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Quotations about Music
Music!—who loves it not? who has not felt his soul soothed and softened by its sweet influence? ~F.B., "Notes of Music," 1848
If in the after life there is not music, we will have to import it. ~Doménico Cieri Estrada
Men profess to be lovers of music, but for the most part they give no evidence in their opinions and lives that they have heard it. ~Henry David Thoreau
Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life. ~Ludwig van Beethoven
I have my own particular sorrows, loves, delights; and you have yours. But sorrow, gladness, yearning, hope, love, belong to all of us, in all times and in all places. Music is the only means whereby we feel these emotions in their universality. ~H.A. Overstreet
"Ah, music," he said, wiping his eyes. "A magic beyond all we do here!" ~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, 1997 [Dumbledore speaking
My idea is that there is music in the air, music all around us; the world is full of it, and you simply take as much as you require. ~Edward Elgar
Alas for those that never sing,
But die with all their music in them!
~Oliver Wendell Holmes
Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn. ~Charlie Parker
Life can't be all bad when for ten dollars you can buy all the Beethoven sonatas and listen to them for ten years. ~William F. Buckley, Jr.
Music is a liberal science, and ought to be liberally upheld... ~Olivia Dussek Buckley (1799–1847), Musical Truths, 1843
My music breathes of art; — hers is the warble
Borne up to heaven, in the morning's blue calms.
~Florence Percy (Elizabeth Anne Chase Akers Allen, 1832–1911), "Two," Forest Buds, from the Woods of Maine, 1855
Philosophers of all ages have dwelt upon the importance of music as both an outlet for the spirit and emotions and as discipline for the mind. It is generally recognized that music gives access to regions in the subconscious that can be reached in no other way. ~Sophie Lewis Hutchinson Drinker (1888–1967), Music and Women, 1948
Music cleanses the understanding; inspires it, and lifts it into a realm which it would not reach if it were left to itself. ~Henry Ward Beecher
When learnt with understanding, music is an ornament; but when trifled over, it is rather a defect. ~Olivia Dussek Buckley (1799–1847), Musical Truths, 1843
Play the music, not the instrument. ~Author Unknown
Many a time, now, the old childhood dreams came back to Hester, and her fingers would drift into tender melodies and minor chords not on the printed page, until all the stifled love and longing of those dreary, colorless years of the past found voice at her finger-tips. ~Eleanor H. Porter, "A Delayed Heritage," 1904
It was when... she was alone that the great joy of this new-found treasure of improvising came to her, and she could set free her heart and soul on the ivory keys. ~Eleanor H. Porter, "A Delayed Heritage," 1904
Music is the wine which inspires one to new generative processes, and I am Bacchus who presses out this glorious wine for mankind and makes them spiritually drunken. ~Ludwig van Beethoven
Music is the cup which holds the wine of silence. ~Robert Fripp
[An intellectual] is someone who can listen to the "William Tell Overture" without thinking of the Lone Ranger. ~John Chesson
Art and composition tolerate no conventional fetters: mind and soul soar above them. ~Joseph Haydn, 1779
Music's the medicine of the mind. ~John A. Logan
Melody is, and ever will be, the very flower of music. ~August W. Ambros (1816–1876)
Here's to Music,
Joy of joys!
One man's music's
Another man's noise.
~Oliver Herford, "To Music," Happy Days, illustrated by John Cecil Clay, 1917
Beth at last touched the great instrument, and straightway forgot her fear, herself, and everything else but the unspeakable delight which the music gave her, for it was like the voice of a beloved friend. ~Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, "Beth Finds the Palace Beautiful," 1868
You are the music while the music lasts. ~T.S. Eliot
Music is the universal language of mankind. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Outre-Mer
Music rots when it gets too far from the dance. Poetry atrophies when it gets too far from music. ~Ezra Pound
He who hears music, feels his solitude peopled at once. ~Robert Browning
You can't possibly hear the last movement of Beethoven's Seventh and go slow. ~Oscar Levant, explaining his way out of a speeding ticket
Handel, whose soul was raised to heaven, who sang of heavenly things; Haydn, whose cheerful and happy strains breathe forth the golden age, and whose magic chain twines round the heart, and delights the senses; Mozart, immortal Mozart, like immortal Shakespeare, king of composers, who left on earth all the inexhaustible treasures of his luxuriant mind; Beethoven, the kingly master of composition, prince of genius, super-excellent in all the deep and sombre conceptions of music idea, whose fancies seemed to flit from earth to heaven, as though to feed his soul with heavenly melody; Steibelt, his music is a scene of life, a vessel on the ocean, now tossed from wave to wave, now sailing on the unruffled sea in delightful calm. ~Olivia Dussek Buckley (1799–1847), Musical Truths, 1843 [a little altered
The Irish gave the bagpipes to the Scots as a joke, but the Scots haven't got the joke yet. ~Oliver Herford
What we provide is an atmosphere... of orchestrated pulse which works on people in a subliminal way. Under its influence I've seen shy debs and severe dowagers kick off their shoes and raise some wholesome hell. ~Meyer Davis, about his orchestra
Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent. ~Victor Hugo
...where music dwells
Lingering — and wandering on as loth to die...
~William Wordsworth, "Within King's College Chapel, Cambridge"
Music has been my playmate, my lover, and my crying towel. ~Buffy Sainte-Marie
Music is an outburst of the soul. ~Frederick Delius
Music is the art which is most nigh to tears and memory. ~Oscar Wilde
In music the passions enjoy themselves. ~Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, 1886
Music is what life sounds like. ~Eric Olson
Music is a charm which has so much influence over the senses... ~Olivia Dussek Buckley (1799–1847), Musical Truths, 1843
Music is lyrical literature... ~Stendhal (tr. Coe), paraphrased, 1824
The music is the shining path over which the poet travels to bring his song to the world. ~Lotte Lehmann, 1937
My young daughter was sitting at the piano randomly pecking away at a few keys when I walked by. “Hey Daddy, do you want to hear something pretty?” She tapped a couple individual keys at the far right and said “these sound nice” and tapped a couple individual keys to the far left and said “and these sound nice.” She then spread her hands as far left and right as they would reach, very carefully spread her fingers so that each hand was poised over multiple keys at the same time, and said “but it sounds the prettiest when you play the grumpy ones with the happy ones” while pressing all the keys she could simultaneously. I smiled and said that was very pretty, but that I’d never heard of grumpy keys before. She patiently explained, “well yeah, this is grumpy” (while tapping a far left key) “and this is happy” (while pressing a far right key). “Hear the difference?” I gave her a hug and told her I liked it when she taught me new things. ~Steven D. Woodhull (b.1976, U.S. geologist), "Grumpy Keys," 2014
Age enlarges and enriches the powers of some musical instruments — notably those of the violin — but it seems to set a piano's teeth on edge. ~Mark Twain, Rambling Notes of an Idle Excursion
Marr'd is our music by the singer's tears
And vex'd with tremblings of the harper's hand.
The perfect notes of the symphonious spheres
Who but the listening stars may understand?
~William Watson, "'Subjectivity' in Art," Epigrams of Art, Life, and Nature, 1884
Philip had brightened at the proposition, for there is no feeling, perhaps, except the extremes of fear and grief, that does not find relief in music—that does not make a man sing or play the better... ~George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss, "Book Sixth: The Great Temptation: Philip re-enters," 1860
If this word "music" is sacred and reserved for eighteenth and nineteenth century instruments, we can substitute a more meaningful term: organization of sound. ~John Cage
Its language is a language which the soul alone understands, but which the soul can never translate. ~Arnold Bennett
All music is folk music. I ain't never heard a horse sing a song. ~Louis Armstrong
Music expresses feeling and thought, without language; it was below and before speech, and it is above and beyond all words. ~Robert G. Ingersoll
Music is the literature of the heart; it commences where speech ends. ~Alphonse de Lamartine
If love played an instrument, I'll bet it would be the piano. 88 keys, double infinity, and the ability to chop down trees with a sharpened mustache. ~Jarod Kintz, This Book Has No Title
Hug a musician. They never get to dance. ~Richard Niehoff
There is in souls a sympathy with sounds:
And as the mind is pitch'd the ear is pleased
With melting airs, or martial, brisk or grave;
Some chord in unison with what we hear
Is touch'd within us, and the heart replies.
When words leave off, music begins. ~Heinrich Heine
Truly to sing, that is a different breath. ~Rainer Maria Rilke
Music is the shorthand of emotion. ~Leo Tolstoy
Music melts all the separate parts of our bodies together. Every rusty fragment, every scattered piece could be melted into one rhythm. A note was a whole, and it was in motion, ascending or descending, swelling in fullness or thrown away, thrown out into the air, but always moving. ~Anaïs Nin (1903–1977), "Winter of Artifice" (revised edition), originally titled "Lilith," 1939
There is no truer truth obtainable
By Man than comes of music.
Strong lager and some early Zep tunes. I ask thee, is there a better way to spend an evening? ~Author unknown
Most people use music as a couch; they want to be pillowed on it, relaxed and consoled for the stress of daily living. But serious music was never meant to be soporific. ~Aaron Copland
What passion cannot music raise and quell! ~John Dryden
The joy of music should never be interrupted by a commercial. ~Leonard Bernstein
Music is forever; music should grow and mature with you, following you right on up until you die. ~Paul Simon
Music, when soft voices die,
Vibrates in the memory —
~Percy Bysshe Shelley
The return of her husband at sunset is a feast, and the evening is delightful with poetry and music. ~Ednah D. Cheney, 1889, of May Alcott Nieriker (1840–1879)
The union between the air and the words should be so close that the poem seems made for the music, no less than the music for the poem. ~Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714–1787)
A jazz musician is a juggler who uses harmonies instead of oranges. ~Benny Green
The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes — ah, that is where the art resides! ~Artur Schnabel
The pause is as important as the note. ~Truman Fisher
The city is built
To music, therefore never built at all,
And therefore built forever.
~Alfred Lord Tennyson
Silence is the fabric upon which the notes are woven. ~Lawrence Duncan
Morning is brightest when it is breaking,
Music is sweetest just at its waking...
~Florence Percy (Elizabeth Anne Chase Akers Allen, 1832–1911), "A Lullaby," Forest Buds, from the Woods of Maine, 1855
Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without. ~Confucius
Either your music is more than mortal, or all I ever heard before is less. ~Mrs. Grey (Elizabeth Duncan Grey, 1798–1869), The Young Husband, 1854
Rock music in its lyrics often talks ahead of the time about what's going on in the country. ~Edmund G. Brown
Music can noble hints impart,
Engender fury, kindle love,
With unsuspected eloquence can move,
And manage all the man with secret art.
My whole trick is to keep the tune well out in front. If I play Tchaikovsky, I play his melodies and skip his spiritual struggle. ~Liberace
Music is the color of sound. ~Author unknown
Instrumentation is the colouring in music. ~E.T.A. Hoffmann (1776–1822)
The music rocks my soul so that I'm glad I'm alive. ~Big City Blues Magazine, June–July 1999
Music that gentlier on the spirit lies,
Than tired eyelids upon tired eyes.
~Alfred Lord Tennyson
As Goethe, when he had a joy or a grief, put it into a song, so Laurie resolved to embalm his love sorrow in music, and compose a Requiem which should harrow up Jo's soul and melt the heart of every hearer. ~Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, "Learning to Forget," 1869
But, whether the sorrow was too vast to be embodied in music, or music too ethereal to uplift a mortal woe, he soon discovered that the requiem was beyond him... ~Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, "Learning to Forget," 1869
Life is one grand, sweet song, so start the music. ~Ronald Reagan
The discovery of song and the creation of musical instruments both owed their origin to a human impulse which lies much deeper than conscious intention: the need for rhythm in life… the need is a deep one, transcending thought, and disregarded at our peril. ~Richard Baker
The wonderful thing about music is that it immediately evokes certain eras of one's life, brings you back to where you've been, even if you don't want to go there. ~Donna de Matteo, Interviews with Contemporary Women Playwrights, Betsko & Koenig, 1987
Jazz will endure just as long as people hear it through their feet instead of their brains. ~John Philip Sousa
How can you expect a musician to write beautiful vocal music without beautiful words? ~Friedrich Chrysander (1826–1901)
Music is the medicine of the breaking heart. ~Leigh Hunt
Music... fills the present with electric ecstasy. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897
The eternal task of song can never be finished in a single lifetime. That is the beauty and fascination of the art. ~Helen Porter Mitchell (1861–1931) [Also known as Dame Nellie Melba. Some sources cite year of birth as 1859.
Five-and-thirty black slaves,
All their duty but to sing
For their Queen's delight,
Now with throats of thunder,
Now with dulcet lips,
While she rules them royally
With her finger-tips!
~William Watson, "The Key-board," c.1892
Mozart composed music of radiant vivacity, sparkle, and wit at times when he was crushed by neglect, debt, and the awful discouragement of living his whole life insufficiently compensated and recognized. ~Marcia Davenport, Mozart, 1932
Classical music is the kind we keep thinking will turn into a tune. ~Frank McKinney "Kin" Hubbard, Comments of Abe Martin and His Neighbors, 1923
There's only one woman I know who could never be a symphony conductor, and that's the Venus de Milo. ~Margaret Hillis (1921–1998), director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Country music is three chords and the truth. ~Harlan Howard
I'm not crazy about country-western music. But the lyrics are good. ~Alice Cooper, interview with Cal Fussman, 2008 August 2nd, for Esquire's January 2009 eighth annual Meaning of Life issue [My thoughts, exactly!
It had never occurred to me before that music and thinking are so much alike. In fact you could say music is another way of thinking, or maybe thinking is another kind of music. ~Ursula K. Le Guin, Very Far Away from Anywhere Else, 1976
Music—the rich mastery of the gloomier emotions of our nature; Music—that seems to use the ears as a conductor to the heart, and teaches us more distinctly than any abstract philosophy can do, how mysteriously intimate is the union between soul and body—has to a great extent shared that honour; for Music and Poetry have been, and still are, always to continue inseparably, indissolubly allied... ~Frederick Hinde, Poetry, a lecture delivered in London on the evening of April 8, 1858
Music is the occult metaphysical exercise of a soul not knowing that it philosophizes. ~Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860)
Chamber music — a conversation between friends. ~Catherine Drinker Bowen (1897–1973)
Most chamber music is of a nature so intimate, a charm so delicate, that its quality is wholly destroyed under the stampede of eighty breathing mortals. ~Catherine Drinker Bowen (1897–1973), Friends and Fiddlers, 1939
Only the true musician knows how to take music seriously enough to be able to take it lightly. If prayer is an art, so is flirtation: only your true artist, to whom music is a thing serious as his own life — only he knows how to flirt with music, to follow up a Bach fugue with a café waltz and derive, as it were, equal pleasures from both. ~Catherine Drinker Bowen (1897–1973), Friends and Fiddlers, 1939
Music rocks my soul and jazzes up my life. ~Terri Guillemets, "Wishing well," 1988
An artist, in giving a concert, should not demand an entrance fee but should ask the public to pay, just before leaving as much as they like. From the sum he would be able to judge what the world thinks of him — and we would have fewer mediocre concerts. ~Kit Coleman, Kit Coleman: Queen of Hearts
I think sometimes could I only have music on my own terms, could I live in a great city, and know where I could go whenever I wished the ablution and inundation of musical waves, that were a bath and a medicine. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Here the women have a metronome under their corsets, which beats time, but not music. ~Israel Zangwill, Dreamers of the Ghetto, "From a Mattress Grave," 1897 [speaking as the character Heinrich Heine, of Paris
Are we not formed, as notes of music are,
For one another, though dissimilar?
~Percy Bysshe Shelley
Music, once admitted to the soul, becomes a sort of spirit, and never dies. ~Edward George Bulwer-Lytton
[I]f I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once a week; for perhaps the parts of my brain now atrophied would thus have been kept active through use. The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature. ~Charles Darwin
A song has a few rights the same as ordinary citizens... if it happens to feel like flying where humans cannot fly... to scale mountains that are not there, who shall stop it? ~Charles Ives
The pleasure we obtain from music comes from counting, but counting unconsciously. Music is nothing but unconscious arithmetic. ~Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
A man's screech should exceed his rasp, or what's a violin for? ~Stuart Rogers
After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music. ~Aldous Huxley, Music at Night and Other Essays
Music is love in search of a word. ~Sidney Lanier
Musicians wrestle everywhere:
All day, among the crowded air,
I hear the silver strife...
[H]e... finally came to the wise conclusion that everyone who loved music was not a composer. Returning from one of Mozart's grand operas, splendidly performed, at the Royal Theatre, he looked over his own, played a few of the best parts, sat staring up at the busts of Mendelssohn, Beethoven, and Bach, who stared benignly back again... ~Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, "Learning to Forget," 1869
It is incontestable that music induces in us a sense of the infinite and the contemplation of the invisible. ~Victor de LaPrade
I'm a singer-songwriter.... If I'm not doing it, I'm like a flower without water. When I'm doing it, I'm a sunflower six feet tall.... Writing songs is like free therapy. Instead of paying a guy 125 bucks an hour to pull stuff out of me, I pull it out of myself and put it on paper. And then I own it, but it doesn't own me. ~Rob from Tucson, Arizona, Intervention, season 8, episode 4, original airdate 2009 December 21st
Music is moonlight in the gloomy night of life. ~Jean Paul Richter
All the shopping malls and restaurants and airports are riddled with low-fidelity loudspeakers, which apparently have developed the ability to reproduce by themselves; these are all connected to a special programming service called Music That Nobody Really Likes, and you cannot get away from it. ~Dave Barry
Music is a friend of labor for it lightens the task by refreshing the nerves and spirit of the worker. ~William Green
If anyone has conducted a Beethoven performance, and then doesn't have to go to an osteopath, then there's something wrong. ~Simon Rattle
Bach opens a vista to the universe. After experiencing him, people feel there is meaning to life after all. ~Helmut Walcha
Just before dinner Brandon came upon her alone in the music room where she was racing her fingers through the runs and trills of an impromptu at an almost impossible speed. ~Eleanor H. Porter, The Turn of the Tide: The Story of How Margaret Solved Her Problem, 1908
I worry that the person who thought up Muzak may be thinking up something else. ~Lily Tomlin
Music is well said to be the speech of angels. ~Thomas Carlyle, "The Opera"
Avoid the raptures and the prejudices, sometimes the attendant follies on an unbounded love of music. ~Countess Dowager of Carlisle, Thoughts in the Form of Maxims addressed to Young Ladies, on their First Establishment in the World, 1790 [Isabella Howard (1721–1795). Honestly, I don't really know what this means, but it sounded cool.
Opera is where a guy gets stabbed in the back, and instead of dying, he sings. ~Robert Benchley
Going to the opera, like getting drunk, is a sin that carries its own punishment with it, and that a very severe one. ~Hannah More, letter to sister, 1775
The taxpayers cannot be relied upon to support performing arts such as opera. As a taxpayer, I am forced to admit that I would rather undergo a vasectomy via Weed Whacker than attend an opera. ~Dave Barry
No good opera plot can be sensible:... people do not sing when they are feeling sensible. ~W.H. Auden, Time, 1961 December 29th