It was Cage, not Kurtag
Regarding Damani Harrison's article ["Useless Art: 'Quack' Disappoints in Person," Music Review, February 26]:
While I did not attend the performance of DjTRIO at the Jefferson Theater, I read Harrison's article and felt that a fact needed correction. '4'33"' was composed by John Cage (not Gyorgy Kurtag) in 1952 and performed that same year in Woodstock, New York by David Tudor.
The article is essentially an editorial, so I won't comment on his opinion of the performance. However, I'd like to point out that Harrison's use of the term "useless art" bears striking resemblance to another author who used the term nearly 110 years ago. In the preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde writes:
"It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors. Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital. When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself. We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.
"All art is quite useless."