John Cage's Theatre Pieces (Contemporary Music Studies)
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The experimental composer John Cage (1912-1992) is best known for his works in percussion, prepared piano, and electronic music, but he is also acknowledged to be one of the most significant figures in 20th century theatre. In Cage's work in theatre composition there is a blurring of the distinctions between music, dance, literature, art and everyday life. Here, William Fetterman examines the majority of those compositions by Cage which are audial as well as visual in content, beginning with his first work in this genre in 1952, and continuing through 1992.
Much of the information in this study comes from previously undocumented material discovered among the unpublished scores and notes of Cage and his frequent collaborator David Tudor, as well as author's interviews with Cage and with individuals closely associated with his work, including David Tudor, Merce Cunningham, Bonnie Bird, Mary Caroline Richards, and Ellsworth Snyder.
three nights and wrote the whole half-hour of music at the very last minute, and rehearsed it, and made the performance. (Cage 1987e) The first score, unperformed, is no longer extant. The second, broadcast score was recently again performed with Patchen's script by Essential Music in New York City on October 23, 1990 with Jackson Mac Low as The Voice. The score has since been published by C. F. Peters (Cage 1942a). Encouraged by the mostly positive mail response, Cage left Chicago and moved to
Raddoppia the following week (Tomkins 1968, 131-2). The score was not available for further performance or publication until 1991 because of copyright problems with Cage's inclusion of the 1957 Italian pop song "Come Prima" on one of the collage tapes. The second performance, and American premiere, was by John Kennedy at Spoleto USA in May, 1991. The New York City premiere was performed by Charles Wood at Greenwich House Auditorium on April 16, 1992 (Kennedy and Wood 1992). The Sounds of Venice
written realization and performance as David Tudor and John Cage. Louis Guzzo would write a mixed-reaction review of a performance in Seattle in September, 1962: "Cartridge Music" was the piece de resistance as both men pushed furniture around (even the piano bench was wired for sound), set off a coil spring linked to a microphone, rubbed small gadgets and wires, slapped almost everything in sight and operated all four tape-recorders. A precise description of the composition is impossible, but
longer than 4'32", Solo 61 no longer than 9'28", and Solo 87 no longer than 9'24". Solos 7, 9, 61, and 87 are performed by the American Music/Theatre Group in their version of Song Books. For illustrative purpose, only one solo will be discussed here. David Barron performs Solo 7 by making a personally selected choice of activities. The score of Solo 7 is reproduced in Fig. 28 as an example of Cage's notation in this group of variations. David Barron enters walking (from his previous solo, Solo
ONCE Group in Ann Arbor, Michigan, during the John Cage's Theatre Pieces 128 mid-1960s. Peter Yates describes the ONCE performance: On a small platform an interview was being mimed (an American composer interviewing another American composer), while a tape of the actual interview, taken from a broadcast, played through an inconspicuous loudspeaker. The interviewee blasted several of his more popular contemporaries, saying many things about musical conditions and personalities as true as