Musical Quips

@There are only twelve tones. You must treat them carefully.
-- Paul Hindemith
@It is the melody which is the charm of music, and it is that which is most
difficult to produce. The invention of a fine melody is a work of
-- Joseph Haydn
@In the beginning was rhythm.
- Hans Von Bulow
@Music, to create harmony, must investigate discord.
-- Plutarch
@Ours is an age of texture.
-- George Dyson
@The principal function of form is to advance our understanding. It is
the organization of a piece which helps the listener to keep the idea in
mind, to follow its development, its growth, its elaboration, its fate.
-- Arnold Schoenberg
@The whole duty of a conductor is comprised in his ability to indicate the
right tempo.
-- Richard Wagner
@With these artificial voices we sing in a manner such as our natural
voices would never permit.
-- John Redfield on musical instruments
@Lucidity is the first purpose of color in music.
-- Arnold Schoenberg
@A good style should show no sign of effort. What is written should seem
a happy accident.
-- Somerset Maugham
@Music was originally discreet, seemly, simple, masculine, and of good
morals. Have not the moderns rendered it lascivious beyond measure?
-- Jocob of Liege
@Nothing is more characteristic of human nature than to be soothed by
sweet modes and stirred up by their opposites. Infants, youths, and old
people as well are so naturally attuned to musical modes by a kind of
spontaneous feeling that no age is without delight in sweet song.
-- Boethius (c. 480-524)
@When God saw that many men were lazy, and gave themselves only with
difficulty to spiritual reading, He wished to make it easy for them, and
added the melody to the Prophet's words, that all being rejoiced by the
charm of the music, should sing hymns to Him with gladness.
-- St. John Chrysostom (345-407)
@There are many new things in music that will appear altogether plausible
to our descendents.
-- Jean de Muris (1319)
@... we here in the West have in the last two hundred years recovered the
excellence of good letters and brought back the study of the disciples
after they had long remained as if extinguished. The sustained industry
of many learned men has led to such sucess that today this our age can be
compared to the most learned times that ever were.
-- Loys le Roy (1575)
@He who does honor and reverence to music is commonly a man of worth,
sound of soul, by nature loving things lofty.
-- Pierre de Ronsard to Francis II (1560)
@He is the master of the notes. They have to do as he bids them; other
composers have to do as the notes will.
-- Martin Luther, on Josquin Desprez
@I have held nothing more desirable than that what is sung throughout the
year, according to the season, should be more agreeable to the ear by
virtue of its vocal beauty.
-- Palestrina
@I am not pleased with the Courtier if he be not also a musician, and
besides his understanding and cunning (in singing) upon the book, have
skill in like manner on sundry instruments.
-- Baldassare Castiglione (1528)
@The (Venetian) church of St. Mark was ... so full of people that one
could not move a step ... a new platform was built for the singers,
adjoining ... there was a portable organ, in addition to the two famous
organs of the church, and the other instruments made the most excellent
music, in which the best singers and players that can be found in this
region took part.
-- F. Sansovino (1604)
@In any narrative -- epic, dramatic, or musical -- every word or tone
should be like a soldier marching towards the one, common, final goal:
conquest of the material. The way the artist makes every phrase of his
story such a soldier, serving to unfold it, to support its structure and
development, to build plot and counterplot, to distribute light and shade,
to point incessantly and lead up gradually to the climax -- in short, the
way every fragment is impregnated with its mission towards the whole,
makes up the delicate and so essential objective which we call FORM.
-- Ernst Toch
@All music is nothing more than a succession of impulses that converge
towards a definite point of repose.
-- Igor Stravinsky
@Form follows function.
-- Louis Sullivan
@Provided only that we abstain from receiving anything as true which is not
so, there can be nothing so remote that we cannot reach it, nor so obscure
that we cannot discover it.
-- Rene Descartes
@I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to
have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in
now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary,
whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.
-- Sir Isaac Newton (1642 - 1727)
@The end of all good music is to affect the soul.
-- Claudio Monteverdi
@The modern composer builds upon the foundation of truth.
-- Claudio Monteverdi
@As Poetry is the harmony of Words, so Musick is that of Notes; and as
Poetry is a Rise above Prose and Oratory, so is Musick the exaltation of
-- Henry Purcell
@The aim and final reason of all music should be nothing else but the Glory
of God and the refreshment of the spirit.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach
@Milord, I should be sorry if I only entertained them. I wished to make
them better.
-- George Frideric Handel
@Some say that Signor Bononcini
Compared to Handel is a ninny;
Whilst others say that to him Handel
Is hardly fit to hold a candle.
Strange that such difference should be
'Twixt Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
--John Byrom on Handel's and Bononcini's political/compositional
@Last night about Eight O'clock the remains of the late great Mr. Handel
were deposited at the foot of the Duke of Argyll's Monument in Westminster
Abbey ... There was almost the greatest Concourse of People of all Ranks
ever seen upon such, or indeed upon any other Occasion.
-- anonymous
@For the Relief of the Prisoners in the several Gaols, and for the Support
of Mercer's Hospital in Stephen's-street and of the Charitable Infirmary
on the Inn's Quay, on Monday the 12th of April, will be performed at the
Musick Hall in Fishamble-Street, Mr. Handel's new Grand Oratorio, called
the Messiah in which the Gentlemen of the Choirs of both Cathedrals will
assist, with some Concertos on the Organ, by Mr. Handel.
-- publicity poster announcing Messiah's first performance in Dublin
@I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the Great God Himself!
-- Handel, after the completion of the Hallelujah Chorus
@Above all, he was possessed by music.
-- Marc Pincherle on Antonio Vivaldi
@Every one must agree, that a style blended and mixed together from the
good elements of both French and Italian styles will certainly be more
universal and more pleasing.
-- Johann Joachim Quantz (1697 - 1773)
@I have striven to restrict music to its true office of serving poetry by
means of expression and by following the situations of the story, without
interrupting the action or stifling it with a useless superfluity of
-- Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714 - 1787)
@Simplicity, truth, and naturalness are the great principles of beauty in
all forms of art.
-- Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714 - 1787)
@I alter some things, eliminate and try again until I am satisfied. Then
begins the mental working out of this material in its breadth, its
narrowness, its height and depth.
-- Ludwig van Beethoven
@The history of the sonata is the history of an attempt to cope with one
of the most singular problems ever presented to the mind of man, and its
solution is one of the most successful achievements of his artistic
-- Hubert Parry
@When a nation brings its innermost nature to consummate expression in
arts and letters we speak of its classic period. Classicism stands for
experience, for spiritual and human maturity which has deep roots in the
cultural soil of the nation, for the mastery of the means of expression in
technique and form, and for a definite conception of the world and of
life; the final compression of the artistic values of a people.
-- Paul Henry Lang
@'Tis more to guide, than spur the Muse's steed;
Restrain his fury, than provoke his speed;
The winged courser, like a gen'rous horse,
Shows most true mettle when you check his course.
-- Alexander Pope
@Ought not the musician, quite as much as the poet and painter, to study
nature? In nature he can study man, its noblest creature.
-- Johann Friedrich Reichardt (1774)
@No other form of music can delight our senses with such exquisite beauty
of sound, or display so clearly to our intelligence the intricacies and
adventures of its design.
-- Sir William Henry Hadow on 18th century chamber music
@People make a mistake who think that my art has come easily to me.
Nobody has devoted so much time and thought to composition as I. There is
not a famous master whose music I have not studied over and over.
-- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
@Though it be long, the works is complete and finished in my mind. I take
out of the bag of my memory what has previously been collected into it.
For this reason the committing to paper is done quickly enough. For
everything is already finished, and it rarely differs on paper from what
it was in my imagination. At this work I can therefore allow myself to be
disturbed. Whatever may be going on about me, I write and even talk.
-- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
@To write a symphony means, to me, to construct a world.
-- Gustav Mahler
@I have only just learned in my old age how to use the wind instruments,
and now that I do understand them I must leave the world.
-- Joseph Haydn
@My Prince was always satisfied with my works. I not only had the
encouragement of constant approval but as conductor of an orchestra I
could make experiements, observe what produced an effect and what weakened
it, and was thus in a position to improve, alter, make additions or
omissions, and be as bold as I pleased. I was cut off from the world,
there was no one to confuse or torment me, and I was forced to become
-- Joseph Haydn, regarding the patronage system
@It was from Haydn that I first learned the true way to compose quartets.
-- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
@At the thought of God, my heart leaps for joy and I cannot help my music
doing the same.
-- Joseph Haydn
@If you want to know whether you have written anything worth preserving,
sing it to yourself without any accompaniment.
-- Joseph Haydn
@What is the good of such rules? Art is free and should be fettered by no
such mechanical regulations.
-- Joseph Haydn, on musical theorists
@Freedom above all!
-- Ludwig van Beethoven
@It is good to move among the aristocracy, but it is first necessary to
make them respect you.
-- Ludwig van Beethoven
@I have six or seven publishers for each of my works and could have more
if I chose. No more bargaining. I name my terms and they pay.
-- Ludwig van Beethoven
@Power is the morality of men who stand out from the mass, and it is also
-- Ludwig van Beethoven
@Ah, how could I possibly admit an infirmity in the one sense that should
have been more perfect in me than in others. A sense I once possessed in
highest perfection. Oh I cannot do it!
-- Ludwig van Beethoven regarding his deafness
@But little more and I would have put an end to my life. Only art it was
that withheld me. Ah, it seemed impossible to leave the world until I had
produced all that I felt called upon to produce, and so I endured this
wretched existence.
-- Ludwig van Beethoven
@I am resolved to rise superior to every obstacle. With whom need I be
afraid of measuring my strength? I will take Fate by the throat. It
shall not overcome me. Oh how beautiful it is to be alive -- would that I
could live a thousand times!
-- Ludwig van Beethoven
@I am the Bacchus who presses out the glorious wine for mankind. Whoever
truly understands my music is freed thereby from the miseries that others
carry about in them.
-- Ludwig van Beethoven
@I carry my thoughts within me long, often very long before I write them
down. As I know what I want, the fundamental idea never deserts me. It
mounts, it grows in stature. I hear, I see the picture in its whole
extent standing all of a piece before my spirit, and there remains for me
only the task of writing it down.
-- Ludwig van Beethoven
@I had always placed a certain confidence in opera, hoping that from it
will rise ... tragedy in a nobler form.
-- Johann von Schiller
@I am very greatly obliged by the diploma of honorary membership you so
kindly sent me. May it be the reward of my devotion to the art of music
to be wholly worthy of such a distinction one day. In order to give
musical expression to my sincere gratitude as well, I shall take the
liberty before long of presenting your honorable Society with one of my
symphonies in score.
-- Franz Schubert
@Music is the most romantic of all the arts -- one might almost say, the
only genuinely romantic one -- for its sole subject is the infinite.
Music discloses to man an unknown realm, a world in which he leaves behind
all definite feelings to surrender himself to an inexpressible longing.
-- E. T. A. Hoffmann (1776 - 1822)
@Romanticism is beauty without bounds -- the beautiful infinite.
-- Jean Paul Richter (1763 - 1825)
@I am different from all the men I have seen. If I am not better, at
least I am different.
-- Jean Jacques Rousseau
@Music is the melody whose text is the world.
-- Schopenhauer
@Out of my great sorrows I make my little songs.
-- Heinrich Heine
@When I wished to sing of love it turned to sorrow. And when I wished to
sing of sorrow it was transformed for me into love.
-- Franz Schubert
@I finish one piece, and begin the next.
-- Franz Schubert answering the question, "How do you compose?"
@No one feels another's grief, no one understand another's joy. People
imagine that they can reach one another. In reality they only pass each
other by.
-- Franz Schubert
@My music is the product of my talent and my misery. And that which I
have written in my greatest distress is what the world seems to like best.
-- Franz Schubert
@Music is to me the perfect expression of the soul.
-- Robert Schumann
@The music is silent now ... I will close. Already it grows dark.
-- Robert Schumann, 2 weeks before his final breakdown
@It is not hard to compose, but it is wonderfully hard to let the
superfluous notes fall under the table.
-- Johannes Brahms
@Provided one can feel the music, one can also make the pianoforte sing.
-- Ludwig van Beethoven
@My life .. an episode without a beginning and with a sad end.
-- Frederic Francois Chopin
@Sorrowful and great is the artist's destiny.
-- Franz Liszt
@To die and die young -- what happiness!
-- Franz Liszt
@The superiority which characterizes the artist as a pianist is matched by
her compositions. A unique mixture of authentic masculine seriousnes and
intellectual rigor together with feminine emotion and amiablility is
reflected in the works of Clara Schumann.
-- anonymous reviewer, Breslauer Zeitung, 23 December, 1877
@Clara has composed a series of small pieces which show a musical and
tender ingenuity such as she never attained before. But to have children,
and a husband who is always living in the realm of imagination, does not
go together with composing. She cannot work at it regularly, and I am
often distrubed to think how many profound ideas are lost because she
cannot work them out.
-- Robert Schumann, on his wife's creative efforts
@... The renewal of music through its inner connection with poetry.
-- Franz Liszt on program music
@People often complain that music is too ambiguous; that what they should
think when they hear it is so unclear, whereas everyone understand words.
With me it is exactly the opposite, and not only with regard to an entire
speech but also with individual words. These too seem to me so ambiguous,
so vague, so easily misunderstood in comparison to genuine music, which
fills the soul with a thousand things better than words.
-- Felix Mendelssohn
@To render my works properly requires a combination of extreme precision
and irresistible verve, a regulated vehemence, a dreamy tenderness, and an
almost morbid melancholy.
-- Hector Berlioz
@Some day, a grateful France will raise a proud monument on his tomb.
-- Richard Wagner on Hector Berlioz
@A young musician of morbid sensibility and ardent imagination in a
paroxysm of lovesick despair has poisoned himelf with opium. The drug,
too weak to kill, plunges him into a heavy sleep accompanied by strange
visions ... The beloved one herself becomes for him a melody, a recurrent
theme that haunts him everywhere.
-- Hector Berlioz on his Symphonie fantastique
@I work very long on melodies. The important thing is not the beginning
of the melody but its continuation, its development into a fully completed
artistic form.
-- Richard Strauss
@We are all of us children of our time, and cn never leap over its
-- Richard Strauss
@I grew up in a quiet spot and was saturated from earliest childhood with
the wonderful beauty of Russian popular song. I am therefore passionately
devoted to every expression of the Russian spirit. In short, I am a
Russian through and through!
-- Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
@I try to write only as I feel in myself.
-- Bedrich Smetana
@A great symphony is a man-made Mississippi down which we irresistibly
flow from the instant of our leave-taking to a long foreseen destination.
-- Aaron Copland
@The Italian Symphony is getting on well. It is becoming the merriest
piece I have yet composed.
-- Felix Mendelssohn on his fourth symphony
@You have no idea how the likes of us feel when we hear the tramp of a
giant like him behind us.
-- Brahms on the construction of a symphony after Beethoven
@We are so made that we can derive intense enjoyment only from a contrast.
-- Sigmund Freud
@In a sense no one is ignorant of the material from which choral music
springs. For this material is, in large measure, the epitomized thought,
feeling, aspiration of a community rather than an individual.
-- Percy M. Young: The Choral Tradition
@No person shall be a member of this Society who frequents the 'Hall of
Science' or any of the 'Socialist Meetings,' nor shall the Librarian be
allowed to lend any copies of music (knowingly) belonging to this society
to any Socialist, upon pain of expulsion.
-- Huddersfild Choral Society (1836) constitutional restriction
@I had all humanity in mind.
-- Brahms on A German Requiem
@It is better to invent reality than to copy it.
-- Giuseppe Verdi
@Success is impossible for me if I cannot write as my heart dictates!
-- Giuseppe Verdi
@The error in the art genre of opera consists in the fact that a means of
expression -- music -- has been made the object, while the object of
expression -- the drama -- has been made the means.
-- Richard Wagner
@The composer gives the best of himself to the making of a work. He
believes, doubts, enthuses, despairs, rejoices, and suffers in turn.
-- Georges Bizet
@Almighty God touched me with his little finger and said, 'Write for the
theater -- mind you, only for the theater!' And I have obeyed the supreme
-- Giacomo Puccini
@I am growing old and that disgusts me. I am burning to start work but
have no libretto and am in a state of torment. I need work just as I need
-- Giacomo Puccini
@If I do not succeed in finishing the opera, someone will come to the
front of the stage and say, 'Puccini composed as far as this, then he
-- Giacomo Puccini on Turandot (which he didn't complete before his death)
@Dancing is the lustiest, the most moving, the most beautiful of the arts,
because it is no mere translation or abstraction from life; it is life
-- Havelock Ellis
@Truly there would be reason to go mad were it not for music.
-- Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
@You ask me how I manage the instrumentation. I never compose in the
abstract. I invent the musical idea and its instrumentation
-- Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky to Mme von Meck
@How can one express the indefinable sensations that one experiences while
writing an instrumental composition that has no definite subject? It is
a purely lyrical process. It is a musical confession of the soul, which
unburdens itself through sounds just as a lyric poet expresses himself
through poetry ... As Heine said, 'Where words leave off music begins.'
-- Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
@Is it possible that I have completely written myself out? I have neither
ideas nor inclinations!
-- Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, before writing two of his best symphonies
@He was the most Russian of us all.
-- Igor Stravinsky on Tchaikovsky
@The century of aerophanes has a right to its own music. As there are no
precedents, I must create anew.
-- Claude Debussy
@I came into a very young world in a very old time.
-- Erik Satie
@Humanly I make every concession, artistically -- none!
-- Gustav Mahler
@I am thrice homeless. As a Bohemian born in Austria. As an Austrian
among Germans. And as a Jew throughout the world.
-- Gustav Mahler
@Mozart . . .
-- Gustav Mahler's dying words
@The act of creation in me is so closely bound up with all my experience
that when my mind and spirit are at rest I can compose nothing.
-- Gustav Mahler
@For we desire above all -- nuance,
Not color but half-shades!
Ah! nuance alone unites
Dream with dream and flute with horn.
-- Paul Verlaine on Impressionism
@Whoever saw grass that's pink and yellow and blue?
-- anonymous comment on Impressionist paintings
@I love music passionately. And because I love it I try to free it from
barren traditions that stifle it. It is a free art gushing forth, an
open-air art boundless as the elements, the wind, the sky, the sea. It
must never be shut in and become an academic art.
-- Claude Debussy
@The idea of spreading one drama over four evenings! Is this admissible,
especially when in these four evenings you always hear the same thing? ...
My God! how unbearable these people in skins and helmets become by the
fourth night.
-- Debussy on Wagnerian music drama
@Let's go -- he's beginning to develop!
-- Debussy during a a concert
@French music is clearness, elegance, simple and natural declamation.
French music aims first of all to give pleasure.
-- Claude Debussy
@I did my works slowly, drop by drop. I tore it out of me by pieces.
-- Maurice Ravel
@I am seeing magnificent cities, enchanting country, but the triumphs are
fatiguing. Besides, I was dying of hunger.
-- Maurice Ravel on traveling in America
@Music is now so foolish that I am amazed. Everything that is wrong is
permitted, and no attention is paid to what the old generation wrote as
-- Samuel Scheidt (1651)
@One could not better define the sensation produced by music than by
saying that it is identical with that evoked by contemplating the
interplay of architectural forms. Goethe thoroughly understood this when
he called architecture frozen music.
-- Igor Stravinsky
@I hold that it ws a mistake to consider me a revolutionary. If one only
need break habit in order to be labeled a revolutionary, then every artist
who has something to say and who in order to say it steps outside the
bounds of established convention could be considered revolutionary.
-- Igor Stravinsky
@I personally hate to be called a revolutionist, which I am not. What I
did was neither revolution nor anarchy.
-- Arnold Schoenberg
@You must think that if the second theme is a retrogrde inversion of the
first theme, that automatically makes it good!
-- a publisher's comments on a quartet Schoenberg had brought
@Genius learns only from itself, talent chiefly from others.
-- Arnold Schoenberg
@Creation to an artist should be as natural and inescapable as the growth
of apples to an apple tree.
-- Arnold Schoenberg
@The twelve tones will not invent for you.
-- Arnold Schoenberg
@An apostle who does not glow preaches heresy.
-- Arnold Schoenberg
@The laws of nature manifested in a man of genius are but the laws of the
-- Arnold Schoenberg
@When I decided to write an opera, my only intention was to give to the
theater what belongs to the theater. The music was to be so formed that
each moment it would fulfill its duty of serving the action.
-- Alban Berg
@The urge 'to be in on it,' the feeling of helplessness at being unable to
serve my country, prevented any concentration on work.
-- Alban Berg, around 1914
@With me, things never turn out as I wish, but only as is ordained for me
-- as I must.
-- Anton Webern
@The day of Anton Webern's death should be a day of mourning for any
receptive musician. We must hail not only this great composer but also a
real hero. Doomed to total failure in a deaf world of ignorance and
indifference, he inexorably kept on cutting his dazzling diamonds, of
whose mines he had such a perfect knowledge.
-- Igor Stravinsky
@I consider rhythm the prime and perhaps the essential part of music.
-- Olivier Messiaen
@The art of music above all other arts is the expression of the soul of a
nation. The composer must love the tunes of his country and they must
become an integral part of him.
-- Ralph Vaughan Williams
@The greatest artist belongs to his country asmuch as the humblest singer
in a remote village.
-- Ralph Vaughan Williams
@The composer must not shut himself up and think about art; he must live
with his fellows and make his art an expression of the whole life of the
-- Ralph Vaughan Williams
@He looks like a farmer. A big, heavy, lumbering figure, usually dressed
in rough tweeds, who looks as though he is on his way to judge the
shorthorns at an agricultural fair.
-- Stphen Williams on Ralph Vaughan Williams
@The cardinal virtue (of, if you like, vice) of my life has always been
the search for originality. I hate imitation. I hate hackneyed methods.
I do not want to wear anyone else's mask. I want always to be myself.
-- Sergei Prokofiev
@I wandered through the enormous park in the center of New York and,
looking up at the skyscrapers that bordered it, thought with cold fury of
the marvelous American orchestras that cared nothing for my music, of the
critics who balked so violently at anything new, of the managers who
arranged long tours for artists playing the same old hackneyed programs
fifty times over.
-- Sergei Prokofiev
@I've got to talk to people who are of my own flesh and blood, so that
they can give me back something I lack here -- their songs, my songs.
-- Sergei Prokofiev
@The first is Classical, originating in my early childhood when I heard my
mother play Beethoven sonatas. It assumes a Neo-classical aspect in my
sonatas or concertos, or imitates the Classical style of the eighteenth

[The second element is the search for innovation.] At first this
consisted in the quest for an individual harmonic language but was later
transformed into a medium for the expression of strong emotions.

The third is the element of the toccata, or motor element, probably
influenced by Schumann's Toccata, which impressed me greatly at one time.

The fourth elment is lyrical. Since my lyricism has for a long time been
denied appreciation, it has grown but slowly. But at later stages I paid
more and more attention to lyrical expression.

I should like to limit myself to these four elements, and to regard the
fifth, that of the grotesque which some critics try to foist on me, as
merely a variation of the others. In application to my music, I should
like to replace the word grotesque by 'Scherzo-ness' or by the three words
giving its gradations: jest, laughter, mockery.
-- Sergei Prokofiev on the elements of his own style
@When I was in the United States and England I often heard discussions on
the subject of whom music ought to serve, for whom a composer ought to
write, and to whom his music should be addressed. In my view the
composer, just as the poet, the sculptor, or the painter, is in duty bound
to serve man, the people. He must beautify human life and defend it. He
must be a citizen first and foremost, so that his art may consciously
extol human life and lead man to a radiant future. Such, as I see it, is
the immutable goal of art.
-- Sergei Prokofiev
@What is the best way for a composer to reap the full benefits of his
studies in peasant music? It is to assimilate the idiom of peasant music
so completely that he is able to forget all about it and use it as his
musical mother tongue.
-- Bela Bartok
@Those days I spent in the villages among the peasants were among the
happiest of my life. In order to feel the vitality of this music one
must, to to speak, have lived it. And this is possible only when one
comes to know it by direct contact with the peasants.
-- Bela Bartok
@In art there are only fast or slow developments. Essentially it is a
matter of evolution, not revolution.
-- Bela Bartok
@Music ... the favorite passion of my soul.
-- Thomas Jefferson
@Beauty in music is too often confused with something that lets the ears
lie back in an easy chair. Many sound that we are used to do not bother
us, and for that reason we are inclined to call them beautiful.
Frequently, when a new or unfamiliar work is accepted as beautiful on its
first hearing, its fundamental quality is one that tends to put the mind
to sleep.
-- Charles Ives
@I no longer feel the need of seeking out conscious Americanisms. Because
we live here and work here, we can be certain that when our music is
mature it will also be American in quality.
-- Aaron Copland
@During these years I began to feel an increasing dissatisfaction with the
relations of the music-loving public and the living composer. It seemed
to me that we composers were in danger of working in a vacuum.
-- Aaron Copland on the years he worked on Neoclassicism
@Jazz I regard as an American folk music; not the only one, but a very
powerful one, which is probably in the blood and feeling of the American
people more than any other style of folk music. I believe that it can be
made the basis of serious symphonic works of lasting value.
-- George Gershwin
@From Schoenberg I learned that tradition is a home we must love and
-- Lukas Foss
@Form is what interests everyone and fortunately it is wherever you are
and there is no place where it is not.
-- John Cage
@I am more like a hunter or inventor than a lawmaker.
-- John Cage
@...the use of noise to make music will continue and increase until we
reach a music produced through the aid of electrical instruments, which
will make available for musical purposes any and all sounds that can be
-- John Cage
@After reading the work of Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, I decided to attempt
the expression in music of the 'permanent emotions' of Indian tradition:
the heroic, the erotic, the wondrous, the mirthful, sorrow, fear, anger,
the odious, and their common tendency toward tranquility.
-- John Cage
@I like music to be beautiful, ordered, and expressive of the more
important aspects of life.
-- Elliott Carter
@I suddenly realized that I could compose music different from that of my
past. I could progress toward the whole not from the small detail but the
other way around -- I could start out from chance and create order in it
-- Witold Lutoslawski, while listening to Cage's Concerto for Piano and
@In Ancient Voices of Children, as in my earlier Lorca settings, I have
sought musical images that enhance and reinforce the powerful yet
strangely haunting imagery of Lorca's poetry. I feel that the essential
meaning of this poetry is concerned with the most primary things: Life,
death, love, the smell of the earth, the sounds of the wind and the sea.
-- George Crumb
@I have been waiting a long time for electronics to free music from the
tempered scale and the limitations of musical instruments. Electronic
instruments are the portentous first step toward the liberation of music.
-- Edgard Varese
@I refuse to submit myself only to sounds that have already been heard.
-- Edgard Varese
@Anyone who hears well can be educated to appreciate my music. The more
you listen to serial music, the better able you are to recognize its
grammar, its configurations, its modes of procedure.
-- Milton Babbitt
@Some people say my music is 'too cerebral.' Actually, I believe in
cerebral music -- in the application of intellect to relevant matters, I
never choose a note unless I know precisely why I want it there and can
give several reasons why it and not another.
-- Milton Babbitt
@I know of no serious electronic composer who ever asserts that we are
supplanting any other form of music or any other form of musical activity.
We're interested in increasing the resources of music.
-- Milton Babbitt
@Music can be renewed by regaining contact with the tradition and means of
the past, to re-emerge as a spiritual force with reactivated powers of
melodic thought, rhythmic pulse, and large-scale structure.
-- George Rochberg
@My training is as a serial composer; I was steeped in it. But I'm very
flexible. Basically I'm a twelve-tone composer who writes anything he
feels like writing.
-- Tobias Picker
@And, of course, I was also hearing the music of Miles Davis, of John
Coltrane, and the Beatles.
-- Philip Glass
@... Modern music had become truly decadent, stagnant, uncommunicative.
Composers were writing for each other and the public didn't seem to care.
-- Philip Glass
@.. a very emotional composer, one who experiences music on a very
physical level. My music is erotic and Dionysian, and I never try to
obscure those feelings when I compose.
-- John Adams

Updated: December 23, 1998.