Thomas, John Patrick: Months of Summer and Other Works for Organ

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Are 2394

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Months of Summer 1-5
For Pi-hsien Chen 1-3
Lost Landscapes 1a, 1b, 2-4
Dream Music 1-3
How It Goes On

ca. 70 Seiten, Are 2394

Notes on the Music

Months of Summer is a set of five pieces that dates from 1995. In the years after I moved to Europe in 1971, I often spent summer vacations at my mother’s home in Harvey, North Dakota. The seasonal heat, the rural landscapes, the county fairs, and the broad expanses of sky fascinated me. Recently, I realized that this music forms a kind of portrait of my mother during the last years of her life. The work is dedicated to my friend, the musicologist Richard Evidon, and is now dedicated as well to Constanze Kowalski.


For Pi-hsien Chen consists of three piano pieces composed in the fall of 2019 after the pianist Pi-hsien Chen (she has been a friend since the early 1970s and recorded the first CD of my piano music, Lost Landscapes, in 2000) asked me to write something new for her. The first and third pieces have to do with serenity or the attempt to achieve it ; the second reflects my frustration with the state of the world and my own physical condition as I approached the age of 80.

Lost Landscapes was written in the summer of 1993, again while visiting my mother in North Dakota. Just before I wrote these pieces, I participated in a reunion at the American Boychoir School in Princeton, New Jersey. Returning to the site of happy years of music making, and meeting again old friends such as Donald Bryant, my first composition teacher, made a deep impression on me. The first three pieces are dedicated to the family of one of my Boychoir friends (who introduced me to the music of Bartók and Brahms ). The last piece is dedicated to a friend from my Wyoming high school days, who died while I was writing this music.

Dream Music was also composed in North Dakota. Written in the summer of 1995, its three pieces reflect my interest in abstracting the tensions of certain experiences into musical material. The conditions of sleep suggested alternating feelings of grandeur, rapture, and the terror of a nightmare. The pieces are dedicated to a friend from university days, John Roberts, later music librarian emeritus at the University of California in Berkeley.

How It Goes On, the final piece in this collection, is reminiscent of the third piece in the Months of Summer cycle, but it was written much later, in 2005, for a friend who had lost his wife—the point being that, regardless of the circumstances, something always happens next.


Thomas, John Patrick (*1941)

John Patrick Thomas was born in Denver, Colorado, in 1941, and began his music studies as a member of the American Boychoir in Princeton, New Jersey. At the age of 16, he became a composition student of Darius Milhaud and Charles Jones at the Aspen Music School in Colorado and later studied with Andrew Imbrie and Seymour Shifrin at the University of California in Berkeley. In 1971, he began a concert and opera career in Europe as a countertenor with a special interest in New Music. William Bolcom, David Del Tredici, Morton Feldman, Michael Finnissy, Lukas Foss, Mauricio Kagel, Elisabeth Lutyens, and Krzysztof Penderecki are among the composers who have written for his voice. Thomas was a founding member of The Five Centuries Ensemble, which was known for innovative programming that juxtaposed Early Music and works by contemporary composers. He lives in Hamburg.