JOHN CAGE Biography - Theater, Opera and Movie personalities


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Name: John Milton Cage Jr                                                                 
Born: 5 September 1912                                                                     
Died: 12 August 1992                                                                       
John Milton Cage Jr. (September 5, 1912 – August 12, 1992) was an American               
composer. A pioneer of chance music, electronic music and non-standard use of             
musical instruments, Cage was one of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde       
and, in the opinion of many, the most influential American composer of the 20th           
century. He was also instrumental in the development of modern dance,                     
mostly through his association with choreographer Merce Cunningham, who was also           
Cage's romantic partner for the most part of the latter's life.                           
Cage is perhaps best known for his 1952 composition 4′33″, the three movements         
of which are performed without a single note being played. A performance of 4′33″     
can be perceived as including the sounds of the environment that the listeners             
hear while it is performed, rather than merely as four minutes and thirty                 
three seconds of silence and has become one of the most controversial                     
compositions of the century. Another famous creation of Cage's is the prepared             
piano (a piano with its sound altered by placing various objects in the strings),         
for which he wrote numerous dance-related works and a few concert pieces, the             
most well-known of which is Sonatas and Interludes (1946–48).                           
His teachers included Henry Cowell (1933) and Arnold Schoenberg (1933–35), both         
known for their radical innovations in music, but Cage's major influences lay in           
various Eastern cultures. Through his studies of Indian philosophy and Zen                 
Buddhism in the late 1940s, Cage came to the idea of chance-controlled music,             
which he started composing in 1951. The I Ching, an ancient Chinese classic text           
on chance events, became Cage's standard composition tool for the rest of his             
life. In a 1957 lecture, Experimental Music, he described music as "a                     
purposeless play" which is "an affirmation of life – not an attempt to bring             
order out of chaos nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply a way of           
waking up to the very life we're living".                                                 
In addition to his composing, Cage was also a philosopher, writer, artist,                 
printmaker and an avid amateur mycologist and mushroom collector.