September 5, 1912, his father was the inventor and electrical engineer John Milton Cage. His mother was the founder of the Lincoln Study Club and editor of the LA Times Women's Club.
Los Angeles, California
August 12, 1992 in New York, USA
Also Known As:
John Milton Cage Jr. was an American composer of the 20th century known for his innovative, avant-garde ideas of creating and appreciating music.
Type of Compositions:
He was the pioneer of "indeterminancy," where the composer gives the performer the right to interpret his music. Cage also experimented with musical instruments, for example, he attached objects to a piano's strings to see what sounds it will produce. He called this the "prepared piano." Cage also explored electronic music and believed in "chance music"; that everything we do is music.
As a young boy Cage studied piano but it was only in 1931, after leaving Pamona College and spending a year and a half in Europe, that he decided to study music. His first instructor was Richard Buhlig, followed by Henry Cowell and then Adolph Weiss before studying under Arnold Schoenberg free of charge. Other influences include Daisetz T. Suzuki whose lectures Cage attended.
Among his known works are: "4'33," "Construction in Metal," "Sonatas and Interludes," "Music of Changes," "Imaginary Landscape No. 4," "HPSCHD," "Études Australes," "Roaratorio, an Irish Circus on Finnegan's Wake," "Europeras 1 & 2," "Freeman Etudes," "Concert for Piano and Orchestra," "Etcetera," "Etcetera 2/4 Orchestras," "Water Music," "Cartridge Music," "Atlas Eclipticalis" and "ASLSP" (As Slow As Possible). Cage published his first book "Silence" in 1961.
Cage won an award from the National Academy of Arts and Letters in 1949 for his invention of the prepared piano. He also received a Guggenheim grant. In 1962 he founded the New York Mycological Society. Cage had many interests, from poetry to paintings, and aside from being a composer, he was likewise a writer credited as the inventor of a type of poem called "mesostic." In 1981 in France, he was awarded the Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters. In 1989 he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. That same year he received the Kyoto Prize in Japan.
Other Interesting Facts:
Jobs he held include being employed by film maker Oskar Fischinger as an assistant; a composer and accompanist at the Cornish School in Seattle where he became interested in Zen Buddhism. Cage later on taught at the Chicago School of Design. While there, he was commisioned to compose sound effects for radio. He also earned money by sometimes doing library research for his father. Cage later became music director of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.