top of page


John Cage and 4'33"



Neal Porter Books

(pub. 4.2.2024)

40 pages

Ages 4 - 8

Author: Nicholas Day

and illustrator: Chris Raschka

Character: John Cage


" One night in 1952, master pianist David Tudor took the stage in a barnlike concert hall called the Maverick. A packed audience waited with bated breath for him to start playing. Little did they know that the performance had already begun.

David was performing John Cage’s 4’33”, whose purpose is to amplify the ambient sounds of whatever venue it inhabits. That shocking first performance earned 4’33” plenty of haters; and yet the piece endures, “performed” by the smallest garage bands and the grandest symphonies alike, year after year. Its fans hear what John Cage hoped we would hear: “Nothing” is never silent, and you don’t need a creative genius, a concert hall, or even a piano to hear something worthwhile. All you have to do is stop and listen.

Tantalizing taste:

"John Cage wanted to write a piece in which people would hear how much something there was in nothing.

He wanted people to hear how much sound there is in silence.

There is always a whole world out there to hear.

There is always something to hear inside the silence.

That was what David Tudor was doing at the Maverick: he was letting the audience hear what was inside the silence."

And something more: The About John Cage section explains: "John Cage ranks among the most important American composers of the last century, but he is famous for his ideas as his music. He is famous for the questions his music asked... For Cage, the questions were always the important part, because the questions were more interesting than the answers. The questions often led to more questions, instead of answers."


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page