Wednesday, September 5, marked the 100th birthday of John Cage, one of our musical heroes. And we would like to celebrate with my favorite photo of him featuring him with a very Luna-like black cat.
John Cage’s centennial has been celebrated widely this year in concerts, exhibitions and articles. Locally, we have had numerous concerts, including a series by sfSound that included a concert of Cage’s most experimental music. I was privileged to play in Music for Amplified Toy Pianos at that concert. On the other end of the spectrum, I heard a concert of chamber music, for voice, piano and prepared piano. And last night I attended a concert of the San Francisco Electronic Music Festival celebrating Cage, and event that included a performance of his most famous work 4’33”. These three concerts show the large range of his music and influence, in unconventional instrumentation, chance processes, and electronics. But his influence also extends beyond his music – he was a major influence in Fluxus (though how closely associated he was the actual movement is unclear to me), and his scores often turn up in museums as works of visual or conceptual art. And of course we have referenced him many times in articles on this site, including a mention of his 99th birthday one year ago.
There is even a John Cage Prepared Piano App for iPhone and iPad, authorized by the John Cage Trust with well-mastered samples from his prepared-piano music.
I have been having a lot of fun with it and hope to use it in a tribute of my own sometime soon.