## 1-2 Peter Roggenkamp, piano
## 3-4 Schola Cantorum Stuttgart, Leitung: Clytus Gottwald, John Cage, vortrag
Tracks 3 and 4 recorded in concert Stuttgart, 22.6.1975.
Originally released on LP as WER 60074 in 1976.
========= from the cover ==========
About John Cage And His Music
John Cage was born on 5 September 1912 in Los Angeles, California. After finishing school the eighteen-year old went on his travels for a year and a half: Paris, Biskra, Mallorca, Madrid, Berlin. Then he returned to the U.S. and studied with Henry Cowell (new and exotic music), the Schoenberg disciples Richard Buhling and Adolph Weiss, and finally two years intensively with Schoenberg himself. In between, on the side and after that, John Cage, a man without means, pursued many professions: gardener, college teacher, accompanist of a dancing group, book binder, leisure time manager in a children's home. Beginning in 1937, he also was active as a composer and leader of his own ensemble. Until 1942 he lived in California most of the time, then moved to New York. Cage stems from the American tradition - a tradition more open than ours; less related to the past, with more willingness to try things, to experiment; less defined by ties, more filled with a slightly anarchic pathos of liberty, with pleasure in adventure, and a different orientation; Europe and its culture - irrespective of the heritage stemming from there - is far away in the East and like a mother from whom one wants to dissociate oneself; in California one looks West, toward China or Japan - the orient is almost nearer.
The first works of Cage are experimental and related to the future. The Future of Music - a Credo is the title of his first manifesto, and this future bears the name "all-sound music". These are works for a pure percussion group, in which also sheet-metal cans, brake drums, and electronic sound generators such as radios, turntables etc. are used. The manner of this music is "culture revolution". If there is any tradition which Cage follows here it is dadaism. In an early stage already he refers to Satie, to whom he later devotes a brilliant article (Pleading for Satie), and at about the same time he writes his Music for Marcel Duchamp - for prepared piano.
Referring to the table of preparations for Sonatas and Interludes, Cage describes how this preparation is made: Mutes of different material are fixed between the strings of such keys which shall be played in a way as to produce changes of all characteristics of the piano sound. The mutes are screws, bolts, rubber and objects of plastic. All factors of the preparation of the piano - the objects used as well as their position - have been found out on an experimental way. Their choice is based rather on personal taste than on calculated relations. The result is a scale of sounds ranging from the deep to the high octaves lacking, however, those pitch proportions typical of scales and keys. These sounds are of the most different timbre and of a sound intensity which can be compared with that of the harpsichord. In its effect the prepared piano is like a percussion ensemble in the hands of a single player.
The sound of the Sonatas and Interludes written in 1946 - 48 is no longer as provocative as that of the works of the early forties. This change is related to an encounter about which Cage reports as follows: When / tried to find out in the mid-forties why a work of art is made in our society, I did not think of the theatre but especially of music. My search for a reason for the performing of art had this cause: I had learned at school that art was a problem of communication. It struck me, however, that all composers compose differently. If art was communication, then we used different languages. We were so to speak in the situation of the Tower of Babel where nobody understood the other person. So I decided either to find another reason or give up the whole matter. Lou Harrison and a few other composers helped me in my investigations. Just at that time a female musician came from India who was alarmed about the influence of western music in Indian tradition. For six months she intensely studied western music with various teachers. I saw her almost every day. Before her return to India I learned from her the reason why one makes a musical composition by Indian tradition: in order to calm the mind and thus open it to divine influence. And in an explanation to the Sonatas and Interludes he says: These compositions were an attempt to express the eternal emotions of Indian tradition, the heroic feeling, the erotic feeling, the amazement, the cheerfulness, the concern, the fright, the rage, the loathing and the tendency to calm common to all these feelings.
In the period after 1948 things became quite restless, though. A stormy development takes place in the music of Cage around 1950. After the Sona-fas, pieces working with very limited materials originate, sounding almost childlike, in which an intense communication of the musicians develops, however (e. g. String Quartet, A Flower for voice and closed piano). Soon after this quartet Cage composes the extremely complex Music of Changes, which forestalls the style of the early piano pieces of Stockhausen or also of Structures of Boulez. At the same time Cage writes his first lectures - compositions with texts of an absurd type that are performed in a definite way: Lecture on Nothing, Lecture on Something. In 1952, Imaginary Landscape No. 4 for 12 radios (24 players), Wafer Music, a musical theatre piece for piano, whistles, water container and similar utensils were published and the first tape composition Williams Mix. In the same year Cage performs the first happening at the Black Mountain College and 4'33", three movements of silence, in Woodstock. In these works the sound material is expanded to such an extreme extent that any sound - intermissions! - can be encompassed. The "all-sound music" is achieved and the musical space free of all limitations. The subsequent works effect the liberation of musical time. The piano concerto from the year 1957 marks an extreme position. The musicians have parts on which experimental actions are noted, which they can perform as they please. The treatment of time is also at their discretion. The only fixed thing is an agreed-upon total time within which they shall perform their individual action. Consequently, not only musical space and musical time are set free, but emancipation of the musicians is performed as well. In works like the piano concerto and more yet in the works of the sixties (beginning with Theatre Piece) Cage to a growing extent encountered the social problems of music. Art and life are seen in close interrelation to the effect that processes of life become music - and vice versa musk assumes decisive importance in life. In the gigantic works Variations IV and HPSCHD for a huge number of sound sources of the most different kinds, which Cage describes as an extremely complex penetration of an unimaginably large number of centres he strives for a political art - one that does not deal in politics but is political itself. As an anarchist it is my objective to abolish politics. I would prefer to drop the subject of power, be it black power, flower power or student power. Only when looking through the rear window we are concerned with power. When looking ahead we see cooperation and new possibilities in order that the world stay lively and there be room for every kind of life.
Simultaneously, Cage records ideas in a kind of journal entitled How to Improve the World (You Will Make Everything Worse). Work on social changes becomes important or even decisive. The function of an artist shrinks to that of a stimulator and supplier of ideas who also could draw the attention to the pleasure in environmental noises, i. e. rendering assistance in life how to cope with the acoustics of the environment. The production of works of art becomes less important. Somewhere in the journal Cage designates himself as an anarchist. This has nothing in common with present anarchism. Instead, Cage refers to the American tradition, especially to Henry David Thoreau, a significant philosopher and political theoretician of the 19th century. The works of the later years are with few exceptions homages to this significant thinker all but unknown in Europe. The Song Books take many texts - others are from newspapers, books about mushrooms etc. - from Thoreau's yet topical socially critical opus The Duty to Civil Disobedience and from his diaries - a concise aphorism from the latter: The best government is no government And the lecture Empty Words is a non-syntactic mixture of words, syllables, letters also from Thoreau's diaries. Hence, his texts here are performed anarchically so to speak.
With regard to the performance of Song Books we read in the preface: There are fifty-six parts for 'Song Book /' (Solos for Voice 3-58) and thirty-four parts for 'Song Book II' (Solos for Voice 59 - 93). The solos may be sung with or without other indeterminate music, e. g. 'Rozart Mix' and 'Concert for Piano and Orchestra'. The solos may be used by one or more singers. Any number of solos in any order and any superimposition may be used. Superim-position is sometimes possible, since some are not songs/ but are directives for theatrical activity (which, on the other hand, may include voice production). Given a total performance time-length, each singer may make a program that will fill it. Given two or more singers, each should make an independent program, not fitted or related in a predetermined way to anyone else's program. Any resultant silence in a program is not to be feared. Such formal course in anarchism practised artistically. An homage to Thoreau hence takes place in such a way that a realization of his ideas is demonstrated - by the way, simultaneously an homage to Satie because the subject of the Song Books is we connect Satie with Thoreau. Much of this is retrospection to those who became important for the composer, who defined him from his beginning. Retrospection also in that Cage forms a connection to his own compositions and composing techniques of the sixties: included among the soli of Song Books is Solo for Voice I and II, both from the heroic period around 1960 when Cage, alarming and rousing, broke into European music. The Etudes Australes have a similar relationship to the own past. About in 1960 Cage had written the Atlas Eclipticalis for a large orchestra, to which he obtained the notes from the constellations of a celestial atlas. In analogy, he now uses an Atlas Australis published in Czechoslovakia, whose maps of stars are printed in six colours, by superimposing transparent note paper on the constellotions and tracing them in various ways. By this procedure they became notes, so that in a certain way stars begin to sound in Etudes Australes. This may sound like mysticism and privacy - in fact, the etudes were written for the pianist Grete Sultan personally. Nevertheless they possess lightness and a peculiar charm, which emanates from the title already. The latest compositions of Cage have something of late works written by a man after he actually has given up composing.