May 7, 1936: Brian Cornelius McDonough Cardew is born in a hut behind a pottery shop north of Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom, the second of three children born to Michael Ambrose Cardew, a potter, and Mary Ellen Russell, a painter and museum curator, the daughter of a journalist.
March 24, 1958: Gruppen no.6 for three orchestras by Karlheinz Stockhausen (29) is performed for the first time, in Cologne, conducted by Pierre Boulez (32), Bruno Maderna (37), and the composer. Cornelius Cardew (21) plays glockenspiel. Despite the open hostility of the musicians and the great difficulty of coordinating three orchestras with three conductors, the evening is a smashing success.
January 5, 1959: While staying briefly with Richard Rodney Bennett in Hamstead, Cornelius Cardew (22) leaves his wife of nine months, Ruth Aaronberg. In the evening he returns to the WDR in Cologne.
January 27, 1960: Two Books of Study for Pianists by Cornelius Cardew (23) are performed for the first time, at Conway Hall in London.
October 6, 1960: Cartridge Music for amplified sounds by John Cage (48) is performed before a live audience for the first time, at Mary Bauermeister’s Studio in Cologne. Among the performers are Cornelius Cardew (24), Christian Wolff (26), Nam June Paik (28), and David Tudor. Simultaneously, the composer performs his Solo for Voice 2. During the premiere of Nam June Paik’s Etude for Piano, Paik suddenly rises from the piano and enters the audience, attacking Cage and Tudor, shredding Cage’s clothes with scissors, then leaving the hall. See 15 September 1960.
June 29, 1962: Cornelius Cardew (26) marries Stella Sargent Underwood, an artist and mother of two, at the Kensington Registry Office. It is the second marriage for both.
October 1, 1962: Cornelius Cardew (26) gets a job as assistant art editor for Aldus Books in London.
December 12, 1964: Bun no.2 for orchestra by Cornelius Cardew (28) is performed for the first time, in Brussels. Unhappy with his work, the composer refuses to take a bow.
July 15, 1965: Bun no.1 for orchestra by Cornelius Cardew (29) is performed for the first time, in Rome.
October 26, 1966: Cornelius Cardew (30) arrives in the US to begin a temporary position as creative associate at the Center of the Creative and Performing Arts at SUNY Buffalo.
November 15, 1966: Cornelius Cardew (30) is awarded £600 from the Arts Council to finish his Treatise.
April 8, 1967: Treatise for any number of musicians playing any number of instruments by Cornelius Cardew (30) is performed completely for the first time, at the Commonwealth Institute in London.
October 30, 1967: Daypiece from The Tiger’s Mind by Cornelius Cardew (31) is performed for the first time, in London. See 12 December 1967.
March 11, 1968: Schooltime Compositions for indeterminate players by Cornelius Cardew (31) is performed for the first time, at the International Students House, London.
July 9, 1968: Paragraph 1 of The Great Learning for chorus (speaking, playing stones and whistles), and organ by Cornelius Cardew (32) to words of Confucius, (tr. Pound), is performed for the first time, in Cheltenham. Some in the audience react badly and introduce disruptive sounds into the proceedings.
March 16, 1969: Paragraph 2 of The Great Learning for singers and drummers by Cornelius Cardew (32), to words of Confucius, (tr. Pound), is performed for the first time, at the Leeds College of Art.
May 4, 1969: Paragraph 2 of The Great Learning for singers and drummers by Cornelius Cardew (32), to words of Confucius, (tr. Pound), is performed publicly for the first time, at the Round House, London. It is a surprising hit with critics. The group performing this will eventually become the Scratch Orchestra. See 1 July 1969.
July 1, 1969: An organizational meeting of the Scratch Orchestra takes place at St. Katherine’s Dock, London, led largely by Cornelius Cardew (33).
September 30, 1969: The first playing meeting of the Scratch Orchestra takes place at St. Katherine’s Dock, London organized by Cornelius Cardew (33).
April 2, 1970: Paragraph 6 of The Great Learning by Cornelius Cardew (33) is performed for the first time, in a Music Now concert in St. Pancras Town Hall, London.
January 21, 1972: Paragraph 5 of The Great Learning, for a large number of untrained musicians making gestures, performing actions, speaking, chanting, and playing a wide range of instruments, plus, optionally, ten solo singers singing “Ode Machines”, by Cornelius Cardew (35) to words of Confucius, (tr. Pound), is performed for the first time, in the Cecil Sharp House, London.
May 4, 1972: “John Cage—Ghost or Monster”, by Cornelius Cardew (35) is published in the BBC magazine The Listener three weeks before Cage arrives in Britain. Cardew says that Cage’s (59) music serves the purposes of the bourgeoisie and now constitutes an “oppressive chaos resulting from the lack of planning characteristic of a capitalist system in decay.” (Piekut, 797)
July 16, 1972: Five Pianos for five pianos, one doubling celesta, by Morton Feldman (46) is performed for the first time, in Berlin. The five pianists are John Cage (59), Cornelius Cardew (36), Frederic Rzewski (34), David Tudor, and the composer. There is a confrontation between Cage and Feldman when Cage misunderstands the instructions and plays 20 minutes beyond the other pianists.
September 12, 1972: John Tilbury gives a performance of Cornelius Cardew’s (36) piano music in the Sale Apollinee of Teatro La Fenice, Venice. At a discussion afterwards, statements by Tilbury and Cardew about the lack of class-consciousness of the avant-garde and the parasitic nature of avant-garde composers causes a near riot among the 400 listeners. Among the audience is John Cage (60). Cardew and Tilbury survive unhurt.
December 5, 1972: The East is Red for violin and piano by Cornelius Cardew (36) is performed for the first time, at the Studio for New Music, Munich.
April 9, 1974: The Scratch Orchestra is renamed the Red Flame Proletarian Propaganda Team. Its orientation, and that of Cornelius Cardew (37), have taken on a Marxist inspiration.
September 29, 1974: From today through 2 October, the Exercises 1-14 for two or more players by Christian Wolff (40) are performed completely for the first time, in Berlin. Among the performers are Cornelius Cardew (38), Gordon Mumma (39), Frederic Rzewski (36), and the composer. There is also the first complete performance of Wolff's Songs. See 9 March 1974 and 26 May 1974.
November 26, 1974: Having left his wife in May, Cornelius Cardew (38) moves in with Sheila Muir Kasabova, a picture researcher in the publishing industry, in London.
January 3, 1975: Cornelius Cardew (38) begins a month-long tour of North America which will include seventeen recitals, along with lectures and interviews.
December 9, 1975: Cornelius Cardew (39) is divorced from his second wife, Stella Sargent Underwood Cardew. They have been estranged since May 1974.
March 6, 1980: Cornelius Cardew (43) is sentenced by a magistrate in London to one week in prison for his part in a fracas last June between police and leftist demonstrators.
March 13, 1980: Immediately upon his release from prison, Cornelius Cardew (43) is again before a magistrate in London, who fines him £200 plus £200 court costs for a previous offense of obstructing the police.
August 9, 1980: There is only one lie for chorus by Cornelius Cardew (44) is performed for the first time, in Hampstead Town Hall, London.
August 20, 1980: Cornelius Cardew (44) is sentenced to six weeks in prison by a London magistrate for his part in an anti-fascist demonstration last June.
September 19, 1980: Cornelius Cardew (44) is released from Pentonville Prison after serving one month of a six weeks term.
June 7, 1981: Cornelius Cardew (45) chairs the Conference against Racism and Fascism in Conway Hall, London. It consists of about 500 people of varying political associations.
October 27, 1981: During the final reading of the British Nationality Bill in the House of Commons, Conservative member Enoch Powell rises to speak. As he does, from the Strangers’ Gallery, Cornelius Cardew (45) shouts “this house stinks of racism” and with another man, Hakim Ali, begins showering the chamber with leaflets against the legislation. The two are bodily removed from the house. They are detained in a local police station until the House session ends and then released. The two are banned from the House of Commons for seven years.
December 13, 1981: Between 01:00 and 01:30 Brian Cornelius McDonough Cardew is struck and killed by a car on a bridge near the Leyton tube station, East London, United Kingdom, aged 45 years, seven months, and six days. He is pronounced dead at Whipps Cross Hospital. There are no witnesses to the actual event. (Many details remain sketchy and unsolved. The driver has never been identified.)
December 15, 1981: A coroner’s inquest into the death of Cornelius Cardew concludes that the death was accidental.
December 22, 1981: After a brief service, about 150 people, mostly his communist comrades, accompany the body of Cornelius Cardew to its final rest in Manor Park Cemetery, London. They sing Immortal Sacrifice and The Internationale.
January 21, 1982: The inquest into the death of Cornelius Cardew (†0) is reopened. After six witnesses, the finding is once again an accidental death.
July 7, 1984: Today sees the beginning of the first complete performance of The Great Learning for vocalists doing various things, by Cornelius Cardew (†2) to words of Confucius (tr. Pound), at the Union Chapel, Upper Street, Islington, London.
July 8, 1984: Today sees the conclusion of the first complete performance of The Great Learning for vocalists doing various things, by Cornelius Cardew (†2) to words of Confucius (tr. Pound), at the Union Chapel, Upper Street, Islington, London.