Book published by University of Illinois Press
An introduction to the extraordinary life of John Cage, composer, writer, and artist.
John Cage was a giant of American experimental musicócomposer, writer, and artist. He is most widely known for his 1952 composition 4'33, whose three movements continue to challenge the definition of music by being performed without playing a single note. In questioning fundamental tenets of Western music, Cage was often at the center of controversy, and is regarded as an important contributor to many facets of American culture.
To enable readers to understand what makes Cage such an extraordinary figure, David Nicholls masterfully places his striking body of prose and poetry, over 300 music compositions, and prominent performance career into historical, environmental, intellectual, philosophical, and aesthetic contexts. Nicholls' intimate study of John Cage's personal and professional life confirms the legacy of this major figure in twentieth-century American culture.
David Nicholls is a professor of music at the University of Southampton, author of American Experimental Music, 1890-1940, and editor of The Cambridge Companion to John Cage.
“Nicholls offers a meticulously researched and beautifully crafted narrative that lays equal emphasis on Cage's personal and professional development.”
—Times Literary Supplement
“In this interesting and illuminating work - part biography, part critical assessment - David Nicholls chronicles and critiques the composer's life.... This is an easily accessible and well-written overview of Cage's work that is addressed to both general readers and serious music lovers.”
—Sydney Morning Herald
“Nicholls provides an informative and readable narrative. Impeccably researched and well-written, the author imparts the meaningfulness of the music as well as the writings of Cage, demonstrating his impact on the performance, perception, and conception of music.”
“[This] volume sheds a valuable beam of light on the composer, cutting through the obfuscation that has settled around him.... A very fine book. ”