Essay “Greeting to Lucija Garuta”

Zenta Mauriņa (1936)
In life's vast tapestry, hope is the thread that weaves resilience. It's the quiet whisper telling us to persist through the darkest nights, promising the warmth of dawn. Hope isn't just naive optimism; it's an anchor, grounding us amidst tempests of doubt. Even when skies gray and paths falter, hope persists. It's the ageless beacon guiding humanity, urging us forward, reminding us of brighter tomorrows.

Starry – that’s what I call Lucija Garuta in spirit. Her music takes you from the earth, it lifts you towards the stars and the sun. Her music has the power of tenderness that cleanses and clarifies.

Too often music is confused with noise or a glowing time lapse. In good cafes, the blaring of a radio or the screeching of a gramophone seems necessary, so that one does not hear one’s own rumble of emptiness within oneself. In such noises, the visitors feel free, they shout over each other, they shout over the “music”, languages mingle with roaring sounds. And the big virtuoso concerts – aren’t they too often a celebration of representation? Dazzle. It rarely occurs to anyone that the contemplation of music requires half a chair, and that he who cannot detach himself from his surroundings cannot understand music.

Lucija Garutas thinks, sings, stars the world in her powerful sounds. She solves problems, some good ones remain unfinished, but so what? She still has a long way to go.

She expressed her faith in a song:

To glow, to blaze, to burn,
With all living beings stir –

This is the happiness, the highest happiness, which the sacred art gives.

Musicians are happy, happier than poets. They do not need a translator, their language is understood everywhere, they themselves can unite their homeland with the wider world with their artistic power. I believe the star-studded Lucia Garrut will. The peculiarities of his people will one day be carried to distant lands.

On a quiet Saturday evening, I listened to her music at Murmuiža People’s University. I know that her journey there was a sacrifice: because of such a small group, she had to drive from the seaside (Jūrmala of Riga – Majori, where L. Garūta lived in the summers since childhood. D.P.). To Riga, from Riga to Bali, then with horses, then a little bit on foot.

I know that after such trips it takes several days to get back into the normal rhythm of work.

But I also know that this trip was not in vain, I just feel sad that people’s hearts cannot be opened like the lids of conch shells. Because if she could, Lucija Garutas would see how fertile her starry song has fallen – it will illuminate many gray days.

Let these words convey to her my thanks from the family of Murmuiža People’s University.

* * *

To love an artist is to love beauty. To respect an artist means to respect one’s people.

An artist who only sings his own song is a bad artist. A great artist sings the songs of his people, a genius sings the song of all mankind.

Listening to Lūcijas Garūta’s timeless song “Go, sunshine, soon to God”, I think that the entire Latvian nation is singing there. Sing? No, there all our people are crying. And listening to her song “Div’dūjiņas”, I feel the war with every cell of my being. I have not been at the front, but when I listen to this song, I think they are singing about me too, because we are all soldiers at the front of life: one must be awake for life, whoever falls asleep is defeated. We must cross the bridge of life bravely and attentively, even though we don’t know if the enemy’s dynamite is hiding under it. Not everyone can win. Some must fall, but fall with a burning and burning heart. “The battle was hot, the heart was even hotter” – that’s how Lúcia Garuta sings about one of the many who died in battle.

Lucija Garuta herself expressed her essence in three words: “Glow, flame, burn!”. This motif recurs throughout her very spring-like art. She is so unique and her own that she is reluctant to compose the texts of other poets, she writes the words for her own music or, more correctly, tries to express in words what she has already expressed in sounds.

Lucija Garuta is bending down to drink from the fountain of the universe. She resembles a white weathervane, which a walker carries from the forest on an anxious spring evening, when “over the distant seas on the sails of the clouds spring comes”. Fragile, but brave and durable white tendril. Doesn’t it take a lot of courage to start your life in the unlovely bare forest in those days when the earth was still hard and cold? Subtle strength characterizes Lucius Garut. Some of her compositions have an almost masculine power, but a melody winds through them like a light melody. She fulfills the words: “What beauty you have in the forest, in the silk grass and in the soul of Latvians…” She herself could say the words of Rainis: “I will show the most precious of people/ That delicate beauty and shyness.”

Lúcia is sometimes called the heiress of Emīl Dārzis, that’s how she is with her spirit and dreaminess: “This life is only a dream, this life is only a dream.” And for this reason, she could be called the heiress of Dārzis, that the music of both these composers is strung with very delicate strings, and Lúcia Garūta, just like Emīl Dārzis, walks beside her with a resounding silence. But Lucija Garūtas is more intellectual than Dārziņas and also more complex. She is looking for more. She thinks where Dārziņš only feels and sings, letting the melody flow. What Tchaikovsky means to Dārziņš, Scriabin means to Garuta.

Lūcija Garuta writes an opera about the Silver Bird, which will lift the man of the future towards the constellations, which will make the impossible possible. This Silver Bird is a humming airplane that perishes because of human pettiness, envy and selfishness. At the end of the opera, the text of which, of course, was conceived by Lucija Garuta herself and wrote, hears the exterminator’s mocking laugh. But the viewer, the listener, keeps the brilliant melodies in his heart.

A phlegmatic, sluggish, lukewarm person will never be a great artist, because great artists are fire-starters. The task of the artist is to translate the book of the world written in an alphabet foreign to mere mortals. All things are wrapped in a mist of chance, but the artist is the one who comes and dispels this mist.

A person who does not love art is like a house without a bright garden. Walking past such houses makes one feel cold and lonely. Flowers bring joy, but art brings even greater joy, and therefore art, although not valid, is still necessary, because without joy a person cannot live a life worthy of a human being. Rainis has expressed the meaning and task of art so well:

We soothe our longings with songs,

We build boats from songs, wind from sounds.

Having sat together with the brothers for a long time,

We are flying to the dream home…

Where? That is where our heavy body and the poverty of our lives prevent us from going.

An artist is a magician. In Lucia Garuta’s magical country, a person builds a real airplane, but the stars do not shine in the sky, but in people’s eyes.