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Cage, John Milton


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631207535.1997.x


(1912–92) Musician, born in Los Angeles, California. An influential composer and a leading figure in the experimental art movements of the last half of the twentieth century, his compositions and ideas using chance, silence, and nonintentionality challenged the way music was made and heard. He wrote music in a variety of styles and investigated a vast array of compositional forms and methods of composing. His work extended beyond music to the areas of dance, painting, art, philosophy, and P oetry . His collaborators and friends included dancer Merce Cunningham, visual artists Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Marcel Duchamp, pianist David Tudor, composers Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Morton Feldman, Christian Wolff, and Earle Brown. Several individuals were important in Cage's early musical and intellectual development. In the early 1930s he studied composition with Henry Cowell at the New School in New York and with Arnold Schoenberg in Los Angeles. In 1938 and 1939 he worked with Bonnie Bird's dance company at the Cornish School in Seattle and there met Merce Cunningham, with whom he was to collaborate for the rest of his life, and for whose dance company he wrote numerous compositions. During the mid-1940s Cage began a serious study of non-Western thought. He studied Indian philosophy with the musician Gita Sarabhai, who introduced him to the writings of Ramakrishna. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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