Part of the Listen to This Audio Guide
Internet holdings on the topic of Cage are fairly vast. Laura Kuhn, the executive director of the John Cage Trust, maintains a lively blog; the picture above, of a Cage pocket calendar, was taken at the Trust's archive at Bard College, in New York. The site JohnCage.info has a comprehensive database. The Electronic Poetry Center in Buffalo has a good collection of Cage links. The musicologist James Pritchett has placed online his writings on Cage. UbuWeb has various sound files, including the complete 1988-89 Norton Lectures. In 2009 I wrote about my visit to the Anarchy of Silence exhibition in Barcelona.
The pianist David Tudor gave the première of 4'33" at the Maverick Concert Hall in 1952. Here is film of him performing the piece:
A delightful video assembled from various YouTube performances of 4'33":
Here is an excerpt from Cage's pioneering 1939 piece Imaginary Landscape No. 1, for variable-speed turntables, cymbal, and piano:
With Cage, Xenia Cage, Doris Dennison, and Margaret Jansen; from the 25-Year Retrospective Concert of the Music of John Cage, Town Hall, New York, May 15, 1948; Wergo 286 247.
David Greilsammer plays Sonata V from Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes—a prime example of the composer’s eerily beautiful writing for prepared piano:
Here Greilsammer demonstrates the preparation of the piano:
After encountering radical new European styles on a trip in 1949, Cage began to work with more violent, disorderly sounds. Inspired by the musique concrète of Pierre Schaeffer, he constructed his own tape collage, Williams Mix, made up of some six hundred tape fragments arranged according to the demands of the I Ching. You can listen to it at the German site Medien Art Netz, along with Imaginary Landscape No. 1 in its entirety. In the third movement of his Concerto for Prepared Piano and Orchestra, Cage uses the I Ching to decide which element from an array of sixty-four sounds should come next. Some of the sounds are, in fact, silences:
Stephen Drury, prepared piano, with the Callithumpian Consort of New England Conservatory; Mode 57.
In the later 1950s and into the 1960s, Cage helped to create the new discipline or anti-discipline of performance art, an outgrowth of his legendary "happening" at Black Mountain College in 1952. One essential piece of Cagean footage is the composer’s magnificently surreal appearance on the CBS game show I’ve Got a Secret, from 1960. Unfortunately, no footage has yet surfaced of Cage’s earlier stint on the Italian game show Lascia o Raddopia?
There's an extraodinary DVD of Cage's Variations VII, performed in 1966 at the 69th Regiment Armory; you can see an excerpt here.
Cage makes music from cacti and plant materials:
Laura Kuhn writes on her blog about Lecture on the Weather, one of Cage's most mesmerizing later pieces, and in some ways the most politically pointed work of his career. You can hear his explanatory remarks here, together with still photographs of a 2007 Bard installation.
Cage's meditative Ryoanji, in a version for voice and percussion, with Liz Tonne and Tim Feeney:
Cage talks about music, sound, and silence, with reference to the noise from Sixth Avenue below his window: