydstrom cited John Cage's work as a major influence.


John Cage Day was the name given to several events held during 2012 to mark the centenary of his birth.

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