John Cage Remembers Schoenberg and Talks 4:33

Email a Friend

In this 1985 interview from WNYC's Meet the Composer, John Cage describes his first musical assignments in the WPA and eventual study with Arnold Schoenberg. Despite his formal training, he became inspired by the notion that all objects have a spirit which can be heard when the object is set into vibration.

Cage addresses his famous 1950's "silent" work 4:33, saying there is no such thing as silence. This grew from his movement towards Oriental thought and Zen Buddism. His focus then shifts to South Asia, where he quotes musician Gita Sarabhai's definition of the purpose of music: to "sober and quiet the mind and make it susceptible to divine influences."

Nowadays, he says he really doesn't need music. There are enough environmental sounds to listen to. When asked where he sees music going, Cage cites a delta: "Instead of being mainstream, it's like a river that is divided into many streams."

Music heard in this interview includes: Bacchanal (1938) and The Seasons (1947) 

From March 8-30, From the Archives streams weekdays at 7 AM and 8 PM on Q2 Music. For more information on American Mavericks, visit