As a composer, writer, and artist, John Cage was a giant of American experimental music. 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 20th century American culture.