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
Music / Philosophy & Social Aspects
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Chopin in Paris introduces the most important musical and literary figures of Fryderyk Chopin's day in a glittering story of the Romantic era. During Chopin's eighteen years in Paris, lasting nearly half his short life, he shone at the center of the immensely talented artists who were defining their time -- Hugo, Balzac, Stendhal, Delacroix, Liszt, Berlioz, and, of course, George Sand, a rebel feminist writer who became Chopin's lover and protector.
Tad Szulc, the author of Fidel and Pope John Paul II, approaches his subject with imagination and insight, drawing extensively on diaries, memoirs, correspondence, and the composer's own journal, portions of which appear here for the first time in English. He uses contemporary sources to chronicle Chopin's meteoric rise in his native Poland, an ascent that had brought him to play before the reigning Russian grand duke at the age of eight. He left his homeland when he was eighteen, just before Warsaw's patriotic uprising was crushed by the tsar's armies.
Carrying the memories of Poland and its folk music that would later surface in his polonaises and mazurkas, Chopin traveled to Vienna. There he established his reputation in the most demanding city of Europe. But Chopin soon left for Paris, where his extraordinary creative powers would come to fruition amid the revolutions roiling much of Europe. He quickly gained fame and a circle of powerful friends and acquaintances ranging from Rothschild, the banker, to Karl Marx.
Distinguished by his fastidious dress and the wracking cough that would cut short his life, Chopin spent his days composing and giving piano lessons to a select group of students. His evenings were spent at the keyboard, playing for his friends. It was at one of these Chopin gatherings that he met George Sand, nine years his senior. Through their long and often stormy relationship, Chopin enjoyed his richest creative period. As she wrote dozens of novels, he composed furiously -- both were compulsive creators. After their affair unraveled, Chopin became the protégé of Jane Stirling, a wealthy Scotswoman, who paraded him in his final year across England and Scotland to play for the aristocracy and even Queen Victoria. In 1849, at the age of thirty-nine, Chopin succumbed to the tuberculosis that had plagued him from childhood.
Chopin in Paris is an illuminating biography of a tragic figure who was one of the most important composers of all time. Szulc brings to life the complex, contradictory genius whose works will live forever. It is compelling reading about an exciting epoch of European history, culture, and music -- and about one of the great love dramas of the nineteenth century.
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.
"It's not surprising that sooner or later I'd dive down the proverbial rabbit hole into the world of vintage bass guitars."—Geddy Lee

From Rush frontman Geddy Lee's personal collection of vintage electric bass guitars, dating from the 1950s to the 1980s, comes the definitive volume on the subject.

Geddy's love of the bass has been nurtured over a lifetime spent in the limelight as one of the world's premier rock bassists. For the past seven years, he's dedicated himself to studying the history of the instrument that's been so essential to his career, collecting hundreds of basses from around the globe.

Written with arts journalist Daniel Richler, gorgeously photographed in breathtaking detail by Richard Sibbald, and with insight from Geddy’s trusted bass tech and curator, John "Skully" McIntosh, Geddy Lee’s Big Beautiful Book of Bass profiles over 250 classic basses from Geddy’s extensive collection. Representing every tone in the bass palette, every nuance of the rock and roll genre as well as blues, jazz, pop, and country, this one-of-a-kind collection features so-called "beauty queens"—pristine instruments never lifted from their cases—as well as "road warriors"—well-worn, sweat-soaked basses that proudly show their age and use. Complete with personal commentary from Geddy that showcases his knowledge both as a musician and an aficionado, this luxuriously produced volume is a revelatory look at the heavy hitters in the world of bass—Fender, Gibson/Epiphone, Rickenbacker, Höfner, Ampeg—and lesser known but influential global luthiers such as Antonio Wandr Pioli, Dan Armstrong, and Tony Zemaitis.

The book also features interviews with John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin); Adam Clayton (U2); Robert Trujillo (Metallica); Jeff Tweedy (Wilco); Bill Wyman (The Rolling Stones); Les Claypool (Primus); Bob Daisley (Rainbow); Fender expert and owner of the legendary Gibson Explorer, Bass Ken Collins; veteran guitar tech for The Who, Alan Rogan; plus comments from many other great players across three decades of rock and roll.

Written in Geddy's singular voice, this book reveals the stories, songs, and history behind the instruments of his inimitable collection. Complete with an index and a graphically designed timeline of the history of the bass, as well as an up-close look at Geddy's basses on Rush's final R40 Tour, his stage and recording gear from 1968 to 2017, and forewords by author and respected vintage expert, Terry Foster, and Rush band member, Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee's Big Beautiful Book of Bass is the ultimate compendium for the consummate collector, musician, Rush fan, and anyone who loves the bass guitar.

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