For the Birds
The New Grove Dictionary of Music has said of John Cage that he "had a greater impact on world music than any other American composer in the twentieth century," and his musical thinking forms a whole with his writing. For the Birds is a book, a dialogue and an event all at once. The initial conversations were recorded in France between 1968 and 1978 and were then reconstructed, reedited and commented upon by Cage. The final text, with footnotes and asides added over the years, is prefaced by a typographical celebration of his ideas compiled by Cage himself.
This ebullient collection of questions and answers covers a wide variety of topics. Cage's great wit and intelligence are allowed to range across such subjects as his own music and texts, mushrooms, chess, James Joyce, Mao, Thoreau, Satie, electronic music, the prepared piano, Zen, the environment, technology, politics and economics.
John Cage was born in Los Angeles in 1912. He studied music with Adolf Weiss, Henry Cowell and Arnold Schoenberg, and he has shared ideas with Marcel Duchamp, Joan Miro and Max Ernst, as well as such prophets as Marshall McLuhan and Buckminster Fuller. He was music director of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company for decades and held a number of academic posts. Cage was a composer, poet, graphic artist, teacher and critic. He died in New York in 1992.
"He is not a composer, he's an inventor -- of genius."--Arnold Schoenberg
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