The BBC Symphony Orchestra Performs 4′33,″ the Controversial Composition by John Cage, Born 100 Years Ago Today

100 years ago today John Cage started leaving his mark on our cultural landscape. And, by the time he was all done, says The New Yorker’s resident music critic Alex Ross, “he may have surpassed Stravinsky as the most widely cited, the most famous and/or notorious, of twentieth-century composers,” with his influence extending “far outside classical music, into contemporary art and pop culture.”

We couldn’t let the centenary celebration of Cage’s birth pass by without revisiting 4′33,″ his most famous and controversial composition from 1952. Depending on how you interpret it, the experimental composition offers a reflection on the sound of silence, or perhaps the sounds you hear when the music goes silent and the attention shifts to the audience in the concert hall. This performance comes to us courtesy of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. And now we leave you with some bonus material.

John Cage Performs Water Walk on “I’ve Got a Secret” (1960)

Cage’s Norton Lectures Presented at Harvard (1988-89)

John Cage Unbound: A New Digital Archive Presented by The New York Public Library

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.