John Cage - Sonatas and Interludes
  Year :   1946
  Location :   USA
  Worktype :   -
  Materials:   -
  Info :   Cornish School of the Arts in Seattle, Washington

  Work Details  
  The Sonatas and Interludes are Cages prepared piano masterwork. Much has been written about the composition, in just about any article or book about the composer. The list of available CD recordings amounts to 14 at the time of writing these lines (December 2000). In the composition Cage expresses his interpretation of the permanent emotions of Indian tradition: The Herois, the Erotic, the Wondrous, the Comic (the four light moods), Sorrow, Fear, Anger, the Odious (the four dark moods) and their common tendency toward tranquility. It was Cages first composition using Hindu philosophy and he composed the Sonatas and Interludes in a period of reading the works of the Indian art historian and critic Ananda K. Coomaraswamy. Sonatas I through VIII and XII through XVI are written in AABB rhythmic structure, using varying proportions. The first two interludes have no structural repetitions. The last two interludes as well as Sonatas IX, X and XI have a prelude, interlude and postlude. In his book The Music of John Cage James Pritchett gives a very thorough analysis of the structure of the work. The order of the Sonatas and Interludes is as follows: Sonatas I-IV; First Interlude; Sonatas V-VIII; Second Interlude; Third Interlude; Sonatas IX-XII, Fourth Interlude; Sonatas XIII-XVI. Sonatas XIV and XV are paired together under the name Gemini - after the work of Richard Lippold (an American sculptor). The preparation of the piano is quite elaborate and takes between 2 to 3 hours. A total of 45 notes are prepared, mainly by using screws and bolts, plus 15 pieces of rubber, 4 pieces of plastic, 6 nuts and one eraser. In the last few years there has been a tendency to perform the work on a smaller piano, instead of concert grand piano. The reason for this is that Cage probably wrote the work on his own, smaller piano. Sources: Paul van Emmerik: Thema s en Variaties; Richard Kostelanetz: John Cage writer - previously uncollected pieces; David Revill: The Roaring Silence; New York Public Library online catalog; C.F.Peters Catalog; Paul van Emmerik: A Cage Compendium