The composer Petr Kotik has been reading Gertrude Stein for more than 40 years, and her work remains a riddle.
"I don't think it's clear to this day," Mr. Kotik said. "It's not about clarity."
He doesn't mean that as a slight. The avant-garde writer, who died in France in 1946, has long served as a muse for Mr. Kotik. "Many Many Women," his six-hour work for six singers and six instrumentalists, which will be featured in a rare performance Friday at Paula Cooper Gallery in Chelsea, is inspired by Stein's 1910 story of the same name.