Brian Morton, 'Shostakovich, His Life and His Music' (2006), Haus Publishing, Ltd; London. Shostakovich was the only 'great' composer I know of who spent time creating live music for silent film.
"Playing live accompaniment to silent films, and at a moment when cinema was seen as the cutting edge of Soviet culture, was a bracing immersion in the Zeitgeist; it expanded Shostakovich's expressive range considerably, and reinforced in him a musical naturalism that had both satiric-comic and tragical dimensions."
Alexander Walker, 'The Shattered Silents' (1978), Elm Tree Books.
"Talkies substituted passive participation instead of the deeper state of active communion that silence encouraged."
Swafford, Jan; Charles Ives: A Life with Music (1996), W. W. Norton.
"Life seems to me an improvisation."
"It would have been more logical if silent pictures had grown out of the talkie instead of the other way round."
Here's the beginning of a New York Times review published July 1, 2010 of a Kino release of Keaton's 'Steamboat Bill Jr.' (1928). It's a marvelous brief summation of the three big silent comics:
"THE American silent cinema of the 1920s gave us three great comedians: Harold Lloyd, whose hyperkinetic optimism seemed the perfect embodiment of his epoch; Charles Chaplin, whose Victorian sentimentality was just a touching bit behind it; and Buster Keaton, who was so far ahead of his time that we’re still running to catch up with him."
Check out the rest of the article.
Three words that negate the magic of silent cinema:
HOME ENTERTAINMENT CENTER
Roger Ebert, Oct. 12, 2010:
"The wonderment is that we still have the silent clowns, many now available in restored versions. Almost all of Keaton, of Lloyd, of Chaplin. They were artists who depended on silence, and sound was powerless to add a thing. They live in their time, and we must be willing to visit it. An inability to admire silent films, like a dislike of black and white, is a sad inadequacy. Those who dismiss such pleasures must have deficient imaginations."