The Rest Is Sometimes Silence

Alex Ross has penned a long, informative essay on John Cage in this week’s New Yorker (subscription required to read the whole thing, but you all subscribe, right?) which kindly quotes my 4’33” book at various points. More informatively to me, it also relies heavily on the new biography of Cage, Begin Again by Kenneth Silverman, which looks to be admirably thorough and chock full of new information, and which Amazon lists as due to appear Oct. 19. One bit I didn’t know: I’m on record as being a little dubious about Schoenberg’s having supposedly called Cage his best American student (“an inventor – of genius”), but apparently Cage was the only American student to attend a private 1937 reading of Schoenberg’s Fourth String Quartet at Schoenberg’s home. Curious.