Sonatas and Interludes, for prepared piano by John Cage
The Williams music department continues its yearlong celebration of the centenary of John Cage’s birth with a complete performance of his 1948 masterpiece, Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano. John Cage was among the most influential composers, artists, and thinkers of the second half of the twentieth century, and his legacy permeates contemporary culture as well as music. Perhaps best known for his experiments and provocations, this performance is a chance to focus on his extraordinary achievements as a composer. With the Sonatas and Interludes, Cage fully re-imagines the piano as a percussion orchestra composed of gentle gongs, wood blocks, and buzzers by altering, or preparing, 45 of the instrument’s notes through the insertion in the strings of screws, bolts, rubber, plastic, nuts, and an eraser according to precise specifications.
With a duration of more than an hour, Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes is one of the major, if largely quiet, monuments of the twentieth century. For this performance its sixteen sonatas and four interludes are divided up between members of the music department faculty and fourteen Williams music students. It is a rare and extraordinary opportunity to hear an unusual, introspective, and stunningly beautiful masterpiece played on a piano unlike any other.
This free event is open to the public.