Nowth upon Nacht

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Nowth upon Nacht is a song for voice and piano by John Cage. It was composed in 1984 in memoriam for Cathy Berberian, the celebrated soprano singer, wife of composer Luciano Berio.

The text is taken directly from a passage from James Joyce's Finnegans Wake.[1] This passage follows right after another, which Cage used earlier in The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs, and Nowth upon Nacht is intended to be performed right after that piece. The vocal line is declamatory and uses a small number of high pitches. Cage did not make any alterations to Joyce's text. The pianist does not touch the keys but produces noises by shutting the piano lid with the sustain pedal depressed.


  • Edition Peters 67039. (c) 1984 by Henmar Press.

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  1. ^ Not in every edition though. The words in the Penguin/1939 edition of Finnegans Wake are "now upon nacht".

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