Archive of material relating to an artistic dispute between John Cage and Glenn Branca 1982-1989

N.p. N.p. 1982-1989. Small archive of material relating to an artistic "debate" between Glenn Branca and John Cage (though really an assertion made by Cage that Branca was forced to defend), that began in 1982 and concluded in 1989.

On the day after seeing a performance of a young Glenn Branca's "Indeterminate Activity of Resultant Masses" at New Music America in Chicago in 1982, John Cage turned in a remarkably critical review: "Last night I really didn't enjoy the Branca piece. What seemed negative to me were the political implications...what I see in Branca as in Wagner is a sustained climax." More directly put, Cage was criticizing Branca's music as being fascist, an assertion he went on to repeat throughout the 1980s in various interviews and conversations, though he eventually revised his opinion somewhat. (It is worthy of note that Branca's ensemble at the time included Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo, who had only recently formed Sonic Youth).

At the time, Branca was shocked at the negative attention: "As a young composer, to be singled out in such a manner by Cage was shocking. My show received what seemed like a ten-minute standing ovation from virtually the entire audience of 1200 people."

Several years later, Branca (along with the likes of William S. Burroughs and Laurie Anderson) was invited by Cage to to contribute a tape loop to a redux of Cage's "Rozart Music," a collaborative project organized by Merce Cunningham to honor Cage. For his contribution, Branca contributed a looped remix of the infamous Cage interview diatribe.

Included in the archive are four key objects that illuminate the story:

A 2006 compact disc release of the 1982 Branca performance that was the subject of Cage's criticism. Branca saw fit to include on the CD a recording of Cage's damning 1982 interview, and the CD booklet contains his comments on the matter, reprinted from a 1997 piece in MusicWorks magazine, where Branca articulates his frustration over how Cage's repeated comments continue to resonate 14 years after they were made, and long after Cage's death. Branca defends himself, but generally expresses regret that the comments, coming from such an important predecessor to his work, have managed to have sustained relevance. Branca has signed the booklet, next to his photograph.

Branca's 1989 invitation from Gramavision, representing Merce Cunningham and Cage, to contribute a loop for Cage's "Rozart Music." Typed letter signed by Jonathan F. P. Rose of Gramavision.

A single printed sheet giving specific instructions on how the audiotape loop is to be constructed.

A typed message signed from Cage to Branca (Cage has made a holograph correction to "Mr." with "Glenn"), indicating his delight with Branca's contribution to "Rozart Music," successfully "performed" at the Pierre Hotel in New York City on May 25th, 1989.

CD, typed letter signed, printed instructions, typed message signed with corrections are Near Fine or better.


[Book #138255]

Price: $2,250.00