John Cage

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John Cage at the Cabrillo Music Festival, 1977, photographed by Betty Freeman.
Born September 5, 1912(1912-09-05)
Los Angeles, United States
Died August 12, 1992(1992-08-12) (aged 79)
New York City, United States
Web UbuWeb Sound, UbuWeb Film, Aaaaarg, Wikipedia, Open Library,

John Milton Cage, Jr. (1912–1992) was an American composer, music theorist, writer, and artist. A pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments, Cage was one of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde.

Cage is largely credited with the establishment of experimentalism as a style in the 1950s, he was a great inspiration for conceptualist artists in the 1960s, and his music and pedagogical methods were central to the emergence of minimalism in the 1960s and after. Cage's importance extends beyond the field of music, and artists today working in film, literature, dance, theater, and the visual and performance art fields point to Cage as a formative figure. His impact is partially due his collaboration with influential figures in these various fields and partially due to his renown as an author, poet, and visual artist, in addition to his significance as a composer.

Life and work[edit]

Based on Sara Haefeli, John Cage: A Research and Information Guide, 2018.

Cage graduated from high school as valedictorian of his class and entered Pomona College, but he dropped out after only a year. Cage travelled to Europe and after returning to the United States started studying composition, first with Richard Buhlig, then with Adolph Weiss; finally Cage studied counterpoint with Arnold Schoenberg at USC and UCLA. Cage’s early music was shaped by his admiration for Schoenberg, but Schoenberg told him that he had no feel for harmony and that without an understanding of harmony he would run up against a wall. Cage replied that he would devote his life to “beating my head against that wall”. Cage repeated this story and a story that Schoenberg called him—not a composer—but an “inventor of genius” so often that much of his reputation and reception as a maverick outsider are based on these accounts.

In the earliest part of his career Cage collaborated with dancers and wrote primarily for percussion ensemble, often employing found objects as musical instruments. In 1940, while he was in his late twenties, he invented the prepared piano and, for his prepared piano piece Sonatas and Interludes, won awards from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Academy of Arts and Letters. In the early 1950s he developed means of composing using chance methods, influencing composers like Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pierre Boulez. In response, Stravinsky sarcastically called the sixties the “Age of Aleatory”. Cage experimented with electronic music ten years before the advent of magnetic tape, and as soon as tape technology was available he created one of the first musique concrète pieces in America, Williams Mix (1951-1953).

Cage didn’t see much distinction between the different art worlds in which he participated. His work in all media was created by the same means of production and motivated by the same creative impulses. Cage often relied on philosophy to bolster his innovations in the arts and to lend legitimacy to his work. During different periods of creativity, Cage drew from different sources for this inspiration. Some of his earliest such encounters were with Southeast Asian philosophy, Indian aesthetics, and the works of Coomaraswamy. As Cage was developing his work with chance operations in the 1950s, he was drawn to East Asian philosophy, especially Zen Buddhism and the teachings of D. T. Suzuki. In his 1957 lecture “Experimental Music,” he described music as “a purposeless play,” which is “an affirmation of life—not an attempt to bring order out of chaos nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply a way of waking up to the very life we’re living”. In the 1960s Cage’s work became increasingly political and theatrical and his inspirations were closer to home. Cage was particularly drawn to Thoreau’s Transcendental writings and to the work of Marshall McLuhan and Buckminster Fuller. Cage often asserted during this time that his work was meant to teach us how to live in an anarchic utopia: a world, he said, “without a conductor”.

The one word that is most often linked to Cage’s work is indeterminacy. Scholars have recently come to make a distinction between Cage’s use of indeterminacy from the term aleatoric. In aleatoric music, some element of the composition is left to chance or left open to the realization of the performer. This term is most often applied to the work of European composers such as Boulez, Stockhausen, or Lutoslawski, who may indicate extensive passages of notated pitches and rhythms but may leave the coordination of the parts open to chance. Cage’s approach to indeterminacy is different. The most common understanding of the term is applied to works that are indeterminate in their composition, or, in other words, are composed using chance operations. Cage experimented with a number of chance-generating devices (rolling dice, magic squares, etc.) until Christian Wolff gave him a copy of the I Ching in 1951.

The I Ching, or Book of Changes, is an ancient Chinese text that is typically used for divination purposes. Typically, one formulates a question for the I Ching and then tosses three coins a total of six times to create a hexagram, a collection of six straight and/or broken lines stacked on top of one another. There are sixty-four possible hexagrams, and when one is using the I Ching for divination purposes, the results have to be interpreted. Cage used the I Ching to produce numbers (1-64) that he then used to make choices between musical elements that were essentially potential “answers” to compositional “questions.” Cage connected this practice to the Zen Buddhist ideal of removing the ego from his creative work.

Cage’s first fully developed work using the I Ching is Music of Changes for Piano (1951). This work, despite its chance-generated origins, is traditionally notated and each performance of the piece should sound alike. Other works, however, may be traditionally composed but may be indeterminate in their realization. In other words, the resulting sounds will vary from performance to performance. Cage’s most accessible work, Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano, was composed by choice and not chance and yet is somewhat indeterminate in performance, depending on how the performer executes the preparations in the piano. Cage started to move more and more toward openness in every aspect of performance, and in the 1960s he started to write pieces that indicate what is to be done, not necessarily how it is supposed to sound. One such work is Variations IV (1963). Cage’s score is a simple set of instructions: “for any number of players, any sounds or combinations of sounds produced by any means, with or without other activities”.

Cage was fortunate to have the virtuosic pianist David Tudor as his primary musical collaborator and interpreter during the 1950s and 1960s. Tudor was an exceptionally gifted keyboard player and brilliant thinker, and Cage enjoyed creating puzzles for Tudor to solve. These puzzles could be made of exceeding virtuosic challenges (as in Music of Changes), issues of interpretation (as in works with graphic notations, perhaps most notably Solo for Piano), or technological challenges (as in Cartridge Music from 1960, written for various materials inserted into turntable cartridges). For works with indeterminate, open, graphic scores, Tudor was in effect co-composer with Cage, always writing out his own “realizations” to these musical puzzles.

Cage’s most notorious piece, 4‘33” (1952), requires the performer (at the premiere it was Tudor) to sit in silence for four minutes and thirty-three seconds, playing on the well-trained audience’s expectations of high-art music conventions and challenging the boundaries of what could be considered art. But the piece has also had a pedagogical purpose as it has challenged audiences to broaden their listening capabilities and to embrace all sound as potentially musical. Many of Cage’s works continue in this pedagogical vein, challenging audiences not only to listen in new ways but, with Cage’s more anarchic, participatory pieces, to also broaden their social and political philosophies and to start living differently.

For much of his career, Cage toured extensively with the Merce Cunningham Dance Troupe, collaborating with Cunningham and artist Robert Rauschenberg, and much of his time was spent raising money for the Company. As he became increasingly famous in the 1960s, Cage found he had limited time to compose, and as a solution he turned his life into art—publishing and performing his diaries and writing conceptual works without scores but with written sets of instructions of what was to be done, not necessarily what was to be heard. Despite his growing fame, Cage often struggled financially, sometimes taking on work outside the field of music to make ends meet.

While Cage’s work seems antithetical to the philosophy and aesthetic of the American academy, he started partnering with institutions of higher education. From 1956 to 1960 Cage was a faculty member at the New School for Social Research, and in the late 1960s and early 1970s he enjoyed the patronage of the University of Cincinnati; the University of Illinois; the University of California, Davis; and Wesleyan University. These institutions provided some financial stability as well as performance venues and resources.

In the late 1960s Cage was one of the first composers to write music using a computer, and, in collaboration with the groundbreaking computer music composer Lejaren Hiller at the University of Illinois, he composed the massive event HPSCHD (1967-1969). He also used the computer to expedite the time-consumptive process of creating I Ching hexagrams. Several large-scale works followed, including the Europeras 1-5, composed with borrowed source material from the operatic literature. While these works were “Wagnerian” in scope, other works from the same time period—the so-called Number Pieces, for example—are meditative studies, often quite fragmentary.

At the time of his death in 1992, Cage was recognized not only as an important composer but also as a writer, poet, visual artist, and mycologist. Cage’s scores, drawings, lithographs, and watercolors have been included in gallery and museum exhibitions around the world, and a three-volume Catalogue raisonné is currently in publication. Michael Pisaro asserts that “Cage’s impact on modern poetics sometimes seems to be nearly as great as the impact he had on music” and an excerpt from Cage’s “Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) 1965-1967” is included in the anthology American Poetry Since 1950: Innovators and Outsiders (New York, 1993).

Without a doubt, Cage’s most significant publication is Silence, a collection of lectures and writings by the composer that secured his notoriety. Since its release in 1961, Silence, according to Wesleyan University Press, has sold more than half a million copies worldwide. In the context of Cage’s large body of writings, Noël Carroll writes, “Even if he did not think that his music ‘said’ anything, he surrounded it with a great deal of doctrine, freighting his experiments with aesthetic, moral, and political relevance. Much of the writing is polemical, animated by a philosophical conception of music, or, as he would prefer to call it, of the ‘organization of sound’”.

Although the mainstream musical world even today often views Cage as a curiosity, music scholars started to take Cage seriously in the 1960s, despite the fact that by then he had been well respected in contemporary music and art circles for some time. Scholarly attention was sparked by his infamous Darmstadt appearance in 1958, where Cage delivered three provocative lectures outlining his musical philosophy, drawing a sharp divide between American experimentalism and the European avant-garde. One review of the lectures was headlined: “New Music Has Its Cheeky Clown”. Along with Cage’s critics, however, was a passionate group of devotees—at home and abroad—who had a significant impact on Cage’s reception. Cage’s important publication contract with C. F. Peters in 1961 further solidified his reputation.


Based on Sara Haefeli, John Cage: A Research and Information Guide, 2018.

  • 1912. John Milton Cage born to John Milton Cage and Lucretia Harvey in Los Angeles, California, 5 September.
  • 1920-1928. Studies piano with his Aunt Phoebe and Fannie Charles Dillon.
  • 1927. Cage wins the Southern California Oratorical Contest at the Hollywood Bowl with his speech “Other People Think.”
  • 1928. Graduates from Los Angeles High School as valedictorian.
  • 1928-1930. Attends Pomona Collese.
  • 1930. Drops out of college and travels to Europe. Begins to compose.
  • 1931. Returns to California. Studies composition with Richard Buhlig.
  • 1934. Travels to New York on the advice of Henry Cowell to study with Adolph Weiss. Attends Cowell’s ethnomusicology classes at the New School for Social Research.
  • 1935. Returns to California. Attends counterpoint classes with Schoenberg, both at the composer’s home and at USC and UCLA. Works odd jobs to make ends meet, including as children’s recreation director and as scientific patent researcher for his father. Gives lectures on modern art to groups of housewives. Marries Xenia Kashvaroff, 7 June.
  • 1936. Works as an apprentice to filmmaker Oskar Fischinger. Composes first percussion pieces and first pieces to use rhythmic structures.
  • 1937. Accompanist and composer for the UCLA modern dance studio.
  • 1938. Joins the faculty at the Cornish School; gives courses on experimental music and dance composition, and accompanies Bonnie Bird’s dance classes. Meets Merce Cunningham. Organizes percussion ensemble using the instruments at the school and instruments he collects and builds out of found objects. 9 December, percussion ensemble concert; maybe the first in North America.
  • 1939. Teaches at Mills College, summers 1939-1941. Co-teaches a course with Lou Harrison. Meets composer and critic Virgil Thomson and Peter Yates, critic, author, and host of the avant-garde music series Evenings on the Roof in Los Angeles. Moves to San Francisco; works as recreation leader for the WPA. Premiere of First Construction in Metal in Seattle, 9 December.
  • 1940. Premiere of Bacchanale in Seattle, 28 April; first piece for prepared piano to accompany dancer Syvilla Fort.
  • 1941. At the invitation of László Moholy-Nagy, moves to Chicago to teach class on experimental music at the Chicago Institute of Design. Cage and Harrison compose their collaborative work Double Music.
  • 1942. Arts Club of Chicago percussion ensemble concert. Live broadcast of The City Wears a Slouch Hat with Kenneth Patchen on CBS, 31 May. Moves to New York in the summer. Meets Marcel Duchamp through Max Ernst and Peggy Guggenheim. Premiere of Credo in US with choreography by Cunningham, 1 August.
  • 1943. Museum of Modern Art concert in February. Avoids being drafted by claiming that Xenia is in poor health.
  • 1944. Serves as musical director of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company until 1966. Xenia leaves Cage.
  • 1945. Moves to New York’s Lower East Side. Attends lectures by D. T. Suzuki at Columbia. Tours with Merce Cunningham Dance Company.
  • 1946. Xenia and Cage divorce. Maro Ajemian gives first (incomplete) performance of the Sonatas and Interludes at New York’s Town Hall, 16 April. Meets Indian musician Gita Sarabhai; starts reading Coomaraswamy.
  • 1947. Premiere of The Seasons, commission from the Ballet Society in New York, 18 May. Co-founds the art and literary magazine Possibilities with Robert Motherwell, but it folds after one issue.
  • 1948. Teaches at Black Mountain College in the summer; meets several significant figures including the scientist Buckminster Fuller, the artist Willem de Kooning and his wife Elaine, sculptor Richard Lippold and his wife Louise (dancer), and the artist Josef Albers. Organizes Satie festival.
  • 1949. Premiere of complete Sonatas and Interludes with Maro Ajemian at Carnegie Hall, 12 January. Receives award from the National Academy of Arts and Letters. Receives Guggenheim Fellowship. Travels to Europe with Cunningham. Meets composer Pierre Boulez. Concerts and dance concerts in Paris with Cunningham.
  • 1950. Meets Morton Feldman walking out of a New York Philharmonic concert after a performance of Webern’s Symphony, Op. 21. First use of chance operations in Concerto for Prepared Piano. Moves to Monroe Street, New York City. Friend and student Christian Wolff gives Cage an edition of the I Ching. Participates in the Artists Club organized by Robert Motherwell and others; performs at the club “Lecture on Nothing” and “Lecture on Something.” Meets David Tudor, Cage’s primary pianist and collaborator through the mid-1960s.
  • 1951. Wins First Prize for Music at the Woodstock Art Film Festival with score for Herbert Matter’s film Works of Colder. Premiere of Imaginary Landscape No. 4 at Columbia University, New York, 10 May.
  • 1952. Premiere of Music of Changes, first fully chance-composed piece, 1 January. Premiere of first tape piece Imaginary Landscape No. 5, 18 January. Teaches at Black Mountain College during the summer. Meets Living Theater directors Julian Beck and Judith Malina. Reads Antonin Artaud’s The Theater and Its Double (translated by M. C. Richards). Cage performs Theatre Piece (also known as the Black Mountain Happening) with Cunningham, poets Charles Olson and M. C. Richards, artist Robert Rauschenberg, and Tudor. Premiere of 4′33″ in Woodstock, New York, inspired by Rauschenberg’s all-white paintings (1951), 29 August. Tours with Cunningham Company at colleges and universities in the U.S. during the fall.
  • 1953. Premiere of Williams Mix at the University of Illinois, 22 March.
  • 1954. Moves to intentional community in Stony Point, NY, with Cunningham, Tudor, Richards, and others. October concert tour with Tudor to Donaueschingen Festival of Contemporary Music; performs new prepared piano duets 31′57.9864″for a Pianist and 34′46.776″for a Pianist; also visits Cologne, Paris, Brussels, Stockholm, Zurich, Milan, and London.
  • 1955. Meets Jasper Johns.
  • 1956. Serves on the faculty at the New School for Social Research in New York, 1956-1960. Students in these classes include artists, musicians, poets, and composers, including George Brecht, Al Hansen, Dick Higgins, Toshi Ichiyanagi, Allan Kaprow, and Jackson Mac Low.
  • 1958. 25-Year Retrospective Concert at Town Hall, New York, 15 May. Concert includes premiere of Concert for Piano and Orchestra and is recorded and released as a three-LP box set. Gallery exhibition of Cage’s scores at New York’s Stable Gallery timed to coincide with concert. Concertizes in Europe with Tudor and Cunningham, September-March. Darmstadt International Courses for New Music, 2-3 September. Meets conceptual artist and composer Nam June Paik. Delivers his lecture “Indeterminacy” at the Brussels World Fair. Meets Luciano Berio and his wife, Cathy Berberian, in Italy. Composes Fontana Mix at the electronic music studio “Studio di Fonologia” in Milan. Appears five times on the Italian quiz show “Lascia o Raddoppia” answering questions on mushrooms; wins about $8,000. Performs on the programs Amoves, Water Walk, and Sounds of Venice. Begins Variations series, composed between 1958 and 1967.
  • 1959. Teaches three courses at the New School: Mushroom Identification, The Music of Virgil Thomson, and Experimental Composition.
  • 1960. Signs an exclusive publishing contract with C. F. Peters. Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies at Wesleyan University, Middleton, Connecticut. 1960-1961 academic year. Meets philosopher Norman O. Brown.
  • 1961. Wesleyan University Press publishes Silence: Lectures and Writings. Premiere of Atlas Eclipticalis in Montreal, 3 August.
  • 1962. Founds the New York Mycological Society. Tours Japan with David Tudor, Yoko Ono, and Ichiyanagi, October-December. Composes and premieres 0′00″ in Tokyo, 25 October.
  • 1963. Organizes complete performance of Satie’s Vexations at the Cherry Lane Theater in New York, 9-10 September. The performance required a rotating team often pianists and lasted over eighteen hours. Co-founds the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts with Jasper Johns to help support artists including the Cunningham Dance Company.
  • 1964. Cage’s father dies on 3 January. New York Philharmonic under the baton of Leonard Bernstein performs Atlas Eclipticalis at Lincoln Center, 6-9 February. Six-month world tour with Cunningham Dance Company.
  • 1965. Becomes president of the Cunningham Dance Foundation and director of the Foundation for Contemporary Performing Arts. Meets Marshall McLuhan. Begins the series “Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse).”
  • 1966. Variations VII performed at the Experiments in Art and Technology “9 Evenings” at the Park Avenue Armory in New York, 13-23 October.
  • 1967. Composer in Residence, University of Cincinnati. Associate at the Center for Advanced Study, University of Illinois 1967-1969; collaborates with Lejaren Hiller on computer-assisted composition. Musicircus premiere in the Stock Pavilion at the University of Illinois, 17 November. Publishes A Year From Monday. Wendell Berry introduces him to the journals of H. D. Thoreau, whose writings become an important influence on Cage’s anarchic political philosophy and are source material for later compositions.
  • 1968. Elected member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters of the American Academy. Receives Thorne Music Grant. Performance of Reunion with Duchamp in Toronto, 5 March. Both Cage’s mother and Duchamp die in October.
  • 1969. Premiere of HPSCHD, computer piece started in 1967 with collaborators Hiller, Ron Nameth, and Calvin Sumsion, 16 May. Creates visual artwork Not Wanting to Say Anything About Marcel with Sumsion. Artist in Residence at the University of California, Davis. “Mewantemooseicday” performance including 33⅓ and music of Satie, 21 November. Publishes Notations with Alison Knowles.
  • 1970. Advanced Fellow at Center for Advanced Studies at Wesleyan University. Writes “36 Mesostics Re and Not Re Marcel Duchamp.”
  • 1971. Writes “62 Mesostics re Merce Cunningham.” Starts reading Mao Tse-tung. Writes “Mureau.”
  • 1972. Writes Mushroom Book with Lois Long and Alexander Smith. European tour with Tudor. Moves to Manhattan apartment on the corner of West 18th Street and Sixth Avenue.
  • 1973. Publishes M: Writings ’67-’72.
  • 1974. Starts work on Etudes Australes and Empty Words. Premiere of Score (40 Drawings by Thoreau) and 23 Parts in Saint Paul, MN, 28 September.
  • 1975. Premiere of Child of Tree in Detroit, 8 March.
  • 1976. U.S. Bicentennial celebrations include premiere of Lecture on the Weather in Toronto and premiere of Renga and Apartment House 1776 in Boston with Seiji Ozawa.
  • 1977. Adopts a macrobiotic diet on the advice of Yoko Ono.
  • 1978. Print work at Crown Point Press in Oakland, California in January. Returns almost every year for a week or two for fifteen years. Publishes Writing through Finnegans Wake. Performance of Alia ricerca del silenzio perduto: II Treno for prepared train in Bologna, Italy, 26-28 June.
  • 1979. Works at IRCAM with David Fullerman. Publishes Empty Words: Writings ’73-’78. Premiere of Roaratorio, an Irish Circus on Finnegans Wake in Donaueschingen, 20 October; begins long association with Klaus Schoning and the Electronic Music Studio at WDR in Cologne.
  • 1980. Writes Third and Fourth Writings through Finnegans Wake.
  • 1981. Premiere of Dance/4 Orchestras San Juan Bautista, CA, 22 August. Night-long performance of Empty Words at Christ Cathedral Church in Hartford, CT, 25-26 September; broadcast on KBOO. Premiere of Thirty Pieces for Five Orchestras in Pont-a-Mousson, France, 22 November.
  • 1982. Publishes Composition in Retrospect. Whitney Museum of American Art and Philadelphia Museum of Art has special exhibits of Cage’s scores and prints. Publishes Mud Book with Long. Awarded Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in Paris. A House Full of Music performed by about 800 music-school children in Bremen, Germany, 10 May. Broadcast of James Joyce, Marcel Duchamp, Erik Satie: An Alphabet on WDR, Cologne, 6 July. Broadcast of Fifteen Domestic Minutes on National Public Radio, 15 September.
  • 1983. Inducted as a member of the Percussive Arts Hall of Fame. Publishes X: Writings ’78-’82. Begins series of Ryoanji drawings and compositions.
  • 1984. Starts using IBM personal computer with assistance from Andrew Culver and Jim Rosenberg. Writes “Writing Through Howl,” first computer-assisted mesostic. Starts work on “The First Meeting of the Satie Society.”
  • 1985. Premiere of ASLSP in College Park, MD, 14 July.
  • 1986. Performance of Ryoanji (all versions simultaneously) at New Music American festival in Houston, 5 April. Receives honorary Doctor of All the Arts from California Institute of the Arts. Premiere of Etcetera 2/4 Orchestras in Tokyo, 8 December.
  • 1987. Premiere of Essay, 18 readings, 36 loudspeakers, 10 March. International 75th birthday celebrations, including week-long events at Los Angeles Festival. Begins Number Pieces with Two for flute and piano. Premiere of Europeras 1 & 2 in Frankfurt, 12 December.
  • 1988. Creates New River Watercolors at Mountain Lake Workshop, Virginia, 3-8 April. Norton Lectures at Harvard, I-VI, during the 1988-1989 academic year.
  • 1989. Inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Receives Kyoto Prize in Creative Arts and Moral Sciences. Performance of “Dancers on a Plane: John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Jasper Johns” in London and Liverpool. Creates Steps paintings at Mountain Lake Workshop, Virginia.
  • 1990. Phillips Collection in Washington D.C. exhibits New River Watercolors. Creates River Rocks Smoke at Mountain Lake Workshop, Virginia, April. Premiere of 14 for piano and orchestra in Zurich, 12 May. Premiere of Europeras 3 & 4, Almeida Music Festival in London, 17 June. Starts work on “Rolywholyover: A Circus” for Los Angeles Museum of Modern Art. Scottish National Orchestra produces a week of Cage music. Premiere of Scottish Circus, 20 September during Musica Nova festival.
  • 1991. Premiere of Europera 5 in Buffalo, NY, 18 April. Premiere of Four3/Beach Birds collaboration with Cunningham in Zurich, 20 June; Zurich June Festival dedicated to Cage and James Joyce.
  • 1992. 80th birthday celebrations, including Stanford University, Northwestern University, Frankfurt Fest, MoMA Summergarden Series in New York. Writes new orchestral works for the Hessischer Rundfunk in Frankfurt, Österreichische Rundfunk in Graz, and American Composers Orchestra in New York. Completes work on film with Henning Lohner, One11. Prepares Rolywholyover: A Circus for Museum for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Dies at his home in New York City, 12 August.


Unpublished works are generally not included. See the New York Public Library John Cage Music Manuscript Collection for unpublished works information. There are a number of “one-off" events that are significant but are not published; only the most important are listed here. Based on Sara Haefeli, John Cage: A Research and Information Guide, 2018.

Percussion ensemble[edit]

Solo percussion works included in Solo Instrumental Works section.

  • Quartet, 1935 (4 percussionists)
  • Trio, 1936 (3 percussionists; Cage used mvmt. III. Waltz in his later composition Amores, 1943)
  • First Construction (in Metal), 1939 (6 percussionists)
  • Dance Music for Elfrid Ide, 1940 (2-6 percussionists, piano)
  • Second Construction, 1940 (4 percussionists)
  • Fads and Fancies in the Academy, 1940 (piano, 4 percussionists)
  • Living Room Music (Stein), 1940 (percussion and speech quartet)
  • Imaginary Landscape No. 2, 1940 (percussion quartet; withdrawn, unpublished)
  • Double Music, 1941 (4 percussionists, collaboration with Lou Harrison)
  • Third Construction, 1941 (4 percussionists)
  • Imaginary Landscape No. 3, 1942 (6 percussionists)
  • Credo in Us, 1942 (4 percussionists; including piano, radio/turntable)
  • Forever and Sunsmell (e. e. cummings), 1942 (1 voice, 2 percussionists)
  • Imaginary Landscape No. 2 (March No. 1), 1942 (5 percussionists; premiered as Imaginary Landscape No. 4, but Cage renamed it)
  • Amores, 1943 (prepared piano, 3 percussionists)
  • She Is Asleep (I. Quartet), 1943 (4 percussionists; 12 tom-toms; voice and prepared piano in 1943)
  • Duet for Cymbal, 1964 (2 percussionists)
  • But what about the noise of crumpling paper which he used to do in order to paint the series of “Papiers froissés" or tearing up paper to make “Papiers déchirés"? Arp was stimulated by water (sea, lake and flowing waters like rivers), forests, 1985 (percussion ensemble)
  • Three2, 1991 (3 percussionists)
  • Six, 1991 (6 percussionists)
  • Four4, 1991 (4 percussionists)


Prepared piano (solo)[edit]

  • Bacchanale, 1940
  • Totem Ancestor, 1942
  • And the Earth shall Bear Again, 1942
  • In the Name of the Holocaust, 1942
  • Primitive, 1942
  • Our Spring Will Come, 1943
  • A Room, 1943 (piano or prepared piano)
  • She Is Asleep, 1943 (voice and prepared piano)
  • Tossed as it is Untroubled (Meditation), 1943
  • The Perilous Night, 1944
  • Prelude for Meditation, 1944
  • Root of an Unfocus, 1944
  • Spontaneous Earth, 1944
  • Triple-Paced (Second Version), 1944
  • The Unavailable Memory of, 1944
  • A Valentine Out of Season, 1944
  • Daughters of the Lonesome Isle, 1945
  • Mysterious Adventure, 1945
  • Music for Marcel Duchamp, 1947
  • Sonatas and Interludes, 1948
  • Two Pastorales, 1952
  • 31‘57.9864" for a Pianist, 1954 (for solo prepared piano, to be used in whole or in part to provide a solo or ensemble for any combination of pianists, string players, and percussionists)

Prepared piano (duo)[edit]

  • A Book of Music, 1944
  • Three Dances, 1945

Prepared piano and orchestra[edit]

  • Concerto for Prepared Piano and Chamber Orchestra, 1951 (prepared piano, Fl/Picc, Ob, Ca, 2 Cls, Bsn, Hrn, Tpt, 2 Tbns, Tba, 4 Perc, Hp, Pf/Cel, Str 5)

Piano (solo)[edit]

  • Three Easy Pieces, 1933
  • Two Pieces for Piano, 1935 (revised in 1974)
  • Quest, 1935
  • Metamorphosis, 1938
  • Jazz Study, 1942
  • Ad Lib, 1943
  • Chess Pieces, 1943 (also as visual art work; this composition was originally conceived as an ink-and-gouache on Masonite painting)
  • Soliloquy, 1945
  • Ophelia, 1946
  • Two Pieces, 1946
  • The Seasons Ballet in One Act, 1947 (large ensemble version in 1947)
  • Dream, 1948
  • In a Landscape, 1948 (also version for harp)
  • Haikus, 1951
  • Music of Changes, 1951
  • Waiting, 1952
  • Seven Haiku, 1952
  • For M.C. and D.T., 1952
  • Music for Piano 1, 1952
  • 4‘33", 1952 (revised in 1960)
  • Music for Piano 2, 1953
  • Music for Piano 3, 1953
  • Music for Piano 4-19, 1953 (for any number of pianos)
  • Music for Piano 20, 1953
  • 34‘46.776" for a Pianist, 1954 (for solo piano, to be used in whole or in part to provide a solo or ensemble for any combination of pianists, string players, and percussionists)
  • Music for Piano 21-36/37-52, 1955 (for any number of pianos)
  • Music for Piano 53-68, 1956 (for any number of pianos)
  • Music for Piano 69-84, 1956 (for any number of pianos)
  • For Paul Taylor and Anita Dencks, 1957
  • Winter Music, 1957 (1-20 pianos)
  • TV Köln, 1958
  • Music Walk, 1958 (1 or more pianists, with radio and/or recordings)
  • Music for Piano 85, 1962 (piano and electronics, unpublished)
  • Electronic Music for Piano, 1965 (piano and electronics)
  • Cheap Imitation, 1969 (orchestrated version in 1972, violin version in 1977)
  • Etudes Australes, 1975
  • Etudes Boreales I-IV (for solo piano), 1978 (cello version in 1978)
  • Perpetual Tango, 1984
  • ASLSP, 1985
  • One, 1987
  • Swinging, 1989 (alternate title: Sports)
  • One2, 1989
  • The Beatles 1962-1970, 1990 (piano and tape)
  • One5, 1990

Piano (two or more)[edit]

  • Experiences No. 1, 1945 (2 pianos)
  • Two2, 1989 (2 pianos)

Piano and orchestra[edit]

  • Concert for Piano and Orchestra, 1958 (any solo or combination of Pf, Fl[Picc, AF], Cl, Bs[BarSax], Tpt, Tbn, Tba, 3 Vln, 2 Vla, Vc, and Cb, with optional conductor)

Toy piano[edit]

  • Suite for Toy Piano, 1948 (toy piano or piano)
  • Music for Amplified Toy Pianos, 1960 (1 or more toy pianos)


  • Music for Carillon No. 1, 1952
  • Music for Carillon No. 2, 1954
  • Music for Carillon No. 3, 1954
  • Music for Carillon No. 4, 1961 (carillon and electronics)
  • Music for Carillon No. 5, 1967


  • Some of The Harmony of Maine, 1978 (organ and assistants)
  • Souvenir, 1983
  • Organ2/ASLSP, 1987

Works for voice[edit]

Solo voice[edit]

  • Greek Ode, 1932 (Aeschylus; voice and piano)
  • Three Songs, 1933 (Stein; voice and piano)
  • Five Songs for Contralto, 1938 (e. e. cummings; contralto and piano)
  • Forever and Sunsmell, 1942 (e. e. cummings; solo voice and two percussionists)
  • The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs, 1942 (James Joyce; solo voice and closed piano)
  • She Is Asleep, 1943 (voice and prepared piano, prepared piano version in 1943)
  • Four Walls, 1944 (Cunningham; voice and piano)
  • Experiences No. 2, 1948 (e. e. cummings; solo voice)
  • A Flower, 1950 (for voice and closed piano)
  • Aria, 1958 (solo voice)
  • Solo for Voice 1, 1958 (solo voice)
  • Solo for Voice 2, 1960 (1 or more voices)
  • Song Books, 1970 (solo voice; each solo belongs to one of the following categories: 1. Song; 2. Song using electronics; 3. Theatre; 4. Theatre using electronics)
  • Nowth upon Nacht, 1984 (Joyce; solo voice and piano)
  • Eight Whiskus, 1984 (C. Mann; solo voice; solo violin version in 1985)
  • Mirakus2, 1984 (solo voice)
  • Selkus2, 1984 (solo low voice; notated in the alto clef)
  • Sonnekus2, 1985 (solo voice)
  • Four Solos for Voice (93-96), 1988 (solo 93 is for soprano, solo 94 for mezzo-soprano, solo 95 for tenor, and solo 96 for bass)

Multiple voices[edit]

  • Hymns and Variations, 1979 (12 amplified voices)
  • Litany for the Whale, 1980 (2 voices)
  • Ear for EAR, 1983 (vocal ensemble)
  • Four2, 1990 (SATB choir)

Musique concrète/Electronic music[edit]

  • Imaginary Landscape No. 1, 1939 (4 percussionists with 2 variable-speed turntables, frequency recordings, muted piano, cymbal)
  • Imaginary Landscape No. 4, 1951 (12 radios)
  • Imaginary Landscape No. 5, 1952 (any 42 recordings, score to be realized as a magnetic tape)
  • Williams Mix, 1952 (8 1-track tapes, 4 2-track tapes)
  • Speech 1955, 1955 (5 radios, newsreader)
  • Radio Music, 1956 (1-8 radios)
  • Fontana Mix, 1958 (tape)
  • WBAI, 1960 (auxiliary score for operator of machines; for performance with Cage’s lecture “Where Are We Going? and What Are We Doing?" or instrumental performance of any parts of Concert for Piano and Orchestra involving magnetic tape [Fontana Mix], recordings, radios, etc.)
  • Music for The Marrying Maiden, 1960 (tape, written for play by Jackson Mac Low)
  • Cartridge Music, 1960 (live electronics)
  • Rozart Mix, 1965 (tape)
  • Variations V, 1965 (any number of performers, photo-electric cells, electronic sound sources)
  • Variations VI, 1966 (any number of performers, photo-electric cells, electronic sound sources)
  • Variations VII, 1966 (any number of performers, photo-electric cells, electronic sound sources; notated in 1972)
  • Reunion, 1968 (specially constructed electronic chessboard and two players; realization of 0‘00", and subtitled 0‘00" No. 2)
  • 33⅓, 1969 (records and at least 12 turntables to be played by the audience)
  • Bird Cage, 1972 (12 tapes)
  • Lecture on the Weather, 1975 (12 amplified voices—preferably American men who have become Canadian citizens—tapes, film)
  • Telephones and Birds, 1977 (3 performers, telephone announcements, and recordings of bird songs)
  • 49 Waltzes for the Five Boroughs, 1977 (1 or more performers, 1 or more listeners, 1 or more record makers)
  • Address, 1977 (phonodiscs and 12 turntables to be operated by the audience, 5 performers using cassette machines and electric bell)
  • A Dip in the Lake: Ten Quicksteps, Sixty-One Waltzes and Fifty-Six Marches for Chicago and Vicinity, 1978 (1 or more performers, 1 or more listeners, 1 or more record makers)
  • Improvisation III, 1980 (1 or more performers with cassette recorders)
  • Improvisation IV, 1982 (for 3 cassette players)
  • Essay, 1986 (alternate title: Stratified Essay or Voiceless Essay, tape)
  • Five Hanau Silence, 1991 (tape of environmental sounds of Hanau)

Variable ensemble[edit]

  • Variations I, 1958 (any number of players, any means)
  • Variations II, 1961 (any number of players, any means)
  • Variations III, 1963 (any number of people performing any actions)
  • Ryoanji, 1985 (for any solo or combination of voice, flute, oboe, trombone, double bass ad libitum with tape, and obbligato percussionist or any 20 instruments)
  • Five, 1988 (any 5 instruments and/or voices)

Theater pieces/Simultaneities[edit]

  • Water Music, 1952 (piano, radio, whistles, water containers, and a deck of cards)
  • Black Mountain Piece, 1952 (alternative title: Black Mountain Happening, Black Mountain Event; indeterminate number of performers, multimedia event; unpublished)
  • Water Walk, 1959 (solo television performer with 1-track tape, with large number of properties, mostly related to water)
  • Sounds of Venice, 1959 (solo television performer with tape and various properties)
  • Theatre Piece, 1960 (1-8 performers—musicians, dancers, singers, etc.)
  • Musicircus, 1967 (mixed-media event, any number of performers)
  • HPSCHD, 1969 (1-7 amplified harpsichords, 1-51 tapes, mixed-media; with Lejaren Hiller)
  • Les Chants de Maldoror pulvérisés par l’assistance même, 1971 (text by Lautréamont; for French-speaking audience of not more than 200)
  • Apartment House 1776, 1976 (mixed-media event, indeterminate instrumentation)
  • Renga, 1976 (78 parts, for any instruments and/or voices)
  • Alla ricerca del silenzio perduto (Il treno), 1977 (for “prepared train"; any number of performers)
  • A House Full of Music, 1982 (a musicircus performed by music students)
  • Musicircus for Children, 1984
  • Europeras 1 & 2, 1987 (opera; any number of voices, chamber orchestra, tape, and organ)
  • Sculptures musicales, 1989 (any sounds)
  • Europeras 3 & 4, 1990 (opera; Europera 3: 6 voices, 2 pianos, 6 gramophone operators, tape; Europera 4: 2 voices, piano, turntable)
  • Scottish Circus, 1990 (musicircus based on Scottish traditional music)
  • Europera 5, 1991 (opera; 2 voices, piano, tape)

Conceptual works[edit]

These pieces do not have traditional or graphic notations but written instructions.

  • 4‘33", 1952
  • 0‘00" (4‘33" no. 2), 1962 (solo for any performer with amplification)
  • Variations IV, 1963 (any number of players, any means, any media)
  • Musicircus and variations on the Musicircus, 1967
  • Child of Tree, 1975
  • Branches, 1976
  • Variations VIII, 1978 (score begins with “no music no recordings")
  • One3 = 4‘33" (0‘0") + 𝄞, 1989 (solo performer, unpublished)

Music box[edit]

  • Extended Lullaby, 1991

Radio plays (Hörspiele)[edit]

  • The City Wears a Slouch Hat, 1942 (Patchen; for 4 percussionists and sound effects)
  • Roaratorio, an Irish Circus on Finnegans Wake, 1979 (published as ___, __ _____ circus on _________)
  • Paragraphs of Fresh Air, 1979 (radio event for voice and four instrumentalists also operating tapes, cassettes, phonodiscs or microphones, and telephone; unpublished)
  • Fifteen Domestic Minutes, 1982 (one male and one female speaker, texts from Joyce’s Finnegans Wake)
  • Klassik Nach Wunsch, 1982
  • James Joyce, Marcel Duchamp, Erik Satie: An Alphabet, 1982
  • HMCIEX, 1984
  • Empty Mind, 1987

Solo instrumental works (other than keyboard)[edit]

  • Sonata for Clarinet, 1933 (solo clarinet)
  • 59 ½" for a String Player, 1953 (for any four-stringed instrument)
  • 26‘ 1.1499" for a String Player, 1955 (for any four-stringed instrument)
  • 27‘ 10.554" for a Percussionist, 1956 (1 percussionist)
  • Concert for Piano and Orchestra, 1958 (any of the parts may be played as a solo; flute, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, tuba, violin, viola, cello, or bass; the “Solo for Sliding Trombone" is often performed)
  • Child of Tree, 1975 (1 percussionist, amplified plant materials)
  • Branches, 1976 (1 percussionist, amplified plant materials)
  • Chorals for solo violin, 1978
  • Etudes Boreales I-IV (for solo cello), 1978 (piano version in 1978)
  • Eight Whiskus, for solo violin, 1985 (solo voice version in 1984)
  • Ryoanji, 1985 (any solo from or combination of voice, flute, oboe, trombone, double bass ad libitum with tape, and obbligato percussionist)
  • Freeman Etudes I-XVI, 1990 (for solo violin; books 1 and 2 composed between 1977 and 1980)
  • Freeman Etudes XVII-XXXII, 1990 (for solo violin; books 3 and 4 composed between 1977. and 1980, returned to in 1989 and completed in 1990)
  • ¢Composed Improvisation No. 1 (for Steinberger Bass Guitar), 1990
  • ¢Composed Improvisation No. 2 (for Snare Drum Alone), 1990
  • ¢Composed Improvisation No. 3 (for One-Sided Drums With or Without Jangles), 1990
  • One4, 1990 (solo percussion)
  • One6, 1990 (violin)
  • One7, 1990 (any instrument)
  • One8, 1991 (cello)
  • One9, 1991 (shō)
  • One10, 1992 (violin)

Small ensemble[edit]

  • Sonata for Two Voices, 1933 (any two or more instruments)
  • Composition for Three Voices, 1934 (any three or more instruments)
  • Solo with Obbligato Accompaniment of Two Voices in Canon, and Six Short Inventions on the Subjects of the Solo, 1934 (3 or more instruments; revised in 1963; arrangement for 7 instruments in 1958)
  • Three Pieces for Flute Duet, 1935
  • Music for “Marriage at the Eiffel Tower", 1936 (libretto by Cocteau; piano[s] and percussion; collaboration with Henry Cowell, George Frederick McKay, Silvestre Revueltas, and Amadeo Roldán)
  • Music for Wind Instruments, 1938 (wind quintet)
  • Four Dances, 1943 (1 voice, prepared piano, percussion)
  • Party Pieces (“Sonorous and Exquisite Corpses"), 1945 (flute, clarinet, bassoon, horn, and piano; collaboration with Henry Cowell, Lou Harrison, and Virgil Thomson)
  • Prelude for Six Instruments, 1946 (flute, bassoon, trumpet, piano, violin, and cello)
  • Nocturne, 1947 (violin and piano)
  • String Quartet in Four Parts, 1950 (string quartet)
  • Six Melodies, 1950 (violin and keyboard)
  • Sixteen Dances, 1951 (flute, trumpet, 4 percussionists, piano, violin, and cello)
  • Cheap Imitation, 1977 (solo violin; piano version in 1969, orchestrated version in 1972)
  • Inlets, 1977 (three players of water-filled conch shells and one conch player using circular breathing and the sound of fire)
  • Postcard from Heaven, 1982 (1-20 harps)
  • Thirty Pieces for String Quartet, 1983
  • Haikai, 1984 (flute and zoomoozophone; Dean Drummond invented the zoomoozo-phone, made from 129 aluminum tubes tuned to a 31-note per octave scale in just intonation)
  • Music for..., 1984 (variable chamber ensemble; parts available for voice, flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, trumpet, 4 percussionists, 2 pianos, 2 violins, viola, and cello; revised in 1987)
  • Improvisation A + B, 1984 (voice, clarinet, trombone, percussion, and cello)
  • Ryoanji, 1985
  • Thirteen Harmonies, 1986 (violin and piano)
  • Hymnkus, 1986 (any solo or chamber ensemble of voice, alto flute, flute, clarinet, alto and tenor saxophones, bassoon, trombone, 2 percussionists, accordion, 2 pianos, violin, and cello)
  • Haikai, 1986 (gamelan ensemble)
  • Two, 1987 (flute, piano)
  • Seven, 1988 (flute, clarinet, percussion, piano, violin, viola, and cello)
  • Four, 1989 (string quartet)
  • Three, 1989 (3 recorders of various ranges)
  • Seven2, 1990 (bass flute, bass clarinet, bass trombone, 2 percussionists, cello, bass)
  • Eight, 1991 (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, tenor trombone, and tuba)
  • Five2, 1991 (English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, timpani)
  • Four3, 1991 (4 players on 1 or 2 pianos, rainsticks, violin and oscillator)
  • Two3, 1991 (shō, five conch shells played by one player)
  • Two4, 1991 (violin, piano or shō)
  • Five3, 1991 (trombone, string quartet)
  • Five4, 1991 (soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, 3 percussionists)
  • Five5, 1991 (flute, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, percussion)
  • Four5, 1991 (four saxophones)
  • Ten, 1991 (flute, oboe, clarinet, trombone, percussion, string quartet, piano)
  • Two5, 1991 (tenor trombone, piano)
  • Four6, 1992 (4 performers)
  • Two6, 1992 (violin, piano)

Large ensemble[edit]

  • The Seasons (for Orchestra), 1947 (2.Picc.2.Ca.2.ClEb.BCl.2——Timp—Perc—Pf/Cel—Hp—Str; solo piano version in 1947)
  • Atlas Eclipticalis, 1962 (orchestra; any combination of instruments drawn from 3 Fl[AFl, Picc, ad lib.], 3 Ob[Ca, Sax, ad lib.], 3 Cl[Bcl or Cbcl, ad lib.] 3 Bsn[Cbsn, ad lib.], 5 Hrn, 3 Tpt, 3 Tbn[Tenor, Bass, ad lib.], 3 Tba, 3 Timp, 9 [using miscellaneous unspecified nonpitched instruments], 3 Hp, Str, may be performed with Winter Music)
  • Cheap Imitation (variable large ensemble), 1972 (versions available for 24, 59, and 95 players; piano version in 1969, violin version in 1977)
  • Etcetera, 1973 (Materials A, Al, A2, B, Dl, B2 for orchestral performance with and without 3 conductors, and a tape recording C of the environment in which the materials were written;——4Perc—2Pf—Str; substitutions, additions, and subtractions may be made; in addition to instrument[s], each player uses a nonresonant cardboard box, preferably a transfer file box)
  • Quartets I, V, and VI, 1976 (concert band and 12 amplified voices; this work is entitled Quartets because only 4 instruments play at any given time)
  • Quartets I-VIII, 1976 (for orchestra of 24:— Str
  • Quartets I-VIII, 1976 (for orchestra of 41:— Str
  • Quartets I-VIII, 1976 (for orchestra of 93: 3.4[Ca].4[ClEb, BCl].3——Str
  • Thirty Pieces for Five Orchestras, 1981 (3[Picc, AFl].3.3.3—5.5.6 [2TTbn, 2BTbn, 2CbTbn]. 0—Timp—2 Perc—Pf—Str
  • Dance/4 Orchestras, 1982 (——Timp—3 Perc—Hp—Pf—Str
  • A Collection of Rocks, 1984 (for double chorus and orchestra without conductor; SSAATTBB—2.2.2.ASax.TSax.BarSax.2——Str[no Vla or Db])
  • Etcetera 2/4 Orchestras, 1985 (orchestra and tape; 3[Picc, AFl].3[Ca].3[BCl].3[Cbsn]——3Perc—Pf—Hp—Str—Tape)
  • Ryoanji, 1985 (any 20 instruments)
  • 1O1, 1988 (orchestra: 4[Picc, AFl].4[Ca].4[BCl].4[Cbsn]——Timp—4Perc—Pf—Hp—Str
  • Twenty-Three, 1988 (string orchestra: 13Vln.5Vla.5Vc)
  • Fourteen, 1990 (1[Picc].BFl.0.1.BCl.0——2Perc—Pf—Str
  • 108, 1991 (Vc or Shō solo—4[Picc, AFl).5[2Ca].5[2BCl].5[2Cbsn]——5Perc—Str
  • 103, 1991 (orchestra: 4[Picc, AFl].4[2Ca].4[BCl].4[Cbsn]——2Timp—2Perc—Str)
  • Twenty-Eight, 1991 (wind ensemble [or orchestra]; 4[AFl].4[Ca].4.4[Cbsn]—
  • Twenty-Six, 1991 (26 violins or orchestra)
  • Twenty-Nine, 1991 (4[AFl].4[Ca].4.4[Cbsn]——2Timp—2Perc—Pf—Str
  • Eighty, 1992 (orchestra: 7AFl.7Ca.7Cl—7Tpt—Str
  • Sixty-Eight, 1992 (orchestra: 3AFl.3Ca.5Cl—5Tpt—4Perc—2Pf—Str
  • Fifty-Eight, 1992 (wind ensemble: 10[3Picc, 3AFl].7[3Ca].7[3BCl].12Sax [3SSax, 3ASax, 3TSax, 3BarSax].7[3Cbsn]—
  • Seventy-Four, 1992 (orchestra:——2Perc—2Pf—Hp—Str 14.l0.8.8.6)
  • Thirteen, 1992 (chamber ensemble:——Timp—2Xyl—Str
  • Sixteen, 1992 (chamber ensemble: for—Hn.Tpt.Tbn.BTbn—Pf—Timp—Xyl—Str; unpublished; perhaps original version of Thirteen)

Text compositions[edit]

Rob Haskins has called this group of writings “text compositions". These poems and lectures use the same compositional procedures as Cage’s music (rhythmic structures, chance processes, use of source materials) and are meant for performance—by Cage or by others. Nyman writes: “In his writings Cage has constantly blurred the distinctions between words for reading (to oneself) and (the same) words for performing (in front of an audience)" and Haskins writes that Cage’s compositional lists “should probably also include many of the texts that he intended for public performance". Included here are essays and poems that were composed and that Cage “performed." Many of these text compositions are published in collections. The largest collections are Silence, A Year From Monday, M: Writings, Empty Words, X: Writings, John Cage: Writer, Musicage, John Cage: Composed in America, and Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse).

  • "The Future of Music: Credo", 1938?
  • "Lecture on Nothing", 1950
  • "Lecture on Something", 1951
  • "Juilliard Lecture", 1952
  • "45‘ for a Speaker", 1954
  • "Composition as Process 1. Changes", 1958
  • "Composition as Process 2. Indeterminacy", 1958
  • "Composition as Process 3. Communication", 1958
  • "Lecture on Commitment", 1961
  • "Where Are We Going? and What Are We Doing?", 1961
  • "26 Statements re Duchamp", 1963
  • "Jasper Johns: Stories and Ideas", 1964
  • "Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse)", 1965
  • "How to Pass, Kick, Fall, and Run", 1965
  • "Talk I", 1965
  • "Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) Continued 1966", 1966
  • "Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) Continued 1967", 1967
  • "Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) Continued 1968 (Revised)", 1968
  • "Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) Continued 1969", 1969
  • "36 Mesostics Re and Not Re Marcel Duchamp", 1970
  • "Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) Continued 1970-71", 1971
  • "62 Mesostics re Merce Cunningham", 1971
  • "Mureau", 1972
  • "Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) Continued 1971-72", 1972
  • Empty Words, 1974
  • Score (40 Drawings by Thoreau) and 23 Parts, 1974 (any instruments and/or voices; twelve haiku followed by a recording of the dawn at Stony Point, New York, August 6, 1974)
  • "Where Are We Eating? and What Are We Eating? (38 Variations on a Theme by Alison Knowles)", 1975
  • "Letters to Erik Satie", 1978 (voice and tape) [unpublished]
  • "Themes and Variations", 1980
  • "Composition in Retrospect", 1981
  • "Muoyce (Writing for the Fifth Time through Finnegans Wake)", 1982
  • "Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) Continued 1973-82", 1982
  • "Mushrooms et Variationes", 1983 [in The Guests Go in to Supper, San Francisco: Burning Books, 1986, pp 15-19]
  • "The First Meeting of the Satie Society", 1985 [unpublished]
  • "Writings through the Essay: On the Duty of Civil Disobedience", 1985
  • "Tokyo Lecture and Three Mesostics", 1986
  • "Time (One Autoku)", 1988
  • "Anarchy", 1988
  • "Art Is Either a Complaint or Do Something Else", 1988
  • "Sports", 1989
  • "Overpopulation and Art", 1991
  • "Muoyce II (Writing through Ulysses)", 1992 (alternate title: “Writing through Ulysses: Muoyce II") [unpublished]

Visual artworks[edit]

  • Chess Pieces, 1943
  • Not Wanting to Say Anything about Marcel, with C. Sumsion, 1969
  • Series re: Morris Graves, 1974
  • 30 Drawings by Thoreau, 1974
  • Score without Parts (40 Drawings by Thoreau), 1978
  • Seven-day Diary (Not Knowing), 1978
  • 17 Drawings by Thoreau, 1978
  • Signals, 1978
  • Changes and Disappearances, 1979-1982
  • Strings 1-20, 1980
  • Strings 1-62, 1980
  • Exquisite Corpse, 1980-1982
  • On the Surface, 1980-1982
  • Déreau, 1982
  • HV, 1983
  • Weather-ed, 1983
  • Weather-ed I-XII, 1983
  • Where R = Ryoanji, 1983
  • Weather-ed II, 1984
  • Fire, 1985
  • Mesostics: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, 1985
  • Ryoku, 1985
  • Eninka, 1986
  • Deka, 1987
  • Variations, 1987
  • Where There Is Where There, 1987
  • New River Watercolors, 1988
  • Dramatic Fire, 1989
  • Edible Drawings, 1989
  • Global Village 1-36, 1989
  • Global Village 37-48, 1989
  • The Missing Stone, 1989
  • Please Play or The Mother the Father or the Family, 1989
  • Stones, 1989
  • River Rocks and Smoke, 1990
  • Wild Edible Drawings, 1990
  • Essay Barcelona, 1991
  • Gelbe Musik, 1991
  • Medicine Drawings, 1991
  • Museumcircle, 1991 (alternate title: Museum Circle)
  • Smoke Weather Stone Weather, 1991
  • Variations II, 1991
  • HV2, 1992
  • Rolywholyover: A Circus for Museum, 1992 (unfinished)
  • Variations III, 1992
  • Without Horizon, 1992

Films and Film scores[edit]

  • Works of Calder, with Herbert Matter, 1950 (film score for prepared piano, tape)
  • The Sun, with Richard Lippold, 1956
  • WGBH-TV, with Nam June Paik, 1971
  • Stoperas 1 & 2, with Frank Scheffer, 1987
  • Wagner’s Ring, with Frank Scheffer, 1987
  • Chessfilmnoise, with Frank Scheffer, 1988
  • Silent Shadows, with Andrew Schulman, 1989
  • One11, with Van Carlson and Henning Lohner, 1992

Sources and reference material[edit]

The list and annotations are based on Sara Haefeli, John Cage: A Research and Information Guide, 2018.

Archives and Collections[edit]

Cage entrusted his collections to four primary institutions: his correspondence and materials related to music are at Northwestern University, materials related to his writing and publications are at Wesleyan University, materials related to nature and mushrooms are housed at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and his music manuscripts are held at the New York Public Library. However, there are other collections with materials related to Cage as Cage was a prolific letter writer and was well aware of the historical importance of his work.

  • David Tudor Papers, Getty Research Institute. The Getty houses Tudor’s realizations of Cage’s music, electronics, correspondence, articles and reviews, ephemera, personal and financial records, photographs, audio recordings, and video recordings. The transcript of the unpublished five-hour interview Thomas Hines conducted shortly before Cage’s death is housed here.
  • John Cage Collection, Northwestern University Music Library, Evanston, Illinois. Houses Cage’s correspondence, the scores that were collected and published in Notations, scrapbooks, and ephemera.
  • John Cage Music Manuscript Collection, Performing Arts Research Collections, Music Division, New York Public Library. Houses the vast majority of Cage’s music manuscripts and sketches. The library does not offer a finding aid for this collection. The manuscripts are organized under the call number JPB 95–3. One can browse the catalog by call number or search the catalog by the name of the work.
  • John Cage Mycology Collection, University of California, Santa Cruz, Special Collections and Archives, Collection MS74. Houses materials related to Cage’s interest in mushrooms, including his books, correspondence, journals, newsletters, pamphlets, and ephemera.
  • John Cage Papers, Special Collections and Archives, Olin Library, Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut. Houses materials related to the publication of Cage’s books. This includes manuscripts and corrected typescripts, interviews, letters, and ephemera.
  • John Cage Trust, Bard College, Red Hook, New York. Houses music, text, and visual art manuscripts; audio, video, and print libraries; and a collection of visual art works.
  • Margarete Roeder Gallery, New York, New York. The gallery represents the estates of John Cage and Merce Cunningham and assists with the organization of gallery and museum exhibits of Cage’s visual art and films.
  • Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Archives, New York Public Library Archives & Manuscripts. Includes administrative records, company management records, technical files (including information on staging, instrumentation, lighting, etc.), development records, repertory production files, photographs, programs, and press and publicity documents.

Databases and Web sources[edit]

  • Internet Archive. Nonprofit online library of books, videos, music, and websites. Includes archival video and audio of interviews or performances with Cage. Some digitized book resources as well. New resources are continually added.
  • "John Cage", National Gallery of Art. The NGA owns approximately 100 Cage items, including the plexigrams Not Wanting to Say Anything About Marcel, drawings, lithographs, etchings, burned and smoked paper, watercolors, scores, and sketches. Images and descriptions included for each item.
  • John Cage Trust. The John Cage Trust curates a collection of resources online, including the database of works, Cage’s personal library, and a calendar of events. Includes a page called “folksonomy” where individuals can contribute memories and anecdotes about Cage. Links to apps: 4‘33”, Prepared Piano, and Reunion. Links to resources on Empty Words, including audio and video of Cage in Milan. Laura Kuhn’s blog is a source of news on new publications, performances, and research.
  • "John Cage Unbound: A Living Archive", New York Public Library. Created in celebration of Cage’s 100th birthday, this archive of video performances of Cage’s music is designed to demonstrate the continued liveliness and significance of the composer’s work. Also includes links to selected images of Cage manuscripts from the NYPL archives.
  • "RadiOM", Other Minds Radio. Links to archived audio of radio programs, including interviews and performances.
  • Josh Ronsen, "John Cage Online". Collection of links to Cage resources. Includes links to lists of works, discographies, interviews with Cage, writings by Cage, articles and essays about Cage, paintings and visual art by Cage, audio files, videos, and photos of Cage.
  • Silence ListServ. Email listserv for discussions of Cage’s work, performances, and related topics. Many of the subscribers are experts who have worked with Cage and/or have published on Cage. Includes searchable archives. Previously hosted by New Albion Records.
  • Michael Tilson Thomas. "Making the Right Choices: A John Cage Celebration", New World Symphony. In celebration of Cage’s 100th birthday, Tilson Thomas and the New World Symphony presented a festival in February 2013. Videos of twelve performances, almost two dozen “behind the scenes” videos, and almost a dozen videos about organizing and funding the festival are available here.
  • "John Cage (1912-1992)", UbuWeb. Organized into sections: sound, film, historical, and conceptual writing. Includes full-length albums, tracks, and archival audio; rare video footage; images of selected correspondence and mesostics; a discussion of Cheap Imitation; and essays by Perloff.

Writings by Cage (selection)[edit]

Cage was a prolific writer, often blurring the boundaries between the genres of lecture, poetry, biography, autobiography, music, and criticism. Many of his writings were printed in periodicals and then reprinted in collections.

  • "The Future of Music: Credo" [1937?], liner notes for record KO8Y 1499-1504, New York: George Avakian, 1959, booklet pp [2]-[4]; repr. in Cage, Silence: Lectures and Writings, 1961, pp 3-6; repr., Music Journal 20, New York, Jan 1962, pp 44-46, 80-83; repr. in John Cage, ed. Richard Kostelanetz, New York: Praeger, 1970, pp 54-57; repr. in Sound by Artists, eds. Dan Lander and Micah Lexier, Banff, Alberta: Banff Center, 1990, pp 15-19; repr. in But What about the Noise: John Cage 1912-1992, eds. Ivo van Emmerik, et al., Groningen: Stichting Prime, 1992, pp 35-37; repr. in Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music, eds. Christoph Cox and Daniel Warner, New York: Continuum, 2004, pp 25-28. Structured as a Credo with a gloss, this early lecture is a clear statement on Cage’s interest in noise, technology, and percussion music and his desire to establish a center for experimental music. Miller (2002) claims that it was likely written in 1940, not 1937 as indicated in the introduction. Given as a talk at a meeting of a Seattle Arts Society organized by Bonnie Bird in 1937?. First printed in the brochure accompanying George Avakian's recording of Cage's twenty-five-year retrospective concert at Town Hall, New York, in 1958.
    • "Musikens framtid: Credo", in Cage, Om ingenting: texter, eds. & trans. Torsten Ekbom and Leif Nylén, Stockholm: Albert Bonniers, 1966, pp 9-12. (Swedish)
    • "Il futuro della musica: Credo", trans. Renato Pedio, in Cage, Silenzio: Antologia da Silence e A Year from Monday, Milan: Feltrinelli, 1971, pp 24-26; repr., 1980. (Italian)
    • "El futuro de la música: Credo", trans. Pilar Gómez Bedate, Revista de Letras 3(11): "John Cage. Varios escritos", Mayagüez, Sep 1971, pp 398-402. (Spanish)
    • "Die Zukunft der Musik - Credo", in Richard Kostelanetz, John Cage, trans. Iris Schnebel and Hans Rudolf Zeller, Cologne: M. DuMont Schauberg, 1973, pp 83-85; repr. in Sehen um zu hören: Objekte & Konzerte zur visuellen Musik der 60ger Jahre, ed. Inge Baecker, Düsseldorf: Städtische Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, 1975, pp 13-14; repr. in Für Augen und Ohren, eds. René Block, et al., Berlin: Akademie der Künste, 1980, pp 174-175; repr. in Musik – zur Sprache gebracht: Musikästhetische Texte aus drei Jahrhunderten, eds. Carl Dahlhaus and Michael Zimmermann, Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch, 1984, pp 395-398. (German)
    • "El futuro de la música: Credo", in Richard Kostelanetz, Entrevista a John Cage, trans. José Manuel Álvarez and Ángela Pérez, Barcelona: Anagrama, 1973, 65-70. (Spanish)
    • "Budućnost muzike: Credo", trans. Filip Filipović, in John Cage: radovi/tekstovi 1939-1979: izbor, eds. Miša Savić and Filip Filipović, Belgrade: Radionica SIC, 1981, pp 19-21. (Serbo-Croatian)
    • "A zene jövője: Credo", trans. Kata Weber, in Cage, A csend: Válogatott írások, ed. András Wilheim, Pécs: Jelenkor, 1994, pp 7-9. (Hungarian)
    • "Budushcheye muzyki: Credo", trans. Elena Dubinets and Svetlana Zavrazhnova, Muzykal’naya Akademiya 2, 1997, p 210-211. (Russian)
    • "El futuro de la música: Credo", trans. Marina Pedraza, in Cage, Silencio: conferencias y escritos, Madrid: Árdora, 2002, pp 3-6. (Spanish)
    • "Budoucnost hudby: Credo", in Cage, Silence: přednášky a texty, Prague: Tranzit, 2010, pp 3-6. (Czech)
    • "Budushcheye muzyki: Credo" [Будущее музыки: кредо], in Dzhon Keydzh (DzДжон Кейдж), Tishina: lektsii i stati [Тишина: лекции и статьи], trans. Marina Pereverzeva, Vologda: Poligraf-Kniga, 2012, pp 13-17. (Russian)
    • "Müziğin Geleceği: Credo", trans. Semih Fırıncıoğlu, in Cage, Seçme Yazılar, ed. Semih Fırıncıoğlu, Istanbul: Pan Yayıncılık, 2012. (Turkish)
  • "A Composer’s Confessions" / "Bekenntnisse eines Komponisten" [1948], trans. Gisela Gronemeyer, MusikTexte 40-41, Aug 1991, pp 55-68. Cage gave this lecture on 28 February 1948 at Vassar College. He describes his early life, music education, and compositions. He describes working with dancers, the prepared piano and early percussion works, and the rhythmic structures. He also describes his first encounters with Eastern philosophies. Most notably, perhaps, is his desire to make electro-acoustic music with technology that did not yet exist and the desire to write a silent piece called Silent Prayer. (English)/(German)
    • "A Composer's Confessions", Musicworks 52, Spring 1992, pp 6-15; repr. in John Cage, Writer: Previously Uncollected Pieces, ed. Richard Kostelanetz, New York: Limelight, 1993, pp 27-44.
    • "Egy zeneszerző vallomása", trans. Kata Weber, in Cage, A csend: Válogatott írások, ed. András Wilheim, Pécs: Jelenkor, 1994, pp 10-24. (Hungarian)
    • "Confessioni di un compositore", trans. Franco Nasi, in John Cage, eds. Gabriele Bonomo and Giuseppe Furghieri, Milan: Marcos y Marcos, 1998, pp 43-58. (Italian)
    • "Confessions d'un compositeur" / "A Composer’s Confessions", trans. Geneviève Bégou, Tacet: Experimental Music Review 1, Dec 2011. (French)/(English)
    • Confessions d'un compositeur, trans. Élise Patton, Paris: Allia, 2013, 96 pp. Publisher. (French)/(English)
    • "Priznaniya kompozitora" [Признания композитора], trans. Marina Pereverzeva, Nauchnyj Vestnik Moskovskoj Konservatorii 1, Moscow, 2014. (Russian)
  • "Forerunners of Modern Music", The Tiger’s Eye 1:7, New York, Mar 1949, pp 52-56; repr. in Cage, Silence: Lectures and Writings, 1961, pp 62-66; repr. in Twentieth-Century Music, ed. Ellen Rosand, New York: Garland Publishing, 1985, pp 136-140; repr. in Ann Eden Gibson, Issues in Abstract Expressionism: The Artists-Run Periodicals, Ann Arbor, MI, 1990. Cage describes his compositional philosophy and cites Meister Eckhart’s purpose of music (edification, peace, love).
    • "Raison d’être de la musique moderne", trans. Frederick Goldbeck, Contrepoints 6, Paris, 1949, pp 55-61; repr., La revue musicale 306-307, 1977, pp 41-46. (French)
    • "Precursori della musica moderna", trans. Renato Pedio, in Cage, Silenzio: Antologia da Silence e A Year from Monday, Milan: Feltrinelli, 1971, pp 37-41. (Italian)
    • "Precursores de la música [moderna]", trans. Pilar Gómez Bedate, Revista de Letras 3(11): "John Cage. Varios escritos", Mayagüez, Sep 1971, pp 420-427. (Spanish)
    • "A modern zene előhírnökei", trans. Kata Weber, in Cage, A csend: Válogatott írások, ed. András Wilheim, Pécs: Jelenkor, 1994, pp 31-35. (Hungarian)
    • "Precursores de la música moderna", trans. Marina Pedraza, in Cage, Silencio: conferencias y escritos, Madrid: Árdora, 2002, pp 62-66. (Spanish)
    • "Predshestvenniki sovremennoy muzyki" [Предшественники современной музыки], trans. Marina Viktorovna Pereverzeva, in Kompozitory o sovremennoj kompozicii: Khrestomatiya [Композиторы о современной композиции: хрестоматия], eds. Tatyana Surenovna Kyuregyan and Valeriya Stefanovna Tsenova, Moscow: Gosudarstvennaya Konservatoriya imeni P.I. Chajkovskogo, 2009, pp 33-38; repr. in Dzhon Keydzh (DzДжон Кейдж), Tishina: lektsii i stati [Тишина: лекции и статьи], trans. Marina Pereverzeva, Vologda: Poligraf-Kniga, 2012, pp 84-91. (Russian)
    • "Předchůdci moderní hudby", in Cage, Silence: přednášky a texty, Prague: Tranzit, 2010, pp 62-66. (Czech)
  • "Composition", trans/formation 1:3, New York, 1952; repr. in Silence: Lectures and Writings, 1961, pp 57-61. Cage describes his recent work, Imaginary Landscape No. 4, including its construction and use of chance operations.
    • "Kompozice", in Cage, Silence: přednášky a texty, Prague: Tranzit, 2010, pp 57-61. (Czech)
    • "Kompozitsiya" [Композиция], in Dzhon Keydzh (DzДжон Кейдж), Tishina: lektsii i stati [Тишина: лекции и статьи], trans. Marina Pereverzeva, Vologda: Poligraf-Kniga, 2012, pp 78-83. (Russian)
  • "Experimental Music" [1957], liner notes for record KO8Y 1499-1504, New York: George Avakian, 1959, booklet pp [6]-[8]; repr. (slightly abridged and without the footnote) in Cage, Silence: Lectures and Writings, 1961, pp 7-12; repr. in The American Experience: A Radical Reader, eds. Harold Jaffe and John Tytell, New York: Harper and Row, 1970, pp 327-331; repr. in But What about the Noise: John Cage 1912-1992, eds. Ivo van Emmerik, et al., Groningen: Stichting Prime, 1992, pp 42-47; repr. in Classic Essays on Twentieth-Century Music, eds. Richard Kostelanetz and Joseph Darby, New York: G. Schirmer, 1996, pp 202-206; repr. in Source Readings in Music History. ed. Oliver Strunk, rev.ed. Leo Treitler. New York: Norton, 1998, pp 1300-1305; repr. in The Twentieth Century, ed. Robert P. Morgan, New York: Norton, 1998, pp 30-35. In this February 1957 address to the convention of the Music Teachers National Association in Chicago, Cage defines experimental music as the music that interests him. This music embraces sounds and silences and is open to the environment. Cage writes about his interest in technology (especially tape), chance and indeterminacy, and theater. First printed in the brochure accompanying George Avakian's recording of Cage's twenty-five-year retrospective concert at Town Hall, New York, in 1958.
    • "Experimentell musik", in Cage, Om ingenting: texter, eds. & trans. Torsten Ekbom and Leif Nylén, Stockholm: Albert Bonniers, 1966, pp 14-19. (Swedish)
    • "Musica sperimentale", trans. Renato Pedio, in Cage, Silenzio: Antologia da Silence e A Year from Monday, Milan: Feltrinelli, 1971, pp 27-31; repr., 1980. (Italian)
    • "La música experimental", trans. Pilar Gómez Bedate, Revista de Letras 3(11): "John Cage. Varios escritos", Mayagüez, Sep 1971, pp 404-411. (Spanish)
    • "Eksperimentalna muzika", trans. Filip Filipović, in John Cage: radovi/tekstovi 1939-1979: izbor, eds. Miša Savić and Filip Filipović, Belgrade: Radionica SIC, 1981, pp 22-26. (Serbo-Croatian)
    • "Az experimentális zene", trans. Kata Weber, in Cage, A csend: Válogatott írások, ed. András Wilheim, Pécs: Jelenkor, 1994, pp 36-40. (Hungarian)
    • "Experimentálna hudba", trans. Jozef Cseres, in Avalanches 1990-95. Zborník spoločnosti pre nekonvenčnú hudbu, ed. Michal Murin, Bratislava: SNEH, 1995, pp 138-141. (Slovak)
    • "Ėksperimental’naja muzyka: Fragment", trans. Elena Dubinets and Svetlana Zavrazhnova, Muzykal’naya Akademiya 2, 1997, p 211. Excerpt. (Russian)
    • "Música experimental", trans. Marina Pedraza, in Cage, Silencio: conferencias y escritos, Madrid: Árdora, 2002, pp 7-12. (Spanish)
    • "Experimentální hudba", in Cage, Silence: přednášky a texty, Prague: Tranzit, 2010, pp 7-12. (Czech)
    • "Eksperimental'naya muzyka" [Экспериментальная музыка], in Dzhon Keydzh (DzДжон Кейдж), Tishina: lektsii i stati [Тишина: лекции и статьи], trans. Marina Pereverzeva, Vologda: Poligraf-Kniga, 2012, pp 18-23. (Russian)
    • "Deneysel Müzik", trans. Semih Fırıncıoğlu, in Cage, Seçme Yazılar, ed. Semih Fırıncıoğlu, Istanbul: Pan Yayıncılık, 2012. (Turkish)
  • with Kathleen Hoover, Virgil Thomson: His Life and Music, New York: Thomas Yoseloff, 1959, 341 pp; repr., Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, 1970. In 1949 Thomson asked Cage to write his biography and Cage agreed, but the process was difficult and contentious. The book received mixed reviews. Review: Thomson (NYRB).
    • Virgil Thomson: Sa vie, sa musique, trans. Lily Jumal, Paris: Buchet-Chastel, 1962. (French)
  • "On Robert Rauschenberg, Artist, and His Work", Metro 2, Milan, May 1961, pp 36-51; repr. in Cage, Silence: Lectures and Writings, Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1961, pp 98-108.
    • "“Om Robert Rauschenberg, konstnär, och hans arbete", Konstrevy 37:5-6, Stockholm, 1961, p 166; repr. in Cage, Om ingenting: Texter, eds. & trans. Torsten Ekbom and Leif Nylén, Stockholm: Albert Bonniers, 1966, pp 64-76. (Swedish)
    • "Su Robert Rauschenberg, artista, e la sua opera", trans. Renato Pedio, in Cage, Silenzio: Antologia da Silence e A Year from Monday, Milan: Feltrinelli, 1971, pp 120-129. (Italian)
    • "O Robercie Rauschenbergu, artyście i jego dziele", trans. Jerzy Jarniewicz, Literatura na Świecie 1-2, 1996, pp 123-136. (Polish)
    • "Robert Rauschenberg, umělec a jeho dílo", in Cage, Silence: přednášky a texty, Prague: Tranzit, 2010, pp 98-108. (Czech)
    • "O khudozhnike Roberte Raushenberge i yego rabotakh" [О художнике Роберте Раушенберге и его работах], in Dzhon Keydzh (DzДжон Кейдж), Tishina: lektsii i stati [Тишина: лекции и статьи], trans. Maria Fadeeva, Vologda: Poligraf-Kniga, 2012, pp 128-137. (Russian)
Silence: Lectures and Writings, 1961, Log, PDF.
  • Silence: Lectures and Writings, Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1961, 276 pp, PDF, IA; repr., Toronto: Burns & MacEachern, 1961; repr., Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1966; repr., London: Calder & Boyars, 1968; repr., Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1973, 276 pp, PDF; 50th anniv.ed., forew. Kyle Gann, Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press, 2011, PDF. Cage’s first collection of writings to be published with works up to 1961, including: “The Future of Music: Credo”; “Experimental Music”; “Experimental Music: Doctrine”; “Composition as Process”; “Composition”; “Forerunners of Modern Music”; “History of Experimental Music in the United States”; “Erik Satie”; “Edgard Varèse”; “Four Statements on the Dance”; “On Robert Rauschenberg, Artist, and His Work”; “Lecture on Nothing”; “Lecture on Something”; “45' for a Speaker”; “Where Are We Going? and What Are We Doing?”; “Indeterminacy”; and “Music Lovers’ Field Companion.”
    • Silence. Vortrag über nichts, Vortrag über etwas, 45' für einen Sprecher, ed. Helmut Heißenbüttel, trans. Ernst Jandl, Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1969, 92 pp. Partial trans. (German)
    • Silence: discours et écrits, trans. Monique Fong-Wust, Paris: Denoël, 1970; repr., Paris: Denoël, 2004. Partial trans. (French)
    • Silenzio: Antologia da Silence e A Year from Monday, trans. Renato Pedio, Milan: Feltrinelli, 1971; repr., 1980. Partial trans. (Italian)
    • A csend: válogatott írások, ed. Wilheim András, trans. Kata Weber, Pécs: Jelenkor, 1994, 207 pp. Partial trans., includes seven essays from Silence. (Hungarian)
    • Sairensu [サイレンス], trans. Toshie Kakinuma (柿沼敏), Tokyo: Suiseisha (水声社), 1996, 456 pp. (Japanese)
    • Silencio: conferencias y escritos, trans. Marina Pedraza, afterw. Juan Hidalgo, Madrid: Árdora, 2002, xii+288 pp. Part. Review: Iges (RdL). (Spanish)
    • Silence: conférences et écrits, trans. Vincent Barras, Geneva: Héros-Limite, 2003; rev.ed., Geneva: Héros-Limite, and Contrechamps, 2012. (French)
    • Silenzio, trans. G. Carlotti, Milan: Shake, 2008, 325 pp. TOC. (Italian)
    • Silence: přednášky a texty, trans. Jaroslav Šťastný, Radoslav Tejkal, and Matěj Kratochvíl, afterw. Jaroslav Šťastný, Prague: Tranzit, 2010, xii+279 pp. TOC. (Czech)
    • Tishina: lektsii i stati [Тишина: лекции и статьи], trans. Grigorij Durnovo et al., Vologda: Poligraf-Kniga, 2012, 381 pp. (Russian)
    • Chen mo: Wu shi zhou nian ji nian ban [沉默: 五十周年纪念版], trans. Jingying Li, Gui lin: Lijiang (漓江), 2013, 386 pp. Trans. of 50th anniversary ed. (Chinese)
    • Sailleonseu: Jon Keijiui gangyeongwa geul [사일런스: 존 케이지의 강연과 글], trans. Na Hyeon Yeong (나현영), Seoul: Openhouse (오픈하우스), 2014, lv+335 pp. (Korean)
  • "Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) 1965" [Part I], Joglars 1:3, Providence, RI: Clark Coolidge, 1966 [1]. "Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) Continued 1966" [Part II], Paris Review 10:40, Spring 1967, pp 52-68 [2]. Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) Continued Part Three (1967), West Glover, VT: Something Else Press, Summer 1967, 14 pp [3]. Diary: Part IV., ed. William Copley, New York: S.M.S. Press, 1968. "Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) Continued 1969 (part V)", in Liberations: New Essays on the Humanities in Revolution, ed. Ihab Hassan, Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1971, pp 3-21. "Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) Continued 1970-71" [Part VI], New Literary History 3:1, Fall 1971, pp 201-214. "Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) Continued 1971-72" [Part VII], in Cage, M: Writings ’67-’72, 1973, pp 195-217. "Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) Continued 1973-1982" [Part VIII], in Cage, X: Writings ’79-’82, 1983, pp 155-169. Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) [Parts I-VIII], eds. Joe Biel and Richard Kraft, Los Angeles: Siglio, 2015, 173 pp; new ed., exp. [Parts I-IX], afterw. David W. Rose, Los Angeles: Siglio, 2019, 200 pp. [4]. The 2015 edition is a full-color art book publication of all eight installments of Cage’s diaries. These diaries are some of Cage’s clearest expressions of his social concerns.
    • Dagbok: hur man ska förbättra världen (du gör bara sakerna värre) fortsatt 1966 [Part II], trans. Ilmar Laaban, Stockholm: Hj. Sundströms Boktryckeri (Fylkingen bulletin, no. 1), 1966, xii pp (enclosed in Nutida Musik 10:3-4, Stockholm, 1966-1967). (Swedish)
    • "Diario: Come migliorare il mondo (non farete che peggiorare le cose) continuazione 1967" [Part III], trans. Renato Pedio, in Cage, Silenzio: Antologia da Silence e A Year from Monday, Milan: Feltrinelli, 1971, pp 147-154. Excerpt. (Italian)
    • "Diario: Como mejorar el mundo (solo se conseguira empeorarlo)" [Parts I-III], in Cage, Del lunes en un año, trans. Isabel Fraire, México: Era, 1974, pp 15-33, 72-90, 186-204. (Spanish)
    • "Tagebuch: wie sich die Welt verbessern läßt (du wirst alles nur noch schlimmer machen); Fortsetzung 1969 (Teil V)" [Part V], in Experimentelle amerikanische Prosa, ed. Brigitte Scheer-Schäzler, trans. Johann Aschenberger, Stuttgart: Reclam, 1977, pp 166-217. (German)/(English)
    • "Diario: Come migliorare il mondo (non farete che peggiorare le cose) 1965" [Part I], Che: Studi sull’uso e sui significati dell’architectura 5-6, Mar 1977. (Italian)
    • Journal: Comment rendre le monde meilleur (on ne fait qu’aggraver les choses) [Parts I-VIII], trans. Monique Fong, Paris: Maurice Nadeau, and Papyrus, 1983. (French)
    • "Diário: Como melhorar o mundo (você só tornará as coisas piores)" [Parts I-III], in Cage, De segunda a um ano: Novas conferências e escritos, trans. Rogério Duprat, ed. Augusto de Campos, São Paolo: Hucitec, 1985. (Brazilian Portuguese)
    • "Diario: Come migliorare il mondo (non farete che peggiorare le cose) 1965" [Part I], trans. & ed. Gabriele Bonomo, in John Cage, eds. Gabriele Bonomo and Giuseppe Furghieri, Milan: Marcos y Marcos, 1998, pp 94-108. (Italian)
    • "Tagebuch: Wie die Welt zu verbessern ist" [Part I], in Cage, Empty Mind, eds. Marie Luise Knott and Walter Zimmermann, Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2012, pp 21-40. (German)
A Year from Monday: New Lectures and Writings, 1967, Log, PDF.
  • A Year from Monday: New Lectures and Writings, Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1967, 167 pp, OL; repr., London: Calder and Boyars, 1968. Collection of writings from the 1960s (with the exception of “Juilliard Lecture” from 1952), including: “Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) 1965”; “Diary: Emma Lake Music Workshop”; “Seriously Comma”; “Happy New Ears!”; “Two Statements on Ives”; “Mosaic”; “Diary: Audience 1966”; “Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) Continued 1966”; “26 Statements re Duchamp”; “Jasper Johns: Stories and Ideas”; “Miró in the Third Person: 8 Statements”; “Nam June Paik: A Diary”; “Where Do We Go From Here?”; “Juilliard Lecture”; “Lecture on Commitment”; “Rhythm Etc.”; “How to Pass, Kick, Fall and Run”; “Talk I”; and “Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) Continued 1967.” Includes a foreword and afterword describing Cage’s increasing interest in environmental and social concerns.
    • Silence: discours et écrits, trans. Monique Fong-Wust, Paris: Denoël, 1970; repr., Paris: Denoël, 2004. Partial trans. (French)
    • Silenzio: Antologia da Silence e A Year from Monday, trans. Renato Pedio, Milan: Feltrinelli, 1971; repr., 1980. Partial trans. (Italian)
    • Del lunes en un año, trans. Isabel Fraire, México: Era, 1974, 210 pp; repr., México: Alias, 2018. (Spanish)
    • De segunda a um ano: novas conferências e escritos, trans. Rogério Duprat, ed. Augusto de Campos, São Paulo: Hucitec, 1985. (Brazilian Portuguese)
    • Une année dès lundi: conférences et écrits, trans. Christophe Marchand-Kiss, Paris: Textuel, 2006. (French)
  • "Choosing Abundance", North American Review 254:3, Boston, Fall 1969, pp 9-17. (Corrections). Part one of a two-part interview. Cage talks about the aesthetic of multiplicity and abundance, creating a theatrical situation, and Fuller’s idea of synergy. He also discusses his current work at the University of Illinois on HPSCHD. (Part 2).
    • "Choisir l’abondance", trans. Monique Fong, in Cage, Journal: comment rendre le monde meilleur (on ne fait qu’aggraver les choses), Paris: Maurice Nadeau, and Papyrus, 1983, 105-109. Excerpt. (French)
  • editor, with Alison Knowles, Notations, New York: Something Else Press, 1969. Collection of notations from a wide variety of composers with statements from or about each composer placed throughout the book according to chance operations. Was designed as a benefit for the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts.
  • John Cage, ed. Richard Kostelanetz, New York: Praeger Publishers (Documentary Monographs in Modern Art), 1970; repr., New York: RK Editions, 1974; repr., Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1970; repr., London: Allen Lane, 1971; repr., rev., as John Cage: An Anthology, New York: Da Capo, 1991, xvi+239 pp. TOC. The first edition contains fifty previously published articles, about two-thirds of which are by Cage, and is prefaced by a substantial interview between Cage and Kostelanetz from 1966 and a chronology of Cage’s life up to 1969. The 1991 reprint includes a new chronology and catalogues.
    • John Cage, trans. Iris Schnebel and Hans Rudolf Zeller, Cologne: M. DuMont Schauberg, 1973. (German)
  • with Lois Long and Alexander Smith, Mushroom Book, New York: Hollander’s Workshop, 1972; repr., passim, in Cage, M: Writings ’67-’72, 1973, pp 117-183; repr. as vol. 2 of John Cage: A Mycological Foray, New York: Atelier Éditions, 2020. Limited-run art book of 75 copies. The book is a study of fifteen different species of mushrooms, and each folio includes Cage’s poetry, sketches, and drawings (placed on the page by chance operations); scientific information about the mushrooms by Smith; and botanical illustrations by Long. Reprint.
    • "Le livre des champignons", trans. Pierre Lartigue, in Cage, Le livre des champignons, Marseille: Ryôan-ji, pp 37-93. (French)
    • "Funghi", trans. Nanni Balestrini. Alfabeta 5:46, Mar 1983, p 9; repr. in John Cage, eds. Gabriele Bonomo and Giuseppe Furghieri, Milan: Marcos y Marcos, 1998. Excerpt. (Italian)
    • "Mushroom Book = Il libro dei funghi", trans. Gigliola Nocera, in La Biennale di Venezia: XLV esposizione internazionale d’arte: punti cardinali dell’arte, eds. Leonardo Costa, et al., Venice: Marsilio, 1993, pp 799-803; repr. in John Cage, eds. Gabriele Bonomo and Giuseppe Furghieri, Milan: Marcos y Marcos, 1998. Excerpt. (Italian)
M: Writings ’67-’72, 1973, Log, PDF.
  • M: Writings ’67-’72, Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1973, 217 pp; London: Calder and Boyars, 1973; excerpts repr. as "Some Words from M.", in Words and Spaces: An Anthology of Twentieth-Century Musical Experiments in Language and Sonic Environments, eds. Stuart Saunders Smith and Thomas DeLio, Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1989, pp 49-72. Collection of writings from 1967 to 1972. Some of the texts here are meant for performance. The collection includes: “Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) Continued 1968 (Revised)”; “62 Mesostics re Merce Cunningham”; “36 Mesostics Re and Not Re Marcel Duchamp”; “Mureau”; “Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) Continued 1969”; “Song”; “Six Mesostics”; “Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) Continued 1970–71”; “Mushroom Book”; “25 Mesostics Re and Not Re Mark Tobey”; and “Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) Continued 1971-72.”
  • with Michael Nyman, "Music", Studio International 192:983, Sep-Oct 1976, pp 192-194; repr. in Michael Nyman, Collected Writings, Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2013, pp 270-276. Cage delivered this lecture to the orchestra at the Festival La Rochelle in France, 3 July 1976, in preparation for a performance of Atlas Eclipticalis. Cage’s intention was to encourage the orchestra to perform with discipline, integrity, and intention in the absence of controlling factors such as traditional notation and a conductor. Annotations by Nyman report on the context and consequences of the lecture, noting that Cage was only somewhat successful in convincing the orchestra to behave in accordance with his instructions.
    • "Annotationen", trans. Rainer Riehn, in John Cage, eds. Heinz-Klaus Metzger and Rainer Riehn, Munich: text + kritik, 1978, pp 56-61. (German)
  • Writing through Finnegans Wake, Tulsa, OK: University of Tulsa, 1978, [131] pp, OL; repr., West Glover, VT: Printed Editions, 1978. Published as Special Supplement to Volume 15 of the James Joyce Quarterly. See also "Writing for the Fourth Time through Finnegans Wake" in X: Writings ’78-’82, 1983, pp 1-49, and "Muoyce (Writing for the Fifth Time through Finnegans Wake)", in X: Writings ’78-’82, 1983, pp 173-187.
    • "Écriture à travers Finnegans wake", Cahiers du collectif Change 41, Mar 1982, pp 96-98. Excerpt. (French)
Empty Words: Writings ’73-’78, 1979, Log, PDF.
  • Empty Words: Writings ’73-’78, Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1979, 187 pp; repr., London: Marion Boyars, 1980. Collection of writings from 1973 to 1978, including: “Preface to Lecture on the Weather”; “How the Piano Came to be Prepared”; Empty Words; “Where Are We Eating? and What Are We Eating?”; “Series re Morris Graves”; “Sixty-One Mesostics Re and Not Re Norman O. Brown”; “Writing for the Second Time through Finnegans Wake”; and “The Future of Music.”
    • Parole vuote: scritti ’73-’78, trans. Antonella Carosini, eds. Fernando Vincenzi and Antonella Carosini, Naples: Orthotes, 2015. (Italian)
  • with Susan Barron, Another Song, New York: Callaway, 1981. This hand-bound edition of thirty-nine original black-and-white photos by Barron was limited to fifty-three numbered copies and contains reproductions of Cage’s Cheap Imitation and “Solo for Voice No. 30” on the end pages. Barron’s photographs inspired Cage to write the poem “Another Song for Susan Barron” included in this edition and reprinted in X: Writings ’79-’82.
  • "[Introduction]", in Sound on Paper: Music Notation in Japan, eds. Hisayoshi Ota and Rand Castile, New York: Japan House Gallery, 1981, pp 6-8. Introduction to the 1981 Japan House Gallery exhibition of notations by various Japanese composers. Cage notes the purpose of notations as well as their limitations and compares the process of notating music to that of writing a letter. What follows are descriptions of specific notations featured in the collection.
  • "Composition in Retrospect", in John Cage: Etchings 1978-1982, eds. Wendy Diamond and Carol Hicks, Oakland, CA: Point Publications, 1982, pp 39-57; repr., slightly changed, in Cage, Composition in Retrospect: Vortrag gehalten anläßlich der Veranstaltungen zum 70. Geburtstag des Komponisten, ed. Wilfried Brennecke, Cologne: Pressestelle des Westdeutschen Rundfunks, 1982, pp [4]-[58]; repr., Pauta 1:2, México, Apr-Jun 1982, pp i-xxiii; repr. in Cage, X: Writings ’79-’82, 1983, pp 123-152; repr., Slovak Music 2, Bratislava, 1992, pp 14-27; repr. in Cage, Composition in Retrospect, Cambridge, MA: Exact Change, 1993, pp 5-51 [with new introduction]. A long-form mesostics. Not chance composed, but rather each stanza explains or expands on the meaning of the spine word: method, structure, intention, discipline, notation, indeterminacy, interpenetration, imitation, devotion, circumstance, variable structure, nonunderstanding, contingency, inconsistency, and performance.
    • "Komponieren: ein Rückblick", trans. Robert Schnorr, in Cage, Composition in Retrospect: Vortrag gehalten anläßlich der Veranstaltungen zum 70. Geburtstag des Komponisten, ed. Wilfried Brennecke, Cologne: Pressestelle des Westdeutschen Rundfunks, 1982, pp [5]-[59]. (German)
    • "Composición en retrospectiva", trans. Rafael Vargas, Pauta 1:2, México, Apr-Jun 1982, pp xxiv-xlviii. (Spanish)
    • in Seibu Music Festival (program), Tokyo, Jun 1982. (Japanese)
    • "Komposition im Rückblick", in Cage, Empty Mind, eds. Marie Luise Knott and Walter Zimmermann, Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2012, pp 41-48. (German)
  • Themes & Variations, Barrytown, NY: Station Hill Press, 1982; repr. in Cage, Composition in Retrospect, Cambridge, MA: Exact Change, 1993, pp 53-171. A long-form mesostics. Uses the names of fifteen men important to Cage as spine words: Norman O. Brown, Marshall McLuhan, Erik Satie, Robert Rauschenberg, Buckminster Fuller, Marcel Duchamp, Jasper Johns, Henry David Thoreau, James Joyce, Merce Cunningham, David Tudor, Morris Graves, Mark Tobey, Arnold Schoenberg, and Suzuki Daisetz. These poems are unrelated to the name but are chance composed from a library of mesostics on 110 “ideas” that Cage lists in the introduction (e.g., “a need for order” or “being led by a person, not a book; artha”).
    • Cage (program), Zagreb: Music Biennale, 1985, [5] p. Excerpt. (Serbo-Croatian)
    • "Themen & Variationen", in John Cage: Anarchic Harmony, eds. Stefan Schädler and Walter Zimmermann, Mainz: Schott, 1992, pp 9-147. (German)
  • with Lois Long, Mud Book: How to Make Pies and Cakes, New York: Callaway Editions, 1982; London: 12 Duke Street Gallery and David Grob Editions, 1982; repr., New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1988; repr., Princeton, NJ: Princeton Architectural Press, 2017. Mud pie cookbook with illustrations.
    • Knížka z bláta, trans. Daniel Soukup, Prague: Bylo nebylo, 2017, [37] pp. (Czech)
X: Writings ’78-’82, 1983, Log, PDF.
  • X: Writings ’78-’82, Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1983, 187 pp; repr., 1986; repr., London: Marion Boyars, 1987. Collection of writings from 1979 to 1982, the last published during Cage’s life, including: “Writing for the Fourth Time through Finnegans Wake”; “James Joyce, Marcel Duchamp, Erik Satie: An Alphabet”; “Another Song”; “Writing through the Cantos”; “B. W. 1916–1979”; “Composition in Retrospect”; “Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) Continued 1973-1982”; and “Muoyce (Writing for the Fifth Time through Finnegans Wake).
  • "For n.", in Niki de Saint-Phalle, Niki at Nassau: Fantastic Vision, Roslyn, NY: Nassau County Museum of Fine Art, 1987, pp 25-29. Catalogue for exhibit of de Saint Phalle’s work 27 September 1987–3 January 1988, includes a mesostic by Cage, "For n." dated July 1987, with “NIKIDESAINTPHALLE” as the spine of the mesostic.
  • "Anarchy", in John Cage at Seventy-Five, ed. Richard Fleming and William Duckworth, Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 1989, pp 119-208; excerpt repr. in Rolywholyover: A Circus, eds. Russell Ferguson and Sherri Schottlaender, Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art, 1993; repr. as Anarchy. New York City - January 1988, Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2001, 81 pp. In the introduction to this long-form mesostic, Cage writes at length on his understanding of anarchy and the current need for revolution. He notes that Buckminster Fuller shaped his ecological concerns, and writers such as Thoreau, Emma Goldman, Michael Bakunin, and others shaped his political views. Cage describes the chance processes used to create this work.
  • How to Get Started [1989], eds. Laura Kuhn, Aaron Levy, and Arthur Sabatini, Slought and the John Cage Trust, 2010, 67 min, 19 pp. CD with booklet. [6]. Cage's first and only performance of How to Get Started in 1989 was conceived of almost as an afterthought--a performance substituting for another that had been previously planned. Delivered at a sound design conference in Nicasio, California, Cage talks about the difficulty of initiating the creative process, and about improvisation.
  • with Barbara Fahrner and Philip Gallo, Nods: Àqui to John Cage, New York: Granary Books, 1990. An art book with a limited print run of 45 copies. Includes excerpts from Cage’s writings printed in black, blue, yellow, and red in various typefaces, with illustrations and handwritten text.
  • "Time (Three Autokus)", in John Cage II, eds. Heinz-Klaus Metzger and Rainer Riehn, Munich: Text + Kritik, 1990, pp 264-304. The introduction to this long-form mesostic notes that the source materials include excerpts from Jasper John’s interview with Christian Geelhaar, Buckminster Fuller’s “Now Hourglass” (Synergetics 2: Further Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking), and Cage’s own “Rhythm Etc.” (A Year From Monday).
  • I-VI: Method Structure Intention Discipline Notation Indeterminacy Interpenetration Imitation Devotion Circumstances Variable Structure Nonunderstanding Contingency Inconsistency Performance, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990, 452 pp; repr., Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1997. With 2 audio cassettes. A reprint of Cage’s six Charles Eliot Norton lectures at Harvard, 1988-89. Instead of delivering informative lectures, Cage created six long-form mesostics with the following words as the spine: method, structure, intention, discipline, notation, indeterminacy, interpenetration, imitation, devotion, circumstance, variable structure, nonunderstanding, contingency, inconsistency, and performance. The mesostics are chance composed using source material from Cage’s own “Composition in Retrospect” as well as selections from Wittgenstein, Thoreau, Emerson, Beckett, McLuhan, Fuller, and others. In the introduction, Cage describes the chance processes used to compose the poems. At the bottom of each page of the text are transcriptions of the weekly seminars Cage held after each lecture. Publisher.
  • "'Vorerinnerung’: Über mein aktuelles Leben und meine Arbeit", trans. Heinz-Klaus Metzger, in Festival des Hörens: Erlangen ’90: Programm, Erlangen: Stadt Erlangen, 1990, pp 18-19. In this transcription of Cage’s Darmstadt lecture, he reaffirms his belief that the purpose of music is to sober and quiet the mind and describes his long-standing approach to chance. But Cage adds to this his thoughts on how his view of harmony has changed and a recent understanding of chaos theory and the so-called butterfly effect (that all actions influence all others); he also discusses his feeling that the world is polluted and in danger of destruction. Cage describes how his life is currently organized and mentions his ongoing work on the Music for ... series and the Number Pieces. He introduces the mesostic that follows with the spine words “the ready made boomerang”; “alternatives to harmony”; “chance operations”; “silence”; “theatre” (sic); and “no government no education.” The mesostic is not chance composed. (German)
    • "Einführung", trans. Gisela Gronemeyer, Positionen 6-7, Berlin, 1991, pp 20-23; repr. as "Nichtdualistisches Denken: Einführung", MusikTexte 40-41, Aug 1991, pp 22-23; repr. in Ästhetik und Komposition: Zur Aktualität der Darmstädter Ferienkursarbeit, ed. Heinz-Klaus Metzger, Mainz: Schott, 1994, pp 7-13. [7] (German)
    • "Mesosticha", MusikTexte 40-41, Aug 1991, pp 24-27; repr. as "Mesostics", in But What about the Noise: John Cage 1912-1992, eds. Ivo van Emmerik, et al., Groningen: Stichting Prime, 1992, pp 55-58.
  • "An Autobiographical Statement", Southwest Review 76:1, Winter 1991, pp 59-76; repr. in John Cage: Writer: Previously Uncollected Pieces, ed. Richard Kostelanetz, New York: Limelight, 1993, pp 237-247; repr. in Rolywholyover: A Circus, eds. Russell Ferguson and Sherri Schottlaender, Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art, 1993. Having received the Kyoto Prize in 1989, Cage wrote this for the Inamori Foundation and presented it in Japan as a commemorative lecture. He delivered it again at Southern Methodist University in 1990 in celebration of Rauschenberg.
    • "Autobiographische Selbst(er)findung im echolosen Raum: Vorlesung beim ‘Commemorative Lecture Meeting’ (1989)", trans. Klaus Reichert, Neue Zeitschrift für Musik 152:5, May 1991, pp 6-13; abr. repr. as "Vorlesung beim Commemorative Lecture Meeting", Du 5, Zürich, May 1991, pp 18-22; repr. as "Eine autobiographische Skizze", in John Cage: Anarchic Harmony, eds. Stefan Schädler and Walter Zimmermann, Mainz: Schott, 1992, pp 23-29; repr. as "Autobiographischer Abriß", in Cage, Empty Mind, eds. Marie Luise Knott and Walter Zimmermann, Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2012, 7-20. (German)
    • "Una declaración autobiográfica", trans. Anamaría Ashwell. Pauta 11:43, México, Jul-Sep 1992, pp 5-23. (Spanish)
    • "Önéletrajzi beszámoló", trans. Kata Weber, in Cage, A csend: Válogatott írások, ed. András Wilheim, Pécs: Jelenkor, 1994, pp 182-191. (Hungarian)
    • "Wypowiedź autobiograficzna", trans. Dorota Kozińska, Literatura na Świecie 1-2, 1996, pp 271-288. (Polish)
    • "Avtobiograficheskoe zayavlenie" [Автобиографическое заявление], trans. Marina Viktorovna Pereverzeva, in Dzhon Kejdzh: K 90-letiyu so dnya rozhdeniya: Materialy nauchnoj konferentsii [Джон Кейдж. К 90-летию со дня рождения], eds. Yurij Nikolaevich Kholopov, et al., Moscow: Gosudarstvennaya Konservatoriya imeni P.I. Chajkovskogo, 2004, pp 15-34. (Russian)
    • "Ein autobiografisches Statement", in Katalog Wien Modern 2004, eds. Bernd Odo Polzer and Thomas Schäfer, Saarbrücken: Pfau, 2004, pp 9-13. [8] (German)
    • "‘From Where’m’Now’: Eine autobiographische Skizze", trans. Gisela Gronemeyer, MusikTexte 106, Aug 2005, pp 21-26. (German)
    • "Bir Özgeçmiş Yazısı", trans. Semih Fırıncıoğlu, in Cage, Seçme Yazılar, ed. Semih Fırıncıoğlu, Istanbul: Pan Yayıncılık, 2012. (Turkish)
  • John Cage: Writer: Previously Uncollected Pieces, ed. Richard Kostelanetz, New York: Limelight, 1993; repr. as John Cage Writer: Selected Texts, New York: Cooper Square Press, 2000. Collection of previously published writings (excluding the “Notes on Compositions” chapters, which appear here for the first time) from the span of Cage’s career including: “Notes on Compositions I, 1933–48”; “Listening to Music”; “The East in the West”; “A Composer’s Confessions”; “Contemporary Music Festivals Are Held in Italy”; “Notes on Composition II, 1950–63”; “A Few Ideas About Music and Film”; “Notes on Cunningham Choreography”; “Remarks Before David Tudor Recitals”; “Preface to Indeterminacy”; “Program Notes”; “Three Asides on the Dance”; “Remarks on Theatre Song and Ikon”; “A Movement, A Sound, A Change of Light”; “Notes on Compositions III, 1967–78”; “On Nam June Paik’s Zen for Film (1962–64)”; “Art and Technology”; “Preface to Notations”; “Political/Social Ends?” “Foreword to Richard Bunger’s The Well-Prepared Piano”; “Prefatory Notes to Henry Cowell’s Quartet Romantic and Quartet Euphometric”; “From Contemporary Music Catalogue (C. F. Peters)”; “7 Out of 23”; “If There Isn’t Any, Why Do You Wear Them?”; “Notes on Compositions IV, 1979–86”; “Mushrooms”; “Music and Particularly Silence in the Work of Jackson Mac Low”; “More on Paik”; “For Don Gillespie”; “Music and Art”; “Writing Through ‘Howl’ ”; “Tokyo Lecture and Three Mesostics”; “Notes on Compositions V, 1987–92”; “Storia dell’Opera”; “Synopses”; “Time (One Autoku)”; “Marshall McLuhan”; “Sports”; “An Autobiographical Statement”; “Europeras 3 & 4”; “Mirakus: Mirage Verbal ”; “Letter to Zurich”; “Macrobiotic Cooking”; and “Music Without Horizon Soundscape That Never Stops.”


  • Deborah Campana, "A Chance Encounter: The Correspondence of John Cage and Pierre Boulez, 1949-1954", in John Cage at Seventy-Five, 1989, pp 209-248. Campana describes the scope and nature of the Cage/Boulez correspondence housed at the Northwestern University archives. This book chapter includes excerpts from letters that address compositional techniques, the other’s music or compositional methods, or other music and music-making practices. Campana divides the letters into four parts: letters with discussions of 1) orchestration and rhythmic structures, 2) Cage’s move to chance compositional methods, 3) Cage’s distinction between chance and indeterminacy, and 4) comparison of Boulez’s highly controlled chance (aléa) to Cage’s chance and indeterminacy.
  • with Pierre Boulez, Pierre Boulez/John Cage: Correspondance et documents [1949-1954], ed., intro. & notes Jean-Jacques Nattiez et al., Basel: Paul Sacher Stiftung, 1990. Collection of letters exchanged between Boulez and Cage between May 1949 and August 1954. The correspondence illuminates the compositional philosophy of both composers, their attitudes toward cultural movements of the time, and the growing philosophical differences between the two. (French)
    • The Boulez-Cage Correspondence, trans. Robert Samuels, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
  • with Robert Morris, "Letters to John Cage" [1960-1963], October 81, Summer 1997, pp 70-79. The four letters published here span three years, starting in August of 1960. Only Morris’s half of the correspondence is extant. Morris’s first letter in the exchange and Cage’s letters are missing. The letters are largely descriptions of Morris’s work but do demonstrate Morris’s engagement with Cage’s music as well as a critical engagement with his aesthetic philosophy.
  • Emanuel Dimas de Melo Pimenta, John Cage: The Silence of Music [1986-1991], Milan: Silvana, 2003. The Brazilian-Portuguese musician/artist/architect Pimenta illuminates his correspondence with Cage from 1986 to 1991 with mémoire, biography, photos, and reproductions of his own graphic notations. Includes a foreword and afterword by Lucrezia De Domizio Durini; a brief note by Daniel Charles titled the “Exercises of Silence”; and a “Chronological Index of Musical Compositions, Writings, Conversations, Radio Plays, Images, Objects, and Films” by Martin Erdmann.
  • Martin Iddon, John Cage and David Tudor: Correspondence on Interpretation and Performance, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. In addition to reproducing the comprehensive correspondence between Cage and the virtuoso pianist David Tudor, Iddon analyzes Tudor’s meticulous performance realizations of Cage’s music. The opening chapter entitled “The Music of Chance” is followed by the correspondence from 1951 to 1953. Iddon then divides the discussion of Tudor’s realizations into four parts: “Determining the determinate,” “Determining the indeterminate,” “(In)determining the indeterminate,” and “ ‘Late’ realizations.” Correspondence from 1958 to 1962 and correspondence from 1965 to 1989 divide the discussions of the realizations. Iddon ends with a short chapter on “Praxis and poiesis in indeterminate music.”
  • The Selected Letters of John Cage [1930-1992], ed. Laura Kuhn, Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2016, 674 pp, ARG. Cage was a prolific letter writer throughout his life and the letters here, selected by Kuhn, demonstrate his deep and wide-ranging interests. Drawn largely from the John Cage Archives at Northwestern University, the letters are organized in five parts (1930–1949, 1950–1961, 1962–1971, 1971–1982, 1983–1992) with an introduction to each part co-authored by Kuhn and Kenneth Silverman. In the preface, Kuhn tells how she came to work with Cage in the late 1980s and early 1990s and how she came to found the John Cage Trust after his death. She suggests how we might read Cage’s correspondence in the context of global politics and alongside Cage’s other writings such as his Diaries. Review: Pearlman (Leonardo).
    • Vybrané dopisy, trans. Překlad Jaroslav Šťastný, Hana Pechová, Matěj Kratochvíl, Martin Lauer, and Tomáš Jajtner, Prague: Volvox Globator, 2019, 652 pp. [9]. Review: Cseres (His Voice). (Czech)
  • Love, Icebox: Letters from John Cage to Merce Cunningham [1942-1946], ed., forew., comm. & afterw. Laura Kuhn, Red Hook, NY: John Cage Trust, 2019, 144 pp. [10]. A collection of 39 early letters from John Cage to Merce Cunningham, spanning 1942-1946. Review: Alford (NY Times), Johnson (Full Stop).


Ordered by date of first publication. Included are printed and audio recorded interviews.

  • Roger Reynolds, "Interview with Roger Reynolds", in John Cage [Catalog], ed. Robert Dunn, Frankfurt: C.F. Peters, 1962, pp 45-52; repr. in Contemporary Composers on Contemporary Music, eds. Elliot Schwartz, Barney Childs, and Jim Fox, Da Capo, 1998, pp 335-348. This interview was conducted in December 1961 in Ann Arbor, MI. Topics include: Cage’s transition to chance composition; the issue of responsibility; taste; Asian philosophy and the I Ching; the element of time in music (including zero-time); the purpose of music; experimentalism; theater; Cage and Tudor’s resolution to not make any more records; Cage’s originality; his lectures; limited aleatoricism; and La Monte Young.
    • "Entretien (1961)", trans. Madeleine Chantoiseau, Revue d'esthétique 13-15: "John Cage", Paris: CNRS, and CNL, 1987-1988, pp 393-401. (French)
  • John Cott, "John Cage Interviewed by Jonathan Cott", Other Minds Audio Archive, 1963. Throughout this interview, Cott challenges Cage on the role of order, emotion, and communication in music. Cage answers with familiar tenets of his aesthetic philosophy: that he is demonstrating processes, rather than creating objects; that one might approach his music as one might approach nature; that tranquility should be more central in music; that ambient sound is the basis for all of his musical activity; and that silence functions diff erently in musical compositions that are objects than in compositions that are musical processes and that both require diff erent types of listening. Cage points out that he is interested in enlightenment rather than salvation. Cage talks about the role of humor in Aria with Fontana Mix and his recent activities as a writer. The interview ends with a discussion of time and Cage’s desire to stop measuring time, especially in his recent works 0'00" and Variations III. Includes Aria with Fontana Mix with Cathy Berberian.
  • Michael Kirby, Richard Schechner, "An Interview with John Cage", Tulane Drama Review 10:2, Winter 1965, pp 50-72. Interview in which Cage discusses theater, listening, intention, structure, happenings, his work with dancers early in his career, his enchantment with everyday life, and his classes at the New School. Works discussed include the Black Mountain Happening, Water Music, Theatre Piece, Amores, Fontana Mix, Water Walk, Variations III, and Music of Changes.
  • Richard Kostelanetz, The Theatre of Mixed Means: An Introduction to Happenings, Kinetic Environments, and Other Mixed Means Performances, New York: Dial, 1968. Includes an interview with Cage in which Kostelanetz claims that Cage should be considered the father of mixed-means theater. Topics discussed in this context include: Cage’s definition of a theatrical situation; his enjoyment of Happenings over traditional theater; elements that make for successful Happenings (they must be lifelike, transparent, and allow for freedom); the Black Mountain Piece; an attitude of acceptance; criticism; and Variations V.
  • Don Finegan, Ralph Haskell, Ralph Koppel, "Things to Do", North American Review 254:4, 1969, pp 12-16. Cage describes his recent work programing the computer with Hiller for HPSCHD and his experiences at the University of Illinois.
  • Joseph Haas, "A Happening with John Cage", Chicago Daily News, 10 May 1969, pp 16-17. Preview of HPSCHD at the University of Illinois. Cage describes how the piece was composed and how it relates to his ideas about science, Zen Buddhism, Thoreau, anarchy, and the thought of Buckminster Fuller.
  • Richard Friedman, "A Conversation with John Cage", Pacifica Radio Archives Preservation & Access Project, 1969. This interview was conducted after Cage had finished a semester at the University of California, Davis. Cage had just finished Cheap Imitation and talks of potential future compositional projects as well as the role of technology in art, the possibilities of technology in society (as infl uenced by Fuller and McLuhan), the prominence of the counterculture and the resulting generation gap, his love for nature, and ecological living as a model for social change.
  • Michael Zwerin, "A Lethal Measurement", in John Cage, ed. Richard Kostelanetz, New York: Praeger Publishers, 1970, pp 161-167. This interview with Cage was originally published in The Village Voice on January 6, 1966, and is about Cage’s dislike of jazz and rock and roll.
  • Max Nyffeler, "You Must Take a Global Point of View: John Cage About Revolution, Welfare and Cultural Changes", Dissonanz 6, Zurich, 1970. This interview was conducted in July 1970 in St. Paul de Vence in the south of France, where Cage performed his pieces together with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company at a festival on the grounds of the Fondation Maeght. Cage describes his recent music as a social situation that can potentially serve as an example of an anarchic situation. Other topics include the current social situation in the United States; global politics (including that of underdeveloped countries); the role of art in global political change; race relations in the United States (including talk of black power); and the work of Buckminster Fuller. Works discussed include HPSCHD and Variations VII.
  • Hans Helms, "Conversations with John Cage – Christian Wolff", Liner notes for phonodiscs EMI 1 C 165-28954-57 Y, Cologne: EMI Electrola, 1972; repr., exp., "John Cage. Gedanken eines progressiven Musikers über die beschädigte Gessellschaft", Protokolle-Wiener Halbjahresschrift für Literatur, Bildende Kunst und Musik 73:1, Vienna, 30 Jan 1974. Cage’s own words are printed alongside Helms’s observations about musical freedom as a model of a liberated society; Cage’s relationship to the thought of Mao Tse-tung; the theatrical nature of Cage’s music; Cage’s reception and the institutionalization of Cage; and the political and social responsibilities of the composer, which at the moment, Cage argues, is revolution. Includes musical examples. The interview with Cage upon which this text is based took place during the recording of the television film Birdcage on 7 April 1972. Audio. (English)/(German)
  • "An Interview with John Cage and David Tudor", Other Minds Radio Archive, 1972. This interview was recorded while Cage and Tudor were on tour in Europe. Cage talks about his influences (Thoreau and Duchamp in particular) and his anarchic political philosophy and aesthetics. Cage discusses Cheap Imitation as well as works featured on the tour: “Mureau,” which was performed simultaneously with Tudor’s Rainforest; and “62 Mesostics re Merce Cunningham,” performed simultaneously with Tudor’s Untitled. Tudor talks at the end of the interview about why he turned from playing piano to performing his own electronic compositions. (French),(English)
  • Moira Roth, William Roth, "John Cage on Marcel Duchamp: An Interview", Art in America 61:6, Nov-Dec 1973, pp 72-79; repr. in Difference/Indifference: Musings on Postmodernism, Marcel Duchamp and John Cage, Amsterdam: G&B Arts International, 1998. Topics include: meeting Duchamp; Duchamp’s fame; the relationship between the artist and society; how one might understand Duchamp’s work; chess; the two artists’ different approaches to chance; Duchamp’s late work; money; and Duchamp’s influence on Cage.
  • Paul Cummings, "Oral History Interview with John Cage, 1974 May 2", Archives of American Art, 1974. Topics in this interview include: Cage’s education; his studies of art and architecture in Europe; his visual art; his music studies with Buhlig, Cowell, and Weiss; his lectures; Xenia Cage; his work at the Cornish School, the Chicago Institute of Design, and Black Mountain College; playing chess with Duchamp; Asian philosophy; and his writings and lectures.
  • Eric Mottram, "The Pleasure of Chaos", Spanner 1:1, Nov 1974, pp 1-15. 17 August 1972, interview made during the week after a performance of HPSCHD at the Roundhouse during the ICES festival. Discussion of HPSCHD, comparing and contrasting a performance at the Roundhouse to the performance at Albert Hall earlier that year.
  • "June in Buffalo 1975 Lecture", SUNY at Buffalo, 1975. The day following the S.E.M. Ensemble Performance of Song Books featuring Julius Eastman, Cage held an open forum during which he denounced Eastman’s sexually charged performance as “undisciplined” and asserted that there were “right” and “wrong” ways to perform his works.
  • Pour les oiseaux: entretiens avec Daniel Charles, Paris: P. Belfond, 1976, 254 pp. Collection of ten interviews conducted between 1968 and 1972. The original interviews were taped then translated into French, based on interviews published in Revue d’esthétique 21:2-4 (1968). Includes “Soixante réponses à trente questions de Daniel Charles.” (French)
    • For the Birds: John Cage in Conversation with Daniel Charles, eds. Tom Gora and John Cage, trans. Richard Gardner, Boston: M. Boyars, and Semiotext(e), 1981, 239 pp. A translation of the French version, not a transcription of the original interview tapes, which are lost. (English)
    • Para los pajaros: conversaciones con Daniel Charles, trans. Luis Justo, Caracas: Monte Avila, 1981, 319 pp. (Spanish)
    • Jon kēji: kotoritachi no tameni [ジョン・ケージ : 小鳥たちのために], Tokyo: Seidosha, 1982, 270 pp. (Japanese)
    • Für die Vögel, trans. Birger Ollrogge, Berlin: Merve, 1984, 317 pp. (German)
  • Jeff Goldberg, "John Cage Interviewed", Transatlantic Review 55/56, May 1976, pp 103-110. This interview covers Cage’s early family history; early musical training, studies with Schoenberg; the issue of difficulty and boredom in music; negative audience reactions; his dislike of recordings; his typical day; his partnership with Cunningham; meeting Duchamp, Stravinsky, and Ives; the politics of power and fame; the unfinished “thunder piece”; and falling in love as it relates to his compositional process.
  • Norma Beecroft, "An Interview with John Cage", Canadian Music Centre/Centre de Musique Canadienne, 1977. Audio. Cage was interviewed by Norma Beecroft as part of her ebook, Conversations With Post World War II Pioneers of Electronic Music. Cage speaks of his desire to “invent” something in music. He notes his use of percussion music and electronic instruments (including turntables) as part of this motivation to explore the world of sounds. Cage repeats here the story about Schoenberg telling him he had no ear for harmony, but he says that instead of banging his head on a wall, he went around banging on things. He speaks of his studies with Schoenberg (analysis, harmony, and counterpoint) and says that he took away from his studies a notion of structure that could include sounds and silence. Cage argues that the use of chance operations is not counter to Schoenberg’s instruction. He also speaks of Cowell, Fischinger (and the spirit inside each object), Chavez, Schaeff er, Louis and Bebe Barron, Varèse, and other pioneers in electronic music and his desire to work with electronic music. He discusses the development of a live electronic music performance with Tudor and his computer work with Hiller and HPSCHD. He speaks about his reception at Donaueschingen in 1958. Cage speaks about young composers who are infl uenced by him and the future of music. Cage speaks about his latest exploration of sounds with Branches and Inlets.
  • Robin White, "John Cage", View 1:1, Oakland, CA: Crown Point, 1978.
  • Art Lange, "Interview with John Cage 10/4/77", Brilliant Corners: A Magazine of the Arts 8, Winter 1978, pp 5-14. Topics in this interview include: Black Mountain College; prepared piano and “oriental” sounds; the difference between chance operations and improvisation; amateur performers and improvisation; the distinction between chance and accidents or mistakes; the omnipresence of sound; Renga with Apartment House 1776; Branches; Inlets; Child of Tree; the difference between poets and musicians; Cage’s favorite poets and early text settings; the idea of records as a kind of furniture music; and Cage’s desire to make his music more radical.
  • Roger Reynolds, "John Cage and Roger Reynolds: A Conversation", Musical Quarterly 65:4, Oct 1979, pp 573-594. This interview is a follow-up to the 1961 interview between Cage and Reynolds. Cage talks about attitudes of acceptance; Zen; the composers Olive-ros, Riley, Reich, Young and Nancarrow; coming to terms with improvisation as a means to a new understanding of time; interpretation of graphic notation; collaboration, specifically with the violinist Paul Zukofsky; and the importance of questions in chance operations.
  • David Vaughan, "Interview with John Cage, 1978-12-20/1979-01-18", The New York Public Library Digital Collections, [1979]. Vaughan conducted three interviews with Cage on December 20 and 27, 1978 and January 18, 1979. Cage talks at length about his early career with dancers, meeting Cunningham, and their collaborative work. He discusses touring with the Cunningham Dance Company and their interactions with other choreographers and dancers. He also talks about his work with Tudor and their innovations in live electronics. Pieces and dances discussed during these interviews include Credo in Us, Totem Ancestor, In the Name of the Holocaust, Shimmera, Root of an Unfocus, Mysterious Adventure, Sixteen Dances, Tossed as it is Untroubled, Four Walls, Idyllic Song, Second Hand, The Seasons, Dromenon, Williams Mix, Suite by Chance, Solo Suite in Space and Time, Music for Piano, no. 1–20, Theatre Piece, Crises, Field Dances, Variations IV, Cross Currents, Aeon, Event in Vienna, Paired, Duet for Cymbal (a version of Cartridge Music), Variations V, Double Music, Landrover (composed by Cage, Tudor, and Gordon Mumma), Signals, Changing Steps, and Etcetera. [11]
  • Conversation Without Feldman: A Talk Between John Cage & Geoffrey Barnard, Darlinghurst, NSW: Black Ram Books, 1980. This is an edited and partially annotated transcription of an interview conducted in New York City, November 28, 1978. Barnard is particularly interested in Cage’s political point of view, especially vis-à-vis the recent music of Christian Wolff, Frederic Rzewski, and Cornelius Cardew. Cage indicates that he has lost much of the optimism he had in the 1960s, specifically the hope that music could change society. He also addresses the overt political activism in Wolff ’s music as well as Cardew’s critique of Cage as “bourgeois.” Other topics include recent performances, the music of younger composers (including the emerging minimalists), popular culture, and recent world events.
  • Peter Gena, "After Antiquity", in A John Cage Reader: In Celebration of His 70th Birthday, 1982, pp 167-183. Interview, 31 March 1982. Topics discussed include: Cage’s residency in Chicago in the early 1940s; the role of institutions in the arts; misunderstandings of Cage’s quote “permission granted, but not to do as you please”; music education; the upcoming New Music America festival in Chicago; fame; work methods; reception; politics; and music history.
  • Richard Kostelanetz, "Talking About Writings through Finnegans Wake", in A John Cage Reader: In Celebration of His 70th Birthday, 1982, pp 142-150. Interview conducted when Cage was working on Writing for the Third Time through Finnegans Wake. Cage describes the work processes for each of the Writing through... poems and the balance of chance and choice in these works.
  • Tom Darter, "John Cage/Cage’s Piano Music", Keyboard, Sep 1982, pp 18-29. Interview is prefaced by a brief biographical sketch of Cage. In this interview Cage talks about rehearsal time; composing while on tour; disciplined performance; pianists David Tudor and Herbert Henck; his dislike of recordings; the difference between indeterminacy and improvisation; listening; electronic music and synthesizers; Child of Tree; Suite for Toy Piano; prepared piano; chance operations; composition as the act of asking questions; Cartridge Music; disappointed audiences; the Japanese composer Matsudaira; the importance of process over product; his dislike of classical music; composition of the Etudes Australes; economic inequality; and other political issues. Features excerpts from the Suite for Toy Piano, Dream, Music of Changes, 34'46.776" For a Pianist, Winter Music, Concert for Piano and Orchestra (Solo for Piano), and Etudes Australes. Includes selected discography and reading list.
  • Charles Amirkhanian, "John Cage Featured on KPFA’s Ode to Gravity Series", 1983. Audio. Charles Amirkhanian hosts this two-hour long radio program in anticipation of a San Francisco Cage concert, 1983. Includes an interview with Cage, as well as excerpts from Cage’s 1969 reading of How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) (1966). Cage discusses the history of percussion music, including the story of Fischinger’s influence; a discussion of Credo in Us; preparations for the premiere of Europeras 1 & 2; memories of Cage’s father; and Cage’s thoughts on Chinese people. Musical examples include Double Music, Credo in Us, Ryoanji, Experiences No. 2, Jan Steele/John Cage: Voices and Instruments.
  • Tim Page, "John Cage Remembers Schoenberg and talks 4‘33”", Meet the Composer/WNYC, 1985, 58 min. Audio. Cage discusses his studies in counterpoint with Schoenberg; the development of the prepared piano; 4‘33” and its status as music; Cage’s abandonment of expression; Coomaraswamy and the purpose of music; his embrace of sounds; the problem with value judgments; and the open future of music.
  • Stephen Montague, "John Cage at Seventy: An Interview", American Music 3:2, 1985, pp 205-216. Composite of two 1982 interviews, 18 March and 29 May. Topics include Cage’s attitude toward old age; current interests, regrets, and lifestyle; family history and background; pop music, especially the music of Brian Eno; invention of the prepared piano; anarchic politics; Mozart and Grieg; the I Ching; 4‘33"; and the issue of inadequate rehearsal time and poor performances of his music. Excerpts from these interviews were published in Classical Music, 22 May 1982, p 11, and Contact 25, Autumn 1982, p 30. The 29 May "Cage at Seventy" event was filmed by Peter Greenaway (TransAtlantic Films).
  • Melody Sumner, Kathleen Burch, Michael Sumner, "Interview", in Cage, et al., The Guests Go in to Supper, eds. Melody Sumner, Kathleen Burch, and Michael Sumner, Oakland/San Francisco: Burning Books, 1986, pp 15-19. Interview from October 1984 in New York City. Cage discusses his recent work of writing through the Bible; food; how he manages his busy life; mushroom hunting; and his approach to moral living.
  • Sean Bronzell, Ann Suchomski, "Inter-View with John Cage", in Cage, et al., The Guests Go in to Supper, eds. Melody Sumner, Kathleen Burch, and Michael Sumner, Oakland/San Francisco: Burning Books, 1986, pp 20-27. Interview was conducted 18-19 April 1983 while Cage was at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, performing “James Joyce, Marcel Duchamp, Erik Satie: An Alphabet” and “Themes and Variations.” Topics include: technology, politics, nature, ecology, and Fuller’s ideas about the future.
  • Bálint András Varga, "John Cage", in Varga, 3 Kérdés, 82 Zeneszerzö, Budapest: Zeneműkiadó, 1986. (Hungarian)
    • "John Cage (1912-92)", in Varga, Three Questions for Sixty-Five Composers, Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2011, pp 40-41. (English)
    • "Tri otázky J. Cageovi", trans. Astrid Rajterová, Slovenská hudba 19:1, Bratislava, 1993, pp 106-122. (Slovak)
  • Richard Kostelanetz, "John Cage and Richard Kostelanetz: A Conversation About Radio", Musical Quarterly 72:2, 1986, 216-227; repr. as "A Conversation about Radio in Twelve Parts", in John Cage at Seventy-Five, ed. Richard Fleming and William Duckworth, Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 1989, pp 270-302; repr. in Kostelanetz, Thirty Years of Critical Engagements with John Cage, New York: Archae, pp 193-226. Cage discusses his recent work with the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) and producer Klaus Schöning to make the Hörspiele Roaratorio (1979), Ein Alphabet (1982), Muoyce (1973), and HMCIEX (1984). These pieces reflect a continued interest in radio and technology. Other topics include: Cage’s early work with radios and turntables at the Cornish School; the sound sources and compositional techniques for the Imaginary Landscapes; Radio Music (1956); Speech (1955); the first use of audiotape in the late 1940s/1950s; Williams Mix (1953) and the family of tape compositions by Wolff, Brown, and Feldman; multitrack technology; and the Sounday broadcast in Amsterdam (1978).
  • Richard Kostelanetz (ed.), Conversing with Cage, New York: Limelight Editions, 1988; repr., London: Omnibus Press, 1989; 2nd ed., New York: Routledge, 2003. This book is a compilation drawn from dozens of interviews with Cage over the span of his life. The book is divided into thirteen chapters by subject: Autobiography; Precursors; His Own Music (to 1970); His Own Music (after 1970); His Performances; His Writings; Radio and Audiotape; Visual Arts; Dance; Successors; Esthetics; Pedagogy; and Social Philosophy. Cage corrected and edited these interviews. Includes bibliography.
    • "His Own Music: Ur-Conversation with John Cage", Part 2, Perspectives of New Music 25:1/2, Winter-Summer 1987, pp 88-106, & 26:1, Winter 1988, pp 26-49. Kostelanetz assembled this article (here excerpted from the book Conversing with John Cage) from a number of interviews between Cage and various people. It covers Cage’s life and works up to 1970. Topics include: Cage’s earliest music; the importance of percussionists in new music; his turn to chance composition; the Sonatas and Interludes; the Suite for Toy Piano; the works that Cage considers the most important; his idiomatic use of the terms “structure,” “form,” and “content”; Variations VII; and HPSCHD. Part two continues with interviews on Cage’s life and works after 1970. Topics include: beauty; performers’ freedom; Lecture on the Weather; H. D. Thoreau; Apartment House, 1776; Etudes Australes; live electronic music with David Tudor; Child of Tree; Branches; Inlets; mushrooms; Norman O. Brown; Ryoanji; Freeman Etudes; virtuosity; use of chance operations; percussion; sounds; unfinished pieces; and the didactic nature of Cage’s work.
    • John Cage im Gespräch: zu Musik, Kunst und geistigen Fragen unserer Zeit, trans. Almuth Carstens and Birger Ollrogge, Cologne: DuMont, 1989. (German)
    • Lettera a uno sconosciuto, trans. Franco Masotti, forew. Edoardo Sanguineti, Rome: Socrates, 1996. (Italian)
    • Conversations avec John Cage, trans. Marc Dachy, with Monique Fong and Marianne Guénot-Hovnaian, Paris: Syrtes, 2000. (French)
  • William Duckworth, "Anything I Say Will Be Misunderstood: An Interview with John Cage", in John Cage at Seventy-Five, 1989, pp 15-33; repr. in Talking Music: Conversations with John Cage, Philip Glass, Laurie Anderson, and Five Generations of American Experimental Composers, New York: Schirmer Books, 1989, OL. Topics in this interview include: Cage’s early musical training and early compositions; percussion music and rhythmic structures; the prepared piano and Sonatas and Interludes; silence and 4'33"; connections to Feldman, Wolff, Tudor, and Brown; function of notation; Atlas Eclipticalis and the issue of adequate rehearsal time; Tudor; education; critics; and recordings of Cage’s music.
  • Richard Kostelanetz, "A Conversation About Radio in Twelve Parts", in John Cage at Seventy-Five, 1989, pp 270-302. This interview explores Cage’s long-standing interest in sound technology, including his earliest memories of radio shows, his work in the radio studio in Seattle, his work with turntables, the Imaginary Landscapes, his work with tape, and his radio plays (Hörspiele).
  • Steve Sweeney Turner, "John Cage’s Practical Utopias: John Cage in Conversation with Steve Sweeney Turner", Musical Times 131:1771, 1990, pp 469-472. Sweeney frames this interview by noting that the principle of indeterminacy unites almost all of Cage’s work. Subjects in this interview include: how one might critically engage with indeterminate music (Cage argues that the assumption of “critical engagement” is determinist rather than indeterminate); differences between Cage and Stockhausen; the conflict between Cage and Cardew and Cardew’s Stockhausen Serves Imperialism; utopian politics, especially in light of the politics of the 1980s; voting; power structures; Cage’s optimism in technological developments, especially as a solution to environmental problems; mycology; the connection between indeterminate found sounds and found food (fruitarian diet); Wittgenstein and Buddhism; post-modern philosophers; what it means to be a composer; improvisation; and the purpose of notation.
  • Steve Sweeney Turner, "John Cage and the Glaswegian Circus: An Interview around Musica Nova 1990", Tempo 177, Jun 1991, pp 2-6, 8. Topics in this interview include: Cage’s busy schedule and how he balances work, travel, and diet; finishing the Freeman Etudes and One7; “The First Meeting of the Satie Society”; use of existing music in Cage’s new compositions; use of time brackets in recent work; time and the internal clock of the performer in Cage’s new work; the upcoming Scottish Circus and performance of 4‘33” without clocks; Cage’s new attitude toward improvisation; the role of discovery in composition; a move toward harmony that includes noise in Cage’s work; music that represents communication rather than action; performers that lack discipline and the role of the performer; Cage’s anarchic political views; Cage’s interest in Celtic music; Cage’s interest in genealogy; American imperialism; alcohol abuse; and plans for a future composition called Ocean.
  • Robert Coe, "Taking Chances: Laurie Anderson and John Cage", Tricycle, Summer 1992. Topics in this interview between Anderson and Cage include his studies with Suzuki, the potential of reincarnation, Cage’s attention to sounds and the difference between city traffic noise and country bird noise, Cage’s reception and how it has changed, and Cage’s habit of responding to all of his mail and his lack of interest in government. He thought of both of these activities as a means of engaging the world politically.
  • John Corbett, "John Cage: The Conversation Game", New Art Examiner, 1992; repr. in Extended Play: Sounding Off from John Cage to Dr. Funkenstein, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1994, pp 181-191. Corbett structured this March 1992 interview as a card game in order to chance select questions for Cage. Subjects include: philosophy; reception; autonomy of the performer in Cage’s music; connection of poetry to the visual arts; Muzak; Cage’s visual art works; Cage’s dislike of recordings; and the connection of Cage’s visual art to his music.
  • Stuart Sanders Smith, "Having Words with John Cage", Percussive Notes 30:3, Feb 1992, pp 48, 50-52. In this interview Cage talks about Hymns and Variations and Apartment House 1776; the relationship between composer and performer; Thoreau; Empty Words and “Mureau”; value judgments; the Black Mountain Piece and the work of Artaud; and productive ways to engage in improvisation.
  • Ellsworth Snyder, "John Cage Discusses Fluxus" [28 Dec 1991], Visible Language 26(1-2): "Fluxus: A Conceptual Country", Jan 1992, pp 59-68. This 1991 interview focuses on Cage’s response to the work of Maciunas and the Fluxus movement, Duchamp and the Dadaists, and the reemergence of both movements. He uses both Dada and Fluxus to discuss the nature and purpose of art and what art might mean. [12]
  • Viera Polakovičová, Daniel Matej, "Interview with John Cage", Slovak Music 2, Bratislava, 1992, pp 43-44.
  • Michael Williams, "The Early Percussion Music of John Cage, 1935-1943", Percussive Notes, Aug 1993, pp 60-67. Reprint of an interview Williams conducted as part of his dissertation research, 6 June 1988. The interview covers Cage’s first percussion pieces; early collaborations with dancers; early percussion ensembles; reception of the early performances; issues of instrumentation; the Constructions; rhythmic structures; emancipation of noise (inspired by Schoenberg); rhythmic complexity (inspired by Cowell); Amores; She Is Asleep; Credo in Us; trained vs. untrained percussion-ists; and the future of percussion. Includes a “List of Percussion Instruments” dated 2 July 1940.
  • with Morton Feldman, Radio Happenings I-V, trans. Gisela Gronemeyer, pref. Christian Wolff, Cologne: MusikTexte, 1993; 2nd ed., rev., 2015. Transcript and translation of five radio conversations between Feldman and Cage broadcast on WBAI between 9 July 1966 and 16 January 1967. The wide-ranging conversations cover their own music and work and that of others; politics (including the Vietnam War); their everyday lives; and their interests in the larger art world. Audio. Audio. Publisher. (English)/(German)
    • Rozhlasové happeningy I-V, trans. Jozef Cseres, Bratislava: SNEH, 1996, 160 pp. (Slovak)
    • Radio Happenings: Enregistrés à WBAI, New York, juillet 1966-janvier 1967, trans. Jérôme Orsoni, Paris: Allia, 2015. [13] (French)
  • Dove Bradshaw, Dove Bradshaw, Works 1969-1993, New York: Sandra Gering Gallery, 1993. Exhibition catalogue. Includes an extended conversation between Cage and Thomas McEvilley about Bradshaw’s art (several pieces of which Cage owned and had loaned for the exhibit). Some of her work was designed to change over time due to particular chemical and physical processes and Cage was particularly drawn to this idea. Other Bradshaw works are more conceptual. While the conversation is largely about Bradshaw and her work, it is revealing of Cage’s own aesthetic philosophy.
  • Joan Retallack (ed.), Musicage: Cage Muses on Words, Art, Music, Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press, 1996. This book is based on interviews that took place over the last three years of Cage’s life, roughly divided into three subject areas: words, visual art, and music. In the introduction, Retallack describes her relationship to Cage and the context for the interviews and then introduces specific aspects of Cage’s work and persona. As many of the interviews have to do with Cage’s poetry and writings, Cage’s mesostic “Art Is Either a Complaint or Do Something Else” is reprinted here. Includes illustrations and an appendix with sketches, scores, and other compositional materials from Cage’s later works.
    • Visual Art: John Cage en conversación con Joan Retallack, trans. Sebastián Jatz Rawicz, Santiago de Chile: Metales Pesados, 2012. Excerpt. (Spanish)
    • Music: John Cage en conversación con Joan Retallack, trans. Sebastián Jatz Rawicz, Santiago de Chile: Metales Pesados, 2013. Excerpt (Spanish)
    • Words: John Cage en conversación con Joan Retallack, trans. Sebastián Jatz Rawicz, Santiago de Chile: Metales Pesados, 2013. Excerpt. (Spanish)
    • Cage, Musicage: Conversazioni con Joan Retallack, trans. Luca Fusari, Milan: Il Saggiatore, 2017. (Italian)
  • David Sylvester, "John Cage (1966)", in Interviews with American Artists, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001, pp 107-130. This 1966 interview was recorded for the BBC in London with Sylvester and composer Richard Smalley. The three discuss Cage’s studies with Schoenberg; his concept of structure; the Amores; Webern and silence; the role of sketching and editing as a composer; time and indeterminacy; the role of the audience; discipline; silence; Satie’s Vexations; and the role of art in society.
  • Peter Dickinson (ed.), CageTalk: Dialogues with and about John Cage, Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2006. This book is based on a series of interviews for an hour-long BBC documentary called “John Cage: Inventor of Genius,” which aired on Radio 3 on 20 November 1989. Dickinson claims that the book represents a uniquely international point of view because many of the interviews included were conducted outside of the United States. The interview with Jackson Mac Low discusses Cage’s literary work, but there is little on Cage’s visual artwork in the collection and little about his political philosophy, which dominates many of the American interviews. The interviews focus largely on Cage’s music and his working methods. The book is divided into four parts: I. Cage and Friends, which opens with an interview between Cage and Dickinson and then follows with interviews about Cage and his work with Merce Cunningham, Bonnie Bird, David Tudor, Mac Low, and Minna Lederman; II. Colleagues and Criticism, with interviews of Virgil Thomson, Otto Luening, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Earle Brown, Kurt Schwertsik, La Monte Young, John Rockwell, Pauline Oliveros, and Paul Zukofsky; III. Earlier interviews, three with Cage from 1966, 1970, and 1980; and IV. Extravaganzas, interviews about Musicircus, Roaratorio, and the Europeras.
  • "Gespräch zwischen John Cage, Helmut Lachenmann und Heinz-Klaus Metzger", in Die freigelassene Musik: Schriften zu John Cage, ed. Heinz-Klaus Metzger, Vienna: Klever, 2012, pp 178-190. Metzger prefaces this interview with a claim that Lachenmann and Cage represent two different worlds within music that may share certain aspects. Both composers discuss their respective aesthetic philosophies regarding sound production and music. Lachenmann suggests that Cage’s 1958 Darmstadt lectures still resonate with composers, especially regarding the ontology of sound and music. (German)
  • "Zu Europeras 1 & 2: John Cage im Gespräch mit Heinz-Klaus Metzger und Rainer Riehn", in Die freigelassene Musik: Schriften zu John Cage, ed. Heinz-Klaus Metzger, Vienna: Klever, 2012, pp 169-177. This interview was conducted in 1987 and includes a description of the Europeras, their construction, and their connection to Cage’s earlier theater pieces. (German)

State of research articles[edit]

  • Paul van Emmerik, Martin Erdmann, "Zur Geschichte der Cage-Forschung: Ein kritischer Überblick" [On the History of Cage Research: A Critical Overview], Archiv für Musikwissenschaft 49:3, 1992, pp 207-224. Emmerik describes the kind and quality of the earliest Cage research; the special challenges that Cage’s work presents to the researcher; existing biographies, bibliographies, and catalogs; aesthetic debates about Cage’s work; analyses; analytical studies based on sketches and archival work; and areas for further research. Includes bibliography. (German)
  • Laura Kuhn, "John Cage in the Social Realm", in Rolywholyover: A Circus, eds. Russell Ferguson and Sherri Schottlaender, Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art, 1993. Kuhn describes the challenges of musicological studies as related to Cage, comparing and contrasting traditional musicological methods to ethnographies and “new musicology.” She clarifies Cage’s views on and appropriations of scientific theory, modernism, use of chance operations, and Zen Buddhism.
  • Charles Hamm, "Introduction", in John Cage: Music, Philosophy, and Intention, 1933-1950, ed. David Patterson, New York: Routledge, 2002, pp 1-13. Hamm identifies three stages of Cage research. The first publications were brief journalistic sketches and works by artists, writers, and performers devoted to Cage; the second were positivistic, archival works that created some foundational resources; the third consisted of close analytical studies and reassessments of earlier assumptions about Cage.
  • Deborah Campana, "Happy New Ears! In Celebration of 100 Years: The State of Research on John Cage", Notes 69:1, Sep 2012, pp 9-22. Starts by describing the primary source materials at Wesleyan University, the University of California at Santa Cruz, Northwestern University, the New York Public Library, and other institutions. Campana then describes the history of Cage studies including: biographical studies; personal remembrances; discussions of Cage in textbooks and anthologies; dissertations; specific analytical studies; commemorative volumes; gallery and museum catalogs; and Internet sources. Campana argues that performance practice studies hold the greatest potential for future scholars. [14]


  • John Edmunds, Gordon Boelzner, Some Twentieth Century American Composers: A Selective Bibliography, New York: New York Public Library, 1959. Cage is included in this slim bibliography that includes writings by Cage, articles about Cage, articles about works by Cage, and dictionary and encyclopedia entries. 54 items.
  • Paul van Emmerik, Herbert Henck, "Cage-Bibliographie 1939-1985", Neu-land 5, 1985, pp 394-431. A bibliography of about 2,000 entries including writings by and about Cage, articles, interviews, concert reviews, and books.
  • Martin Erdmann, "Auswahlbibliographie" [Selected Bibliography], in John Cage II, eds. Heinz-Klaus Metzger and Rainer Riehn, Munich: Text + Kritik, 1990, pp 342-351. Titles selected from the comprehensive bibliography created by Herbert Henck and Paul van Emmerik with particular attention to biographies, analyses, compositional histories, aesthetic studies, and reports from performers and collaborators. (German)
  • Richard K. Winslow, "John Cage (1912–1992)", in Music of the Twentieth-Century Avant-Garde: A Biocritical Sourcebook, ed. Larry Sitsky, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1997; new ed., 2002, pp 91-98. Overview of Cage’s life and compositions. In addition to the compositional concerns, Winslow notes the importance of Cage’s writings, his relationship to the visual arts, his anarchic political ideals, and his love for mushrooms.
  • Paul van Emmerik, with Herbert Henck and András Wilheim, "A John Cage Compendium", 2003ff. An online chronology of Cage’s life divided into two parts, 1912–1971 and 1972–1992 (the latter part including several posthumously relevant entries); catalogs of music, text and art by Cage; a bibliography of writings by and about Cage; and lists of sources (mainly manuscripts), recordings, and films concerning Cage.
  • D.J. Hoek, Arthur Wenk, Analyses of Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Music, 1940-2000, Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2007. Bibliography of published analytical studies of various composers’ works, including those of Cage.
  • Rob Haskins, "John Cage", in Oxford Bibliographies, 2015ff. An annotated collection of 150 sources. Haskins has organized this collection as follows: Cage’s Writings, Interviews, Exhibition Catalogues, Sources and Bibliography, Chronology, Collections of Essays, Studies of Music (organized chronologically), Performance Practice, Writing and Text Compositions, Social and Political Concerns, Critical Appraisal, Reception, Miscellaneous Criticism, Art, and Aesthetics. Haskins alerts the reader to the most important sources and critical issues in a preface to each section. Accessible by subscription.

Catalogues of works[edit]

A comprehensive works list with notes and annotations can be found at the John Cage Trust. Works are listed alphabetically but are searchable by instrumentation and other limits. The first reliable works list was created by Paul van Emmerik in his dissertation “Thema’s en variaties: Systematische tendensen in de compositietechnieken van John Cage,” University of Amsterdam, 1996. That work was the basis for the Cage Compendium that includes a comprehensive chronological works list.

  • Robert Dunn, John Cage, forew. John Cage, New York: Henmar, 1962. Catalogue of compositions with a brief description of each work and a list of concert performances; discography; interview with Roger Reynolds (Ann Arbor, 1961); bibliography; biography; excerpts from reviews and critical articles; and musical examples.
  • Martin Erdmann, "Chronologisches Verzeichnis der musikalische Kompositionen, Schriften, Gespräche, Hörspiele, Bilder, Objekte und Filme" [Chronological Catalog of Musical Compositions, Writings, Lectures, Radio Plays, Paintings, Drawings, Objects, and Films], in John Cage II, eds. Heinz-Klaus Metzger and Rainer Riehn, Munich: Text + Kritik, 1990, pp 305-341. The introduction notes that this catalogue compiles works in a single catalog that would normally be separated (scores, writings, visual artworks, etc.). Includes a rationale for the inclusion of sets of works and covers works through 1988. (German)
  • Larry Solomon, "John Cage Chronological Catalog of Music", 1998; 2002. This catalog is divided into style periods: 1. Apprenticeship Period (1932–1938); 2. Romantic Period (1938–1950); 3. Chance and Indeterminacy (1951–1969); 4. Words and Environments (1970–1987); and 5. Number Period (1987–1992). Includes lost and unpublished works with a description of Cage’s general work processes before each period. This chronological catalogue is followed by a list in alphabetical order.
  • "Number Pieces", Wikipedia, 2008ff. Includes a comprehensive, annotated list of the Number Pieces organized by number. Includes dedication information.
  • Corrina Thierolf, John Cage: Ryoanji: Catalogue Raisonné of the Visual Artworks, vol. 1. Munich: Schiller/Mosel, and Pinakothek der Moderne, 2013. This is the first volume of a planned three-volume catalog of Cage’s complete visual artworks. Volume one includes plates of all of the drawings with editorial notes and typical catalogue raisonné data including current owner, provenance, and exhibitions, as well as a description of the drawings, materials, paper types, pencil types, etc. Articles include a history of Cage and Tudor’s 1962 visit to the Ryoanji Temple; a description of the concept behind the drawings and the chance operations involved; the use of the I Ching and the questions Cage asked during the compositional process; and the computer program designed to facilitate the chance operations. Includes a description of the circle in Zen art as a symbol of the past and future connected in the present moment and as a symbol of the moon, as well as the circle’s significance in the ox-herding pictorial tradition. Includes a chapter on the Ryoanji musical compositions (1983–85) with a reproduction of a page from the score of Ryoanji for Solo Voice (1983) and a compositional history and description of the scores. Includes biographical timeline and bibliography. Supplement includes essays translated into German. Volume 2 will be a catalogue of the watercolors and volume 3 the prints.
  • "John Cage", Edition Peters. Catalogue of works available from Cage’s publisher, C. F. Peters.

Discographies and Filmographies[edit]

The John Cage Trust has integrated discographical information in the comprehensive catalogue of works. Several collections of articles and some books and dissertations include discographies. That information is included in the annotation.

  • Paul van Emmerik, "Diskographie", in John Cage II, eds. Heinz-Klaus Metzger and Rainer Riehn, Munich: Text + Kritik, 1990, pp 352-361. List of selected recordings arranged chronologically by the composition date.
  • Rob Haskins, "John Cage and Recorded Sound: A Discographical Essay", Notes 67:2, Dec 2010, pp 382-409. Haskins discusses Cage’s critique of recordings and his social and ethical commitment to process, multiplicity, and indeterminacy, all of which are undermined by the fixed nature of recordings. Haskins then reports over 380 commercial recordings of Cage’s works. Haskins describes existing discographies curated by the John Cage Trust, the John Cage Compendium, and New Albion Records. Haskins discusses the most significant recordings in four time periods: the earliest works; 1961–72; 1973–86; and after 1987. Expected releases to celebrate Cage’s 100th birthday in 2012 also included. The article ends with a discography.
  • "John Cage (1912–1992)", Mode Records, n.d. Mode Records has released Cage’s entire catalogue. This site includes a discography and a guide to the Cage Edition by volume and a guide to recordings with Cage as a performer.

Exhibition catalogues and Festival programs[edit]

In 1958 the New York Stable Gallery exhibited a collection of Cage’s scores in recognition of their unique calligraphic qualities and aesthetic appeal. Cage’s first major artwork, Not Wanting to Say Anything about Marcel (1969), was one of the first chance-composed visual artworks. Cage began to work seriously in the field of visual art in 1978 and during the last years of his life created a significant body of work.

  • John Cage, Nevers, France: Maison de la culture de Nevers et de la Nièvre, 1972. Program book for the Journées musicales de la Maison de la culture de Nevers, 15-17 October 1971. Includes an interview with Cage and Michel Decoust and articles by Heinz-Klaus Metzger, Daniel Charles, Jean-Yves Bosseur, and Philippe Torrens, as well as an excerpt from the I Ching. (French)
  • Cage Box, ed. Hans Rudolf Zeller, Bonn: Kulturamt der Stadt Bonn, 1979. Program book for the John Cage Festival, Tage Neuer Musik in Bonn, 6-14 June 1979. Includes articles on Cage’s latest compositions (especially Variations VIII and Empty Words), his aesthetic philosophy, and his early encounters with artists. (German)
  • John Cage: Musical Messages, intro. Will Ogdon, La Jolla, CA: Music Department/University of California at San Diego, 1980. This exhibition catalogue was prepared for Cage’s residency as Regents’ Lecturer at the University of California at San Diego, 28 January–8 February 1980. The catalogue contains pages from scores with introductory notes by Pauline Oliveros, Gerald Balzano, Thomas Nee, Roger Reynolds, Genette Foster. Scores included are Atlas Eclipticalis (1961), Cartridge Music (1960), Cheap Imitation (1969), Concert for Piano and Orchestra (1958), For Paul Taylor and Anita Dencks (1957), Imaginary Landscape No. 5 (1952), Music for Carillon No. 4 (both the 3-octave version from 1961 and the 2-octave version from 1966), Song Books (1970), and Water Music (1952).
  • Scores and Prints, ed. Anne d’Harnoncourt, New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1982, 6 pp, IA. Includes an introductory essay by curator d’Harnoncourt that situates Cage within the New York School artists. Introduces viewers to Cage’s notations and history with printmaking. Exhibit dates were 25 February–2 May 1982.
  • John Cage: Etchings 1978-1982, eds. Wendy Diamond and Carol Hicks, San Francisco: Crown Point Press, 1982. Exhibition catalogue for John Cage’s etchings, Crown Point Press, 1982. Includes black-and-white reproductions of prints, an essay by Kathan Brown, the original version of Cage’s “Composition in Retrospect,” and a timeline by Anne d’Harnoncourt.
  • John Cage. The New River Watercolors, Richmond, VA: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1988. Exhibition catalogue for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, 25 October–27 November 1988; The Flossie Martin Art Gallery at Radford University, 8 January–17 February, 1989; the Roanoke Museum of Fine Art, 13 May–16 July 1989; and The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C., spring–summer, 1990. Includes an article on the Mountain Lake Workshop by Ray Kass, an exhibition checklist, a short biography, and a selected bibliography. Describes Cage’s work process and the resulting paintings completed during a week-long workshop in April, 1988.
  • Cage—Cunningham—Johns: Dancers on a Plane, ed. Judy Adam, London: Thames and Hudson, 1989. Catalogue for the Anthony D’Offay Gallery exhibition of Dancers on a Plane, 31 October–2 December 1989, and then at the Tate Gallery in Liverpool, 23 January–25 March 1990. Includes images from Cage’s Concert for Piano and Orchestra, Johns’s paintings, photographs of Cunningham, and Sontag’s essay/poem “In Memory of their Feelings.” Includes a prefatory essay on the relationship between the three and their work called “If Art Is Not Art, Then What Is It?” by Richard Francis. Also includes David Sylvester’s essay on Cage’s notations, “Points in Space.”
  • John Cage: Kunst als Grenzbeschreitung: John Cage und die Moderne [John Cage: Art as a Transgression of Boundaries: John Cage and the Moderns], Düsseldorf: Richter, 1991. Catalogue for the exhibition of the same name in the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Neue Pinakothek, Munich, 18 July–27 October 1991. The exhibition included: examples from Cage’s New River Watercolors, the Ryoanji drawings, a Museumcircle, and several concerts presented during the length of the exhibit. (Concert programs are included in the catalog.) Articles in the catalogue include an introduction to the exhibition and the work of Cage by Ulrich Bischoff; “Cage und Filliou mit Schopenhauer im gleichen Zugabteil”, by Hannes Böhringer; “Cage Music and the Performer’s Process,” by Robyn Schulkowsky; “‘Durchdringung ohne Widerstand’: Sinnlosigkeit jenseits von Unsinn”, by Daniel Charles; “John Cage im Black Mountain College”, by Mary Emma Harris; “Seine Prinzipien in der bildenden Kunst—eine Skizze”, by Antje von Graevenitz; “‘Apres John Cage’: Zeit in der Kunst der sechziger Jahre—von Fluxus-Events zu interaktiven Multi-Monitor-Installationen”, by Thomas Dreher; excerpts from “Laughtears: Gespräch über Roaratorio. Ein irischer Circus über Finnegans Wake”; an interview between Cage and Klaus Schöning; and “‘Chaos’ mit Hintersinn ‘Freigelassenes’ aus Münchner Sammlungen: Der Museumcircle von John Cage in der Neuen Pinakothek”, by Clelia Segieth. (German)
  • Hommage à John Cage, ed. Jozef Cseres, Bratislava: Slovenský rozhlas, and Bratislava: SNEH, 1992, [28] pp. Exhibition held at Cyprian Majernik Gallery, Bratislava, 15 June-4 July 1992, and Art Gallery, Nové Zámky, 14-31 July 1992. (Slovak)/(English)
  • John Cage⁸⁰, 18. jún-19. júl Bratislava, 1992 / John Cage⁸⁰, June 18th-July 19th 1992, Bratislava, ed. Milan Adamčiak, Bratislava: Slovenská národná galéria, 1992, [48] pp. Published on the occassion of the International Festival Evenings of New Music III and the visit of Cage in Bratislava. (Slovak)/(English)
  • Anarchic Harmony, eds. Stefan Schädler and Walter Zimmermann, Mainz: Schott, 1992. Program book for the festival Anarchic Harmony in celebration of Cage’s 80th birthday in Frankfurt am Main, 28 August–20 September 1992. Numerous articles on Cage, images, scores and sketches, program notes, and “Muoyce II (Writing through Ulysses).” Includes recent works list and timeline. (German)
  • The Black Mountain Connection: John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Irwin Kremen, M.C. Richards, Tampa, FL: Museum of Art, 1992. Exh. held at the Tampa Museum of Art, 13 September-22 November 1992.
  • John Cage. Arbeiten auf Papier [Works on Paper], Wiesbaden: Nassauischer Kunstverein, 1992. Catalogue for the 80th birthday exhibition of Cage’s works on paper at the Galerie Ressel, Nassauischer Kunstverein in Wiesbaden, 20 September–18 October 1992. Works included a selection of the Ryoanji drawings, the watercolors, and the late prints. Kornelia von Berswordt-Wallrabe’s introduction discusses Cage’s relationship to Jawlensky and other artists in the 1930s and 1940s. (German)
  • Rolywholyover: A Circus, eds. Russell Ferguson and Sherri Schottlaender, Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art, and Rizzoli, 1993. Exhibition catalogue for retrospective featuring the work of Cage, his collaborators, influences, and those he influenced. The exhibition was shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, 12 September–28 November 1993; the Menil Collection in Houston; the Guggenheim Museum in New York; the Art Tower Mito Contemporary Art Center in Japan; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The catalogue was published as an aluminum box containing fifty pieces of ephemera (letters, sketches, images) and individually bound texts. The texts included are: Anne d’Harnoncourt’s “Paying Attention”; Julie Lazar’s “nothingtoseeness”; Laura Kuhn’s “John Cage in the Social Realm”; Joan Retallack’s “UNCAGEDWORDS”; Mark Swed’s “Cage and Counting”; John Cage’s “Anarchy”; “An Autobiographical Statement”; and “Macrobiotic Cooking”; Marshall McLuhan’s “The Agenbite of Outwit”; Dr. Andrew Weil’s “What Should I Eat?”; Ellsworth Snyder’s “Chronological Table of John Cage’s Life”; Daisetz T. Suzuki’s “Zen and Dhyana”; “The Dancer and the Dance,” by Merce Cunningham in conversation with Jacqueline Lesschaeve.
  • Otevřená forma / Forme ouverte / Open Form: John Cage, François Morellet, Milan Grygar, ed. Hana Larvová, Prague: Galerie hlavního města Prahy, 1993, 62+[23] pp. Exh. held in Prague, 15 December 1993–23 January 1994. Includes text by Jean-Yves Bosseur, "Cage a vizuální umění". [15] [16] (Czech)/(French)/(English)
  • John Cage. Terry Fox. Gudrun Wassermann, ed. Britta Buhlmann, Bonn: VGBILD-KUNST, 1996. Catalogue for Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern, July 14–September 15, 1996. Features Cage’s Ryoanji drawings, watercolors, and mesostics. Includes an article by Hans Rudolf Zeller on Cage and the arts and an article by Ulrike Rausch on the artistic relationship between Cage and Calder. (German)
  • Hanne Darboven, John Cage: Staatsgalerie Moderner Kunst, eds. Joachim Kaak and Corinna Thierolf, Ostfildern: Hatje, 1997. Catalogue for a 1997 Munich exhibit that featured Cage’s Ryoanji drawings.
  • John Cage, Essay: Kunsthalle Bremen 1998, Bremen: Kunsthalle Bremen, 1998. This exhibition catalogue includes a reprint of Thoreau’s essay “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience,” Cage’s “Writings Through the Essay,” Cage’s “Essay on the Essay,” and Andreas Kreul’s “Notiz zur Installation von John Cages ‘Essay’ in der Kunsthalle Bremen”. (German),(English)
  • American Mavericks, eds. Susan Key and Larry Rothe, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001. Festival program/catalogue for the San Francisco Symphony series “American Mavericks.” Cage is included in this group of significant American composers, alongside Ives, Cowell, Harrison, and others. Michael Steinberg and James Keller contributed to the chapters on Cage.
  • Sounds of the Inner Eye: John Cage, Mark Tobey, Morris Graves, eds. Wulf Herzogenrath and Andreas Kreul, Tacoma, WA: Museum of Glass, International Center for Contemporary Art, 2002. Includes articles by Herzogenrath, Andreas Kreul, and Cage. Cage’s writings included here are: “On the Interplay between Art and Music,” “25 Mesostics Re and Not Re Mark Tobey”, “Conversing with Richard Kostelanetz and Daniel Charles about Mark Tobey,” “Morris Graves,” and Cage’s text piece “Series re Morris Graves”. Also includes a side-by-side chronology of all three artists. Plates of scores and visual artworks.
  • Anarchische Harmonie: John Cage und die Zukunft der Künste [Anarchic Harmony: John Cage and the Future of the Arts], eds. Peter Rautmann and Nicolas Schalz, Bremen: Hauschild, 2002. This collection of essays is a product of the symposium John Cage und die Zukunft der Künste on 10-11 April and concert Ein Fest für John Cage: “A House Full of Arts” on 12 April 2002 at the Hochschule für Künste in Bremen. Includes numerous images and photos from the symposium. (German)
  • John Cage: Essay, Music: La Casa Encendida, Madrid: La Casa Encendida, 2006. Catalogue for the exhibition at La Casa Encendida, Madrid, November 24, 2006–January 7, 2007. The exhibit included an installation of Essay, designed by Cage for Documenta 8 in Kassel, as well as a series of concerts. The catalogue is organized in two parts, the first part addressing Cage’s poetry and the second his music. The first part called “Essay” includes a short chapter, “About John Cage,” by Marta González Orbegozo; a reprint of Thoreau’s “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience”; and a reprint of Cage’s “Writings through the Essay: On the Duty of Civil Disobedience”. The second part, “Music,” includes a reprint of Cage’s essay “Rhythm Etc.,” (from A Year from Monday); “From a Train Window,” by Carmen Pardo; and a reprint of “Aesthetics of Silence (About John Cage’s Existential Semiotics of ‘Silence’),” by Daniel Charles (dedicated to Eero Tarasti). Also includes program notes for the concerts, “Music in La Casa Encendida.”
  • John Cage: Zen Ox-Herding Pictures, eds. Stephen Addiss and Ray Kass, Virginia: University of Richmod Museums, and New York: George Braziller, 2009, OL. This catalogue was compiled for the University of Richmond Museum’s exhibit, “John Cage: Zen Ox-Herding Pictures” at the Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art and Print Study Center, 2 October 2009–7 April 2010. The work in this exhibit was a product of an invitation that Ray Kass extended to Cage to paint at the Mountain Lake Workshop in Blacksburg, Virginia in 1988. During his work there, Cage used paper towels as test pieces, and Kass carefully archived fifty-five of these paper towels. In 2008 Kass convinced Stephen Addiss to put together an exhibition of these paper towels. The catalogue includes the history of ox-herding poems and paintings and their connection to Zen philosophy. Addiss explains that ox-herding is a metaphor for the search for the authentic self, the path to enlightenment, or one’s own Buddha-nature. He put together five sets of ten images, modeled after the set of ten ox-herding images of Shûbun (early fifteenth century), and matched each image with a short quote from Cage’s writings. The book reprints all fifty images and quotes.
  • The Anarchy of Silence: John Cage and Experimental Art, ed. Julia Robinson, Barcelona: MACBA, 2009, 304 pp, Essays. Exhibition catalog, 23 October 2009–10 January 2010 in Barcelona, traveling on to Henie-Onstad Art Centre, Høvikodden. Richly illustrated with plates of sketches, scores, photos, and visual artworks. This exhibition catalogue charts Cage’s career from his earliest percussion and prepared piano pieces to Lecture on the Weather (1975). The exhibit included an audio installation of “Over-population and Art.” Cage’s scores are set side-by-side with visual artwork from his contemporaries. Articles in the catalogue include “John Cage and Investiture: Unmanning the System,” by Julia Robinson; “Cagean Structures,” by Liz Kotz; “What Silence Taught John Cage: The Story of 4‘33”,” by James Pritchett; “Chance Encounters: Kelly, Morellet, Cage,” by Yve-Alain Bois; “Chance, Indeterminacy, Multiplicity,” by Branden W. Joseph; and “John Cage 1912–92: Chronology,” by Rebecca Y. Kim. Exhibition.
  • Every Day Is a Good Day: The Visual Art of John Cage, ed. Jeremy Millar, London: Hayward, 2010. Exhibition catalogue for a Hayward Touring exhibition organized in collaboration with BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and the John Cage Trust. The exhibition was held at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, 19 June–5 September 2010; Kettle’s Yard Cambridge, 25 September–14 November 2010; Huddersfield Art Gallery, 20 November 2010–8 January 2011; Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, Glasgow, 19 February–2 April 2011; and De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill on Sea, 16 April–5 June 2011. The catalogue includes an introduction by Roger Malbert; “Not Wanting to Say Anything About John Cage,” by Jeremy Millar; “Cage at Crown Point Press: An Interview with Kathan Brown”; “Mountains and Rivers: An Interview with Ray Kass”; “How to Improve the World: An Interview with Laura Kuhn”; “Rolywholyover, A Circus: An Interview With Julie Lazar”; “To Open Our Eyes,” by Irving Sandler; and a “Companion to Cage,” (organized as a brief but clever encyclopedia of terms and names associated with Cage) by Helen Luckett and Lauren A. Wright. Includes several plates of Cage’s art with notes by Brown and Luckett. The exhibit included representative examples of all of Cage’s styles from 1969 (starting with “Not Wanting to Say Anything About Marcel”) to his last works from 1992.
  • The Sight of Silence: John Cage’s Complete Watercolors, ed. Ray Kass, Roanoke, VA: Taubman Museum of Art, 2011. Catalogue of an exhibit at the National Academy Museum, New York City, September 12, 2012–January 13, 2013; and Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke, Virginia, February 15–May 19, 2013. In addition to plates of the watercolors, scores, and photographs of the work process, Ray Kass and Jerrie Pike authored a chapter about the visual work of Cage in the context of his work as a composer. The chapter “Diaries and Notes: John Cage at the Mountain Lake Workshop,” by Kass, describes the work process in detail.
  • Sounds Like Silence, eds. Dieter Daniels and Inke Arns, Leipzig: Spector Books, 2012. Catalogue for the 25 August 2012–6 January 2013 exhibit dedicated to 4‘33” at the Hartware MedienKunstVerein in Dortmund. Includes essays by Inke Arns, Brandon LaBelle, Dieter Daniels, David Toop, Dörte Schmidt, Julia Schröder, and Jan Thoben. Also includes reproductions of a wide variety of scores and sketches for all versions of 4‘33”, including Tudor’s realizations, different versions of 4‘33” in Cage’s hand, and reproductions of the variations on 4‘33”, including 0‘00” and the silent songs from Song Books. Also includes an anthology of readings previously published elsewhere. Includes stills from films and other images.
  • “John Cage und...”: Bildender Künstler—Einflüsse, Anregungen' [“John Cage and...” Visual Artists—Influences, Suggestions], eds. Wulf Herzogenrath and Barbara Nierhoff-Wielk, Cologne: DuMont, 2012. Published for the exhibitions at the Akademie der Künste, Berlin, March 30–June 17, 2012, and at the Museum der Moderne Salzburg, July 14–October 7, 2012, on the occasion of Cage’s 100th birthday. Includes essays by Birgit Hein, Jon Hendricks, Wulf Herzogenrath, Andreas Kreul, Angela Lammert, Henning Lohner, Maria Müller-Schareck, Barbara Nierhoff-Wielk, Reinhard Oehlschlägel, Jeffrey Saletnik, Carl Solway, Detlef Stein, Toni Stooss, and Yvonne Ziegler. Also includes shorter one- to two-page remembrances or reflections by a number of other artists. Richly illustrated with photos and art. The essays range from Cage’s biography and style development to his particular influence in music, film, poetry, the Fluxus movement, European art movements, and artists. Also includes commentary on Cage’s European reception and philosophy. (German),(English),(French)
  • The Freedom of Sound: John Cage Behind the Iron Curtain, ed. Katalin Székely, Budapest: Ludwig Múzeum - Kortárs Művészeti Múzeum, 2013, 263 pp. Texts by Ivana Miladinovic Prica, Niksa Gligo, Miško Šuvaković, Jaroslav Šťastný, Petr Kotík, Jozef Cseres, Antoni Michnik, András Wilheim, Emese Kürti, Alexander Ivashkin. Catalogue website. Exhibition.
  • Das Kapital: Schuld, Territorium, Utopie: für die Nationalgalerie der staatlichen Museen zu Berlin [Capital: Debt, Territory, Utopia], eds. Cathrine Nichols and Eugen Blume, Dortmund: Kettler, 2016. Catalogue for the Hamburger Bahnhof—Museum für Gegenwart (Berlin) exhibitions 2 July–6 November 2016, which included Cage’s Museum Circle. (German)/(English)

Biographical and historical studies[edit]

  • Calvin Tomkins, "John Cage: Figure in an Imaginary Landscape", New Yorker, 28 Nov 1964, pp 64-128, passim; repr. as "John Cage", in The Bride and the Bachelors: The Heretical Courtship in Modern Art, New York: Viking, 1965, pp 69-144; new ed., exp., as The Bride and the Bachelors: Five Masters of the Avant-Garde, new intro., New York: Viking, 1968; Penguin, 1976, 306 pp; rev.ed., New York: Gagosian Gallery, 2013. One of the first biographical studies of Cage. Sympathetic criticism of Cage, Duchamp, Tinguely, Rauschenberg, and Cunningham. Written for a general audience. [19]
  • Ellsworth Snyder, John Cage and Music since World War II: A Study in Applied Aesthetics, University of Wisconsin, 1970. PhD dissertation. Early dissertation on Cage’s development, aesthetics, and works. Includes a timeline of Cage’s life and a chronological works list.
  • Paul Griffiths, Cage, London: Oxford University Press (Oxford Studies of Composers), 1981. Brief, critical survey of Cage’s music. Griffiths divides his work into five periods: early chromatic studies; works based on rhythmic structures; works that start to integrate Eastern ideals, chance, and indeterminacy; graphic notations and works that challenge the definition of music; and compositions that move back toward notation and the traditional work concept. Includes a chronological list of works.
  • David Revill, The Roaring Silence: John Cage: A Life, New York: Arcade, 1992, 375 pp, OL; London: Bloomsbury, 1992; 2nd ed., rev., New York: Arcade, 2014, 384 pp, EPUB. First full-length biography of Cage with bibliography and chronology of music and visual artworks. Much of this biographical work has been corrected in subsequent publications. [20] Reviews: Driver, Brooks.
    • Tosende Stille: eine John-Cage-Biographie, trans. Hanns Thenhors-Esch, Munich: List, 1995. (German)
  • Jean-Yves Bosseur, John Cage, suivi d’entretiens avec Daniel Caux et Jean-Yves Bosseur, Paris: Minerve, 1993; 2nd ed., rev. & exp., 2000. This biography covers Cage’s early life and music education, the development of the prepared piano and the term “experimental,” his use of chance operations, his embrace of silence and indeterminacy, his use of graphic notations (especially in the Concert for Piano and the Variations series), and his appropriation of the ideas of interpenetration and nonobstruction. Bosseur examines the Song Books, Cage’s visual artwork, his works inspired by and/or based on preexisting materials (such as Cheap Imitation), his poetry, his pragmatism, and nonintention. Includes interviews with the author (June 1970, January 1973, and June 1979), with Jacqueline and Daniel Caux (July 1970), and with Daniel Caux (January 1986 and June 1990). Includes selected discography. (French)
  • Marjorie Perloff, Charles Junkerman (eds.), John Cage: Composed in America, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994, x+285 pp. The essays collected here were written for (or in response to) the John Cage Festival at Stanford University in January 1992. Viewed collectively, the essays explore Cage’s uniquely American sensibilities. The authors approach Cage’s work from a philosophical rather than musical point of view—most of the authors are philosophers or literary theorists, not musicians or composers—and several essays deal with the ethical considerations of Cage’s poetry and lectures. Includes Cage’s mesostic “Overpopulation and Art”. It is his last major poem/lecture and is representative of his late thinking on social, political, and artistic issues. Publisher.
  • Michele Porzio, Metafisica del silenzio: John Cage, L’Oriente e la nuova musica [The Metaphysics of Silence: John Cage, the East, and the New Music]. Milan: Auditorium, 1995; 2nd ed., 2008. This study of the aesthetics of Cage’s music argues that, although situated in the West, Cage was strongly influenced by the East. The study looks at Cage through four broad lenses: nature, sound, silence, and time. Includes a chronology of Cage’s life and a catalog of works. (Italian)
  • Thomas Maier, Ausdruck der Zeit: ein Weg zu John Cages stillem Stück 4'33" [Expression of the Times: A Path to John Cage’s Silent Piece 4'33"], Saarbrücken: Pfau, 2001, 198 pp. Reprint of PhD dissertation, Technische Universität, Berlin, 1999. Maier explores influences on Cage from the 1930s (Cowell, Schoenberg, and Fischinger) and the importance of counterpoint and dance during those early years. He then turns to a survey of works from the 1940s. Maier explores influences that open Cage to new ways of perceiving sound and silence, and he details the significance of 4‘33” and the variations that followed, including 0‘00”. Publisher. (German)
  • Carmen Pardo Salgado, La escucha oblicua: una invitación a John Cage, Valencia: Universidad Politécnica de València, 2001. This book begins with ontological questions about music, silence, society, and nature; the second section addresses nothingness, chance, and indeterminacy; the third explores the connections between art and life in Cage’s work; the fourth discusses Cage’s poetic work and his attempts to make language both nonsyntactical and musical; and the fifth analyzes listening, aesthetics, and the decentered self. Includes appendix with chronological lists of Cage’s writings, compositions, and visual artworks. Includes bibliography and filmography. (Spanish)
    • Approche de John Cage [John Cage’s Approach], trans. Nathalie Lhuillier, ed. Hélène Olivesi, forew. Daniel Charles, Paris: L’Harmattan, 2007. (French)
  • Ulrike Kasper, Écrire sur l'eau: l'esthétique de John Cage [Writing on Water: The Aesthetic of John Cage], Paris: Hermann, 2005. Study of Cage divided into three parts: 1) Cage’s biography, use of chance, and the influence of Zen Buddhism on his work; 2) Cage’s fusion of the cultural with the natural, his graphic notations, and the Ryoanji drawings and scores; and 3) Cage’s visual artworks, especially the New River Watercolors and his work with smoked paper, and this visual artwork in relation to silence. (French)
  • David Nicholls, John Cage, Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2007, 144 pp. Concise yet comprehensive, accurate biography of Cage organized around four geographical locations: the west coast, New York #1, Stony Point, and New York #2. Nicholls takes care not to perpetuate certain mythologies about Cage. This is a humanizing account of the composer, often focusing on Cage’s personal relationships. Richly illustrated with rarely seen photos. [21]. Review: Perry.
    • John Cage, trans. Gabriel Menéndez, Madrid: Turner, 2009. (Spanish)
  • Carolyn Brown, Chance and Circumstance: Twenty Years with Cage and Cunningham, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007. Brown’s memoir of her years with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company from the early 1950s to when she left in the 1970s. In addition to its close connection to Cage, the company worked with David Tudor, Earle Brown (Carolyn’s husband), Christian Wolff, Robert Rauschenberg, and the rest of the New York Schools of both composers and abstract expressionists.
  • Kenneth Silverman, Begin Again: A Biography of John Cage, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010; repr., Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2012, 483 pp. Written by a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, this study draws on interviews with Cage’s friends and colleagues, the wealth of archival materials available, and web sources devoted to Cage. Sheds new light on Cage’s personal and private life, but contains little discussion of Cage’s music.
  • Christoph Metzger, John Cage: Abstract Music: Zwölf Vorlesungen [John Cage: Abstract Music: Twelve Lectures], Saarbrücken: Pfau, 2011, 121 pp. These lectures cover much of Cage’s life, work, and aesthetic philosophy, including his American upbringing and influences, his travels in Europe, his teaching at the New School, his conceptualism, his graphic scores, the Concert for Piano and Orchestra and the significance of Tudor as interpreter, his work with electronic media, his visual artwork, his poetry, and his continued influence in the United States and in Germany. Review: Günther (Positionen). (German)
  • William Anastasi, The Cage Dialogues: A Memoir, ed. Aaron Levy, Philadelphia: Slought Books, 2011, 120 pp. Abstract and conceptual New York artist Anastasi recalls his friendship with Cage and their almost daily chess games in the last ten years of Cage’s life. Includes details of their collaborative work and anecdotes about Cage’s sense of humor, his health choices, and his aesthetic tastes late in life. Includes a complete transcript of “You Are,” a theater piece by Anastasi performed by Cage, in which Cage transcribed what he heard in the performance space. Closes with reproductions of visual art works by both Cage and Anastasi.
  • Rob Haskins, John Cage, London: Reaktion Books, 2012, 180 pp. [22]. Brief yet critical biography of Cage drawing on primary sources, including Cage’s own autobiographical writings, and the rich secondary scholarship published after about 1990. Includes photos and select discography. Reviews: Delaere, Sealey, Shultis.
  • Denis Lejeune, The Radical Use of Chance in 20th Century Art, Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2012, 275 pp. This biographical study starts with the earliest percussion and prepared piano pieces and continues with Cage’s use of chance; indeterminacy and silence; the works Concert for Piano and Song Books; Cage’s visual art and poetry; and his political/philosophical thought with particular attention to Cage’s Pragmatism and the concept of interpenetration. Includes interviews with Cage from 1970 to 1990. Review: Forcer (French Studies). (English),(French)
  • David Grubbs, Records Ruin the Landscape: John Cage, the Sixties, and Sound Recording, Duke University Press, 2014, 248 pp, ARG. This book addresses the paradox that Cage publicly disparaged records yet made and promoted records. Grubbs analyzes how recordings shaped Cage’s reception in the 1960s and beyond and how those early recordings shape how we understand the post-Cage avant-garde today. The title comes from an interview in which Cage said that records are like postcards “which ruin the landscape.” Yet that phrase resonates with Cage’s series of experiments with electronic music called Imaginary Landscapes (1939 and 1952). The focus of the book moves beyond Cage to those influenced by Cage’s innovations with electronic music and recorded media, including Henry Flynt, Luc Ferrari, Christian Wolff, Yasunao Tone, and others. Based on author's PhD dissertation, University of Chicago, 2005.

Other studies (selection)[edit]

  • Michael Nyman, Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond, New York: Schirmer Books, 1974, 154 pp; Toronto: Collier Macmillan, 1981; 2nd ed., forew. Brian Eno, Cambridge University Press, 1999, 196 pp. Nyman’s groundbreaking work on experimentalism opens with a chapter on definitions. Nyman notes that experimental composers are interested in new approaches to notation, process, identity, and time and that they present new challenges to performance and listening. He includes a biography of Cage, noting the challenges that Cage’s work presents to traditional music making. He then turns to the foundational years of experimentalism (1950-1960) and the work of the New York School composers.
    • Jikken ongaku: Keiji to sonogo, trans. Ryōsuke Shiina, Tokyo: Suisei, 1992; repr., 1997. (Japanese)
  • Revue d'esthétique 13-15: "John Cage", Paris: CNRS, and CNL, 1987-1988, 570 pp. Parts. (French)
  • Slovak Music 18(2): "Cage", ed. Olga Smetanová, trans. Anna Lysá, Helena J. Vaničková, and Peter Zagar, Bratislava: Music Information Centre of the Slovak Music Fund, 1992, 52 pp. Special issue commemorating Cage's visit to Bratislava in 1992. TOC. (English)
  • James Pritchett, The Music of John Cage, Cambridge University Press, 1993, 223 pp, Introduction. Excerpt. [23] [24]. Comprehensive, chronological study of Cage’s compositional output. Detailed descriptions of all of Cage’s major works and discussion of the compositional philosophy underlying each compositional period. Also includes a thorough handling of the social, historical, and philosophical circumstances surrounding Cage, including his connection to Eastern philosophies, Thoreau, Buckminster Fuller, Marshall McLuhan, and anarchic thought. Numerous musical examples. Reviews: Haskins, Bernstein, Brooks.
  • William Fetterman, John Cage's Theatre Pieces: Notations and Performances, Amsterdam: Harwood Academic, 1996; repr., Routledge, 2010, EPUB. As the starting point for this survey, Fetterman uses Cage’s definition of theater as “something which engages both the eye and the ear” (p. 21). The book opens with a chapter on Cage’s earliest compositional influences and development up to ca. 1952. The following chapters group like pieces according to selected qualities, namely: chance-composed works with determinate notations (Water Music, Water Walk, and Sounds of Venice); works with indeterminate notations (Music Walk and Cartridge Music); works that are disciplined actions (4‘33”, 0‘00”, selected Solos from Song Books, WGBH-TV, and One3); small-group simultaneities (Black Mountain Event, Theatre Piece, Song Books, Dialogue); and large-group simultaneities (Variations, Musicircus, HPSCHD, Apartment House 1776). One chapter is devoted to the Song Books and another to the Europeras. The book closes with a discussion of Cage as a performer (as a pianist and speaker). Fetterman includes oral and reception histories throughout, with descriptions of significant performances. Includes musical examples and reproductions of other primary documents such as notes and realizations from performers, especially Tudor.
    • "4'33", 0'00": Variaciones sobre una acción disciplinada", Olobo 3, Cuenca, 2002. Excerpt. (Spanish)
  • Christopher Shultis, Silencing the Sounded Self: John Cage and the American Experimental Tradition, Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1998; repr., 2013. Shultis places Cage in the specifi cally American intellectual tradition of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, William Carlos Williams, Charles Olson, and Charles Ives. Part One, “Music,” focuses on the ideas of “dualism/unity/control” and Emerson and Ives and “nondualism and coexistence” and Thoreau. Part Two focuses on Cage’s poetry and music, first analyzing Cage’s poetry in the context of the works of Ezra Pound, and second discussing the role of silence in Cage’s poetry and music.
  • Suzanne Josek, The New York School: Earle Brown, John Cage, Morton Feldman, Christian Wolff, Saarbrücken: Pfau, 1998. Study of Cage, Feldman, Brown, and Wolff within the context of the New York School abstract expressionist artists who infl uenced them (Rauschenberg, Duchamp, Pollock, Calder, and Guston), and the geographic locations of New York City and Black Mountain College. Josek problematizes the concept of a New York “school,” recognizing that the four composers lacked a common musical language or style. Cage was less of an influence, according to Josek, than he was a catalyst for the activities of the other three and the school collectively. Josek does note commonalities shared among the four, namely, a tendency to challenge the work construct and the notion of the masterpiece, a broad use of sound and silence, the use of open forms, and a redefi nition of the performance space and time. (German)
  • David W. Bernstein, Christopher Hatch (eds.), Writings through John Cage's Music, Poetry, and Art, University of Chicago Press, 2001, 310 pp, PDF. This collection of essays dedicated to Gordon Mumma emerged from the conference “Here Comes Everybody: The Music, Poetry, and Art of John Cage,” 15-19 November 1995, at Mills College. The conference was one of the first to examine Cage’s life and work more critically and from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Authors include David Bernstein, Jonathan Katz, Austin Clarkson, Gordon Mumma, Deborah Campana, John Holzaepfel, Paul van Emmerik, Jackson Mac Low, Constance Lewallen, Ray Kass, and Henning Lohner. Includes transcripts of two panel discussions: “Cage’s Influence” with Mumma, Allan Kaprow, James Tenney, Christian Wolff , Alvin Curran, and Maryanna Amacher; and “Cage and the Computer” with James Pritchett, James Tenney, Andrew Culver, and Frances White.
  • David Nicholls (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to John Cage, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Collection of essays designed to reflect the diversity of Cage’s work and infl uence. The first part of the book places Cage in three important contexts: America, Europe, and Asia; the second discusses Cage’s work in music, writing, and the visual arts; and the third examines Cage’s infl uence. Each chapter is annotated individually. Chapter authors include David Nicholls, Christopher Shultis, David Patterson, David Bernstein, Kathan Brown, William Brooks, Leta Miller, John Holzaepfel, Alastair Williams, and Kyle Gann. Includes chronology.
  • David W. Patterson (ed.), John Cage: Music, Philosophy, and Intention, 1933-1950, New York: Routledge, 2002; repr., 2008. This collection of essays is designed to study Cage’s music and life during the early years of his career.
  • Frank Mehring, Sphere Melodies: Die Manifestation Transzendentalistischer Ideen in der Musik von Charles Ives und John Cage, Metzler: Stuttgart, 2003. Th is reprint of Mehring’s PhD dissertation from the Freie Universität Berlin traces the infl uence of Transcendentalist philosophers—specifically Emerson and Thoreau—on the work of Cage and Ives. Mehring notes Cage’s particularly American definition of his self, the problem of “newness” in modern music, his orientation to tradition, his quotation techniques, and his interaction with Transcendental writings. (German)
  • Hans-Friedrich Bormann, Verschwiegene Stille. John Cages performative Ästhetik, Munich: Fink, 2005, 272 pp. Explores Cage’s writings both as written objects and as scripts for performance with a particular focus on Silence and For the Birds. Bormann discusses the creation, premiere, and scores of the so-called silent works: “Silent Prayer,” 4'33", and 0'00". (German)
  • Kyle Gann, No Such Thing as Silence: John Cage's 4'33", Yale University Press, 2010, 272 pp, PDF. [25] [26]. Book-length study that uses Cage’s seminal piece, 4‘33”, as a starting point for a discussion of Cage’s biography and aesthetics. Comprehensive account of the composition of 4‘33”, its reception, and the influence of the piece. Reviews: Joseph (Am Music), Revill (THE), Saval (New Statesman), Richardson (LRB), Berret (TriQuarterly), Lefresne (Crit Stud Improv), Weagel (Modern Drama), Hirst (Independent).
    • Il silenzio non esiste, trans. Melinda Mele, Milan: Isbn, 2012. (Italian)
    • No Silence: 4'33" de John Cage, trans. Jérôme Orsoni, Paris: Allia, 2014. (French)
  • Benjamin Piekut, Experimentalism Otherwise: The New York Avant-Garde and Its Limits, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011, 296 pp. Piekut analyzes four moments in 1964 when experimentalist performances resulted in conflict. The two that pertain most to Cage are first, the New York Philharmonic’s performance of Atlas Eclipticalis during which the orchestra did whatever they wished (including destroying the equipment used to amplify their instruments); and second, the cellist Charlotte Moorman’s outrageous performance of Cage’s 26‘1.1499” for a String Player. Read collectively, these accounts reveal a network of social and power relationships that shaped experimentalism.
  • Peter Jaeger, John Cage and Buddhist Ecopoetics: John Cage and the Performance of Nature, London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013, EPUB. This ecocritical study finds that Cage’s poetry is in itself a performative literary critique through its use of collage, chance-compositional, and nonsyntactical construction. The first section of the book, “The Imitation of Nature in Her Manner of Operation” explores the ecological aspects of Cage’s understanding of Zen Buddhism with a particular focus on Silence, Empty Words, and “Mureau.” The second section, “Not Just Self- but Social Realization,” employs the theories of Lacan in order to engage in what the author calls a psychoanalytical study of Cage.
  • Martin Iddon, New Music at Darmstadt: Nono, Stockhausen, Cage, and Boulez, Cambridge University Press, 2013. Iddon divides this study of the Darmstadt Summer Courses into two parts: the first devoted to the serialists and the second to Cage and composers interested in chance. He notes that before Cage’s residency in 1958 that Cage’s name and music had been part of the summer courses since 1954. He offers here a richly documented account of Cage’s presence at Darmstadt, his reception, and his lasting legacy.
  • Vincenzo Cuomo, Leonardo V. Distaso (eds.), Il caso, Il silenzio, la natura: La Ricerca di John Cage [Chance, Silence, and Nature: Searching for John Cage], Milan: Mimesis, 2013, 127 pp, PDF. This collection of essays is the product of a Cage conference in Naples, Italy, 10-11 October 2012. (Italian)
  • Branden Wayne Joseph, Experimentations: John Cage in Music, Art, and Architecture, New York: Bloomsbury, 2016, 232 pp. [27]. Collection of articles previously printed elsewhere: “A Therapeutic Value for City Dwellers: John Cage’s Early Avant-Garde Aesthetic”; “Hitchhiker in an Omni-Directional Transport: The Spatial Politics of John Cage and Buckminster Fuller”; “The Architecture of Silence”; “Chance, Indeterminacy, Multiplicity”; and “HPSCHD—Ghost or Monster?”. The articles were updated to reflect new scholarship.