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4’33” And Counting

Posted by acdtest on January 16, 2004

4’33” And Counting

n response to a communication expressing (justifiable) horrified disbelief that the venerable BBC was planning to broadcast a “performance” of “composer” John Cage’s “composition” 4’33”, one professional classical music critic (name withheld as an act of charity, as per usual) wrote:

I’m thrilled, then, to see the radiant story linked in ArtsJournal today from the Guardian, the British newspaper, putting Cage in a fuller context. Please read it. Cage was a great man and a great artist. I understand why a lot of people don’t see that — he was very far from the way most of us live and think — but I’ve found that many people who think he’s nonsense don’t know much about him. Here you can read what he was about before you form any opinion.

What’s wrong with this picture?

And this is someone who teaches at Julliard, no less.

Is it any wonder classical (i.e., “serious” or “art”) music today is so empty of new works that can bear honest comparison to the great works of the past?

Not a bit of it.

UPDATE (17 January at 6:43 PM Eastern): Weblogger George Hunka of Superfluities takes exception.
UPDATE 2 (21 January at 3:50 PM Eastern): John Cage fan Steve Hicken of Symphony X also takes exception. Mr. Hicken declares 4’33” “an étude” that “help[s] us learn how to pay attention to what is around us.” Uh-huh. A PoMo étude, no doubt.

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