John Cage - The Lost Works

John Cage

(1912-1992)

mode 55

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Mode Records - A Record Label Devoted to New Music The Lost Works

Paul Schmidt / Essential Music


A deluxe set in a slipcase with extensive notes and complete libretto.


The City Wears a Slouch Hat

Radio play for actors and "sound orchestra" to a text by Kenneth Patchen (1942)

Featuring Paul Schmidt as "The Voice", with a large ensemble of actors


Fads and Fancies from the Academy for piano and percussionists (1940)

A Chant with Claps
for voice and claps


One of the most anxiously awaited Cage releases so far, The Lost Works contains the first commercial recording of one of John Cage's historically important and enigmatic works--The City Wears a Slouch Hat from 1942. The Lost Works is completed with first recordings of two other unpublished Cage scores from the 1940s, one considered lost, the other completely unknown.

The City Wears a Slouch Hat is one of those Cage works that many know about, but few have actually heard. Commissioned by CBS' "Columbia Workshop" to accompany a radio play by "Beat" poet/writer Kenneth Patchen--a surreal script centered around a mysterious drifter known as "The Voice" and his encounters with various characters of the urban landscape. Cage's music aptly fits Patchen's texts, scored for "sound orchestra" of 5 percussionists along with live and recorded sound effects, revealing Cage's gift for orchestrating the timbres of percussion. One can only imagine what unsuspecting families, seated around the radio for an evening's entertainment, made of this bizarre script and rambunctious music in 1942!

Fads and Fancies from the Academy (1940) was unknown prior to 1992. Written for a dance at Mills College, it joins his early dance scores for piano and percussion. Its programattic design is unusual for Cage, containing parodies of children's song and popular music with a satirical sense of humor and especially, some of his most rhapsodic piano writing.

A Chant with Claps, presumed from the late 1940s, is inscribed with a dedication to Henry Cowell's wife Sidney, apparently given on the occasion of a party as a anniversary present. A humorous chant for vocalist with hand-clap accompaniment, it is presumed to be from the late 1940s.

Essential Music is a New Music ensemble with a strong emphasis on percussion and a tradition of performing Cage's works. They researched and reconstructed the performance manuscript of Slouch Hat for their New York concert premiere. Without their dedication, these works might still be "lost".

Actor/writer Paul Schmidt has performed words and music for 20 years: melodramas from the 18th century to the present with pianist Yvar Mikhashoff, theater works by Luciano Berio and more. He has has worked on librettos for Tom Waits and Robert Wilson (Alice and The Black Rider) and Elizabeth Swados, and translated Arthur Rimbaud's complete works.


Related Resources:

John Cage on Mode:
John Cage Profile/Discography

Essential Music on Mode:
William Russell: The Complete Works (mode 34)

Essential Music's Website




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