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John Cage - Composition in Retrospect

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Written in his characteristic "mesostics" (linked lines of prose poetry), Composition in Retrospect is a statement of methodology in which composer John Cage examines the central issues of his work: Indeterminacy, nonunderstanding, inconsistency, imitation, variable structure, contingency. Finished only shortly before his death in 1992, Composition in Retrospect completes the documentation of Cage's thought that began with his classic book Silence (1961), but it is an introduction and invitation to his work as much as a summary or conclusion. Also included in this volume (at Cage's request) is "Themes and Variations," a piece written in 1982 about friends and heroes such as Jasper Johns, Buckminster Fuller, Marcel Duchamp and Erik Satie. Together these pieces form a book that is both a testament to the artists Cage admired and a clear statement of his own ars poetica.
John Cage (1912-1992) was an American composer, writer, artist and mycologist. Having studied with Arnold Schonberg (who proclaimed him "not a composer, but an inventor-of genius") and Henry Cowell in the 30s, Cage went on to devise landmark compositions for percussion and prepared piano before making his hugely influential work 4'33" (1952). Later works privileged composition by chance procedure--"imitating Nature in the manner of her operation"--and the use of ambient noise, electronics and tape manipulation. Cage's influence can be seen in the works of countless composers (especially the New York School "group" of Morton Feldman, Christian Wolff and Earle Brown), artists (such as those affiliated with Fluxus) and writers.