John Cage’s Silent Work Turns 60 Years Old Today

As you may have heard, it's the centennial of John Cage's birth this year, and institutions all around the world are staging special events. It turns out that it's also the 60th anniversary of the com poster's landmark work, 4'33".   The landmark work premiered Aug. 29—that's today—in 1952, in Woodstock, N.Y., at the Maverick Concert Hall. The concert was organized by the Woodstock Artists Association. David Tudor sat at a piano for the amount of time in the title, not playing, closing and then open the keyboard lid to mark the end and beginning of each of the work's three movements.  To mark the 60th anniversary of the piece, composer and author Kyle Gann discussed it for 4 minutes and 33 seconds with documentary filmmaker Cambiz A. Khosravi. It's a nice primer to the work, noting its relation to the thinking of Duchamp and Rauschenberg, and how Cage came up with the idea as a response of sorts to the popularity of Muzak in the late 1940s.

Cage in 1956. (Courtesy Victor Drees/Evening Standard/Getty Images)

As you may have heard, it’s the centennial of John Cage’s birth this year, and institutions all around the world are staging special events in honor of the late composer. It turns out that today happens to be the 60th anniversary of the first performance of Cage’s landmark work, 4’33.”

The work premiered on Aug. 29, 1952, in Woodstock, N.Y., at the Maverick Concert Hall, and was presented by the Woodstock Artists Association. David Tudor sat at a piano for the amount of time in the title, not playing, closing and then opening the keyboard lid to mark the end and beginning of each of the work’s three movements.

Composer and author Kyle Gann recently discussed the piece for, yes, 4 minutes and 33 seconds with documentary filmmaker Cambiz A. Khosravi. The resulting video is a nice primer to the work, noting its relation to the thinking of Duchamp and Rauschenberg, and how Cage came up with the idea as a response of sorts to the popularity of Muzak in the late 1940s. Take a look below.

John Cage 4’33″ from cambiz a. khosravi on Vimeo.