John Cage Performs His Avant-Garde Piano Piece 4’33” … in 1’22” (Harvard Square, 1973)




We’ve seen various performances of John Cage’s famous silent piece 4’33”. But never during our decade digging up cultural curiosities have we encountered 4’33” performed by Cage himself. That is, until now. Above you can watch a video outtake from Nam June Paik’s Tribute to John Cage, filmed in 1973, in Harvard Square. Boston’s WBGH describes the scene:

In the video he is seated at a piano, with spectators surrounding him. He toys with his viewer’s expectations by not playing the piano, which is what the general populace would expect from a performance involving a piano. On the piano shelf there are a pocket watch and a slip of paper. He keeps touching and looking at the pocket watch which draws the audience’s attention to the idea of time, and that they are waiting for something to happen, and he also raises and lowers the piano fallboard. There is also text that appears in this particular video that says “This is Zen for TV. Open your window and count the stars. If rainy count the raindrops on the puddle. Do you hear a cricket? …or a mouse.”

Another unconventional item to add to the list: Cage performs 4’33” in 1’22”!

For a closer look at 4’33” read Josh Jones’ earlier post on the Curious Score for John Cage’s “Silent” Zen Composition 4’33.” For more music by Cage, stream this free 65-hour playlist.

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Related Content:

See the Curious Score for John Cage’s “Silent” Zen Composition 4’33”

The Music of Avant-Garde Composer John Cage Now Available in a Free Online Archive

Stream a Free 65-Hour Playlist of John Cage Music and Discover the Full Scope of His Avant-Garde Compositions

How to Get Started: John Cage’s Approach to Starting the Difficult Creative Process


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