Music Quotes

"Playing the flute is like writing a book. You're telling what's in your heart...It's easier to play if it's right from your heart. You get the tone, and the fingers will follow."
- Eddie Cahill

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”
-Aldous Huxley

“The English may not like music, but they absolutely love the noise it makes.”
-Sir Thomas Beecham ‘A Mingled Chime’

“Music is the best means we have of digesting time.”
-W.H. Auden

“It is sobering to think that when Mozart was my age he had been dead a year.”
-Tom Lehrer

“Clarinet, n. An instrument of torture operated by a person with cotton in his ears. There are two instruments worse than a clarinet – two clarinets.”
-Ambrose Bierce ‘The Devil’s Dictionary’ 1906

“Brass bands are all very well in their place – outdoors and several miles away.”
-Sir Thomas Beecham

“Music is the shorthand of emotion.”
-Leo Tolstoy

“The Detroit Quartet played Brahms last night. Brahms lost.”
- Anon. Critic

“Harpists spend half their life tuning and the other half playing out of tune.”
- Anonymous

“Music does not excite until it is performed.”
-Benjamin Britten

“An oboe is an ill-wind that nobody blows good.”
- Bennet Cerf ‘Laughing Stock’ 1952

“Great music is that which penetrates the ear with facility and quits the ear with difficulty. Magical music never quite leaves the memory.”>br> -Sir Thomas Beecham quoted Lord Boothby ‘My Yesterday, Your Tomorrow”

“Please write music like Wagner, only louder.”
-Sam Goldwyn, instructing composer for a movie

“I occaisionally play works by contemporary composers, and for two reasons. First, to discourage the composer from writing anymore, and secondly to remind myself how much I appreciate Beethoven.”
-Jascha Heifitz

“People who make music together cannot be enemies, at least while the music lasts.”
-Paul Hindemith ‘A Composers World’

“There’s only two ways to sum up music: either it’s good or it’s bad. If it’s good you don’t mess about with it, just enjoy it.”
- Louis Armstrong

“Humphrey Searle writes music that sounds like the theme from ‘Star Wars’ played backwards through a washing machine.”
- Clive James

“If I were a dictator I should make it compulsory for every member of the population between the ages of four and eighty to listen to Morzart for at least a quarter of an hour daily for the coming five years.”
- Sir Thomas Beecham

“Of all musicians, flutists are obviously the ones who know something we don’t.”
- Paul Jennings

“Sir Arthur Bliss, Master of the Queen’s Music, once described the BBC’s pop programme as ‘aural hashish’, but it’s not that good.”
- Richard Neville ‘Playpower’ 1974

“At the playing of Rossini’s ‘William Tell Overture’ (at the Albert Hall) an American lady said, ‘Back home this is known as ‘The Lone Ranger’”.
- Peterborough Daily Telegraph 13 Jul 1979

“My arias make me take off as if I were on a trampoline.”
- Jessye Normal, Radio Times 24 Oct 1981

“All the intelligence and talent in the world can’t make a singer. The voice is a wild thing. It can’t be bred in captivity.”
- Willa Cathar

“I don’t know whether I like it, but it is what I meant.”
- Ralph Vaugn Williams on his Fourth Symphony

“Sunshine can burn you, food can poison you, words can condemn you, pictures can insult you; music cannot punish – only bless.”
-Artur Schnabel ‘Music and the Line of Most Resistance’ 1942

“Anybody who loves music has to be worried by the romantic assumption that it contains meanings inexpressible in words.”
- Anthony Powell Observer ‘Music of the Spheres’ 13 Feb 1983

“Music is a means of giving form to our inner feelings without attaching them to events or objects in the world.”
- George Santayana

“The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes – ah, that is where the art resides!”
- Artur Schnabel

“When people hear good music, it makes them homesick for something they never had, and never will have.”
- Edgar Watson Howe

“Richard Wagner, a musician who wrote music which is better than it sounds.”
-Mark Twain

“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. It would not leave them narrow-minded and bigoted.”
- Thoreau, Journal

“How wonderful opera would be if there were no singers.”
- Gioacchino Antonio Rossini

“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

“Music is spiritual, the music business is not.”
- Van Morrison: The Times

“Music imitates (represents) the passions or states of the soul, such as gentleness, anger, courage, temperance, and their opposites.”
- Aristotle

"Music, the greatest good that mortals know and all of heaven we have hear below."
- Joseph Addison

"What passions cannot music raise or quell?"
- John Driden

"An intellectual snob is someone who can listen to the William Tell Overture and not think of The Lone Ranger."
- Dan Rather

"I wrote a song about dental floss but did anyone's teeth get cleaner?"
- Frank Zappa (in response to Tipper Gore's allegations that music incites people towards deviant behavior, or influences their behavior in general)

"I know only two tunes: one of them is 'Yankee Doodle' and the other one isn't."
- Ulysses S.

"Only sick music makes money today."
- Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900)

"This isn't about fans, greed or money. It's about being morally right or wrong. Nobody is governing the way music gets from artists to fans. It's all running amok."
- Lars Ulrich (Metallica drummer), on why the band has sued to shut down the Napster music service assists swapping MP3s

"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."
- Berthold Auerbach

"The soul of music slumbers in the shell
Till waked and kindled by the master's spell;
And feeling hearts, touch them but rightly, pour
A thousand melodies unheard before!"
- Samuel Rogers

"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent."
- Victor Hugo

"Yes; as the music changes,
Like a prismatic glass;
It takes the light and ranges
Through all the moods that pass."
- Alfred Noyes

"If music be the food of love, play on."
- Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

I write [music] as a sow piddles."
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

"My sole inspiration is a telephone call from a producer."
- Cole Porter

"Don't bother to look . . I've composed all this already."
- Gustav Mahler to Bruno Walter (who had stopped to admire mountain scenery in rural Austria).

"I would rather play "Chiquita Banana" and have my swimming pool than play Bach and starve."
- Xavier Cugat

"[Musicians] talk of nothing but money and jobs. Give me business- men every time. They really are interested in music and art."
- Jean Sibelius, explaining why he rarely invited musicians to his home.

"The amount of money one needs is terrifying..."
- Ludwig van Beethoven

"Only become a musician if there is absolutely no other way you can make a living."
- Kirke Mecham, on his life as a composer

"There is nothing more difficult than talking about music."
- Camille Saint-Saëns

"I am not handsome, but when women hear me play they come crawling to my feet."
- Niccoló Paganini

"Of course I'm ambitious. What's wrong with that? Otherwise, you sleep all day."
- Ringo Starr

"What is the voice of song when the world lacks the ear of taste?"
- Nathaniel Hawthorne

"Flint must be an extremely wealthy town. I see that each of you bought two or three seats."
- Victor Borge, playing to a half-filled house in Flint, Michigan.

"If one hears bad music, it is one's duty to drown it by one's conversation."
- Oscar Wilde

"Critics can't even make music by rubbing their back legs together."
- Mel Brooks

"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.

"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.

"I love Beethoven . . . especially the poems."
- Ringo Starr

"Berlioz says nothing in his music, but he says it magnificently."
- James Gibbons Hunekar

"If a young man at the age of 23 can write a symphony like that, in five years, he will be ready to commit murder."
- Walter Damrosch on Aaron Copland

"There are still so many beautiful things to be said in C major."
- Sergei Prokofiev

"I never use a score when conducting my orchestra... does a lion tamer enter a cage with a book on how to tame a lion?"
- Dimitri Mitropolous

"God tells me how the music should sound, but you stand in the way."
- Arturo Toscanini to a trumpet player

"Already too loud!"
- Bruno Walter, at his first rehearsal with an American orchestra, upon seeing the players reaching for their instruments.

"When she started to play, Steinway himself came down personally and rubbed his name off the piano."
- Bob Hope, on comedienne Phyllis Diller

"Never look at the trombones, it only encourages them."
- Richard Strauss

"In opera, there is always too much singing."
- Claude Debussy

"An exotic and irrational entertainment."
- Samuel Johnson's definition of opera

"If a thing isn't worth saying, you sing it."
- Pierre Beaumarchais, The Barber of Seville

"Opera is where a guy gets stabbed in the back, and instead of dying . . he sings."
- Robert Benchley

"I'd hate this to get out, but I really like opera."
- Ford Frick

"It's pretty clear now that what looked like it might have been some kind of counterculture is, in reality, just the plain old chaos of undifferentiated weirdness."
- Jerry Garcia

"A ponderous orchestral absurdity."
- Frank Zappa, on his rock symphony, debuted by the Los Angeles Philharmonic

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