John Cage (1912-1992)
I first learned about Cage at university and had the honour of meeting and sitting next to him, when he came to present at the Almedia Theatre in London. At Dartington Music Summer School I had met as a fellow student, one of his best biographers: David Revill. Exploring Cage's art taught me not to fear 'letting go' in composing. Just as there is never silence, I suspect there is never lack of influence from a composer on their own composition, however much they try to renounce conscious change over what they do.
Cage's writings (e.g. his book Silence ) are fun to read and the 'prepared piano' sounds lovely. Schönberg, his teacher, described Cage as being more an inventor than a composer.
Indeterminacy, letting sounds be themselves and finding order in chaos are fruitful. Cage keeps us thinking. His approaches keep things fresh.