John De Cesare (1890-1972)

The Star-Spangled Banner

I just wrote a Wikipedia article for US artist John De Cesare. However succint, it is nonetheless the most comprehensive overview of his work on the web. This post offers a few graphic representations of musical scores excerpted from a series of 250 drawings De Cesare did between 1948 and 1970.

  • Top: The Star-Spangled Banner rendered as architectural project (1966).
  • Middle: a compendium of his ‘Space Rule Keys’ system, 1965, with musical notes represented as triangles where height is pitch and length is duration.
  • Bottom: his 1956 rendition of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries (from Die Walküre, 1870) runs on 5 pages, 3 are shown here.

De Cesare's ‘Space Rule Keys’ system

Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries


5 Responses to “John De Cesare (1890-1972)”

  1. 1 Caitlyn July 29, 2009 at 3:41 am

    Did I ever tell you that you are awesome? Because you are. Way to raise the bar.

    These are wonderful.

  2. 2 continuo July 29, 2009 at 4:08 am

    I guess I would remember if you’d already told me that. Thanks for the com[pli]ment. I’ll investigate some of your mixes very soon.

  3. 3 Michelle April 2, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    Hi. I am the great niece of John. I was doing some family history research and came across your website. Are you a relative? Thank you for putting together the Wikipedia page. I always loved his work and am glad that others do too.

  4. 4 continuo April 2, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    Hi, Michelle. I’m a blogger from Paris, France with no relation to John De Cesare. I discovered his graphic work while researching the field of visual music, or rendition of music through drawing, painting or film. His name is hardly mentioned in the reference books on the subject. Writing the Wikipedia article was a pleasure, though I didn’t have a lot of information, my main source being a French article based on Elaine Evans Dee’s writings. If you feel like making corrections or additions to this article, just let me know with another comment on this post, and will get in touch together.
    Thanks for dropping by.

  5. 5 Elaine Roy October 24, 2011 at 6:08 am

    Hi, Michelle,

    My Mother is Carolyn D’Andrea, John De Cesare niece and I’m her daughter Elaine Roy. I love my great Uncles’ Work and we are so proud of him. I tell every one I know about his work. I just wish that he would get the true honor he deserves. A book that honors him and that on every building the he did work on his name. I would love to know more about him. I never got to meet him. I felt in love with his work. My great uncle , I believe placed a piece of his heart in every piece of work he did.Although he is gone, his love shine down on us in the amazing work that brings hope,like the angel’s he created. His work enlightens and draws passion to our hearts. I’m so amazed how he did so much and gave New York a wonder that would last forever. He will always have a special place in our family heart,were he will be our inspiration! Thank you, I can be reached at
    Sincerely yours,
    Elaine Roy,

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