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The second section is devoted to Colleagues and Criticism, a series of nine interviews that Dickinson made mostly in 1987 with, among others, Virgil Thomson, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Earle Brown and La Monte Young. And their opinions are illuminating. Virgil Thomson questions the sincerity of anyone who creates a rigid method of anything; Cage's systems allowed the creation of significant early pieces, but imprisoned him after he was forty. '... Freedom comes after the discipline. There is no freedom unless it's a freedom from or through discipline ...' Stockhausen saw Cage as 'certainly spiritually a very consequent person ... [but] ... I have always doubted his musicianship since I knew him. He has no inner vision: he doesn't hear.'
In Dickinson's conversation with Pauline Oliveros, who has long been concerned to integrate music with the spiritual needs of mankind, she expresses a need for performers to understand more the process of performance. Anything that falls outside a performer's familiar territory, it seems, is dismissed: 'That attitude is destructive ... education is one-sided and not encouraging creative activity.' In fact, the interviews show a kaleidoscopic range of intriguing opinions, leaving Cage a stimulating and controversial study.
Copyright © 22 May 2007
Patric Standford, Wakefield UK