Richard Kostelanetz

On Innovative Musicians

Based on interviews, personal knowledge, and friendships, Richard Kostelanetz has made the twentieth century live again.

He talks about Glenn Gould, Charles Ives, Milton Babbitt, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Elliott Carter, Alan Hovhaness, Paul Zukofsky, Philip Glass, La Monte Young, Joao Carlos Martins, Peter Schickele, B. B. King, and Robert Moog. He explains what they did, how they did it, and how they thought about it.

They are an extraordinary group of artists and Kostelanetz gives us a unique perspective on their lives and their accomplishments. He explains how Babbitt creates the words for Phonemena. He recalls the first performance of John Cage and Lejaren Hiller’s HPSCHD. He converses with Cage while Cage is writing through Finnigans Wake. He follows B. B. King’s career as a blues guitarist. He tells us about Robert Moog’s startup, La Monte Young’s Theater of Eternal Music, Paul Zukofsky’s incredible talent as a violinist, and Elliott Carter’s emergence as one of America’s important composers.

Kostelanetz’s writing style is so personal, flowing, interesting, that it’s truly a pleasure to share his insights. No one else could have written this book. And no composer, no student, no professor, no one involved in new music should miss it.



Richard Kostelanetz, whose earlier books introduced John Cage to two generations of readers, is an internationally recognized writer, composer, and media artist. His poems, stories, articles, and experimental prose have been published in magazines throughout the world.

In addition to editing three dozen anthologies, Kostelanetz has written more than one hundred books of criticism, cultural history, poetry, fiction, and experimental prose. His language-based audiotapes, videotapes, films, and holograms have been widely exhibited at venues for multimedia.

The recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, among them a Fulbright Scholarship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, ten individual grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and annual ASCAP awards for music composition, he is recognized with individual entries in such prestigious compendia as A Readers Guide to Twentieth-Century Writers, Contemporary Poets, Webster’s Dictionary of American Writers, The HarperCollins Reader’s Encyclopedia of American Literature, Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, Directory of American Scholars, Wikipedia, and Britannica.com.

A native New Yorker, Richard Kostelanetz now lives and works east of the East River along the newly fabled L-train.


On Innovative Musicians
Barnes and Noble

Also by Kostelanetz
Slonimsky & Harrison
John Cage’s Greatest Hits