The first page of John Cage’s 4’33”
“On a warm summer evening in August 1952 pianist David Tudor approached a piano on stage at the Maverick Concert Hall in Woodstock, New York. Stopwatch in hand, Tudor sat before the piano and, without striking a note, premiered John Cage’s composition 4’33”.
Commonly known as Cage’s ‘silent’ piece, 4’33” comprises three movements during which a performer—or performers—are instructed to produce no intentional sounds for four minutes and 33 seconds. This radical gesture upended the conventional structure of music, shifting attention from the performer to the audience, and allowing for endless possibilities of ambient sounds to fill the space.
When discussing the work over his lifetime, Cage emphasized that, rather than intending to simply shock his audience, he hoped to attune listeners to silence as a structure within musical notation.”
View works from the MoMA exhibit There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4’33” here.