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For William McN. who studied with Ezra Pound

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in ten Minutes
                                           Come back: you will
        have taught me chiNese
                                        (sAtie).
                         shall I retUrn the favor?
                                          Give you
                                      otHer lessons
                                        (Ting!)?
                                         Or would you prefer
                                   sileNce?

John Cage, "For William McN. who studied with Ezra Pound" from Empty Words: Writings ‘73-’78. Copyright © 1979 by John Cage.  Reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.
Source: Empty Words: Writings ‘73-’78 (Wesleyan University Press, 1979)
For William McN. who studied with Ezra Pound

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  • Born in Los Angeles, prolific avant-garde composer, writer, and artist John Cage was the son of an inventor and a Los Angeles Times society writer. He grew up in Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Los Angeles and was educated at Pomona College and the University of California, Los Angeles, where he studied with classical composer Arnold Schoenberg. Cage met his lifelong partner and collaborator, the choreographer Merce Cunningham, while teaching at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. Though Cage invented the “prepared piano,” a piano with carefully altered strings, at Cornish, it was at Black Mountain College that he staged the first of his infamous “happenings” with Cunningham, painter Robert Rauschenberg, and poet Charles Olson. Beginning in 1942, Cage lived primarily in New York.

    Influenced by the ready-mades of Marcel Duchamp, the design of Buckminster Fuller, and the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein, Cage created inventive, nonintentional musical compositions with unorthodox musical...

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