No artist is comprehensible in one dimension. In the case of composer John Cage this is especially so. Composer, musician, wordsmith, poet, musical philosopher, Zen Buddhist, collector of mushrooms. He has had an enormous impact on the concert music scene both during his lifetime and in the years following his death.
In celebration of Cage's 100th birthday year Accentus Music has released on DVD John Cage: Journeys in Sound (Accentus 20246), a film by Allan Miller and Paul Smaczny. It runs about an hour and is well supplemented by another 40 minutes of concert footage of 4'33'', Water Music, a Constructions percussion work, and a Sonata for Prepared Piano.
The film wisely does not attempt to be comprehensive but instead covers illustrative vignettes on his life experience, philosophy and music through interviews with Cage, his friends and associates, musicologists, fellow composers, musicians, along with excerpts from musical performances and miscellaneous archive footage.
A true-to-life picture emerges of the man and his music, the importance of chance and sheer sound to his compositions, his openess to the unexplored and his brilliant creativity, his huge impact on contemporary aesthetics and his controversial status even today.
It does all this with artistry and grace. It is a most fitting and sympathetic tribute to the man who changed the face of music in the last century.