In the Emptiness

Onutė Narbutaitė

In the Emptiness
Year of publication: 2017
Record company: Music Information Centre Lithuania
Record company contacts: A. Mickevičiaus 29, 08117 Vilnius, Lithuania;, [email protected]
Duration: 23′02″
Price: 3.00 €
Media: MP3


Sergejus Okruško – piano

Recorded in April, 2017
Sound engineer – Vytautas Bedalis

Cover photo: Gintautas Trimakas, Pure Wishes to Elena, 2007, silver gelatin print, 24x18 cm, limited edition. LATGA 2017


This composition was commissioned by the 20th Thomas Mann Festival as part of a five-year cycle dedicated to reflections inspired by the centenary of World War I.  I was thinking about that and two different silhouettes came to the surface at the silent keyboard. In 1914, several days after writing one of his best-known poems – ‘Grodek’ - Georg Trakl, a twenty-seven-year old army volunteer, commits suicide at a military hospital in Kraków. In the same year, a thirty-five-year old Paul Klee finds inspiration on a trip to Tunisia resulting in a breakthrough in his creative work as a painter. Who knows, perhaps those silhouettes left barely discernible shadows on a blank sheet of paper, their trajectory later covered by the written notes. Perhaps in places the writing was moved by Trakl’s lonely wind (Immer tönt / An schwarzen Mauern Gottes einsamer Wind Forever heard / Along black walls is God‘s lonely wind), or perhaps unknowingly touched by the intersection of several lines in Paul Klee’s distant reflection. All the same, inspiration of this nature in music is only a stimulus, a spark setting off something quite different. The title ‘In the Emptiness’ crystalized only after I wrote the work. It can be connected with the structural expression of music: the minimal, reduced language of sounds, the dominance of empty intervals, a transparent texture, as if it were a directionless flow of music in an undelineated territory between stasis and dynamics, in which the movement of sounds can create the illusion of stasis, and the static moments conceal within themselves the feeling of motion. The overcrowded library of piano literature and the need to find in it a more distant shelf lead to this ‘emptiness’. A title like that begs to be left alone without any comments. However, I understand that the especially wide semantic field of the word ‘emptiness’, encompassing the range from enlightenment to despair, will unavoidably affect the way this work is perceived, in each and every case in a very individual manner. Musical compositions have concealed in them the possibility of multi-faceted and even contradictory interpretations of meaning. The Tao or Heidegger’s Leere (emptiness), the existential emptiness of the spirit, or simply the empty space in which anything can occur. Sounds can open up emptiness and at the same time fill it. Every time I try to describe in words or make images of sounds concrete, I understand that those are futile endeavours. The text is always next to the music and not about the music.

Onutė Narbutaitė
Translated from the Lithuanian by Romas Kinka


  1. In the Emptiness 23′02″

    Sergejus Okruško - piano


    In the Emptiness

Onutė Narbutaitė - In the Emptiness (2017)Digital3.00 €