Pritchett on Cage and Feldman

The other week our friend Oded got in touch, asking if we knew about a new topic on The piano in my life on the four long conversations between John Cage and Morton Feldman in 1966–7, known as the Radio Happenings. The piano in my life is a blog written by James Pritchett, and Pritchett wrote one of the best books on Cage (it’s a classic: if you haven’t read it, try the Google Books taster: here). So it’s no surprise that The piano in my life is one of our favourite blogs here at the Experimental Music Catalogue.

The post to which Oded referred turned out to be the first in a series of posts about this conversation, starting with an article in The Guardian newspaper about the conversation. Pritchett took it up from here, about a gap in the tape at a crucial point when Cage mentioned Varèse.

JC: Everyone I mentioned that thought to is also struck, because those other ways of explaining Varèse [tape is damaged at this point; sound out for 15 seconds]. Do you suppose he didn’t know what he was doing? or knew what he was doing and didn’t want anyone to know?

This 15-second gap exists in the conversation as archived on RadioOM and Youtube.

However, Pritchett had a copy of the tape that included the missing comment, and this string of The piano in my life posts reveals the background about the Radio Happenings and what was in their conversations.

When Oded notified me of the first post, I decided to wait a while, so I could provide a link to the whole story. But now that it is almost complete, it’s much too good not to share. Pritchett has yet to finish his post, which will describe how he received the full, undamaged tape in a New York Indian restaurant. I’ll update you when he does so.

Author: Virginia

Virginia Anderson is a writer who messes with the EMC Blog. She specialises in the study of experimental, minimalist, and free improvisatory music. She also plays clarinet, and has recorded on Zanja, Advance, and Rastascan Recordings, specialising in new works for Eb clarinet and free improvisation.