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Birthplace U.S.A
Year of birth 1912
One of the greatest American composers of the 20th century, John Cage invented the “prepared piano” during the 1940s, inserting objects such as screws, bolts and scraps of wood into a piano’s strings to transform their timbre. In the early 1950s, influenced by Zen Buddhism and the I Ching, he created the genre of “aleatoric music,” which employed randomness and overturned conventional musical concepts one after another. Cage engaged with visual artists of his day, including Max Ernst, Jackson Pollock, and Marcel Duchamp, and pursued a lifelong collaboration with the choreographer Merce Cunningham, making major contributions to diverse creative fields.

His best-known work, 4' 33", is a piece in three movements, but over the eponymous four minutes and thirty-three seconds, the performer sits in front of his or her instrument without playing any music. This “silent music” has the effect of awakening the audience to the ambient sounds of the world around, which are usually ignored or at least not thought to be any expressive elements. The original scores by David Tudor and the facsimile version will be exhibited.