John Cage's Greatest Hits
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In this enjoyable and extremely informative guide to John Cage’s greatest works, Richard Kostelanetz begins by introducing the man, identifying why he is a one of the most revolutionary and influential 20th-century artists. Making crucial discriminations in a charming personal literary style, Kostelanetz then describes what and why he considers Cage's major works—namely Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano (1948), which exhaustively climaxes Cage’s transformation of the piano into a percussion instrument by placing screws and bits of rubber between the strings; HPSCHD (1969), for seven harpsichords, fifty-two computer-generated sounds, and several thousand slides; Roaratorio (1979), which combines the sounds mentioned by James Joyce in Finnegans Wake with live Irish folksong musicians; and Europeras I/II (1987), an immense assemblage of song, scenery, and costume from 19th-century European opera. Kostelanetz also talks about Cage's Song Books score (1970) as book-art and his comparably innovative writings. By the time we've finished this short minibook, very much a pleasure to read, we not only understand a lot about Cage and his music, we want to read it again.
About the Author:
Richard Kostelanetz, whose earlier books introduced John Cage to two generations of readers, is an internationally recognized writer, composer, and media artist. His poems, stories, articles, and experimental prose have been published in magazines throughout the world. In addition to editing three dozen anthologies, Kostelanetz has written more than one hundred books of criticism, cultural history, poetry, fiction, and experimental prose. His language-based audiotapes, videotapes, films, and holograms have been widely exhibited at venues for multimedia. The recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, among them a Fulbright Scholarship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, ten individual grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and annual ASCAP awards for music composition, he is recognized with individual entries in such prestigious compendia as A Readers Guide to Twentieth-Century Writers, Contemporary Poets, Webster's Dictionary of American Writers, The HarperCollins Reader's Encyclopedia of American Literature, Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, Directory of American Scholars, Wikipedia, and Britannica.com. A native New Yorker, Richard Kostelanetz now lives and works east of the East River along the newly fabled L-train.