The Cohen Variations

The last refuge of the insomniac is a sense of superiority to the sleeping world.

-Leonard Cohen

Pianist Simone Dinnerstein describes The Cohen Variations, written in 2009 by New York composer Daniel Felsenfeld, as a nocturne- music which evokes the atmosphere of the night and suggests the wildly adventurous harmonies of Frédéric Chopin’s Nocturnes. (For a particularly magical example, listen to the Nocturne in D-flat Major, Op. 27).

The Cohen Variations are based on Leonard Cohen’s song, Suzanne. The Canadian singer, songwriter, poet, and novelist passed away last week at the age of 82. The hauntingly hypnotic ballad was first heard on Judy Collins’ 1966 album, In My Life:

Leonard Cohen’s songs grew out of his poetry. Simone Dinnerstein believes that the inner voices in Felsenfeld’s The Cohen Variations suggest “a feeling of words.” Additionally, listen to the way this new piece pays homage to the atmosphere and circular quality of the original song. The Cohen Variations were included on Dinnerstein’s 2013 album, Night:


  • In My Life, Judy Collins iTunes
  • Night, Simone Dinnerstein, Tift Merritt iTunes

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