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John Cage. 1912-1992. Early Life. He was born in Los Angeles His father was an inventor of useless products His mother was never happy He always wanted to be different and strived to not “go with the flow”. His grandfather referred the violin as the “instrument of the devil”.

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John Cage


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Early Life

  • He was born in Los Angeles

  • His father was an inventor of useless products

  • His mother was never happy

  • He always wanted to be different and strived to not “go with the flow”

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When he returned to America, he took composition lessons from Richard Buhlig,

Henry Cowell, and Arnold Schoenberg whom he “worshiped”.

Schoenberg agreed to tutor Cage for free after he agreed to “devote his life to music”. Cage stopped after two years.

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His Style from Richard Buhlig,

  • He called his music “chance” music, later known as aleatoric

  • Cage was also an explorer of electronic music

  • Many of his works were questioned and contradicted due to the new styles he chose to use

  • He was also put his beliefs of Zen Buddhism into his works

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Expressing his Theory from Richard Buhlig,

“My music is a purposeless play,” but “this play is an affirmation of life – not an attempt to bring order out of chaos, nor to suggest improvements in creation, but to simply wake up to the very life we are living, which is so excellent once one gets one’s mind and desires out the way and lets it act of its own accord.”

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Other Hobbies from Richard Buhlig,

  • Cage was an amateur mycologist

  • He was also a mushroom collector

  • With friends, he co-founded the New York Mycological Society.

  • Cage also did many drawings, prints and watercolors.

  • He also was known for his writings including: Silence, A Year From Monday, M, Empty Words, and X.

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His Works from Richard Buhlig,

  • John Cage has done over 250 pieces

  • His first one in 1931, an untitled composition, and his last, in 1992, called “Two”

  • His most notorious piece is called “4’ 33” ”. He said he composed the piece in a series of silent rhythmic durations. With all of these pieces added together, it equaled the title of the piece.

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His Death from Richard Buhlig,

John Cage died only weeks before the coming of his 80th birthday. There was expected to be a large presentation put on for him by many musicians for a celebration. However, the event went on anyways.

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My Opinion from Richard Buhlig,

  • I really enjoyed Cage’s works.

  • I think he has a very creative style and I really got into his pieces.

  • His originality and unique chords as well as rhythm show us where these contemporary styles came from.

  • I think John Cage is fantastic!

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Bibliography from Richard Buhlig,

Sites referenced: