People I Know and/or Admire
My first encounters with John Cage came when my older brother brought home a recording of his extended lecture/performance piece called Indeterminacy. I was immediately captivated by the man's voice. He has such an engaging tone and lilt that it was a pure pleasure to listen to him. Additionally, he told some quirky, sometimes pointless stories that were often hilarious.
Cage became a devotee of Zen and aleatoric (chance) music. His seminal idea was to make you stop and listen, not just to the intentional sounds, but also to the ambient noise around you. This was demonstrated in a revolutionary way in his most famous work: 4'22", a composition consisting entirely of rests. (Cage's estate recently sued a musician for copyright infringement when he included a period of silence in a piece he wrote.)
I have been fortunate to have seen Cage in person and to have witnessed two or three performances of 4'22". One of the more interesting was by a saxophone choir at Northwestern University. There were probably 20 saxes standing in a straight line across the stage, arranged in order according to size. The conductor raised his baton, the musicians prepared to play and when he gave the downbeat he started a timer, set the baton down and opened a magazine.
Another piece consisted of several people randomly tuning radios.
Karl Werner Gumpel
Marjorie Bram MacPhillamy