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Work Title
The Perilous Night
Composed between 1943 and 1944. Premiered in New York, April 5, 1944.
Ensemble Type
Work Length
12 minutes
For solo prepared piano.
This is a composition in six untitled movements. It was written during a period in Cage’s life that was tinged with confusion and sadness, resulting, in large part, from his imminent separation from his wife, Xenia. The title derives from a collection of Irish folktales. The music recounts the dangers of erotic love, the misery of people separating, and the loneliness and terror one may experience when love becomes unhappy. The piano preparation is moderately elaborate and each of the work’s six movements has a different rhythmic structure.
Peters Edition EP 67886a