John Cage: In a Landscape

Program notes for Tippet Rise Art Center, July 13, 2018.
© Benjamin Pesetsky 2018. Not to be reprinted without permission.

In a Landscape will surprise listeners who know John Cage only by his reputation as an iconoclast. It was written to accompany choreography by the dancer Louise Lippold, and Cage premiered it with her in August 1948 at Black Mountain College in North Carolina.

This is gentle and immersive music. The only element of indeterminacy (Cage’s technique of leaving some musical elements up to the performer, or to chance) is that it may be played on either piano or harp, and the only unusual effect is that if played on piano, the sustain pedal is held the whole time, and the last chord is silently depressed for its resonance.