Back to Works Index
Work Title
Atlas Eclipticalis
Composed between 1961 and 1962. Premiered in Montreal, August 3, 1961.
Ensemble Type
For any combination of instruments drawn from Fl (Alto Fl, Picc, ad lib) 1-3; Ob (EH, Sax, ad lib.) 1-3; Cl (Bcl or Cbcl ad lib.) 1-3; Bsn (Cbsn ad lib.) 1-3; Hrn (treble range) 1, 3 (bass range), 2, 4, 5; Trp 1-3; Trb (Tenor) 1, 2, (Bass) 3;Tha 1-3; Timp l-3 (each using 4 pedal instruments); Perc 1-9 (using miscellaneous unspecified non-pitched instruments); Hp 1-3; 1st Vn 1-12 (high range); 2nd Vn 1-12 (low range); Va 1-9; Vc 1-9; Cb 1-3; Conductor, to be played in whole or in part, any duration in any ensemble, chamber or orchestral. May be performed with Winter Music (EP 6775).
This work was originally used as music for the choreographed piece by Merce Cunningham entitled Aeon, with stage decors and costume design by Robert Rauschenberg. It was later used for Cunningham's first "Events" performance, Museum Event #1." Atlas Eclipticalis was composed on a commission from the Montreal Festival Society. Like Winter Music, a work with which it is often performed, each event contains from one to ten notes, divided randomly into two groups. Pitches are notated clearly, though in a somewhat unusual way, i.e. the sizes of notes determine amplitudes. Durations are notated above the events. Tempo is not given, but rather is determined by the conductor. To compose this piece, Cage used the Atlas Eclipticalis 1950.0 (an atlas of the stars published in 1958 by Antonín Becvár [1901-1965], a Czech astronomer), superimposing musical staves over its star-charts. In any performance, this score may be played in whole or in part by any number of players, up to the full 86 specified. In addition to Winter Music, Atlas Eclipticalis may also be performed simultaneously with Song Books. Cage also indicated the possibility of attaching contact microphones to some or all of the instruments, thus amplifying their sounds. In this case, an assistant to the conductor is required, creating his score using Cartridge Music. Atlas Eclipticalis is the first part of a trilogy of which Variations IV is part 2 and 0'00" is part 3. Dedicated to: Edgar Anderson and Dorothy, Hans Austen and Sulamith, George Avakian and Anahid [Ajemian], Louella Bacon, Cathy Berberian, Luciano Berio, Shareen Blair, Nicola Cernovich, Remy Charlip, Robert Dunn and Judith, Öyvind Fahlström and Barbro, Viola Farber, Morton Feldman and Cynthia, Ross Gortner and Priscilla, Raymond Grimaila, Lawrence Halprin and Anna, Walter Hinrichsen and Evelyn, William Jefferys, Jasper Johns, Arthur Josephson and Mary Caroline, Lois Long, Paula Madawick, Keith McGary and Donna, Bruce Markgraf and Rosemary, Pierre Mercure, Leonard Meyer and Lee, Kurt Michaelis, Louis Mink and Pat, Guy G. Nearing, Sigmund Neumann, Nam June Paik, Steve Paxton, Joe Peoples and Ruth, Henri Pousseur and Thea, Robert Rauschenberg, Norman Rudich and Linda, Pegeen Rumney, Louis Silverstein, Chaloner Spencer and Helen, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Doris, James Sykes and Clay, David R. Telson and Paula, William Robert Thompson and Mary, Connie Wilson, Richard K. Winslow and Betty, Christian Wolff, Robert Wood and Marilyn, Ralph Pendleton, Carl Viggiani and Jane, David Gordon and Valda Setterfield, Mell Daniel and Minna, Mary Bauermeister, István Anhalt and Beata, Ralph Ferrara, C. H. Waddington, Robert H. Knapp and Johnsia, Mauricio Kagel and Ursula, Willard Lockwood and Louise, Richard Maxfield, Gira Sarabhai, Jose Gomez-Ibanez and Lidia, Emile De Antonio, Esther Dam, Benedicte Pesle, Richard Lippold and Louise, David McAllester and Susan, Toshi Ichiyanagi, Ihab Hassan, my father [John Milton Cage, Sr.] and mother [Lucretia Cage], Peggy Guggenheim, Nathan Shapira and Irene, Walter Van Tilburg Clark and Barbara, J. R. T. Bueno and Emily, David Tudor, Merce Cunningham, Earle Brown and Carolyn, Norman O. Brown and Beth, Samuel Green and Bunnie, Martha Gerhart, Marian Vaine, Ben Johnston and Betty, Paul Weiss, Johanna Alida Ribbelink, Clara Mayer, Marston Bates and Nancy, Tania Senff, Grace Bacon, Reginald Arragon and Gertrude, President and Mrs. Victor Butterfield.
See General Comments field for dedicatees.
Peters Edition EP 6782