November — A photo and a piece of music by Dennis Johnson

Tree on Midsummer Common—November 2016   
Just before Susanna and I headed up to Shetland this July I began listening to a five-hour long piece for piano composed in 1959 by Dennis Johnson  called November. Title aside, the music suited well my mood, the long night ferry journeys (both there and back) and also the evocative, largely treeless landscape of Britain's most northerly isle, Unst, where we were staying. This was especially so on those early mornings when the hills around us were obscured in mysterious mist and rain.

Anyway, whilst there I promised myself that I would re-listen to it in Cambridge in the darkening month of November and, over the last couple of days, I've been doing just that as I have begun properly to work through Emanuele Severino's extraordinary neo-Parmenidean work, "The Essence of Nihilism."

This morning it occurred to me that some of you might enjoy being introduced to this remarkable, early piece of American minimalist music, not least of all because I'm finding that its peaceful, gentle, timeless qualities (along with Severino's thought) seem to be helping to restore in me some kind of calm equilibrium following the highly disconcerting and disappointing vote for Brexit in June and then last week's news that Trump had won the US Presidential election.

By clicking on this link you can read an article published in "The Wire" called "Dennis Johnson: Maths, Mars landings and minimalism" which will tell you something about both the man and his piece.

By clicking on this link you can preview and/or download the piece, finally recorded more than 50 years after its premiere by R. Andrew Lee.

I took the photo at the head of this post on Midsummer Common yesterday in some very November-like weather.

From Johnson's score of "November"
Cover of the new recording of "November" by R. Andrew Lee