At the Center of All Things

Year: 2013

Instrumentation: string quartet

Duration: 17 minutes

Program Notes

This single movement work was inspired by one of Rilke’s “Buddha” poems – “…and he is Star. And multitudes of giant stars that we don’t see stand all around him.” The music imagines being at the vast center of our galaxy of stars, centered and quiet in the midst of their vast spinning wheels of light. The wheel spins faster and faster, but the center holds, in deep, perfect, stillness.


Ab ob er horchte. Stiller: eine Ferne…
Wir halten ein und hören sie nicht mehr.
Und er ist Stern. Und andre große Sterne,
Die wir nicht sehen, stehen um ihn her.

O er ist Alles. Wirklich, warten wir,
Das er uns sähe? Sollte er bedürfen?
Und wenn wir hier uns or ihm niederwürfen,
Er bliebe tief und träge wie Tier.

Denn das, was uns zu seinen Füßen reißt,
Das kreist in him seit Millionen Jahren.
Er, de vergißt was wir erfahren
Und der erfährt was uns verweist.


As if he listened. Stillness: something distant…
We check ourselves-and cease to hear it.
And he is Star. And multitudes of giant stars
That we don’t see stand all around him.

He is everything. Are we really waiting here
for him to see us? What would he require?
And if instead we threw ourselves before him,
He’d remain deep and idle as a cat.

For what drags us roughly to his feet
has circled in him for a million years.
He, who forgets what life instills in us,
and lives in the wisdom we’re denied.

Translation by Edward Snow

Alternate PDF Downloads

At the Center of All Things – Parts
Separate parts for violin 1, violin 2, viola and cello combined into one pdf.

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