John Cage’s Historical Niche, a Legacy in Letters 

English: Farah Diba greets John Cage and Merce...

Source: The New York Times.

While the radical composer John Cage (1912-92) was alive, it seemed easier to dismiss him as an irritating crackpot than it does now. In death, Cage has only grown. His paintings, his philosophy, his anarchism are better known; it’s far easier to find recordings of his music; he’s much watched on YouTube. We can now see — witness his recurrent appearances in Alex Ross’s superb history “The Rest Is Noise” (2007) — that no study of 20th-century music is complete without Cage. He’s most famous for his all-silent three-part 1952 composition “4’33” (a reference to its duration in minutes and seconds): An end to conventional music, it became a beginning for Cage, opening up the possibilities of sound and noise.