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The Sounds of Silence

Every now and then, you will come to understand that there is a handful of people, at most, that have shaped your life. Most often, such people are your parents, or certainly one of the two. Sometimes it is a benefactor, or a friend, or perhaps a lover. Sometimes it is someone who you have never even met in person, but whose ideas have impressed you and shaped you and whose ideas you might have adopted, such as an artist, a writer, a philosopher, a thinker, whatever.

I like to think that my life would have turned out differently without John Cage. He was an American avantgarde composer and artist whose unorthodox ideas and inventive compositions profoundly influenced mid-20th-century music, and art, and myself.

John Milton Cage Jr. was born on September 5th, 1912, in Los Angeles, California. Next September will be the centenary of his birth. He died August 12th, 1992, twenty years ago today.

What’s interesting for us here in Mallorca is that John Cage travelled to Europe in 1930-31, spending some months in Paris and visiting various places in France, Germany and Spain, as well as Capri and, most importantly, Mallorca.

“I left Paris and began both painting and writing music, first in Mallorca. The music I wrote was composed in some mathematical way I no longer recall. It didn’t seem like music to me so that when I left Mallorca I left it behind to lighten the weight of my baggage. In Sevilla on a street corner I noticed the multiplicity of simultaneous visual and audible events all going together in one’s experience and producing enjoyment. It was the beginning for me of theater and circus” (quoted from johncage.org).

For those of you who might wish to know more about the man and his ideas, I would recommend some of his writing, such as Silence, or perhaps his Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse). A 8-CD Box Set is available, recorded with Mr. Cage’s own voice.

If you happen to like some of John Cage’s sound compositions, the Diary will only confirm a suspicion that you probably have entertained already: It takes a great mind to create some great work, be that music, art, writing or indeed, anything.

Cage once stated “until I die there will be sounds. And they will continue following my death. One need not fear about the future of music”.

The photo was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of marcellopedrolo.blogspot.com.es.

Thank you very much.

2 replies »

  1. I am so glad you posted about John Cage, he was/is a great inspiration for artists and intellectuals. I was very fortunate work with him in the year before his death and could see he had a privileged mind, his legacy is with us.

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