What is music? Classical composer quotes

composers quotationsYou know what music is when you hear it. Then again, someone else might have a completely different idea. One person’s music is another person’s noise.

So what is music? And where does it come from?

It’s not as if anyone can actually define it, but composers have expressed their opinions. What did they think they were doing? Here are some famous composers’ quotes

What is music?

classical composer quotes, JS Bach

Music is the arithmetic of sounds as optics is the geometry of light. – Claude Debussy

Music embodies feeling without forcing it to contend and combine with thought, as it is forced in most arts and especially in the art of words. – Franz Liszt

Music is given to us with the sole purpose of establishing an order in things, including, and particularly, the coordination between man and time. – Igor Stravinsky

The Church knew what the psalmist knew: Music praises God. Music is well or better able to praise him than the building of the church and all its decoration; it is the Church’s greatest ornament. – Igor Stravinsky

Music is at once the product of feeling and knowledge, for it requires from its disciples, composers and performers alike, not only talent and enthusiasm, but also that knowledge and perception which are the result of protracted study and reflection. – Alban Berg
Music can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable. – Leonard Bernstein

What love is to man, music is to the arts and to mankind. Music is love itself – it is the purest, most ethereal language of passion, showing in a thousand ways all possible changes of color and feeling; and though true in only a single instance, it yet can be understood by thousands of men – who all feel differently. – Carl Maria von Weber

The Church knew what the psalmist knew: Music praises God. Music is well or better able to praise him than the building of the church and all its decoration; it is the Church’s greatest ornament. – Igor Stravinsky

Where does music come from?

famous composers' quotes, Beethoven

Inspiration may be a form of super-consciousness, or perhaps of subconsciousness I wouldn’t know. But I am sure it is the antithesis of self-consciousness. – Aaron Copland

I frequently hear music in the very heart of noise. – George Gershwin

Inspiration is an awakening, a quickening of all man’s faculties, and it is manifested in all high artistic achievements. – Giacomo Puccini

Straight-away the ideas flow in upon me, directly from God, and not only do I see distinct themes in my mind’s eye, but they are clothed in the right forms, harmonies, and orchestration. – Johannes Brahms

I am convinced that there are universal currents of Divine Thought vibrating the ether everywhere and that any who can feel these vibrations is inspired. – Richard Wagner

All these tales of people sitting down and composing symphonies just as though they were writing a letter are very much exaggerated; at least, it isn’t that way in my work. – George Gershwin

It’s not just a question of conquering a summit previously unknown, but of tracing, step by step, a new pathway to it.  – Gustav Mahler

The real composer thinks about his work the whole time; he is not always conscious of this, but he is aware of it later when he suddenly knows what he will do.  – Igor Stravinsky

 


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