Begin Again: A Biography of John Cage

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John Cage was a man of extraordinary and seemingly limitless talents: musician, inventor, composer, poet. He became a central figure of the avant-garde early in his life and remained at that pinnacle until his death in 1992 at the age of eighty. Now award-winning biographer Kenneth Silverman gives us the first comprehensive life of this remarkable artist. We follow Cage from his Los Angeles childhood—his father was a successful inventor—through his stay in Paris from 1930 to 1931, where immersion in the burgeoning new musical and artistic movements triggered an explosion of creativity in him and, after his return to the States, into his studies with the seminal modern composer Arnold Schoenberg. We see Cage’s early experiments with sound and percussion instruments, and watch as he develops his signature work with prepared piano, radio static, random noise, and silence. We learn of his many friendships over the years with other composers, artists, philosophers, and writers; of his early marriage and several lovers, both female and male; and of his long relationship with choreographer Merce Cunningham, with whom he would collaborate on radically unusual dances that continue to influence the worlds of both music and dance.

Drawing on interviews with Cage’s contemporaries and friends and on the enormous archive of his letters and writings, and including photographs, facsimiles of musical scores, and Web links to illustrative sections of his compositions, Silverman gives us a biography of major significance: a revelatory portrait of one of the most important cultural figures of the twentieth century.
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About the author

Kenneth Silverman’s previous books include A Cultural History of the American Revolution; The Life and Times of Cotton Mather; Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance; Houdini!!!; and Lightning Man: The Accursed Life of Samuel F. B. Morse. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he has received the Bancroft Prize in American History, the Pulitzer Prize for Biography, the Edgar Award of the Mystery Writers of America, and the Christopher Literary Award of the Society of American Magicians. A professor emeritus of English at New York University, he lives in New York City.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Knopf
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Published on
Oct 19, 2010
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Pages
496
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ISBN
9780307594570
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Music
Music / Individual Composer & Musician
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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There has never been a hard rock band like Metallica. The California quartet has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide, won nine Grammy Awards, and had five consecutive albums hit number one on the Billboard charts. But Metallica's story, epic in scope, is a tale about much more than sales figures and critical acclaim, and their journey from scuzzy Los Angeles garages to the world's most storied stadiums has been dramatic and painful, their gigantic successes often shot through with tension, tragedy, loss, and controversy.

Birth School Metallica Death is the definitive story of the most significant rock band since Led Zeppelin. Volume 1 covers the band's formation up to their breakthrough eponymous fifth album, aka “The Black Album.” The intense and sometimes fraught relationship between aloof-yet-simmering singer, chief lyricist, and rhythm guitarist James Hetfield and the outspoken and ambitious drummer Lars Ulrich is the saga's emotional core. Their earliest years saw the release of three unimpeachable classics—Kill 'Em All, Ride the Lightning, and Master of Puppets—genre-defining masterpieces that took hard rock to a new level, both artistically and commercially. During these tumultuous times, the band persevered through line-up changes when guitarist Dave Mustaine was replaced by Kirk Hammet, and their bass player, the beloved Cliff Burton, was tragically killed in a bus crash while on tour in Europe.

But it was the breakthrough of …And Justice for All that rent the fabric of the mainstream, hitting the top of the charts without benefit of radio airplay or the then-crucial presence on MTV. And finally in 1991, with the release of their fifth studio album, nicknamed “The Black Album,” Metallica hit the next level—five hit singles including their best-known songs “Enter Sandman” and “Nothing Else Matters”—and their first album atop the Billboard charts.

In Birth School Metallica Death, veteran music journalists and Metallica confidants Paul Brannigan and Ian Winwood detail this meteoric rise to international fame in an epic saga of family, community, self-belief, the pursuit of dreams, and music that rocks. Told through first-hand interviews with the band and those closest to them, the story of Metallica's rise to the mainstream has never been so vividly documented.
The oldest daughter of revered composer Leonard Bernstein offers a rare look at her father on the centenary of his birth—illuminating a man, a city, and an era that defined modern culture—in a deeply intimate and broadly evocative memoir reminiscent of Alexandra Styron’s Reading My Father and Richard Ford’s Between Them.

The composer of On the Town and West Side Story, chief conductor of the New York Philharmonic, television star, humanitarian, friend of the powerful and influential, and inveterate partygoer Leonard Bernstein was a massive celebrity during one of the headiest periods of American cultural life, and perhaps the most talented musician in American history.

To his eldest daughter, Jamie, he was all that and more; he was the man in the scratchy brown bathrobe that smelled of cigarettes, who sat late at night at the piano when he couldn’t sleep (he could never sleep). An incredible jokester, an incessant teacher, he taught her to love the world in all its beauty and complexity. In public and private, Lenny was larger than life.

In Famous Father Girl, Bernstein mines the emotional depths of her childhood and invites us into her family’s private world. A fantastic set of characters populate the Bernsteins’ lives, including: the Kennedys, Mike Nichols, John Lennon, Richard Avedon, Stephen Sondheim, Jerome Robbins, and Betty (Lauren) Bacall.

An intoxicating tale, Famous Father Girl is an intimate meditation on a deeply complex and sometimes troubled man and the beautiful music that was the soundtrack to his life. Deeply moving and often hilarious, Bernstein’s beautifully written memoir is great American story about one of the greatest Americans of the modern age.

In this brilliantly conceived and written biography, Pulitzer Prize–winning Kenneth Silverman gives us the long and amazing life of the man eulogized by the New York Herald in 1872 as “perhaps the most illustrious American of his age.”

Silverman presents Samuel Morse in all his complexity. There is the gifted and prolific painter (more than three hundred portraits and larger historical canvases) and pioneer photographer, who gave the first lectures on art in America, became the first Professor of Fine Arts at an American college (New York University), and founded the National Academy of Design. There is the republican idealist, prominent in antebellum politics, who ran for Congress and for mayor of New York. But most important, there is the inventor of the American electromagnetic telegraph, which earned Morse the name Lightning Man and brought him the fame he sought.

In these pages, we witness the evolution of the great invention from its inception as an idea to its introduction to the world—an event that astonished Morse’s contemporaries and was considered the supreme expression of the country’s inventive genius. We see how it transformed commerce, journalism, transportation, military affairs, diplomacy, and the very shape of daily life, ushering in the modern era of communication.

But we discover as well that Morse viewed his existence as accursed rather than illustrious, his every achievement seeming to end in loss and defeat: his most ambitious canvases went unsold; his beloved republic imploded into civil war, making it unlivable for him; and the commercial success of the telegraph engulfed him in lawsuits challenging the originality and ownership of his invention.

Lightning Man is the first biography of Samuel F. B. Morse in sixty years. It is a revelation of the life of a fascinating and profoundly troubled American genius.
A New York Times bestseller, this is the official biography from the beloved Mexican-American singer who lost her life in a tragic plane crash.

The only autobiography authorized by Jenni Rivera

"I can’t get caught up in the negative because that destroys you. Perhaps trying to move away from my problems and focus on the positive is the best I can do. I am a woman like any other, and ugly things happen to me like any other woman. The number of times I have fallen down is the number of times I have gotten up."

These are the last words that beloved Mexican American singer Jenni Rivera spoke publicly before boarding the plane that would crash and cut her life short on December 9, 2012. However, they are not the final words that La Diva de la Banda had for the world. Those are found in the pages you hold in your hands, Jenni’s own account of the highs and lows of her extraordinary journey.

She became the most acclaimed Spanish-language singer in the United States and sold more than 15 million records worldwide. A single mother of five and grandmother of two, she was also an actress, a television producer, the star of her own reality show, and an entrepreneur. But for all its immense success, Jenni’s life often seemed to be a series of personal battles in which perseverance was her only weapon. As her fame grew, she made it her mission to speak about her struggles, forging an intimate connection with her fans. She became a figure of strength and a source of encouragement to women of all ages.

In Unbreakable, Jenni recounts the crucial moments in her past, revealing her experiences with domestic and sexual abuse, divorce, body image issues, making her way in a male-dominated industry, raising her children as a single mother, and learning that she could depend only on herself.

Though she is no longer with us, Jenni will always be the "Rivera rebel from Long Beach," the girl who maintained her sense of humor and fighting spirit in every circumstance. In this remarkable memoir, Jenni leaves behind a legacy of inspiration and determination that will forever live on through her precious family, friends, and fans.
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