Quotations about Music

There are two kinds of music. Good music and the other kind. — Duke Ellington (1899-1974)

One of the greatest pleasures of music is to make other people listen to it; to feel, for just a moment, a tiny part of an ideal world in which everything is good, beautiful, harmony, love. — Raphael Sommer (1937-2001)

It’s easy to play any musical instrument: all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time and the instrument will play itself. — J.S. Bach (1685-1750)

The mandolin is the bottom four strings of the guitar, backwards… so a person with dyslexia has no problem learning to play the Mandolin. — Steve Goodman (1948-)

If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur – Paul Neal ‘Red’ Adair

I am not, I think, a folk-singer as the purists understand it. What I try to do is interpret traditional songs with the skill and respect given to art songs, simply by singing them with all the understanding I possess. — Mary O’Hara (1935- )

Too many pieces of music finish too long after the end. — Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)

This is where the ultimate value of music lies. It is… a celebration of imagination and intellect interacting together… a space where feeling is given form, where… attitudes, intuition and analysis meet… — Swanwick

(at the end of a symphonic concert in which he was obliged to play on only three strings) …sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left. — Itzhak Perlman (1945-)

Ultimately, musicians of the world must come to realize the potential of their calling… If the musician is illuminated from within, he becomes a lamp that lights other lamps. — Kenny Werner

The purpose of music is to elevate the spirit and inspire. Not to help push some product down your throat. It puts you in tune with your own existence. Sometimes you really don’t know how you feel, but really good music can define how you feel… someone who’s telling me where he’s been that I haven’t and what it’s like there – somebody whose life I can feel… – Bob Dylan (1941-)

For a few moments music makes us larger than we really are, and the world more orderly than it really is. We respond not just to the beauty of the sustained deep relations that are revealed, but also to the fact of our perceiving them. As our brains are thrown into overdrive, we feel our very existence expand and realize that we can be more than we normally are, and that the world is more than it seems. — Robert Jourdain

If you cannot teach me to fly, teach me to sing. — Sir James Barrie (1860-1937)

Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness and gaiety, and life to everything. — Aristotle (384-322 BCE)

…when you put a tremendous amount of love into your work, as in any relationship, you can’t know — you can only hope — that what you’re offering will in some way be received. You shape your love to artistic demands, to the rigors of your genre. But still, it’s a labor of love, and it’s the nature of love that you must give it freely. — Anne Michaels (although about writing rather than music, it applies perfectly to Jill’s work in music, so have put it in here)

There is always music amongst the trees in the garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. — M. Aumonier

Without music, life would be a mistake. — Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)

Words make you think a thought. Music makes you feel a feeling. A song makes you feel a thought. — E.Y. Harburg (Edgar Yipsel) (1898-1981)

Music creates order out of chaos: for rhythm imposes unanimity upon the divergent, melody imposes continuity upon the disjointed, and harmony imposes compatibility upon the incongruous. — Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999)

It is only by introducing the young to great literature, drama and music, and to the excitement of great science that we open to them the possibilities that lie within the human spirit — enable them to see visions and dream dreams. — Eric Anderson

Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.– Victor Hugo (1802-1885)

Where words fail, music speaks. — Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875)

In music one must think with the heart and feel with the brain. — George Szell (1897-1970)

Music is the sovereign mistress of solacing grief, appeasing wrath, curbing boldness, tempering desire, healing sorrow, easing the misery of poverty, dispelling weakness, and soothing the pangs of love. — Pontus de Tyard (circa 1521–1605)

You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try. — Beverly Sills (1929-)

When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest times, and to the latest. — Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

A song will outlive all sermons in the memory. — Henry Giles

After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music. — Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)

The best music… is essentially there to provide you something to face the world with. — Bruce Springsteen (1949-)

Music washes away from the soul the dust of every-day life. — Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

I don’t want music to be a matter of comfort but of expansion of the spirit. — Gidon Kremer (1947-)

A song ain’t nothing but a conversation fixed up to where you can talk it over and over without getting tired of it. — Woody Guthrie (1912-1967)

If I were to begin life again, I would devote it to music. It is the only cheap and unpunished rapture on earth. — Sydney Smith (1771-1845)

Music is the ethereal connection between this world and the other. — Stella Benson

It is the responsibility of the musician to create heaven on earth and to create balance, peace and harmony in the environment. — East Indian saying

If you come to great music with an open heart, a willing mind and a relaxed body, it will enter you and renew you. — Hal A. Lingerman

Improvization is the courage to move from one note to the next. — Bobby McFerrin

For Irish traditional music, which has long been poised uneasily between the folk music and world music markets, the arrival of Celtomania has been a mixed blessing… more often than not the commodity being sold in the Celtic section of your neighborhood Tower is some sort of nonspecific windswept spirituality — Windham Hill-style tranquillity with a sexy accent… Some people who play Irish traditional music have an intense dislike of the term ‘Celtic’. They say, correctly, that there is no such thing as a ‘Celtic’ tradition, and that they’ve been Irish all their lives and don’t want to change now, especially if it means they have to wear leather pants…. — Michael Robinson/Vicki Parrish

…music is a great gift and it shouldn’t be flaunted… whatever you’re playing, whether it’s traditional music or classical or other, you’ve got to love it first and know exactly what the music is all about and how to express yourself in music, not to become just a mechanical player… — Seán Potts

Music contains everything we need to know.

15th-century stained glass image of King David by P. von Andlau, Tubingen.

15th-century stained glass image of King David by P. von Andlau, Tubingen.