• Michael Nyman
  • For John Cage (1992)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Commissioned by London Brass

  • 4tpt(2flg).hn.3tbn.btbn(euph).tba
  • 15 min

Programme Note



The first sketches for this piece (all subsequently rejected) were made in a hotel room in Naguya on 29th September 1991. That sheet bears the ascription (gleaned from CNN) 'Miles Davis died 8.30am'. Another more recent sheet notes the death of the tango king Astor Piazzola.

The piece was completed without title on 12th August 1992. A title once considered was Canons, Chorales and Waltzes, but this was dropped since there was only one canon (the opening) and only genuine waltz (apart from a passage towards the end which superimposes the canon over a waltz rhythm). The following day I read the paper that John Cage had died - the day I finished writing. For this reason, but mainly because Cage was the most revolutionary practical music thinker of the 20th century, this piece is dedicated to him. His influence on my music may be perceived under the 'very un-Cagein' surface: though stylistically there may be little in For John Cage that may have been to his taste, I hope he would at least have appreciated its diversity, its non-simultaneous multiplicity.

© Michael Nyman
October 1992