cover image The Roaring Silence: John Cage, a Life

The Roaring Silence: John Cage, a Life

David Revill. Arcade Publishing, $27.95 (375pp) ISBN 978-1-55970-166-2

In this sympathetic biography, composer John Cage, who has devised scores for percussion ensembles, radios tuned at random, electrical instruments and pianos ``prepared'' with objects attached to the strings, is acclaimed as ``a man of joyous integrity'' who leans towards the ascetic and the transcendent. Revill, a music critic for the Times of London and the Guardian , seeks to show that Cage's life, work and ideas are all of a piece. His astute analyses of individual compositions are occasionally clarified by his discussion of Cage's dabblings in Zen, Eastern philosophy, anarchism, ecology and social thought. Although Revill had Cage's cooperation, his portrait of the avant-garde composer/painter/ poet as a sunny, spontaneous radical individualist seems strangely impersonal. Accounts of Cage's relations with Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Arnold Schonberg, Pierre Boulez, Marcel Duchamp, Robert Rauschenberg and other luminaries round out this study of the composer's continually evolving ideas. Photos. (Sept.)