Many people in America or even the world probably know who John Cage is, but only a few may have actually heard his music. Cage understood how technology altered Western musical culture, yet rejected the basic premises of most Western music early. His interest in composition led him first to Henry Cowell, and then to Arnold Schoenberg, with whom he studied for at least two years. Cage spent the rest of his life in New York, receiving awards from the National Academy of Arts and Letters and the Guggenheim Foundation that allowed him to spend part of 1949 in Paris, where he became friends with Pierre Boulez and met Pierre Schaeffer. Cage began to experiment with electronic music in the early 1950s. Of all the Cage experiments between 1950 and 1952, 4' 33, the “silent piece,” has remained the most well known. He also turned to theater, the importance of which he articulated clearly and frequently. This chapter focuses on Cage's life and musical career as well as his experimental music.
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