Will Bond

Chess Match No. 5

Chess Match No. 5

"While the radical composer John Cage (1912–92) was alive, it seemed easier to dismiss him as an irritating crackpot than it does now."

That rhetorical flourish, from critic Alastair Macaulay of the New York Times, is as outlandish as any of Cage's own colorful, self-conscious proclamations; but it captures the crescendo of acclaim accorded this American avant-garde composer over the 25 years since his death. Macaulay's recent assertion that "no study of 20th-century music is complete without Cage" would have been argumentative a quarter century ago. Now it's an accepted tenet of commentary on music history.

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