John Cage (1912-1992) was a renown composer and one of the leading figures of the American avant-garde movement in the latter half of the 20th century. During the early stages of his career, Cage studied with experimental composers Henry Cowell and Arnold Schoenberg. Cage was most well-known for his innovative approaches to composition, particularly his use of chance operations in pieces such as Imaginary Landscape No. 4 (1951), Music of Changes (1951), and his best-known and most controversial piece, 4'33" (1952), during which the performer is instructed to tacet for the entire duration of the piece. According to Cage, the musical material of 4'33" is meant to consist of the ambient sounds of the performance space. In 1969, Cage, alongside fellow avant-garde composer Lejaren Hiller, premiered HPSCHD, a piece for harpsichord and computer-generated sounds, at the Experimental Music Studios at the University of Illinois. During the performance, audience members were encouraged to move about the performance space, and to come and go as they pleased. Throughout the 1960s and onward, Cage developed "happenings" along with his student Allan Kaprow, which were unplanned theatrical events meant to integrate art into every-day life and erase the boundaries typically created between audience and performer in conventionally staged works. These happenings precipitated the Fluxus movement. Cage's influence also extended into the realm of modern dance through his work with Merce Cunningham, who was Cage's life partner. Despite worsening health throughout the late 70s and 1980s, Cage continued to compose until his death in 1992. His compositional philosophy remains one of the most seminal challenges to assumed definitions of music and musicianship in the 20th century.
Adiminsrative/Biographical History:HPSCHD (1969) was an experimental work by composers John Cage and Lejaren Hiller that premiered at the Experimental Music Studios at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 1958, Hiller founded the Experimental Music Studios and was head of the computer music program at the time of the University's centennial in 1967. As part of events commemorating this anniversary, Hiller invited Cage to submit ideas for electronic compositions involving chance procedures. Cage submitted his ideas for HPSCHD, an immersive work involving harpsichord and computer generated sounds. The piece was written over the span of two years, from 1967-1969, and on May 16, 1969, the piece was premiered to an audience of 6000 on the University of Illinois campus. The performance consisted of seven performers playing amplified harpsichords, 52 tapes containing computer generated sounds were playing over tape decks, and videos and slides simultaneously projected onto screens throughout the space. During the five hour long performance, audience members were free to wander about the performance space and come and go as they pleased. Rather than being a unilinear and prescribed experience, the composers intended this work to be experienced differently by each audience member.
Description: Consists of fifty-two quarter-inch reel-to-reel audio recordings used for the live performance of HPSCHD. All seven-inch reel recordings are full track, recorded at 7.5 ips. Tapes are stored heads out.