On August 29, 1952, American composer and music theorist John Cage premiered his most famous and controversial piece 4’33”, a three-movement piece written for any instrument or combination of instruments in which the score instructs silence for four minutes and thirty-three seconds. In an interview that appears in Richard Kostelanetz’s 1988 book Conversing With Cage, Cage says of the audience for this first performance: “There’s no such thing as silence. What they thought was silence, because they didn’t know how to listen, was full of accidental sounds. You could hear the wind stirring outside during the first movement.” Write an essay inspired by this iconic piece of music. Try listening to the natural and ambient sounds of your writing environment and explore the moments in your life in which silence has been meaningful.
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