A John Cage Compendium

Paul van Emmerik, general editor

In collaboration with Herbert Henck and András Wilheim (†)

© 2003-2024 Paul van Emmerik

Last modified 1 January 2024


John Cage (1912-1992) has been one of the major figures in avant garde music and arts for several decades. He pursued a multifaceted career as a composer, performer, lecturer, author, and visual artist. Throughout his career Cage has performed and lectured all over the world. This resulted in an immense number of writings about him; even many of Cage’s own writings are published around the world. The vast accumulation of manuscripts, letters, and general materials relating to John Cage places him among the most comprehensively documented artists of the twentieth century.

The aim of this site is to offer access to information on Cage’s life and work. It provides several entries to serve this purpose: a chronology of Cage’s life, divided into two parts, 1912-1971 and 1972-1992 (the latter part including several posthumously relevant entries); catalogues of music, text, and art by Cage; a bibliography, divided into four parts: a-c, d-j, k-p, and q-z; and lists of sources, recordings and films.

The chronology of Cage’s life contains information on performances and lectures given by him, dates of composition and first performances, and exhibitions of his work. Writings in which a particular date’s event is mentioned or discussed are listed in parentheses concluding the entry. Entries without such attributions derive from scores, original programs, newspaper announcements or previews, or general works of reference.

Even though in several cases Cage’s oeuvre cannot be clearly divided into categories, there are, for practical reasons, individual worklists for music, text, and visual art.

The catalogue of Cage’s music includes musical compositions, music theatre, incidental music, sound installations, theatrical events, and arrangements by Cage of compositions by others. In the catalogue, choreographers, directors or playwrights are given only for compositions originally conceived as music for the dance, film, or as incidental music. For music in conventional notation, the extent is given in number of bars (anacrusis and prima volta not counted); in other cases, the number of systems, pages or sentences (in the case of verbal notation) is given.

The catalogue of Cage’s texts includes essays, lectures, theoretical writings, radio plays, poetry (much of it written for vocal performance), and reviews.

The catalogue of Cage’s visual art includes drawings, etchings, objects, installations, films, and designs made or conceived by him. Dimensions of artworks are given in centimeters, height preceding width, rounded up to the next integer.

The bibliography of writings by and about Cage and his work is arranged alphabetically. References cited in the various sections of this site to the bibliography are made by author’s surname or initials and year of publication. Ephemeral writing (such as pamphlets, concert program booklets, liner notes) as a rule is not included, except for texts by Cage. Alphabetization of entries is international, ignoring alphabetization conventions of the languages concerned (Danish and Norwegian ‘ø’, for instance, are listed as ‘o’, not following z; Spanish ‘ch’ is not listed as a separate letter). Names and titles in non-roman script are transliterated. Entries of the form ‘Boulez, Pierre/Cage, John’ denote interviews or responses to questionnaires, conversations or two-way correspondence published under a single title. Publications entirely based upon interviews with Cage are listed as such, whereas publications quoting excerpts of off-hand conversations with him, or taken from press conferences are not. Conversations involving more than two persons with diffuse authorship have been listed as if they were jointly authored entries. Multiple works by the same author or authors are arranged chronologically by year of publication and alphabetically by title within years (disregarding initial articles), with suffixed letters distinguishing titles published in a single year. Items produced under editorial direction or collections of essays by different authors have been listed under the names of the editors, or, if no editors are mentioned, under the first word of the title. For some citations of articles obtained from secondary sources, only the initial page number is given, followed by a plus-sign (+), indicating that the article is continued on later (but unknown) pages. Page numbers in square brackets indicate items originally unpaginated. Writings that have appeared in several editions are listed in a single entry under the earliest publication date. Volumes carrying no publication date are listed as ‘s.a.’ (sine anno [without date]); an approximate or conjectural date is added in square brackets. Writings in which a particular bibliographical entry is reviewed or discussed are listed in parentheses concluding the entry.

Sources (mainly manuscripts) are arranged alphabetically according to location (city), library or archive (when public collection) or (if known) name of present owner or owners (when private collection), and call number or accession number. Dimensions of sources are given in centimeters, height preceding width, rounded up to the next integer. Unless otherwise noted, all items listed are Cage’s autograph (holograph).

The rubric Recordings, listing mainly publicly distributed recordings containing compositions or texts by Cage, of music performed by him, and of interviews with him, is arranged alphabetically according to the name of the label. Reviews are listed in parentheses concluding the entry.

The rubric Films lists films and videotapes by Cage or in which he appears as a performer, that contain music by Cage or interviews with him. Arrangement is alphabetical by director. Writings in which a particular film is mentioned or discussed are listed in parentheses concluding the entry.

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following individuals and institutions in different ways: John Cage; Dr. Deborah Campana, Don L. Roberts and the staff of Northwestern University Music Library (Patti Black, Ken Calkins, Jennifer Jenkins, Joan Schuitema, Roberta Senatore, Keith Swanson, Ruth E. Young, Margie Wood); Dr. Don Gillespie and Stephen Fisher (C.F. Peters Corporation, New York); George Boziwick and Dr. Bob Kosovsky and the staff of New York Public Library for the Performing Arts; Dr. J. Rigbie Turner, Curator of the music manuscripts, and the staff of Pierpont Morgan Library in New York; and Carol Lynn Ward-Bamford and the staff of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Acknowledgements are made to those who have contributed or shared material or information in one form or another: Kees Aarts, Dr. Robert Adlington, Karen Appel (Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich), Dr. Mitchell Arnold, Piet de Bakker, Michael F. Bauer, David Bernstein, Gerrit de Blaauw, Dr. Konrad Boehmer, Anneriek van Bommel, Gabriele Bonomo, Greetje Boomgaard-van der Mark, Suzanne de Bruin-ten Hagen, André Chaudron, Seiji Chōki, Alcedo Coenen, Stefan Conradi, Andrew Culver, Merce Cunningham, Dr. Joke Dame, Eric De Visscher, Vincent Deane, René Delbar, Henk van Drunen, Dr. Elena Dubinets, Dr. Willem Elders, Anny van Emmerik-Truschel, Ivo van Emmerik, Dr. Martin Erdmann, Dr. Sabine Feißt, Semih Fırıncıoğlu, Anthony Fiumara, Fiona Flower (C.F. Peters Ltd., London), Ron Ford, Dr. Aleks Frosztega, Vincent Gasseling, Geesche Geddert, Linde Geddert, Peter Geddert, Wolf Geddert, Ernie van Geenen, Wim Gelok, Gisela Gronemeyer, Bennet Grutman, Dr. Rob Haskins, Jessica de Heer, Willem Hering, Lars Hermesdorf, Henk Heuvelmans, Dr. Tom Hijmans, Silke Hilger, Pay-uun Hiu, Klaas Hoek, Luuk Hoekstra, Margriet Hoenderdos, Dr. Friedrich Hommel, Marion Hübscher, Dr. Martin Iddon, Dr. Eric Jas, Tineke Jong, Belén Kerkhoven, Henriette Kindt, László Király, Harry Klaassen, Dr. Sieglinde van de Klundert, Bart Koekoek (Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam), Johan Kolsteeg, Antoine de Kom, Taco Kooistra, Klaus Martin Kopitz, Jeannette van der Kruijff, Dr. Laura Kuhn (The John Cage Trust), Katrijn Kuijpers, Dr. Leigh Landy, Dr. Petra van Langen, Ariane de Leeuw, Dr. Taru Leppänen, Constance M. Lewallen, Dr. Sabine Lichtenstein, Dr. Aldo Lieffering, Dr. Leo Lousberg, Dr. Jerzy Luty, Tera de Marez Oyens, Frank Meijer, Juro Mětšk, Dr. Heinz-Klaus Metzger, Henk van der Meulen, Rev. Burkhard Meyer, Karen Margrethe Mønsted (Statsbiblioteket, Statens Mediensamling, Aarhus), Raoul Mörchen, Michael Nieuwenhuizen, Britt Nordström Sahba (Kungliga biblioteket, Stockholm), Harry Oberendorf, Reinhard Oehlschlägel, Dr. Paul Op de Coul, Dr. David W. Patterson, Dr. Rosângela Pereira de Tugny, Dr. Leo Plenckers (University of Amsterdam), Stefano Pocci, Dr. James Pritchett, Dave Quail, Dr. Rudolf Rasch, Dr. Ulrike Rausch, Deborah Richards, Ulrike Richter, Josef Anton Riedl, Rainer Riehn, Sophie de Rijk, Richard Rijnvos, Dr. Johanne Rivest, Dr. Veniero Rizzardi, Jane Robinson (Scottish National Orchestra), Margarete Roeder (Margarete Roeder Gallery), Els Rollé, Maurizio Romito, Tip de Roon Hertoge, Frans van Rossum, Rie Rottier-van Emmerik, Frank Scheffer, Elmer Schönberger, Klaus Schöning, Frits Selie, Ol’ga Smetanová, John Snijders, Friedrich Spangemacher, Jaroslav Št’astný, Mark Steighner, Sylvia Stoetzer, Henriette Straub, Karin Sträubig-Zepp, Mark Swed, Ted Szántó, Chiyoko Szlavnics, Margaret Leng Tan, Bruce J. Taub, Dr. Corinna Thierolf (Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich), David Tudor, David Vaughan, Ad van ’t Veer, Dr. Kees Vellekoop, Dr. Eddie Vetter, Beatrijs Vissers, Dr. Benedict Weisser, Dr. Frans Wiering, Liz Williamson (C.F. Peters Ltd., London), Barbara Woof, Gayle Young, Ruth Young, Jos van der Zanden, Sergey Zhukov, and Walter Zimmermann; to the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (Köln), the documentation departments of the Darmstädter Echo (Darmstadt), Donaueschinger Musiktage, Tagespost (Speyer), and Die Welt (Bonn). Financial support from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, the Faculty of Letters of the University of Amsterdam, as well as from the Research Institute for History and Culture of Utrecht University has made part of the research for this site possible.


Praise for the John Cage Compendium:

“Your Compendium is the Köchel Verzeichnis of our time.” (Sabine Feisst, Professor of Musicology, Arizona State University)

“[T]hank you for the Compendium. It’s an absolutely invaluable resource.” (Martin Iddon, Professor of Music and Aesthetics, University of Leeds)

“I am grateful to you, Herbert Henck and András Wilheim for your continued work on A John Cage Compendium.” (Rob Haskins, Associate Professor of Music, University of New Hampshire)

“[S]ee Paul van Emmerik’s excellent website” (David Nicholls, Emeritus Professor of Music, University of Southampton)

“I … have been using your invaluable compendium. Thanks a lot for all your work, it has been very helpful.” (Semih Fırıncıoğlu, composer, writer, translator and theater director, New York)

“[T]hank you for your very useful Compendium!” (Chiyoko Szlavnics, composer, Berlin)

“Paul has the most wonderfully informative Cage online archive which he miraculously manages to keep up to date. It will become your go-to resource from now on” (Margaret Leng Tan, pianist, New York)

“This database … is as close to a comprehensive collection of publications by or about Cage as is possible.” (Sara Haefeli, Associate Professor, Music Theory, History, and Composition, Ithaca College)

“[G]lorious” (David W. Patterson, independent musicologist and writer, Oak Park, Illinois)

“I have spent so many years verifying information in your Cage Compendium, that I feel that I’ve known you for a very long time. Thank you for such thorough and extensive research.” (Anne de Fornel, pianist and musicologist, Paris)