Presentation on theme: "By: Colten Rogers. John Cage was born on September 5 in 1912. He was born in America in Los Angeles, California. His father John Cage Sr., was an."— Presentation transcript:
John Cage was born on September 5 in 1912. He was born in America in Los Angeles, California. His father John Cage Sr., was an inventor in the fields of electrical engineering, medicine, submarine travel, and travel in space without fuel. His mother Lucretia Harvey, was a journalist for The Los Angeles Times. Cage’s first experience with music was when he was taught piano by his aunt Phoebe Harvey, however, at the time, he wasn’t interested in a career in music. During high school, Cage decided he wanted to be a writer and graduated as valedictorian.
After high school, Cage started college at Pomona College in Claremont. He dropped out after two years however, when he decided that college wasn’t going to help his writing. In Cage’s autobiographical statement, he says, “I was shocked at college to see one hundred of my classmates in the library all reading copies of the same book. Instead of doing as they did, I went into the stacks and read the first book written by an author whose name began with Z. I received the highest grade in the class. That convinced me that the institution was not being run correctly. I left.” After dropping out, Cage went to Europe to study different types of art. He studied architecture, art, poetry, and music, and theater. In Majorica, he began to compose music but he didn’t like what he had created, as he used a strange mathematical formula to write it. A little after this, Cage returned back to America, to once again live in California, to learn more about music.
On his return to America, Cage decided to study music instead of art. His first teacher was Richard Buhlig, an American pianist. After Buhlig, he studied under Henry Cowell, who noted that Cage’s twenty five note compositions, were similar to Cowell’s former teacher Arnold Schoenberg and that Cage should study under him. Before studying under Schoenberg, Cage was taught by Adolph Weiss. When I asked Schoenberg to teach me, he said, "You probably can't afford my price." I said, "Don't mention it; I don't have any money." He said, "Will you devote your life to music?" This time I said "Yes." He said he would teach me free of charge. I gave up painting and concentrated on music. Text from John Cage’s autobiographical Statement. Cage would then learn from Schoenberg for the next two years of his life. After the two years studying under Schoenberg, “”it became clear to both of us that I had no feeling for harmony. For Schoenberg, harmony was not just coloristic: it was structural. It was the means one used to distinguish one part of a composition from another. Therefore he said I'd never be able to write music. "Why not?" "You'll come to a wall and won't be able to get through." "Then I'll spend my life knocking my head against that wall.“” Text from John Cage’s autobiographical Statement.
Cage’s first music job after Schoenberg’s teachings, was as an assistant to Oskar Fishinger, who made movie’s, and Cage wrote the percussion pieces that were needed for the film. Around the same time Cage met Xenia Andreyevna Kashevaroff, a girl from Alaska. They were married on June 7, 1935. The next job he had was at Cornish, in Seattle. He wrote music for the use of the dancers there at the school. While there he discovered, what he calls, micro-macrocosmic rhythmic structure, which he said was a response to Schoenberg’s structural harmony. Also while at Cornish, Cage made the prepared piano. The prepared piano is a piano that has had different objects placed under the strings of the piano, to create different types of sounds while only using one instrument. The last thing that he did at Cornish was a radio series called “Imaginary landscapes”. From Cornish he would go on to work for CBS Columbia Workshop Play, where he would make sound effects. Also around this time, Cage divorced Xenia in 1945, and started having a relationship with Merce Cunningham, a dancer that he met and worked with at Cornish.
Over the course of his life, Cage would go on to write hundreds of pieces of music. He also wrote a few books on different subjects. The last song that Cage ever played in public was “Cheap Imitation”. Due to arthritis he had to stop. John Milton Cage Jr. Died on August 12, 1992. He died as a revolutionary man in the world of music. He changed the way music today sounds and is written.
One of most controversial and important pieces of Cage is a piece called 4’33”. In the song, the composer is specifically instructed to not push any of the keys on the piano. The audience then listens to nothing but the sounds of themselves around them for 4 minutes and 33 seconds. He did this to show that silence is part of the music. He also wrote songs of music that were comprised of strange ambient sounds, like static. Cage also paved the way for today’s electronic music. He started to dabble with it. Cage also helped start magnetic tapes for the use of music. He also adopted something that composers call chance into his music, which he adopted in the 50’s
During Cage’s years alive, he was influenced by many things in the world. One of them was religion. He became aware of Zen Buddhism. While he was working at Cornish, he disagreed with the idea that music’s purpose was for communication, and that if he didn’t find a better reason to compose, he’d stop composing. He found Zen Buddhism, and that gave him the inspiration he needed to continue composing. Another influence that had a great deal of influence on him, were the different art forms being produced at the time. In his autobiography, he says that while he was in Europe, he read a poem by Walt Whitman which made him want to come home to America. Other types of art would have influenced his music as well.