New York: Henmar Press, 1960. First Edition. Wraps. Folio, 11 x 14". Ozalid or diazo score, mechanically reproduced from holograph. Folded in sixths, residue of a paper clip to top edge. Toning, as common to the format. Else clean and sound. Very good. , 2-8. Very good. Item #16844
Apparent publisher's proof of Cage's 1942 piece for voice and closed piano. This example is reproduced in large ozolid or diazo format, typically an architectural duplicating method but frequently utilized by composers of the period for reproduction from holograph, and a format Cage used throughout his career. The first of Cage’s songs inspired by James Joyce (who was an enormous influence on the composer), "The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs" borrows its lyrics from the description of the sleeping Isobel in FINNEGANS WAKE: “how all so still she lay, neath of the whitethorn, child of tree, like some losthappy leaf, like blowing flower stilled.” According to Cage's included instructions, the vocalist is instructed to “sing without vibrato, as in folksinging,” while the pianist plays the closed piano like a drum, with notes on how and where to strike the surface (ie. with fingers or knuckles, on the top, front, underside etc.). As with many of Cage's works, "Widow" was received with some confusion and hostility in early performances. but would go on to become one of his most popular compositions. This is in all likelihood an in-house proof in advance of of the 1961 publication; the publisher (in email correspondence) estimates that no more than twenty working copies were printed. And Peters used one of these ozalids in the production of the mock-up for the offset edition (see "John Cage's 'The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs'" by Lauriejean Reinhardt), which was issued in an edition of 500 copies in 1961, reduced in scale, with Cage’s 1960 copyright notice and page numbers removed. This work also marks the innauguration of Cage's relationship with Peters. For years Cage had operated without a publisher. But Cage has described how he chose the firm one day in 1960 while browsing through a New York telephone book and was met with such enthusiasm by the firm's Walter Hinrichsen, a lover of contemporary American music and fan of Cage's, that they signed a contract over lunch the same day. Cage would continue to publish his work with Peters for the rest of his career. OCLC locates no examples. A surprising survival and a rare document marking the beginning of the relationship between a major American composer and his publisher.