Works performed by Earplay:

Six Melodies
Living Room Music

John Cage (1912-1992) was born in Los Angeles in 1912. He studied with Richard Buhlig, Henry Cowell, Adolph Weiss and Arnold Schoenberg. In 1938 Cage composed the first prepared piano piece Bacchanale, for a dance by Sylvia Fort. In 1951 he organized a group of musicians and engineers to make the first music on magnetic tape. In 1952, at Black Mountain College, he presented a theatrical event considered by many to have been the first "happening." In 1949 Cage received a Guggenheim Fellowship and Award for the National Academy of Arts and Letters for having extended the boundaries of music through his work with percussion orchestra and his invention of the prepared piano. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts in Sciences in 1978, and to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1988. In 1982 the French Legion d’Honneur made Cage a Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He was commissioned by a great many of the most important performing organizations throughout the world, and maintained a very active schedule. It would be extremely difficult to calculate, let alone critically evaluate, the stimulating effect and ramifications that Cage’s work has had on 20th century music and art, for it is clear that the musical developments of our time cannot be understood without taking into account his music and ideas. His invention of the prepared piano and his work with percussion instruments led him to imagine and explore many unique and fascinating ways of structuring the temporal dimension of music. He is universally recognized as the initiator and leading figure in the field of indeterminate composition by means of chance operations. Arnold Schoenberg said of Cage that he was an "inventor — of genius." Cage is the author of numerous books, including Silence (1961), Notations (1969), M (1973), and For the Birds (1981). His graphic works include Not Wanting to Say Anything About Marcel (1969) and the Mushroom Book (1974). In addition to being a renowned musician, Cage was a respected mycologist.

— B. B.

[from program for February 4, 2013 concert]

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