John Cage, Inventor of Genius: on Third ear (Radio program), BBC Radio 3, 1989-12-12

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John Cage, Inventor of Genius: on Third ear (Radio program), BBC Radio 3, 1989-12-12
Additional title: Third ear (Radio program : BBC Radio 3)
Merce Cunningham Dance Company (Associated name)
Cage, John (Interviewee)
Cheevers, Anthony (Radio producer)
Dickinson, Peter, 1925-1961 (Host)
Brown, Earle, 1926-2002 (Commentator)
Cunningham, Merce (Commentator)
Lederman, Minna (Commentator)
Mac Low, Jackson (Commentator)
Rockwell, John, 1940- (Commentator)
Stockhausen, Karlheinz, 1928-2007 (Commentator)
Thomson, Virgil, 1896-1989 (Commentator)
Tomkins, Calvin, 1925- (Commentator)
Tudor, David, 1926-1996 (Commentator)
BBC Radio 3 (Broadcaster)

Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Collection. Audio materials

Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1989-12-12
Library locations
Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound
Shelf locator: *LTC-A 1475
Cage, John
Cage, John. 4'33", no. 1 no. 1
Cage, John. Atlas eclipticalis
Cage, John. Music of changes
Aleatory music
Music -- 20th century -- Philosophy and aesthetics
Radio programs
Content: Contains a radio program on John Cage with host Peter Dickinson for broadcast on December 12, 1989 by BBC Radio 3, produced by Anthony Cheevers. Commentators include: Merce Cunningham, Virgil Thomson, Minna Lederman, Earle Brown, Jackson Mac Low, David Tudor, John Rockwell, Calvin Tomkins, and Karlheinz Stockhausen.
Content: Title, date and location provided by cataloger based on typed and handwritten notes on original cassette and container, and audition.
Content: Typed note on original container: "Inventor of Genius - John Cage ; Presenter Peter Dickinson, Producer Anthony Cheevers ; BBC R3". Handwritten note on original cassette: "CLN95089YY0317 ; The Inventor of Genius". Handwritten paper insert: "Tape no: SCN 946 89BF 0499 ; Title: Inventor of Genius ; cassette no: CLN950/89YY0317 ; Side: 1+2 ; Date: 12/12/89".
Venue: Broadcast in, London, England, 1989 December 12.
Acquisition: Gift; Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation, 2011-2012.
Physical Description
Extent: 1 audiocassette (60 minutes) : analog
Sound quality is good.
Streaming file 1, side a: Clip of John Cage speaking about musicians and sounds; Cage speaks about an experience of hearing his own body sounds in the late 1940's that impacted his philosophy of composition; host Peter Dickinson introduces Cage and gives his early biography; Cage speaks about becoming a student of Arnold Schoenberg; the different views of musical harmony between himself and Schoenberg; creating percussion music for an experimental film by Oskar Fischinger that led him to further work with percussion; an anecdote about writing music and the open minded reception he received from dancers and visual artists; Dickinson describes Cage's meeting of Merce Cunningham while playing for dance classes of teacher Bonnie Bird in Seattle, Washington; Merce Cunningham briefly speaks about Cage's early compositions for dance; Dickinson briefly describes Cage's process to create the first prepared piano composition, as well as Cage's move to New York in 1942; Virgil Thomson briefly describes the circumstances around Cage's first concert in New York; Minna Lederman speaks about Cage's first concert, especially his use of percussion and non-musical instruments, and the early reception of his music; Cage speaks about the period around his divorce with Xenia [Cage], his artistic crises at that time, and his brief experience with Jungian psychoanalysis; Earle Brown tells an anecdote about Cage's acceptance of Zen Buddhism as a philosophy and how this impacted Cage's compositions; Jackson Mac Low speaks about attending D.T. [Daisetz Teitaro] Suzuki's classes on Zen with Cage; David Tudor speaks about the influence of Pierre Boulez's music on Cage; Cage speaks about reasons for his use of chance operations in composition; being introduced to the I-Ching [Yi jing] by Lou Harrison, and, later, receiving a copy of it from Christian Wolff by which he began to compose the Music of changes (1952); they speak about Morton Feldman's response to Music of changes; John Rockwell speaks about Cage's idiosyncratic use of chance within structure; Dickinson briefly describes Cage's use of magnetic tape and performance explorations at Black Mountain College; Cunningham speaks about Cage's first "happening" at Black Mountain College in 1952; Tudor speaks about how 4'33" (1952) was derived from Cage's experience composing Music of changes with the I-Ching; Cage briefly speaks about writing on silence in his unpublished text, A composer's confessions, but not composing for silence until seeing Bob's [Robert Rauschenberg's] White paintings; Calvin Tomkins speaks about Rauschenberg's White paintings and how Cage encouraged Rauschenberg artistically; Cage explains why he favors 4'33"; Karlheinz Stockhausen speaks about being introduced to Cage through Boulez and Tudor; Tudor speaks about his impression of how Stockhausen received Cage; Kirch [unidentified?]'s impression of Cage's music after attending performances at Darmstadt [University] for the "Neue musik" audience; Dickinson introduces the 25-year retrospective concert of the music of John Cage, given in 1958 at Town Hall, New York. Streaming file 2, side b: Merce Cunningham speaks about the 25-year retrospective concert of the music of John Cage, given in 1958 at Town Hall, New York; John Cage speaks about the audience's disruptive reception of the 25-year concert and how he was seen as controversial at the time; Cunningham speaks about Cage's interest in new directions and possibilites in sound; [unidentified speaker] describes how musicians worked with Cage's early scores; Earle Brown speaks about his concern that Cage did not give enough "information" to the musicians in his orchestral scores; Brown speaks about the New York Philharmonic Orchestra performance of Atlas elipticalis (1961-62) and the reactions of the musicians to this score; Peter Dickinson and Cage speak about some of the difficulties that Cage faced within the music industry; Cage speaks briefly about his use of magnetic tape in composition and how his notation became graphic; Dickinson speaks about Cage's use of mesostics, his interest in James Joyce's Finnegan's wake, and other literary influences on Cage; Cage tells an anecdote about Hawaiian history that he learned while living there and mentions the writings of Marshall McLuhan and Buckminster Fuller; Cage speaks about Mao Zedong's writings; he speaks about observing daily reality as a "poetic experience"; Brown speaks about one of his last debates with Cage about musical composition; Virgil Thomson speaks about the influence of Marcel Duchamp on Cage, especially his idea of planned chaos; Karlheinz Stockhausen speaks about how Cage is a great designer rather than a composer; Jackson Mac Low speaks about Cage's works in the context of the literary realm; [unidentified speaker] speaks about Cage as a writer and philosopher; John Rockwell speaks about Cage's influence as a writer and philosopher; [unidentified speaker] speaks about the influence of Cage's thinking on modern music; [Stockhausen?] speaks about Cage as an example to many artists; Cage speaks about his interest in sounds that are unintentional because they are "more useful"; they speak about Cage's charismatic personality and Cage's desire to distance his personality from his works.
Type of Resource
Sound recording
RLIN/OCLC: 932895619
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b20861318
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): bbc95ea0-b949-0133-9b75-3c07547a230f
Rights Statement
This item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Item timeline of events

  • 1989: Created
  • 2024: Found by you!
  • 2025

MLA Format

Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, The New York Public Library. "John Cage, Inventor of Genius" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1989.

Chicago/Turabian Format

Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, The New York Public Library. "John Cage, Inventor of Genius" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed July 14, 2024.

APA Format

Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, The New York Public Library. (1989). John Cage, Inventor of Genius Retrieved from

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (sound recording) John Cage, Inventor of Genius, (1989)|author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=July 14, 2024 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

John Cage, Inventor of Genius