Thursday, December 1, 2011

John Cage: A Chronological Collection on Spotify

"What I'm proposing, to myself and other people, is what I often call the tourist attitude - that you act as though you've never been there before. So that you're not supposed to know anything about it. If you really get down to brass tacks, we have never been anywhere before." - John Cage

Even after his death, John Cage remains a controversial figure. Famously challenging the very notion of what music is, Cage remained on the leading edge of both playful and profound experimentalism for the greater part of his career, collaborating with and influencing generations of composers, writers, dancers, and visual artists. One of his best-known and most sonically intriguing innovations, the prepared piano, had become an almost commonplace compositional resource by the end of the twentieth century. Years before the invention of the synthesizer, he was in the forefront in the exploration of electric and electronic sound sources, using oscillators, turntables, and amplification to musical ends. He pioneered the use of graphic notation and, in employing chance operations to determine musical parameters, was the leading light for one cadre of the avant-garde that included Morton Feldman, Christian Wolff, Earle Brown, and Pauline Oliveros. Cage produced works of "performance art" years before the term was coined, and his 4'33'' (1952) -- in which the performers are instructed to remain silent for four minutes and thirty-three seconds -- takes a place among the most notorious touchstones of 20th century music.  - AllMusic

This playlist is a chronological collection of John Cage's works on Spotify. I only included one recording for every work, except for the Sonatas and Interludes, which I used recordings from eight artists, including dedicatee of this work, Maro Ajemian. Different versions of the works are also included, like In A Landscape played on harp and guitar, orchestra version of The Seasons, and Lou Harrison's arrangement of the Suite for Toy Piano. Nowth Upon Nacht (1984) is intended to be performed right after The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs (1942) so I included the latter song twice.

Here's the Spotify playlist: John Cage: A Chronological Collection (479 tracks from 100 albums, total time: 53 hours) Press Ctrl (CMD)+G to browse in album view. If you are new to Cage, try the String Quartet, Prelude For Meditation, In A Landscape and Sonatas and Interludes first. Then Four Walls, and the Number Pieces.

Below is a list of works featured in the playlist, all linked to introductory articles on AllMusic, Wikipedia and John Cage Database.

Apprenticeship period (1932–36)
Modern dance, prepared piano, and the transition to chance (1937–51)

First chance works (1951–59)
Happenings, theater (1959–68)
Return to composition (1969–86)
Number Pieces and other late works (1987–92)
  • Two, for flute and piano (1987)
  • Organ2/ASLSP, for organ (1987)  
  • One, for piano (1987)  
  • Five, for any five instruments or voices (1988) 
  • Seven, for flute, clarinet, percussion, piano, violin, viola and cello (1988) 
  • Four, for string quartet (1989) 
  • One2, for 1 to 4 pianos (1989) 
  • Sculptures Musicales, for electronics (1989) 
  • c Composed Improvisations, for bass guitar, snare drum and one-sided drums with or without jangles (1987–90)
  • Fourteen, for piano, flute/piccolo, bass flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, horn, trumpet, 2 percussionists, 2 violins, viola, cello and double bass (1990)
  • One5, for piano (1990)
  • One6, for violin (1990)
  • One7, for any sound-producing object (1990)
  • One8, for cello (1991)
  • 108, for orchestra (1991)
  • Eight, for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, tenor trombone and tuba (1991)
  • Two4, for violin and piano or shō (July 1991)
  • Four5, for four saxophones (October 1991)
  • Five4, for soprano saxophone, alto saxophone and 3 percussionists (1991)
  • Five3, for trombone and string quartet (1991)
  • Five5, for flute, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet and percussion (1991)
  • Ten, for flute, oboe, clarinet, trombone, percussion, piano, 2 violins, viola and cello (1991)
  • Sixty-Eight, for orchestra (February 1992)
  • Four6, for four performers with any means of producing sounds (March 1992)
  • Seventy-Four, for orchestra (March 1992) 
The playlist and post will be updated when more Cage recordings become available on Spotify.


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