Quotations about music: unspeakable until recently.

Plato wrote, “Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” Other people have made similar comments in the millennia since then. Nowadays, people well versed in intellectual and social history can read comments about music and, without knowing who said them first, can discern approximately when they were made. Most of us can’t do that, but here are some quotations about music that probably wouldn’t puzzle anyone. Even if I had left out who said what, could anyone have made any of these comments before about 1950?

Compare music to drinks. Some is like a strong brandy. Some is like a fine wine. The music you’re playing sounds like Diet Coke. Luciano Pavarotti

People whose sensibility is destroyed by music in trains, airports, lifts, cannot concentrate on a Beethoven Quartet. Witold Lutoslawski

Nothing separates the generations more than music. By the time a child is eight or nine, he has developed a passion for his own music that is even stronger than his passions for procrastination and weird clothes. Bill Cosby

Music is everybody’s possession. It’s only publishers who think that people own it. John Lennon

If anyone has conducted a Beethoven performance, and then doesn’t have to go to an osteopath, then there’s something wrong.  Simon Rattle

The joy of music should never be interrupted by a commercial.  Leonard Bernstein

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

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. [Inflation kind of dates this one!]

Why waste money on psychotherapy when you can listen to the B Minor Mass?  Michael Torke

Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid. Frank Zappa


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