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Christian Wolff$
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Michael Hicks and Christian Asplund

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037061

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037061.001.0001

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Orpheus in Tennis Sneakers

Orpheus in Tennis Sneakers

(p.5) 1 Orpheus in Tennis Sneakers
Christian Wolff

Michael Hicks

Christian Asplund

University of Illinois Press

This chapter describes Wolff's childhood and formative years in the world of music. Born to cellist Kurt Wolff and his wife Helen in 1934, Christian Wolff grew up during an era of political unrest, which later culminated in the Second World War. Though born in France to German parents, Wolff would spend a significant part of his life in the United States, where he had begun an informal education in music, and where he would eventually study under his mentor John Cage, from whom Wolff would draw the fundamental ideas, habits, and relationships that would guide the rest of his compositional career. Here, the chapter shows how Wolff's early opus—which set the pattern for all his subsequent compositional periods—were formed and influenced through Cage's instruction. Yet the chapter shows that this influence proved reciprocal, with Wolff likewise leaving his own lasting impacts upon Cage's compositional career.

Keywords:   World War II, Kurt Wolff, Helen Wolff, John Cage, early opus, childhood, piano, Anton Webern

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