He made his network radio debut when he was commissioned by CBS to write the music for a radio play by Kenneth Patchen.
He was profiled in the Chicago Daily News: “People call it noise?
And then when we actually set to work, a kind of avalanche came about which corresponded not at all with that beauty which had seemed to appear to us as an objective. “Ah, the silent piece,” they might have said to themselves, smiling.
But these visitors would have known that this is an exhibition about John Cage, and hence the empty room would make sense.
It was a very difficult period in his life, both personally and professionally.
His big dreams unrealized, he started out again more modestly.
For someone traveling through the early parts of this exhibition, or for someone otherwise familiar only with the early works of John Cage, the appearance of the silent piece may be puzzling.
For, if we look at Cage’s music of the 1930s and early 1940s, we are hard put to find much silence in it at all.
Although he was unaware of it at the time, this reliance on time as the basis for musical structure was one of the factors that would prepare Cage for his later encounter with silence.
At the turn of the 1940s, Cage was ambitious, with big ideas, big dreams, and a predilection for big sounds.