John Cage got his gun

This rare image of the transformational composer was taken in Buffalo, upstate New York, in March 1968.

It has been rediscovered and is now represented by Lebrecht Music&Arts.

The photograph, by Jim Tuttle, shows Cage taking part in a performance of David Rosenboom’s To That Predestined Dancing Place. Buffalo, in the late 1960s, was a hive of modernist activity.

Read all about it here.

John Cage with gun during performance of David Rosenboom's 'To That Predestined Dancing Place' at Albright-Knox Art Gallery performance for the 2nd Festival of the Arts. (Edward Burnham on percussion). March 1968 ©Lebrecht. This image is the property and copyright of Lebrecht Music and Arts. The moral rights of LMA and its Authors have been asserted. The image cannot be reproduced without obtaining a licence from

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    • It’s cool Borstlap – you don’t have to keep up the hate towards music’s “untalented” composers – we will just assume that whenever Norm posts about Cage or Boulez or any number of the folks who you’ve decided via some aesthetic criteria don’t qualify as musicians that you are seething away bitterly somewhere.

      Love your music btw! Listening to Avatara right now.

      • Sorry, my observations are not bitter or hateful at all, just uncommon, so people who are surprised by them – thinking naively that people like Cage, Stockhausen et al are real composers – read a tone in them that is not there. Irony maybe, OK, but bitter? Hatred? Not at all. But a spade is a spade. I think it is not bad that sometimes an objection is heard against received ‘wisdom’ which is, on closer examination, complete nonsense. Personal taste hardly plays a role there.

        That Avatara piece is in twofold on internet but both interpretations are not right. Bildau’s is a wilful, conscious distortion (à la mitrailleur, he know better than the composer) and Van Veen’s, although better, interrupts the flow all the time.

        • I’m not sure… Perhaps hate is not the right word then, but calling someone crazy and untalented based only on one set of criteria is not particularly nice! I’m also not sure what you mean by recieved wisdom. As in folks only believe he might be a genius because they’ve been told that he is? I’m pretty sure Cage didn’t think of himself as a genius. And but so anyway, you do point out rightly that it is reasonable to object “sometimes”, however then I would need to ask your particular definition of this word given that you do seem to raise objection almost every single time one of these crazy untalented composers is mentioned here!

          I hope you find someone who will play your music in the way it is intended!

          • Thank you…..

            After WW II, modernism gradually got into academia and music history writing, where it was described as ‘the development’ of Western music, updated by modern times, following the propaganda of its composers. Then it got into professional education, with the result that crowds of youngsters, who discovered that with modernism, you did not need the cumbersome weight of history and musical talent, began to populate a space best called the ‘modern scene’, separated from the central performance culture which went-on ignoring modernist works. This scene could only survive on state subsidies which were generous, and from this cushioned position, a whole mythology was developed around the concept of ‘avantgarde’ which justified money, performing space, educational status, and which bitterly fought for acceptance as music and thus, performing space in regular performing practice. People like Cage have greatly contributed to that mythology, and every person with a minimum of intellectual, aesthetic and especially: musical sophistication, sees and hears through the nonsense of the claims that it has something to do with music as an art form. So, that is why.


    • Look, that is what I mean. Genius? Of all time? Comparable with Monteverdi, JS Bach, Mozart, etc. etc. up till Stravinsky, Ravel, Bartok? If one has no idea about these mentioned people, Cage may be really great, but as soon as one gets acquainted with….. etc. etc.

      I think it would have been better if Cage would have stretched his 4’3″ over the entire range of his life time. That would have spared us the enthusiasm of people whose musical understanding is on the same wave length as Cage’s.

      • I don’t agree with this at all. 4’33” is the only piece of classical music I can play myself, even without a piano, and I’m proud of it! I admit that often I play it many times in a row, it’s so relaxing. I can even play it when walking in the grounds, or filing all those boring letters from angry performers. I can hum it wherever I am. Now, someone who can write such piece, accessible for people like me, must be a genius, that old wig JS Bach never achieved that! Cage is my man… he is the right composer for today, for people of my generation, he was just ahead of his time like all geniusses. Mr B claims that Cage merely got mad because of eating the wrong mushrooms, but who knows, maybe he simply got high on it.

    • Donald Trump would love this photo. To me it looks like the perfect puplicity shot for the National Rifle Association of America. Like many others in the time of Cold War John Cage was heavily promoted by the “Congress of Cultural Freedom” – CFF (funded by the “Central Intelligence Agency” – CIA). JC tried to make himself interesting in talking about many ideas and artists (Zen Buddishm, Meister Eckhart, Henry David Theroeau, I Ging, Mao Tse Tung, Eugenics. Indeterminacy, Richard Buckminster Fuller, Herbert Marshall McLuhan, Marcel Duchamp, Anarchy, Schoenberg, Webern, Satie, Charles Ives, Henry Cowell. Jasper Johns, Robert Motherwell, Robert Rauschenberg, Mark Tobey, Jackson MacLow, Clark Coolidge, James Joyce and many more). JC was not a composer but an inventor. However, I have serious doubts about his most famous “inventions”. He borrowed many ideas from others, like silent pieces (e.g. Alphonse Allais and Erwin Schulhoff already silent pieces many years before JC), prepared piano (Henry Cowell prepared the piano before JC) etc. John Cage was one of the greatest fakes of the 20th Century!

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