Nothing to express

Year: 2014

Commissioned by the Adele and John Gray Endowment Fund

Instrumentation: Electric guitar and String Quartet

First performance by Nadav Lev and Mivos Quartet - 30.06.2014, 14th Street Y Theater (New York)

Other performances:

  • Nadav Lev and Mivos Quartet - 27.09.2015, (Le) Poisson Rouge (New York)
  • Ensemble 20/21 - 26.11.2015, Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln (Germany)
  • Ensemble 20/21 - 09.04.2016, Konzertsaal, Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln (Germany)
  • Ensemble 20/21 - 14.05.2016, Museuminsel Hombroich, Neuss-Holzheim (Germany)
  • Ensemble 20/21 - 27.06.2016, Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln (Germany)
  • Nadav Lev and Mivos Quartet - 04.02.2017, Theaterhaus Stuttgart (Germany)
  • Mivos Quartet and Nadav Lev - 06.10.2018, HaTeiva, Tel Aviv (Israel)
  • Mivos Quartet and Nadav Lev - 12.02.2019, Miller Theater, New York (USA)
  • Moscow String Quartet "Ancient&Contemporary" - 29.04.2019, Moscow (Russia)
  • Rob MacDonald and the Continuum String Quartet - 10.05.2019, The Music Gallery, Toronto (Canada)
  • Alexy Potapov and Vacuum String Quartet - 23.11.2021, Moscow State Philharmonic Society (Russia)



“B. -- […] The only thing disturbed by the revolutionaries Matisse and Tal Coat is a certain order on the plane of the feasible.
D. -- What other plane can there be for the maker?
B. -- Logically none. Yet I speak of an art turning from it in disgust, weary of puny exploits, weary of pretending to be able, of being able, of doing a little better the same old thing, of going a little further along a dreary road.
D. -- And preferring what?
B. -- The expression that there is nothing to express, nothing with which to express, nothing from which to express, no power to express, no desire to express, together with the obligation to express.
D. -- But that is a violently extreme and personal point of view, of no help to us in the matter of Tal Coat.
B. --
D. -- Perhaps that is enough for to-day.”
(Samuel Beckett, Three Dialogues - I. Tal Coat, 1949)

The search for my personal understanding of the term “Expression” has been occupying my thoughts in the last few years. I have tried to dismantle my urge for expression and find the concrete processes it implied for me. What am I “pushing out”? Is my natural thought process reflected in my musical structures? Is there a concrete sound world that exists in my inner world and wishes to be realized? How big is the discrepancy between these potential inner sounds and the resulting musical scores?
In this piece I have tried to compose music that corresponds to neither my thought process nor my inner sound world. The “drama” is based on the abstract relations between the sounds. A constant pulse lies in the center of the piece and is repeatedly destructed and reconstructed. The entire piece can be heard as waves of de-pulsation/re-pulsation.