The Music Library is pleased to announce that the John Cage Trust has generously provided permission to provide online access to a very significant lecture given by John Cage at the first June in Buffalo. The lecture took place June 5 1975, the day after a performance of Cage’s work, Song Books, by Julius Eastman and members of the S.E.M. Ensemble. The performance provoked a very strong reaction from Cage and the discussion at the lecture addresses some essential questions concerning “right and wrong” approaches to performing Cage’s music.
Of the many memorable moments in the lecture, the following poignant quote demonstrates how deeply the performance troubled Cage.
“What disturbs me so deeply is that our . . . that the history of our civilization is the history, isn’t it, not of the wars, as they tell us it is. . . but it’s the history of our . . . well, a history that includes Thoreau for instance. . . . Why can’t we learn? Why do we continually, when something is possibly beautiful, why do we find every way in our hands to trample on it? Why, when something could open our eyes, why do we close our eyes and pay no attention? I suppose we have to do it over again. It’s difficult to understand and perhaps there is no hope for us.”
You can listen to the lecture and follow a transcription of it at the following location: