Brian Cullman at The Paris Review:
David Lewiston was born in London in 1929 and graduated from Trinity College of Music in 1953. Already interested in the spiritual teachings of the mystic G. I. Gurdjieff, Lewiston moved to New York City to study piano and composition with Thomas DeHartmann, Gurdjieff’s aide-de-camp and musical collaborator, and an esteemed composer in his own right. From the Gurdjieff work, Lewiston learned about the many uses of solitude; from his studies with DeHartmann, who had helped Gurdjieff transcribe and notate Eastern hymns and dervish melodies, he learned to hear and appreciate music outside of the Western canon. These proved useful as Lewiston began traveling, but neither talent helped him support himself as a young musician in New York, and he reinvented himself as a financial journalist, working on staff for Forbes and then for an in-house journal of the American Bankers Association, a magazine so dull it practically walked to the trash bin and threw itself away.
Was he bored?
“Of course I was bored! It was awful,” he told me once.
And so in 1966, he took a short sabbatical: borrowed a couple of good microphones and a few hundred dollars, bought a small Japanese tape recorder on a layover in Singapore, and landed in Bali, hoping to make some field recordings.