Friday, July 06, 2012
Where the Heart Beats 4
Chapter 3 of Kay Larson's book, Where The Heart Beats, is titled "Merce Cunningham" even though he is not a major character of the chapter. Yes, this is the first time Cage meets him, but their connection is not significant at this point. Rather, it is Cage's connections to dancers such as Bonnie Bird and Martha Graham, and artists like Mark Tobey that influenced his life at this point. Larson describes the visual arts very well, and the dance repertoire adequately. But her musings on Cage's music itself is lacking. She makes the claim that Cage invented live electronic music in 1939 with Imaginary Landscape #1, showing no awareness of the theremin (invented in 1919) or the ondes martenot (invented in 1928). And her descriptions of the invention of the prepared piano lack the momentousness that this amazing development deserves. The interaction between Zen and Dada is very interesting, and I'm amazed at the luck Cage had to be in the right place at the right time. He got hired at the Cornish School of the Arts, the location of the first radio lab in the country. He was involved in a summer percussion concert at Mills College that suddenly became a Bauhaus workshop with the arrival of László Moholy-Nagy. Granted, Cage did exhibit courage to make his own opportunities, by moving to New York with no money, only a shady promise from Max Ernst for housing.