Memories and Imitations

I spent a recent Saturday morning chatting with Laura Kuhn of the John Cage Trust, a conversation now available online in the latest episode of her program “All Things Cage” for WGXC. We talked about my time in the mid-1980s doing research at John Cage’s place at 18th Street and 6th Avenue in New York. It was fun to remember what it was like going up there every week to pore over his papers, trying to figure out how he did what he did.

The image above is the letter he sent me when I first sent him a letter explaining that I wanted to understand the details of how he composed his early chance compositions, asked whether he had documents related to them, and if so, could I come up and see them? As I remember, I got my response within a day or two:

I will be glad to cooperate with you. In some cases the materials you are interested in exist, in some not. I am more careful to keep worksheets now than formerly. I gave David Tudor worksheets & books in connection with the Music of Changes. . . . What else there is I have at this address. You may call me . . . to make arrangements to see what I have kept.

Cordially,

John Cage

On the program with Laura, we also talk a good deal about Cage’s Cheap Imitation and the upcoming recording by Aki Takahashi to be released by Mode Records. This includes the first recording of Morton Feldman’s arrangement of Cheap Imitation, an excerpt of which you can hear at the end of “All Things Cage.” I will have more about Cheap Imitation on the blog here soon.

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