Excess of Being

Excess of Being

by Lera Auerbach

Lera is a Russian-American poet, composer, musician and visual artist. She has published more than 100 works for opera, ballet, orchestral and chamber music, and performs as a concert pianist throughout the world. Her work is championed by leading artists, conductors, stage directors and choreographers, with recent works staged by the San Francisco Ballet, Stanislavsky Theater, Hamburg Opera, Theatre an der Wein, National Ballet of China, Finnish National Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Semperoper and Staatskapelle Dresden, and New York’s Lincoln Center. The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, selected Lera in 2007 as a Young Global Leader and in 2014 as a Cultural Leader, where she lectured on borderless creativity. In Excess of Being, she revitalizes the form of aphorisms. Her writing is provocative, dark, ironic and humorous, perceptively dealing with life’s kaleidoscopic questions. Excess of Being is her first book published in English.


For the Russian-American artist Lera Auerbach, the aphorism provides a unique vehicle through which to address life’s most provocative questions. Her writing is dark, ironic and humorous, perceptively dealing with the “excess” of existence and what it means to be human.

Auerbach is well known internationally; her music is championed by the world’s leading conductors, performers, stage directors and choreographers. She regularly appears as a concert pianist with—and has been a composer-in-residence for many of today’s top music festivals and orchestras. Her published catalogue includes more than 120 works of opera, ballet, symphonic and chamber music.

Gerard Depardieu and Evgeny Kissin are among the artists reciting from her three published volumes of poetry in Russian. She is a regular contributor to the Best American Poetry blog, was named Poet of the Year in 1996 by the International Pushkin Society in New York, and has penned several opera libretti. The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, selected Auerbach as a Young Global Leader in 2007, and then as a Cultural Leader in 2014, inviting her to give presentations and discussions on the topic of borderless creativity.

The 474-page Excess of Being includes 117 color plates featuring Auerbach’s original artwork on antique metal roof tiles. Excess of Being is now available in flexibound and e-book formats. The audiobook will be available later this year.

Lera Auerbach on Goodreads

Excess of Being on Goodreads


“I think what kept my attention in my “ambling” through Excess of Being was that Auerbach seemed to have homed in on a balance of the confessional and the prankish that fits very well with the contemporary worldview…. There are many very serious thoughts to be encountered in Excess of Being, but Auerbach’s capacity for Nietzschean prankishness encourages the reader to confront them without ever getting bogged down in an excessively serious view of self.” Read more of Stephen Smoliar’s Examiner.com review

The real subject is your mind in motion – and your ear – and your nervous system… an inspiring experience.

— David Lehman, poet, editor of The Best American Poetry series and the Oxford Book of American Poetry

Auerbach is a polymath who must never sleep. Many of these aphorisms may keep the reader awake as well.

— Editors Select, The Notre Dame Review

A terrific read and a great companion, the kind of book that lovers of music and poetry will want to keep by their bedsides.

— Thomas McCarthy, poet, novelist and critic, author of The Sorrow Garden and The Last Geraldine Officer

Lera Auerbach’s aphorisms are an open window on her mind, one of the best and busiest minds around just now.

— John Matthias, poet, editor of The Notre Dame Review

Brilliant aphorisms. Gorgeous graphic art.

— Dmitry Gutov, visual artist

A great deal of wisdom and playfulness, and also a dark side that reveals inner worlds and beliefs: about everything from god, sex and music to literature.

— Josh Barkan, novelist, author of Blind Speed and Before Hiroshima

I can’t believe I’d want to write that the sun goes down
Over the Blasket Islands on a near perfect day in July,
But I need to place the places in my ear, to orientate
Myself between the Blasket Sound and Chelyabinsk,
To settle my line of sight as a century of Russian colours

Falls upon me on the high rut that cuts Dunquin
In two, isolating the hallowed graveyard from the sea.
Her Preludes are like those jars of mountain honey and those
Flasks of apple jelly they sent from east of Odessa
To victims of a more Westerly reactor meltdown.
Here, notes are sheep, poems are spoons; and this July day
In County Kerry, now that I need to mention it again,
Is the largest picnic table ever for a Prelude to rest upon.

—”Listening to Lera Auerbach” by Irish poet and novelist Thomas McCarthy

A great deal of wisdom and playfulness, and also a dark side that reveals inner worlds and beliefs: about everything from god, sex and music to literature.

— Josh Barkan, novelist, author of Blind Speed and Before Hiroshima


3 May 2016: GALLOWS SONGS for saxophone quartet and children’s choir on poems by Christian Morgenstern. Basel, Switzerland.

16 May 2016: Reading from Excess of Being at Bowery Poetry Club’s PoetNY series. New York.

17 May 2016: Reading from Excess of Being at the KGB Bar. New York.

23 May 2016: Reading from Excess of Being at Pete’s Candy Store. New York.

25 May 2016: Reading from Excess of Being at The Ivy Bookshop. Baltimore.

6 July 2016: TATIANA Ballet in two acts after “Eugin Onegin” by Alexander Pushkin. Basel, Switzerland.

Click here for more performances


Congratulations to George Kourachanis on his winning submission, “The past is a foreign country. Please, do not trespass.”

Georgios Kourachanis – Klouvatos is from Athens. He began his musical journey at the age of eight, studying the mandolin. Since then, he has made an effort to perform, as well as to understand the mechanics of the world of sound. At the age of 12, he took up lessons on classical guitar. In 2012 he enrolled in the Theory and Composition department of the Orfeio music school, from which he obtained his Degree in Harmony. He performed on  ”Nicolaos Lavdas” with the Athenian mandolin orchestra. George has been granted a scholarship to participate in the 2015 Orthodox Music Academy special program in Saint-Petersburg, Russia. He is currently enrolled in his fourth year of university, privately studying Counterpoint and Composition with the composer Alexandros Kalogeras (professor of composition at Berklee College of Music). He teaches Harmony at the ‘Eleuthero’ music school.