Catapulting into Classical

A headlong leap into music, history, and composing

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John Cage: The Apps

Photograph of composer John Cage, 1988, photo by Rob Bogaerts, via Wikimedia Commons.

While doing background research for the most recent free concerts post, I stumbled upon these John Cage apps.

These apps were developed by the John Cage Trust and can be found at the official John Cage website.

iPhone users can download the 4’33” app.  With this app, users can capture the ambient sounds in their environment and upload them (in three movements).  You can also listen to other people’s contributions from a variety of locations around the globe.  Sorry, no Android version available.  Though the website says it is free, it is $0.99 at the App Store.

iPhone and Android users can download the free Prepared Piano app.  The iPad and Android tablet versions cost $0.99 each.  With this app, you can play samples of a piano prepared with various bits of hardware placed under and between the piano strings.  You can record your own performance, using nine sampled notes at a time (free versions; the tablet versions have 36 prepared notes), and share it.  It is noted that these are the actual materials used by John Cage in his Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano.

You might want to explore the Cage website, which includes a recording of his work Empty Words.  In this piece, Cage reads from the Journals of Henry David Thoreau, leaving out randomly-selected sentences, phrases, words, and syllables in the four movements (lasting over eleven hours), sometimes yielding an effect similar to listening to Beowulf in Old EnglishEmpty Words runs continuously on the site, so you will come in at a random spot in the piece.  If you arrive at a moment of silence, wait, or come back at the randomly-selected time of your choice.  Perhaps in four minutes and 33 seconds.


Image attribution:  Photograph of John Cage by Rob Bogaerts / Anefo, 1988, Fotocollectie Anefo. Nationaal Archief, Den Haag, nummertoegang, bestanddeelnummer 934-2728, via Wikimedia Commons [Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication],

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Free Concerts: Haydn to Cage

Broadcast tower topped by music note, globe in background

Here are three great live concert webcasts to choose from, with music ranging from Haydn to Bernstein to Cage. 

On Friday, February 22, 2019 at 8:00 PM EST (GMT -5) Leonard Slatkin and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) will present works by John Cage, Leonard Bernstein, Samuel Barber, and Kristin Kuster.  You can see the concert at  Here’s the program:

Kristin KusterDune Acres (world premiere)

John Cage: 4’33” (after talking about this piece in a recent post, you get to see it live!)

Samuel Barber: Violin Concerto

Leonard Bernstein: Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs

Leonard Bernstein: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story and other selections

But wait, there’s more!  You’ll have to make a choice:

On Sunday, February 24, 2019 at 3:00 PM EST (GMT -5) Leonard Slatkin and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra will present “Maximum Minimal”, featuring music by Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and John Adams.  You can see the concert here.  Here’s the program:

Steve Reich: Clapping Music

Philip Glass: Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra

John Luther Adams: Become Ocean

Also on Sunday, February 24, 2019 at 3:00 EST (GMT -5), the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (SPCO), conducted by Tito Muñoz, will present “Reflections on Home”.  You can see the concert here.  Here’s the program:

Felix Mendelssohn: Sinfonia No. 10 in B Minor for String Orchestra

Maya Miro Johnson: wherever you go, there you are (world premiere)

Joseph Haydn: Symphony No. 96, The Miracle

Lembit Beecher: Say Home (world premiere)

If you’re not available for the SPCO concert, it will be available for on-demand viewing later at the SPCO concert library website.  Detroit Symphony Orchestra webcasts can be viewed at a later date with a subscription to their Replay program (a benefit of a tax-deductible contribution to the DSO).

Whatever you decide to watch, I hope you will enjoy it!


Haiku Wednesday: GOOD MORNING!

music note with laughter emoji inside

It’s early morning.
It’s still dark, I’m on the road.
I need some music.

Without looking, I
Slip a disc into the slot.

Beethoven attack!
Off. Fumbling, I find a disc.
Well, let’s try again.

Chopin is lovely,
But too lively this morning–
It’s a rude etude.

Who picked this music?!
I’ll put 4’33” on,
Looping, for a while.

Beethoven: Symphony No. 5


Chopin:  Etude in A Minor, Op 10, No 2

Cage: 4’33”