John Cage Biography


John Cage was a very peculiar man whose rumored reputation is only exceeded by his talents. Cage is an accomplished writer, musician, composer, poet, philosopher, painter, filmmaker, and I think it is more than fair to say, artist. "It may be hard now to imagine how those two words, John Cage, ran like wildfire through the mind, a lightning bolt igniting all one's ideas with possibility. John Cage meant freedom - to follow every dictate of the soul out to its fullest flowering; indeed, a duty to free oneself, to speak with one's own true voice. The bursting 1960s culture found in this courageous artist a champion of liberation so principled that merely to hold his book in your hand was to declare that you too had joined a revolution of intelligence and joy." (Maue, 1992, p. 4) Cage was born in Los Angeles in 1912. His father was an inventor, and his mother was Womenıs Club editor for the Los Angeles Times. After just two years of college he dropped out and convinced his parents to let him go to Europe from 1930-1931 to gain experience and become a writer. He drew Greek Capitals for Jose Pijoan, and became interested in modern music and painting; but left after overhearing Pijoan say "In order to be an architect, one must devote ones life to architecture." (Cage, 1991, p. 3)

There were many accomplishments, awards, and honors, which led to more success, and the overwhelming popularity of Cage. In 1938, he composed a prepared piano piece, "Bacchanale," for a dance by Syvilla Fort. Cage received the Guggenheim Fellowship and Award in 1949, for having invented the prepared piano and for having extended the boundaries of music through his work with percussion orchestra. Cage organized engineers and musicians to make the first music on magnetic tape in 1951. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Academy of Arts and Sciences. (Cage, 1991, pp. 4, 5.)

--Elisabeth Breitling, 2003


John Cage