Cage, John. (1912–1992)


New York: Henmar Press. c. 1960. Peters 6777. The so-called "First Tacet Edition" of John Cage's most influential work, published by Peters. In this edition the work is simply notated as a single typed sheet, with three movements listed as roman numerals and marked "tacet." The sheet also includes a dedication to Irwin Kremen and a composer's note: "The title of this work is the total length in minutes and seconds of its performance. At Woodstock, N.Y., August 29, 1952, the title was 4'33" and the three parts were 33", 2'40", and 1'20". It was performed by David Tudor, pianist, who indicated the beginnings of parts by closing, the endings by opening, the keyboard lid. However, the work may be performed by any instrumentalist or combination of instrumentalists and last any length of time." Single sheet, 7.25 x 10.5 inches, loose inside a Peters cover, 9 x 12 inches. Rather heavily toned, but overall very good.

4′33″ was composed in 1952, for any instrument or combination of instruments, is a piece for tacet instruments lasting 4 minutes and 33 seconds. The piece consists of the sounds of the environment that the listeners hear while it is performed, although it is commonly perceived as "four minutes thirty-three seconds of silence." Conceived around 1947–48, 4′33″ became for Cage the epitome of his idea that any sounds may constitute music. It was also a reflection of the influence of Zen Buddhism, which Cage had studied since the late 1940s. In a 1982 interview, and on numerous other occasions, Cage stated that 4′33″ was, in his opinion, his most important work.

Several versions of the score exist. The original Woodstock manuscript (August 1952) is written in conventional notation and dedicated to David Tudor. This manuscript is currently lost. In the Kremen manuscript (1953), the piece is rendered in graphic, space-time notation and dedicated to Irwin Kremen. The movements of the piece are rendered as space between long vertical lines; a tempo indication is provided (60), and at the end of each movement the time is indicated in minutes and seconds. This version is published by Peters as No. 6777a. In addition to the present First Tacet Edition, a Second Tacet Edition also exists, similar to the first but printed in Cage's calligraphy, and is also published as Peters No. 6777. (17397)

Printed Music
Classical Music