Read an Excerpt
A Book of Quotations
By Herb Galewitz
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 2001 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Music, the greatest good that mortals know, And all of heaven we have below.
Nothing is capable of being well set to music that is not nonsense.
Music is the only sensual gratification which mankind may indulge in to excess without injury to their moral and religious feelings.
The music teacher came twice each week to bridge the awful gap between Dorothy and Chopin.
When Jack Benny plays the violin, it sounds as if the strings are still back in the cat.
The lady came home from the opera and yet quarreled with her maid.
Like a husband with a foreign title; expensive to support, hard to understand, and therefore a supreme social challenge.
Definition of a true musician: One who, when he hears a lady singing in the bathtub, he puts his ear to the keyhole.
Where words fail, music speaks.
HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN
Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
And so she makes music wherever she goes.
ANONYMOUS (nursery rhyme)
Jazz is not a craze ... its significance is that it is one of the greatest landmarks of modern art.
Music exalts each joy, allays each grief,
Expels diseases, softens every pain,
Subdues the rage of poison, and the plague.
All music is folk music. I ain't never heard a horse sing a song.
When you got to ask what [jazz] is, you'll never get to know.
Every time I close my eyes blowing my trumpet, I look right into the heart of good old New Orleans.
No good opera plot can be sensible, for people do not sing when they are feeling sensible.
W. H. AUDEN
Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
The sole end and aim of all music should be nothing else but God's glory and pleasant recreation.
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.
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH
Rugged the breast that music cannot tame.
JOHN CODRINGTON BAMPFYLDE
Competitions are for horses, not artists.
I love Wagner; but the music I prefer is that of a cat hung by its tail outside a window, and trying to stick to the panes of glass with its claws.
Is there a heart that music cannot melt?
There are two golden rules for an orchestra ... start together and finish together. The public doesn't give a damn what goes on in between.
That which penetrates the ear with facility and quits the memory with difficulty.
If an opera cannot be played by an organ-grinder—as Puccini's and Verdi's melodies were played—then that opera is not going to achieve immortality.
I would give the whole of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos for Massenet's Manon and would think I had justly profited by the exchange.
SIR THOMAS BEECHAM
Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.
Music should strike fire from the heart of man, and bring tears from the eyes of woman.
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN
Popular music is popular because a lot of people like it.
To me "God Bless America" was not just a song but an expression of my feeling toward the country to which I owe what I have and what I am.
On "There's No Business Like Show Business":
I wrote it as a so-called "throwaway" to cover a stage wait. No one visualized what the song would eventually become, especially myself.
There's no such thing as a new melody. Our work is to connect the old phrases, so that they will sound like a new tune.
Every composer knows the anguish and despair occasioned by forgetting ideas which one has no time to write down.
Music ... can name the unnamable and communicate the unknowable.
I'm not interested in having an orchestra sound like itself. I want it to sound like the composer.
When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.
THE BIBLE (Old Testament; Job)
The Fiddle: An instrument to tickle human ears by friction of a horse's tail on the entrails of a cat.
Music wasn't made to make us wise, but better natured.
How nice the human voice is when it isn't singing.
The opera always loses money. That's as it should be. Opera has no business making money.
Debussy is like a painter who looks at his canvas to see what more he can take out; Strauss is like a painter who has covered every inch and then takes the paint he has left and throws it at the canvas.
On hearing George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess:
Oh well, he did not know how to write an opera. There is no continuity, only a series of numbers.
Music is our fourth great material want—first food, then raiment, then shelter, then music.
CHRISTIAN NESTELL BOVEE
Chamber music—a conversation between friends.
CATHERINE DRINKER BOWEN
When you see a lovely woman for a long time, a woman who is at once gracious and tender and pure, you cannot help being inspired by the spectacle.
Passion is not natural to mankind; it is always an exception, an excrescence.
God is its author, and not man; he laid the keynote of all harmonies ... and he made us so that we could hear and understand.
JOHN G. BRAINARD
Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast.
It is cruel ... that music should be so beautiful. It has the beauty of loneliness and of pain: of strength and freedom. The beauty of disappointment and never-satisfied love. The cruel beauty of nature, and everlasting beauty of monotony.
The old idea ... of a composer suddenly having a terrific idea and sitting up all night to write it is nonsense. Nighttime is for sleeping.
For there is music wherever there is harmony, order, or proportion.
Sure there is music even in the beauty, and the silent note which Cupid strikes, far sweeter than the sound of an instrument.
For even that vulgar and tavern music, which makes one man merry, another mad; strikes in me a deep fit of devotion, and a profound contemplation of the first Composer; there is something in it of divinity more than the ear discovers.
SIR THOMAS BROWNE
Who hears music feels his solitude peopled at once.
Life can't be all bad when for ten dollars you can buy all the Beethoven sonatas and listen to them for ten years.
The Beatles are not merely awful.... They are so unbelievably horrible, so appallingly unmusical, so dogmatically insensitive to the magic of the art, that they qualify as crowned heads of antimusic.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.
Music, once admitted to the soul, becomes a sort of spirit, and never dies.
EDWARD GEORGE BULWER-LYTTON
The best music should be played as the best men and women should be dressed—neither so well nor so ill as to attract attention to itself.
To know whether you are enjoying a piece of music or not you must see whether you find yourself looking at the advertisements of Pear's Soap at the end of the libretto.
A thousand hearts beat happily; and when
Music arose with its voluptuous swell,
Soft eyes look'd love to eyes which spake again,
And all went merry as a marriage bell
But hush! hark! a deep sound strikes like a rising knell.
There's music in the sighing of a reed;
There's music in the gushing of a rill;
There's music in all things, if men had ears:
Their earth is but an echo of the spheres.
LORD BYRON (GEORGE GORDON)
Nobody dreams of music in hell, and nobody conceives of heaven without it.
S. PARKES CADMAN
When we separate music from life we get art.
New music: new listening. Not an attempt to understand something that is being said, for, if something were being said, the sounds would be given the shapes of words. Just an attention to the activity of sounds.
If you can sell green toothpaste in this country, you can sell opera.
The blues were the gateway to freedom for all American Negroes.
E. SIMMS CAMPBELL
A lot of people are singing about how screwed up the world is, and I don't think that everybody wants to hear about that all the time.
Music is a kind of inarticulate, unfathomable speech, which leads us to the edge of the infinite, and impels us for a moment to gaze into that.
See deep enough and you see musically.
All deep things are song. It seems somehow the very central essense of us, song; as if all the rest were but wrappers and hulls.
Music is well said to be the speech of angels; in fact, nothing among the utterances allowed to man is felt to be so divine. It brings us near to the infinite.
My idea of Heaven is to be able to sit and listen to all the music by Victor Herbert that I want to.
I invariably play some Bach to start the day. But on the piano, not the cello, and usually preludes and fugues. It is like a benediction on the house.
The cello is like a beautiful woman who has not grown older, but younger with time, more slender, more supple, more graceful.
For me, Bach is like Shakespeare. He has known all and felt all. He is everything.
There can be no mischief sure when there is music.
MIGUEL DE CERVANTES
A magic scene contrived to please the eyes and ears at the expense of understanding.
In a garden where there are no birds, a croaking toad is a nightingale.
FYODOR CHALIAPIN, singer
If you love music, hear it; go to operas, concerts, and pay fiddlers to play to you; but I insist upon your neither piping nor fiddling yourself. It puts a gentleman in a very frivolous contemptible light.
Music is a prophecy of what life is to be, the rainbow of promise translated out of seeing into hearing.
Military justice is to justice as military music is to music.
Music indeed! Give me a mother singing to her clean and fat and rosy baby.
Dialogue is just lyrics that don't rhyme.
NAT "KING" COLE
The best sort of music is what it should be—sacred; the next best, the military, has fallen to the lot of the devil.
Swans sing before they die—'twere no bad thing
Should certain persons die before they sing.
SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE
Indeed Musick, when rightly ordered, cannot be prefer'd too much. It composes the Passions, affords a strong Pleasure, and excites a Nobleness of Thought.
O Music! sphere-descended maid.
Friend of Pleasure, Wisdom's aid!
Someday we may have as many followers as the harpsichord.
EDDIE CONDON, jazz musician
Music alone with sudden charms can bind
The wand'ring sense, and calm the troubled mind.
Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast,
To soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.
Without music, life is a journey through a desert.
Cocktail music is accepted as audible wallpaper.
Is there an American way of performing Schubert as distinguished from an Austrian way? It seems to me that there most definitely is.
So long as the human spirit thrives on this planet, music in some living form will accompany and sustain it and give it expressive meaning.
Composers tend to assume that everyone loves music. Surprisingly enough, everyone doesn't.
To sing man's melody is only a vain show of art. God cannot take delight in praises where the man of sin has a hand in making the melody.
REV. JOHN COTTON
Extraordinary how potent cheap music is.
How soft the music of those village bells
Falling at intervals upon the ear
In cadence sweet!
I think popular music in this country is one of the few things in the 20th century that have made great strides in reverse.
If there were a conservatory in Hell, if one of its talented students were instructed to write a program symphony on "The Seven Plagues of Egypt," and if he were to compose a symphony like Mr. Rachmaninoff's, then he would have fulfilled his task brilliantly and would bring delight to the inhabitants of Hell.
CESAR CUI, reviewer
It is far better to be the first musician in Elmira than one of 10,000 in New York.
Music was known and understood before words were spoken.
Adding once more the music of the tongue
To the sweet speech of her alluring eyes.
SIR JOHN DAVIES
I think that one of the greatest dangers that faces people in this country is the tyrants who would come in and solve your crimes by putting a rock festival in every park.
EDWARD MICHAEL DAVIS
Had Wagner been a little more human, he would have been truly divine.
The idea of marketing a musical composition like a tub of lard or a barrel of beer is to me as sad as it is ridiculous.
A form of entertainment where there is always too much singing.
Sweet popular music is claptrap in the main, and the main is where it belongs.
The tuba is certainly the most intestinal of instruments, the very lower bowel of music.
PETER DE VRIES
[Igor Stravinsky] is constantly on the move, seeking out at every step how to deny the very thing that he has been in his previous works.
Composers shouldn't think too much—it interferes with their plagiarism.
It is safe to say that no man ever went wrong, morally or mentally, while listening to a symphony.
JUDGE JOHN J. DILLON
O Music! Miraculous art! A blast of thy trumpet and millions rush forward to die; a peal of thy organ and uncounted nations sink down to pray.
There is a spirituality about the face, however ... which the typewriter does not generate. The lady is a musician.
SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE
Crave the tuneful nightingale to help with her lay,
The ousel and the throstlecock, chief music of our May.
The trumpets loud clangour
Excites us to arms.
What passion cannot music raise and quell?
So when the last and dreadful hour
This crumbling pageant shall devour,
The trumpet shall be heard on high,
The dead shall live, the living die,
And Music shall untune the sky!
Music was invented to confirm human loneliness.
It's not me. It's the songs. I'm just the postman. I deliver the songs.
He's singing all his own songs. That ain't no folk singer. Folk singers sing those old folk songs, ballads.
This world may consist of musical notes as well as of mathematical rules.
Never did Mozart write for eternity, and it is for precisely that reason that much of what he wrote is for eternity.
'Tis God gives skill,
But not without men's hands: He could not make
Antonio Stradivari's violins
You are the music while the music lasts.
T. S. ELIOT
I don't like to look back because it destroys my perspective of writing music.
Playing "bop" is like playing Scrabble with all the vowels missing.
It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing.
And music pours on mortals
Her magnificent disdain.
Music is the poor man's Parnassus.
RALPH WALDO EMERSON
Jazz is the expression of protest against law and order, the bolshevik of license striving for expression in music.
ANNE SHAW FAULKNER
Jazz without the beat, most musicians know, is a telephone yanked from the wall; it just can't communicate.
Oh, the brave music of a distant drum.
The word jazz in its progress toward respectability has meant first sex, then dancing, then music.
F. SCOTT FITZGERALD
Music comes first from my heart, and then goes upstairs to my head where I check it out.
Composing is like making love to the future.
I'd hate this to get out, but I really like opera.
FORD FRICK, baseball commissioner
Bach almost persuades me to be a Christian.
Give the piper a penny to play and two pence to leave off.
Music is nothing else but wild sounds civilized into time and tune.
Nobody really sings in an opera—they just make loud noises.
I make my reputation while the curtain is up, not while it is down.
AMELITA CALLI-CURCI, singer
Opera is when a guy gets stabbed in the back and instead of bleeding, he sings.
Jazz I regard as an American folk music; not the only one, but a very powerful one which is probably in the blood and feeling of the American people more than any other style of folk music.
Making music is actually little else than a matter of invention aided and abetted by emotion.
True music must repeat the thought and inspirations of the people and the time. My people are Americans and my time is today.
It sounds simple, of course, but personally I can think of no more mentally arduous task than making music.
Music, in the works of its greatest masters, is more marvellous, more mysterious, than poetry.
Mozart is the human incarnation of the divine force of creation.
Music fills up the present moment more decisively than anything else, whether it awakens thought or summons to action.
Excerpted from Music by Herb Galewitz. Copyright © 2001 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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