15 Nov 2013

Cage – Amores

by Jeff Counts

Instrumentation: prepared piano, percussion.

Duration: 11 minutes in four movements.

JOHN CAGE (1912-1992) – Cage wrote and premiered his four-part Amores in 1943. World War II was underway and Cage wrote that he “thought anything that is small and intimate, and has some love in it, is beautiful.” He further stated that Amores was “about my conviction that love is something that we can consider beautiful.” The outer movements call for prepared piano, in which specific notes are altered by attaching screws, bolts, nuts and strips of rubber to the strings of the instrument. In an amazing bit of cross-cultural respect, a letter exists from Woody Guthrie to the producers of a recording of the Amores piano movements. Guthrie’s 1947 note spoke of hearing Cage “overhauling the family piano in his own way.” He described the experience as a “keen fresh breeze” and found it a “healthy change from the old ways you hear the average piano played.” Cage’s response, if there ever was one, is unknown but we can imagine that he would have been secretly gratified by Guthrie’s praise for “the inventive things that a piano can do to the touch of the proper hand.”