Cage / Wuorinen
Liner Notes   Cat. No. NWCRL410     Release Date: 2017-08-15
American Composers Orchestra; Dennis Russell Davies, Conductor

The following notes were written by H. Wiley Hitchcock for the Tully Hall program booklet.

[John Cage's ]The Seasons was composed between January and April 1947 on commission from the Ballet Society (to the director of which, Lincoln Kirstein, it is inscribed). It was first heard with the ballet by Merce Cunningham, and scenery and costumes by Isamu Noguchi, played by the Ballet Society Orchestra under Leon Barzin, on 13 May 1947 at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York.

The eighteen minute score was conceived for an orchestra of 43 members and is continuous, though planned in four seasonal divisions, each preceded by its own “prelude” (with the opening Prelude to Winter reappearing to close the work).

Several elements of Cage's experience in the 1930s and '40s lie behind the composition. One is, of course, his involvement with dance, which began in 1937 with work as dance accompanist at the Cornish School in Seattle (and which continues to the present). Another is his interest, growing in the 1940s, in Indian aesthetic theories: he has written that “The Seasons is an attempt to express the traditional Indian view of the seasons as quiescence (winter), creation (spring), preservation (summer), and destruction (fall)” — which is the order in which they are represented in the piece. Yet another is his study with Henry Cowell and Arnold Schoenberg in the 1930s, the one nurturing an interest in rhythmic possibilities, the other in integration of details of a composition with its whole: out of this background Cage developed a principle of “rhythmic structure,” according to which a sequence of proportions is determined that fixes time-lengths for both the small units of a piece (phrases, for example) and the large (sections, for example). The sequence of THE SEASONS is 2, 2, 1, 3, 2, 4, 1, 3, 1...

Charles Wuorinen has said this of his symphony:

“I would have preferred to call this work Symphony in C, which it is; or Short Symphony, which it also is. But these names have been used by Stravinsky and Copland already, and so I am left to call it what it also is: a Two Part Symphony. The two movements (both predominantly fast, although the second has a slow introduction which is to some extent an independent entity) are actually quadruplex, so that the Symphony may be considered a “variation squared”: the first movement is two variants of the same music; and the second is a variant of these...



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American Composers Orchestra

Cage / Wuorinen

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Track Listing

The Seasons: I. Prelude
John Cage
Buy
The Seasons: II. Winter
John Cage
Buy
The Seasons: III. Prelude
John Cage
Buy
The Seasons: IV. Spring
John Cage
Buy
The Seasons: V. Prelude
John Cage
Buy
The Seasons: VI. Summer
John Cage
Buy
The Seasons: VII. Prelude
John Cage
Buy
The Seasons: VIII. Fall
John Cage
Buy
The Seasons: IX. Finale
John Cage
Buy
Two Part Symphony: I. -
Charles Wuorinen
Buy
Two Part Symphony: II. -
Charles Wuorinen
Buy