"He'd be better off shoveling snow."--Richard Strauss on Arnold Schoenberg.
When told that a soloist would need six fingers to perform his concerto, Arnold Schoenberg replied, "I can wait."
"I would like to hear Elliot Carter's Fourth String Quartet, if only to discover what a cranky prostate does to one's polyphony."--James Sellars
"Why is it that whenever I hear a piece of music I don't like, it's always by Villa Lobos?"--Igor Stravinsky
"His music used to be original. Now it's aboriginal."--Sir Ernest Newman on Igor Stravinsky
"If he'd been making shellcases during the war it might have been better for music."--Maurice Ravel on Camille SaintSaens
"He has an enormously wide repertory. He can conduct anything, provided it's by Beethoven, Brahms or Wagner. He tried Debussy's La Mer once. It came out as Das Merde."--Anonymous Orchestra Member on George Szell
Someone commented to Rudolph Bing, manager of the Metropolitan Opera, that George Szell is his own worst enemy. "Not while I'm alive, he isn't!" said Bing.
"After I die, I shall return to earth as a gatekeeper of a bordello and I won't let any of you in."--Arturo Toscanini to the NBC Orchestra
"We cannot expect you to be with us all the time, but perhaps you could be good enough to keep in touch now and again."--Sir Thomas Beecham to a musician during a rehearsal
"Jack Benny played Mendelssohn last night. Mendelssohn lost."--Anonymous
The great German conductor Hans von Buelow detested two members of an orchestra, who were named Schultz and Schmidt. Upon being told that Schmidt had died, von Buelow immediately asked, "Und Schultz?"
"Her voice sounded like an eagle being goosed."--Ralph Novak on Yoko Ono
"Parsifal is the kind of opera that starts at six o'clock and after it has been going three hours, you look at your watch and it says 6:20."--David Randolph
"One can't judge Wagner's opera Lohengrin after a first hearing, and I certainly don't intend hearing it a second time."--Gioacchino Rossini
"I liked the opera very much. Everything but the music."--Benjamin Britten on Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress
"Her singing reminds me of a cart coming downhill with the brake on."--Sir Thomas Beecham on an unidentified soprano in Die Walkyre
"My sole inspiration is a telephone call from a producer."--Cole Porter
"Don't bother to look, I've composed that 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 businessmen 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
"I am not handsome, but when women hear me play, they come crawling to my feet."--Niccolo Paganini
"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, Mich.
"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 10 dollars you can buy all the Beethoven sonatas and listen to them for 10 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
"Wagner's music is better than it sounds."--Mark Twain
"I love Beethoven, especially the poems."--Ringo Starr
"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 Mitropoulos
"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, as the players reached for their instruments
"I really don't know whether any place contains more pianists than Paris, or whether you can find more asses and virtuosos anywhere."--Frederic Chopin
"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
Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. -- Berthold Auerbach
Music with dinner is an insult both to the cook and the violinist. -- G. K. Chesterton
Music, the greatest good that mortals know, And all of heaven we have below. -- Joseph Addison
Musicians talk of nothing but money and jobs. Give me businessmen every time. They really are interested in music and art. -- Jean Sibelius, explaining why he rarely invited musicians to his home.
My sole inspiration is a telephone call from a producer. -- Cole Porter
Never look at the trombones, it only encourages them. -- Richard Strauss
No good opera plot can be sensible, for people do not sing when they are feeling sensible. -- W. H. Auden
Nothing is more odious than music without hidden meaning. -- Chopin.
Of all noises, I think music is the least disagreeable. -- Samuel Johnson
Of course I'm ambitious. What's wrong with that? Otherwise you sleep all day. -- Ringo Starr
Of course the music is a great difficulty. You see, if one plays good music, people don't listen, and if one plays bad music people don't talk. -- Oscar Wilde
Oh how wonderful, really wonderful opera would be if there were no singers! -- Gioacchino Rossini
One can't judge Wagner's opera Lohengrin after a first hearing, and I certainly don't intend hearing it a second time. -- Gioacchino Rossini
One should try everything once, except incest and folk-dancing. -- Arnold Bax
Only become a musician if there is absolutely no other way you can make a living. -- Kirke Mecham, on his life as a composer
Only sick music makes money today. -- Nietzsche
Opera is where a guy gets stabbed in the back, and instead of dying, he sings. -- Robert Benchley
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thoughts. -- Percy Shelley
Parsifal - the kind of opera that starts at six o'clock and after it has been going three hours, you look at your watch and it says 6:20. -- David Randolph
People who make music together cannot be enemies, at least while the music lasts. -- Paul Hindemith
People whose sensibility is destroyed by music in trains, airports, lifts, cannot concentrate on a Beethoven Quartet. -- Witold Lutoslawski
Plato defines melody to consist of harmony, number and words: harmony naked of itself, words the ornament of harmony, number the common friend and uniter of them both. -- J. Dowland
Please write music like Wagner, only louder. -- Sam Goldwyn, instructing a composer for a movie.
Rhythm, the primitive and predominating element of all Art. -- d'Indy
Richard Wagner wrote music which is better than it sounds. -- Mark Twain
Rossini would have been a great composer if his teacher had spanked him enough on his backside. -- Ludwig van Beethoven
Schoenberg is too melodious for me, too sweet. -- Bertolt Brecht
Sir Thomas Beecham was once asked if he had played any Stockhausen. "No", he replied, "but I have trodden in some".
Someone commented to Rudolph Bing, manager of the Metropolitan Opera, that "George Szell is his own worst enemy." "Not while I'm alive, he isn't!" said Bing.
Sounds like the blues are composed of feeling, finesse, and fear. -- Billy Gibbons
Stuffing birds or playing stringed instruments is an elegant pastime, and a resource to the idle, but it is not education. -- Cardinal Newman
The amount of money one needs is terrifying... -- Ludwig van Beethoven
The art of dramatic writing is to compose a melodic curve which will, as if by magic, reveal immediately a human being in one definite phase of his existence. -- Janacek
The chromatic scale is what you use to give the effect of drinking a quinine martini and having an enema simultaneously. -- Philip Larkin
The clarinet is a musical instrument the only thing worse than which is two. -- Ambrose Bierce
The effects of good music are not just because it's new; on the contrary music strikes us more the more familiar we are with it. -- Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
The English do not like music but love the noise it makes. -- Sir Thomas Beecham
The great German conductor Hans von Buelow detested two members of an orchestra, who were named Schultz and Schmidt. Upon being told that Schmidt had died, von Buelow immediately asked, Und Schultz?
The high note is not the only thing. -- Placido Domingo
The history of a people is found in its songs. -- George Jellinek
The most perfect expression of human behavior is a string quartet. -- Jeffrey Tate
The most perfect melodic shapes are found in Mozart; he has the lightness of touch which is the true objective ... Listen to the remarkable expansion of a Mozart melody, to Cherubino's 'Voi che sapete', for instance. You think it is coming to an end, but it goes farther, even farther. -- R. Strauss
The music teacher came twice a week to bridge the awful gap between Dorothy and Chopin. -- G. Ade
The new sound-sphere is global. It ripples at great speed across languages, ideologies, frontiers and races. The economics of this musical Esperanto is staggering. Rock and pop breed concentric worlds of fashion, setting and lifestyle. Popular music has brought with it sociologies of private and public manner, of group solidarity. The politics of Eden come loud. -- George Steiner
The present day composer refuses to die. -- Edgar Varese
The purpose of music is to draw toward a total exaltation in which the individual mingles, losing his consciousness in a truth immediate. -- Xenakis
The sound of a harpsichord - two skeletons copulating on a tin roof in a thunderstorm. -- Sir Thomas Beecham
The typical rock fan is not smart enough to know when he is being dumped on. -- Frank Zappa
The whole problem can be stated quite simply by asking, "Is there a meaning to music?" My answer would be, "Yes." And "Can you state in so many words what the meaning is?" My answer to that would be, "No." -- Aaron Copland
* Although this version of the quote has often been bandied about as if it were authentic, it turns out that what Hale actually wrote ( in The Boston Morning Journal on October 22, 1900, p.8. "Talk of the Day" column) was "They say at certain stations in the corridors of Symphony Hall 'red lights will be displayed, with the legend in plain sight: "This way out in case of Brahms.'"
William S. Carson, D.M.A -- Chair,
Department of Music -- Director of Bands
Coe College -- 1220 First Ave. NE Cedar Rapids, IA 52402
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