September 2006
10 black and white illustrations
294 pages
9x6 in
Eastman Studies in Music
University of Rochester Press
BISAC BIO004000, MUS050000, MUS020000


Dialogues with and about John Cage

Edited by Peter Dickinson


Hardback out of stock

eBook for Handhelds
Revealing unpublished interviews with John Cage and some of his closest colleagues, including Virgil Thomson, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pauline Oliveros, Merce Cunningham, and David Tudor.
John Cage was one of America's most renowned composers from the 1940s until his death in 1992. But he was also a much-admired writer and artist, and a uniquely attractive personality able to present his ideas engagingly wherever he went. As an interview subject he was a consummate professional.
The main source of CageTalk: Dialogues with and about John Cage is a panoply of vivid and compulsively readable interviews given to Peter Dickinson in the late 1980s for a BBC Radio 3 documentary. The original BBC program lasted an hour, but the full discussions with Cage and many of the main figures connected with him were not published until the first edition of this book.
CageTalk also includes earlier BBC interviews with Cage, including ones by the renowned literary critic Frank Kermode and art critic David Sylvester. And Dickinson, the editor of this volume, contributes little-known source material about Cage's Musicircus and Roaratorio as well as a substantial introduction exploring the multiple roles that Cage's varied and challenging output played during much of the twentieth century and continues to play in the early twenty-first.
Apart from the long interview with Cage himself, there are discussions with Bonnie Bird, Earle Brown, Merce Cunningham, Minna Lederman, Otto Luening, Jackson Mac Low, Peadar Mercier, Pauline Oliveros, John Rockwell, Kurt Schwertsik, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Virgil Thomson, David Tudor, La Monte Young, and Paul Zukovsky. Most of the interviews were given to Peter Dickinson but there are others involving Rebecca Boyle, Anthony Cheevers, Michael Oliver, and Roger Smalley.

Peter Dickinson, British composer and pianist, is Emeritus Professor, University of Keele and University of London, and has written or edited several books about twentieth-century music, including Copland Connotations [Boydell Press, 2002] and The Music of Lennox Berkeley [Boydell Press, 2003].

Table of Contents

Introduction by Peter Dickinson
John Cage
Merce Cunningham
Bonnie Bird
David Tudor
Jackson Mac Low
Minna Lederman
Virgil Thomson
Otto Luening
Karlheinz Stockhausen
Earle Brown
Kurt Schwertsik
La Monte Young
John Rockwell
Pauline Oliveros
Paul Zukofsky
Cage with David Sylvester and Roger Smalley
Cage with Frank Kermode
Cage with Michael Oliver
About Musicircus, Cage with Peter Dickinson
Introducing Roaratorio, Cage, Cunningham, and Peadar Mercier with Peter Dickinson
Europeras and After, Cage with Anthony Cheevers


ForeWord Magazine selected this title as one of its top music books from University Presses for 2006.

Ideal introduction to Cage. TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

The first-hand accounts related by Cage's colleagues offer new insights and a palpable vibrancy. . . . A sense of intimacy and richness of anecdotal detail. . . . Merit[s] study by all with an interest in the composer. BULLETIN OF THE SOCIETY FOR AMERICAN MUSIC [Charles Madsen]

We hear Cage in his own words, in conversations conducted between 1966 and 1988, and put in the context of interviews with close colleagues such as pianist David Tudor, choreographer Merce Cunningham and fellow composers including Earle Brown and Virgil Thomson. . . . Dickinson's approach to collecting these interviews is methodical and fastidious. . . . [His] introductory chapter is . . . cogent. GRAMOPHONE [Philip Clark]

This book is no eulogy compendium. Instead, the interviewees simply give us what we would all prefer to have, which is a diverse set of instructive, good-humoured accounts of their dealings with the book's subject. . . . Informative and entertaining -- often amusing: Stockhausen's thinly-veiled tetchiness makes for a diverting subtext, while Virgil Thomson refers to Cage's former wife Xenia as "the Eskimo." Technically, too, this book is a success, with its comprehensive references, its proper indexing and, joy of joys, footnotes . . . on the page you're actually on. A valuable and enjoyable read which I unreservedly recommend. Five stars (out of five). BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE[Roger Thomas]

A lively compilation of dialogues with and about Cage . . . [opening with Dickinson's] useful introductory overview.. . . [Cage's] influence burns brighter than ever. THE SPECTATOR [Fiona Maddocks]

Essential reading for anyone interested in the music of our time. WHOLENOTE

Cage's engaging manner radiates from these pages. . . . CageTalk is excellent, leaving one with feelings of affection toward its subject. CLASSICAL MUSIC [John Robert Brown]

A real treasure house of fascinating exchanges. . . . An entertaining perspective on [Cage's] inventive and imaginative world of sound, visual imagery and movement." MUSIC AND VISION DAILY [Patrick Standford]

Recommended to all music libraries, [and] specialists concerned with...[Cage's] enduring work. JOURNAL OF THE SOCIETY FOR AMERICAN MUSIC [Brett Boutwell]

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