John Cage. 4'33" (In Proportional Notation). 1952/1953

John Cage 4'33" (In Proportional Notation) 1952/1953

  • Not on view

4’33” (In Proportional Notation) is the earliest surviving score for Cage’s “silent piece,” first performed by the pianist David Tudor in Woodstock, New York, on August 29, 1952. Whereas the lost original score used conventional musical notation to signify three periods of silence, this score is composed of a series of vertical lines. The duration of the three movements corresponds to the distance between the lines, equating spatial and temporal measurements.

During the premiere, Tudor sat quietly at his piano, opening and closing the keyboard lid to mark the progression of the three movements. The audience waited in anticipation of the performance: their expectations of a conventional concert were shattered, but music was made. Cage recounted, “You could hear the wind stirring outside during the first movement. During the second, raindrops began pattering the roof, and during the third people themselves made all kinds of interesting sounds as they talked or walked out.” Cage saw silence as a way to plug the audience into the sound track of everyday life, to open them up to the infinite possibilities of ambient sound.

Cage dedicated 4’33” (In Proportional Notation), the second iteration of his “silent” piece, to his friend Irwin Kremen and gave it to him on his twenty–eighth birthday, in 1953.

Gallery label from There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4’33”, October 12, 2013–June 22, 2014.
Ink on paper
page (each): 11 x 8 1/2" (27.9 x 21.6 cm); sheet (each, unfolded): 11 x 16 15/16" (27.9 x 43.1 cm)
Acquired through the generosity of Henry Kravis in honor of Marie-Josée Kravis
Object number
© 2019 John Cage Trust
Drawings and Prints

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA's Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or, please email If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to