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Happy New Ears

a radio feature produced by Lyn Gallacher

John Cage, one of the twentieth century’s most prolific and influential of all composers, is best known for his silent piece 4’33, the full orchestral version of which is now downloadable on YouTube. The purpose of that silent piece was to make listeners aware of sound around them, and come to the realisation that there is actually no such thing as silence.


This week in honour of the centenary of his birth Lyn Gallacher pays personal tribute to the composer who blew the future of music wide open by changing the way we listen.


Another one of Cage’s typically radical ideas was a score called Musicircus. It was designed to be a large-scale simultaneous performance event involving musicians, dancers, visual artists, poets and occasionally even a pony. The very first Musicircus was held in 1967 at the University of Illinois. The idea behind it then was to bring together too many musicians, to perform all at once, playing anything they like, in any way they like. Cage’s instruction was for ‘as much music as practical under the circumstances’.


Since 1967 many Musicircuses have been held all around the world, including a mega-Melbourne-Musicircus in 2007. This Australian performance involved over 500 artists and went all night. Cage described this work as a practise zone for living, and as such it reveals many of his seminal ideas about life, art and the world.

Listen to the program here …

Into the Music ITM 3912 _proxy_5fb5afa5decd6782e4916962136cb5b0



Marjorie Perloff


Tim Humphrey


Madeleine Flynn


Meredith Rogers





Lyn Gallacher, Producer


Angela Grant, Sound Engineer




© 2012—Lyn Gallacher & ABC RN

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