Interview with Merce Cunningham: and, excerpt from an interview with Mary "Molly" Gregory, 1967-12-18

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Title
Interview with Merce Cunningham: and, excerpt from an interview with Mary "Molly" Gregory, 1967-12-18
Names
Merce Cunningham Dance Company (Associated name)
Cunningham, Merce (Interviewee)
Duberman, Martin B (Interviewer)
Gregory, Mary, 1914-2006 (Interviewee)
Collection

Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Collection. Audio materials

Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1967-12-18
Library locations
Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound
Shelf locator: *LTC-A 1453
Topics
Albers, Josef
Albers, Anni
Cage, John
Cunningham, Merce
De Kooning, Elaine
De Kooning, Willem, 1904-1997
Fuller, R. Buckminster (Richard Buckminster), 1895-1983
Olson, Charles, 1910-1970
Rauschenberg, Robert, 1925-2008
Satie, Erik, 1866-1925, Piège de Méduse
Tudor, David, 1926-1996
Black Mountain College (Black Mountain, N.C.)
Merce Cunningham Dance Company
Dance -- Study and teaching
Happenings (Art)
Genres
Interviews (Sound recordings)
Interviews
Notes
Content: Martin Duberman interviews Merce Cunningham, probably in New York, New York, on December 18, 1967. This interview was created as research for Martin Duberman's book, Black Mountain: an exploration in community (New York, Dutton).
Content: Title and date provided by cataloger based on audition and typed notes on original cassette.
Content: Typed notes on original original cassette: "Duplicate Audio Cassette ; Interview of Merce Cunningham by Duberman ; Dec. 18, 1967 ; Tape #18; Tape 1 of 1".
Venue: Recorded in, [New York, New York], 1967 December 18.
Acquisition: Gift; Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation, 2011-2012.
Citation/reference: Forms part of the Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Collection.
Physical Description
Audiocassette
Extent: 1 audiocassette (126 minutes) : analog
Sound quality is mostly good; the recording is tinny but audible.
Description
Streaming file 1, side a: Begins abruptly; Merce Cunningham speaks with Martin Duberman about an impromptu visit to Black Mountain College while on a tour with John Cage in 1948; being invited by Josef Albers to teach there in the summer; [brief recording break]; Cunningham speaks about Cage suggesting to Albers that Bill [Willem] de Kooning teach painting at Black Mountain; Cunningham speaks briefly about Richard Lippold making a tail for his Monkey dances (1948) costume; they list other notable teachers and artists at Black Mountain that summer, including M.C. Richards; Cunningham speaks about Cage's concerts of Erik Satie's works throughout the summer of 1948 as well as the production of Erik Satie's Piège de Méduse, especially the cast; his admiration of Buckminster Fuller as a performer in Piège; more on Albers and his relationship with Cage and Cunningham; he speaks about teaching dance classes at Black Mountain; Cunningham speaks about returning to teach at Black Mountain in the summer of 1952, including the notable artists there that summer; his health problems during that summer; he speaks about bringing his recently formed Merce Cunningham Dance Company to Black Mountain for the summer of 1953; he lists the dancers and mentions financial terms for bringing them; the works he created at Black Mountain in 1953: Septet, Dime a dance, Banjo, Untitled solo, Suite by chance, Collage [1952], and Solo suite in space and time, and performing these works in the cafeteria; a brief anecdote on Anita Dencks getting the mumps; his experience of artistic freedom while at Black Mountain; meeting Nicola Cernovitch at Black Mountain, and Cernovitch's interest in lighting; differences in teaching at the University of Southern California versus teaching at Black Mountain; he speaks about viewpoints on dance and his teaching by the other artists and teachers at Black Mountain; they speak about the overlaps between Albers's teaching pedagogy with Cunningham's; Cunningham tells brief anecdotes about Lou Harrison and Viola Farber at Black Mountain; Cunningham speaks about the reasons he thinks Black Mountain was influential, especially his personal admiration of Fuller; more on Fuller, including his lectures and an anecdote about Elaine de Kooning helping Fuller create a dymaxion structure that collapsed; Cunningham speaks about Cage's theatrical event in 1952, later known as the first "happening", including the cast and seating arrangement of the audience; he speaks about performing independently from the music and using music with no regular pulse; he speaks about using the idea of simultaneity in performance and how Black Mountain allowed for this idea to be expressed; he speaks about ways the summer of 1953 at Black Mountain allowed him to establish a company and repertory; the artistic impact of the performance and rehearsal space at Black Mountain; ends abruptly.Streaming file 2, side a, continued: Begins abruptly; Merce Cunningham continues to speak with Martin Duberman about the performance and rehearsal space, as well as the artistic atmosphere, while at Black Mountain College; he speaks about how his artistic ideas differed at that time from his contemporaries in modern dance; more on how the summer at Black Mountain supported his company and artistic process; he speaks about how his artistic process differed from the other artists at Black Mountain and tells a brief anecdote about an interaction with Stefan Wolpe; he describes his average day while at Black Mountain and speaks about his small group of students there that included community members; Cunningham speaks about Charles Olson taking his dance classes; ends abruptly.Streaming file 3, side b: Begins abruptly; Merce Cunningham continues to speak with Martin Duberman about Charles Olson taking his dance classes at Black Mountain College in the summer of 1953; [ca. 1:14-2:05, separately recorded interview with Mary "Molly" Gregory]; Cunningham speaks about David Tudor playing piano music, Louis Moreau Gottschalk's Banjo, opus 15 (1855), for his Banjo (1953) at Black Mountain; he speaks about Tudor's selection of the music for Dime a dance (1953); he speaks briefly about Tudor playing Christian Wolff's music, For piano I, for Untitled solo (1953); Cunningham speaks about Tudor's long relationship with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company; he speaks about meeting Bob [Robert] Rauschenberg at Black Mountain in 1952; briefly, how the atmosphere at Black Mountain was conducive to artistic collaboration; briefly, on the poem that Olson wrote about Cunningham; they mention other writers associated with Black Mountain; Cunningham speaks more about Olson while in dance class; he speaks about the reasons he didn't return for another summer at Black Mountain and the organizational differences between 1948 to 1953; he speaks about the direction that Joself Albers provided to Black Mountain; they speak about the current uses of the Black Mountain campus; Cunningham tells an anecdote about Anni Albers and recalls her weaving; they mention others who were at Black Mountain; he tells an anecdote about Nell Rice, the Black Mountain Librarian; Cunningham speaks more about Olson's direction of Black Mountain as compared to Albers; they speak about a recent performance with technical issues and Cunningham speaks about how Tudor resolves technical problems for his Company during performances; Cunningham speaks about how the community at Black Mountain supported and participated in the events that were happening there; he speaks about the unique teacher and student relationship there; [ca. 39:56-51:58, separately recorded interview with Mary "Molly" Gregory]; Mary "Molly" Gregory speaks with Duberman about Black Mountain College including her contributions to the school's buildings as carpenter, the unstable climate of the school's administration in the mid-late 1940s, her teaching pay, and the financial state of the school; ends abruptly.Streaming file 4, side b, continued: Mary "Molly" Gregory continues to speak with Martin Duberman about Josef and Anni Albers; she speaks about the circumstances that led to the closing of Black Mountain College; the changes in faculty and student approaches to education and standards in the post war years; ends abruptly.
Type of Resource
Sound recording
Languages
English
Identifiers
RLIN/OCLC: 914482979
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b20750266
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 11b37670-b909-0133-9a59-60f81dd2b63c
Rights Statement
This item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Item timeline of events

  • 1967: Created
  • 2019: Found by you!
  • 2020

MLA Format

Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Merce Cunningham" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1967. http://digital.gallery.nypl.org/items/89b5e6e0-b909-0133-fd9f-60f81dd2b63c

Chicago/Turabian Format

Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Merce Cunningham" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed October 20, 2019. http://digital.gallery.nypl.org/items/89b5e6e0-b909-0133-fd9f-60f81dd2b63c

APA Format

Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, The New York Public Library. (1967). Interview with Merce Cunningham Retrieved from http://digital.gallery.nypl.org/items/89b5e6e0-b909-0133-fd9f-60f81dd2b63c

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url=http://digital.gallery.nypl.org/items/89b5e6e0-b909-0133-fd9f-60f81dd2b63c | title= (sound recording) Interview with Merce Cunningham, (1967) }} |author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=October 20, 2019 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lennox, and Tilden Foundation}}</ref>

Interview with Merce Cunningham