Monday, January 22, 2007

The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs

Last week I was introduced to several intriguing and haunting pieces of music I had not heard before when Pulse performed their "Cabaret du Neant". In particular John Cage's work "The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs" which sets a short extract from James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake to music. It was delicately sung with sensual clarity by Sarah Dacey, accompanied only by Belinda Jones on "closed piano". Searching for background to this composition I chanced across this essay by William Harris: "Reading Finnegans Wake: a Micro-structural Approach with Musical Sound". Harris discusses the importance of sound in Joyce's work using the passage that Cage drew on for "The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs".