John Cage was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1912. He attended Ponoma College, but left to live in Paris where he studied painting and music composition. In the early 1930s, he returned to California, where he worked as a musical accompanist for dance performances and studied with Arnold Shoenberg, an influential modernist music theorist and composer who was based at the University of California Los Angeles. In 1942, Cage moved to New York where he remained for the rest of his life. There, he began collaborating with dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham, who became his life partner.
A poet and essayist, Cage is most known as an inventive, avant-garde composer, employing objects like blenders, tape recorders, and radios as nontraditional instruments. His opus is a piece called "4'33," in which a pianist sits in silence for four minutes and thirty-three seconds.
About his work the music critic Alex Ross wrote, "He may have surpassed Stravinsky as the most widely cited, the most famous and/or notorious, of twentieth-century composers. His influence extends far outside classical music, into contemporary art and pop culture."
Cage died on August 12, 1992, in New York City after suffering a stroke.