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In The Name of the Holocaust

Categories: Strumentale
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Published on: 1 February 2011

John Cage – In The Name of the Holocaust (1942), for prepared piano.

Like much of Cage’s early dance music (this to accompany a piece by Merce Cunningham), In the Name of the Holocaust was written for what Cage would later refer to as a ‘prepared piano’: a piano with screws, bolts, or other materials placed between certain strings to create a percussive effect.

The music features a number of new piano techniques, many of which Cage borrowed from his teacher Henry Cowell: notes held open for resonance, muted and plucked strings, and clusters played with the arm and flat of the hand. The title references World War II and comes from a pun on the Catholic liturgical phrase “In the Name of the Holy Ghost” found in James Joyce’s novel Finnegans Wake.

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