John Cale
Fear Is A Man's Best Friend - John Cale

Timeline: 1963


Farewell to Goldsmiths'

After winning the "most hateful student" award, given by its department heads, Cale pulls the plug at the end his college days on July 6, taking part in A Little Festival of New Music. He performs La Monte Young's X for Henry Flynt by kneeling at the piano and smashing the keys with his elbows.

At the same show Robin Page came screaming down from the balcony, performing Cale's Plant Piece. A potted plant was set on stage and the idea was to scream at it until it died. The plant survived, the audience was not that pleased. Piano Piece (unsequel music 212b) was the third Cale composition.

Goldsmiths' College would bestow Cale with an Honorary Fellowship in 1997.

Cale at Tanglewood with administrator Harry Kraut

Tanglewood on a Bernstein scholarship

Starts his study on a Leonard Bernstein scholarship at the Berkshire Music Center in Tanglewood, Massachusetts, USA. American composer Aaron Copland helps him sceuring the scholarhip, but they have a falling out shortly afterwards:

"Copland said I couldn't play my work at Tanglewood. It was too destructive, he said. He didn't want his piano wrecked."

He performs one of his own compositions at a concert in August. His tutor is the composer and architect Yannis Xenakis.

"Yannis's classes were unorthodox. He would put up theorems up on the board; they were the theoretical basis of the Fourier series, the Osternberg principle of probability. Probability theory was the basis on which he wrote his music. His classes were on extrapolating the probability of a B flat happening in the next three or four bars. This is stochastic music, his term for an alternative school of composition through serialism, which justifies its existence by its use of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle."


Starts dabbling in drugs pretty quickly after his arrival in the Big Apple:

"When I got to New York, drugs were everywhere, and they quickly became part of my artistic experiment."

Orientalia bookshop

Works as a clerk at the Orientalia bookshop, Lower East Side, New York.

"Most of my days were spent putting together packages of books that had been ordered and sending them off. I'd go to work in the late morning and pack shipments to universities all over the world."
Eric Satie

Performing Vexations

Cale is one of the eleven performers of Vexations, a composition for piano by Eric Satie, who wrote about this piece:

"In order to play this piece 840 times the performer should prepare beforehand in deep silence and serious immobility."

Cale was invited by his mentor John Cage to be one of the performers. The performance at the Pocket Theatre in New York started on Monday September 9 and lasted for 18 hours and 40 minutes.

The show made headlines in the New York Times and a photo of Cale and Cage was printed with the review of the show.

Performing Vexations
Cale on I've Got A Secret

Appears on "I've Got A Secret"

He appeared shortly afterwards as a guest on the September 16 episode I've Got A Secret TV show and played through it just once. Karl Schenzer, an Off Broadway actor, the sole audience member who sat through the entire performance, was also a guest on the show.

Part of the score of Vexations

© 1999- Hans Werksman