By all means, I'll bite.
1. First of all, I'm against this kind of hostility in any article. Degrading anyone is bad enough, but doing it like this? Come on... DA has to do better than this.
But anyhow let me carry on, without linking to youtube actually...
2. Cage was a thinker, along with being a composer. And he wasn't what we generally refer to 'composer' (as in compose (nice) music that we can listen to). In fact one of his most infamous works is 4'33". A piece of total silence.
So let me discuss a little bit about 4'33" and see if I can explain a bit better, why this work IS important, if taken as a work. (and my opposition to something else, btw).
Cage was having a lot of questions in the nature of silence. Ultimately he went to an echoless (unechoic?) room and remained there for a tiny bit utterly quiet. The room was of course sound proof as well. But instead of total silence he was met with 2 different sounds: His heart and his pulse.
So he came to a conclusion that total silence is non existent. And as such it HAS to be important. So important and so always there, that we forget about it. And 4'33" is the concert hall piece of that. It's of course a very silly wink in the eye as well (at least I think) to the classical world, especially when you see it performed in the Proms! (there's a video of that in youtube!
Cage was also very interested in chance music, and he used the iching (correct me if I'm wrong) to check out various possibilities. He made a number of lectures with quadraple texts on top of each other, and radios playing, etc.
He was (most probably) obsessed with the lack of control by the composer and the performers. Thus the idea of throwing in a radio, and a toilet, etc...
I should note that my distaste for traditional publishers (while I'm also one) was amplified when I found out that the score of 4'33" was sold!
2. Now, one of his other most notable ideas (<- idea. Not work... See? He was a conceptionalist rather than a 'classical' composer!!!) was the prepared piano. The story goes that he had to compose music for a ballet (single person) who was from Brazil and only a piano was available. So he started putting things in the piano to alter its sound.
And it worked GREAT! Brilliant! Beautiful in fact.
His sonatas and interludes for prepared piano, are in fact very nice works. They sound like contemporary (2013) loops, or drums, or other beats.
And he did it back in the 50s, and 60s...
I do believe that he studied with Arnold (as mentioned in the article) and with others as well... But we do need to remember that Arnold, even with working with twelve tone, etc, was a very competent teacher and a master of traditional harmony. In fact his book on harmony is great (if you take into account that it was written 80 years ago, right?).
As I said in my previous post, it's idiotic (at least) to be comparing Cage with Stravinsky. Cage music is, to begin with, very difficult to be put in a recording, exactly because of the chance encounters that it requires! It has to be felt live! Joe can probably say more about this.
But I'd like to offer to Daniel another idea: Why not compare Stravinsky and Bach and see who's the greatest, huh? I mean it's only some years apart (200+). And they are different. Exactly like Cage and Stravinsky are.
One should be oblivious to the fact that in the 20th century (and 21st) we have ALL the previous trends running at the same time: You get classical, baroque, serialism, soundz, beats, hip-hop, etc. You just cannot compare different styles like that, especially when you're talking about avant garde. Why not try Stravinsky vs. Queen for example? What? Not the same... bah...