Music Quotations©winnie caw 2002
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When words leave off, music begins.

~ Heinrich Heine

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There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is to hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.

~ Johann Sebastian Bach

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If one hears bad music, it is one's duty to drown it out by one's conversation.

~ Oscar Wilde

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The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes - ah, that is where the art resides.

~ Artur Schnabel

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You can tell how bad a musical is by the number of times the chorus yells "hooray".

~ John Crosby

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Liszt's so-called piano music is nothing but Chopin and brandy.

~ James Huneker

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The music critic, Huneber, could never quite make up his mind about a new symphony until he had seen the composer's mistress.

~ H L Mencken

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She was a singer who had to take every note above A with her eyebrows.

~ Montague Glass

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I think Mick Jagger would be astounded and amazed if he realised how many people do not regard him as a sex symbol.

~ Angie Bowie

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The trouble with opera is that there is always too much singing.

~ Claude Debussy

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The trouble with a lot of songs you hear nowadays is that somebody forgot to put them to music.

~ Sammy Kahn

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After conducting a concert in a small town, I once received the following note from a farmer who had attended the performance: "Dear Sir, I wish to inform you that the man who played the long thing you pull in and out only did so during the brief periods you were looking at him."

~ Arturo Toscanini

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It has been said that if the opening phrase of a classical minuet can be fitted to the words "Are you the O'Reilly who owns this hotel?" then it was written by Haydn; if it can't then it wasn't.

~ Gervase Hughes

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When Jack Benny plays the violin, it sounds as though the strings are still in the cat.

~ Fred Allen

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The secret of my piano playing is that I always make sure that the lid over the keyboard is open before I start to play.

~ Artur Schnabel

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I'm in a class by myself, along with people like Rod Stewart.

~ Engelbert Humperdinck

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Riegger's Dichotomy sounded as though a pack of rats were being slowly tortured to death while, from time to time, a dying cow moaned.

~ Walter Abendroth

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Music hath charms to soothe a savage beast - but I'd try a revolver first.

~ Josh Billings

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I do not mind what language an opera is sung in as long as I do not understand it.

~ Edward Appleton

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When Brahms is in extra good spirits, he sings, "The grave is my joy".

~ Tchaikovsky

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Elgar's first symphony is the musical equivalent of St Pancras Railway Station.

~ Thomas Beecham

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Thomas Beecham was a pompous little band-master who stood against everything creative in the art of his time.

~ John Fowles

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Music helps set a romantic mood. Imagine her surprise when you say, "We don't need a stereo - I have an accordion."

~ Martin Mull

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Ladies of the choir, I want you to sound like twenty-two women having babies without chloroform.

~ John Barbirolli

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Beethoven always sounds to me like the upsetting of a bag of nails, with here and there also a dropped hammer.

~ John Ruskin

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An unalterable and unquestioned law of the musical world requires that the German text of French operas sung by Swedish artists should be translated into Italian for the clearer understanding of English speaking audiences.

~ Edith Wharton

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Madam, you ask me how I compose. I compose sitting down.

~ Tchaikovsky

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Troubadours travelled from town to town. They didn't really sing too good, which is the main reason they kept going.

~ Art Linkletter

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The music of Wagner imposes mental tortures that only algebra has the right to inflict.

~ Paul de Saint-Victor

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Modern music is three farts and a raspberry, orchestrated.

_ John Barbirolli

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I would have given my right arm to have been a pianist.

~ Bobby Robson

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Nothing soothes me more after a long and maddening course of piano recitals than to sit and have my teeth drilled.

~ George Bernard Shaw

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If you can imagine a man having a vasectomy without anćsthetic to the sound of frantic sitar playing, you will have some idea of what popular Turkish music is like.

~ Bill Bryson

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I like Wagner's music better than anybody's. It is so loud that one can talk the whole time without other people hearing what one says.

~ Oscar Wilde

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There is nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is to hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.

~ Johann Sebastian Bach

***

After conducting a concert I a small hotel, I once received the following note from a farmer who had attended the performance: "Dear Sir, I wish to inform you that the man who played the long thing you pull in and out only did so during the brief periods you were looking at him."

~ Arturo Toscanini

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People compose for many reasons: to become immortal; because the pianoforte happens to be open; because they want to become a millionaire; because of the praise of friends; because they have looked into a pair of beautiful eyes; for no reason whatsoever.

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Madam, you have between your legs an instrument capable of giving pleasure to thousands - and all you do is scratch it.

~ Thomas Beecham (to a cellist, attrib.)

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A vile beastly rottenheaded foolbegotten brazenthroated pernicous piggish screaming, tearing, roaring, perplexing, splitmecrackle crashmecriggle insane ass of a woman is practising howling below-stairs with a brute of a singingmaster so horribly, that my head is nearly off.

~ Edward Lear (1812 - 1888), Letter to Lady Strachey, 24th January 1859

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Swans sing before they die - 'twere no bad thing
Should certain persons die before they sing.

 ~Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772 - 1834), Epigram on a Volunteer Singer

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PIANO, n. A parlor utensil for subduing the impertinent visitor. It is operated by depressing the keys of the machine and the spirits of the audience.

~ Ambrose Bierce (1842 - 1914?), The Devil's Dictionary

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There is always a piano in an hotel drawing-room, on which, of course, some one of the forlorn ladies is generally employed.  I do not suppose that these pianos are, in fact, as a rule, louder and harsher, more violent and less musical, than other instruments of the kind. They seem to be so, but that, I take it, arises from the exceptional mental depression of those who have to listen to them.

~ Anthony Trollope (1815 - 1882), North America

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[Bartók's Fourth Quartet]
The opening Allegro took me straight back to childhood and gave me in turn the rusty windlass of a well, the interlinking noises of a goods train that is being shunted, then the belly-rumblings of a little boy acutely ill after a raid on an orchard, and finally the singular alarmed noise of poultry being worried to death by a Scotch terrier.
The second movement gave me continuously and throughout its short length the noise of a November wind in telegraph poles on a lonely country road.
The third movement began with a dog howling at midnight, proceeded to imitate the regurgitations of the less-refined or lower-middle-class type of water-closet cistern, modulating thence into the mass snoring of a Naval dormitory around the dawn - and concluded inconsequently with the cello reproducing the screech of an ungreased wheelbarrow.
The fourth movement took me straight back to the noises I made myself, on wet days indoors, at the age of six, by stretching and plucking a piece of elastic.
And the fifth movement reminded me immediately and persistently and vividly of something I have never thought of since the only time I heard it: the noise of a Zulu village in the Glasgow Exhibition - a hubbub all the more singular, because it had a background of skirling Highland bagpipes. Both noises emerged in this final movement for this Fourth Quartet of Béla Bartók.

~ Alan Dent (b 1905), Letter to James Agate, 26th November 1945

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Pavarotti is not vain, but conscious of being unique.

~ Peter Ustinov

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Opera is when a guy gets stabbed in the back and, instead of bleeding, he sings.

~ Ed Gardner

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The trouble with women in an orchestra is that if they're attractive it will upset my players and if they're not it will upset me.

~ Thomas Beecham

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Wagner has lovely moments but awful quarters of an hour.

~ Gioacchino Rossini

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Parsifal is the kind of opera that starts at six o'clock. After it has been going for three hours, you look at your watch and it says 6.20.

~ David Randolph

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Today if something is not worth saying, people sing it.

~ Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais

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All music is folk music. I ain't heard no horse sing a song.

~ Louis Armstrong

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Musical people are so absurdly unreasonable. They always want one to be perfectly dumb at the very moment when one is longing to be absolutely deaf.

~ Oscar Wilde "An Ideal Husband", 1895

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I hate music, especially when it's played.

~ Jimmy Durante

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Classic music is th'kind that we keep thinkin'll turn into a tune.

~ Frank McKinney Hubbard

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People are wrong when they say that opera is not what it used to be. It is what it used to be. That is what is wrong with it.

~ Noël Coward

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I prefer Offenbach to Bach often.

~ Thomas Beecham

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There are two golden rules for an orchestra: start together and finish together. The public doesn't give a damn what goes on imbetween.

Thomas Beecham

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Opera in English is, in the main, just about as sensible as baseball in Italian.

~ H L Mencken

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It is a pity that the composer did not leave directions as to how flat he really did want it sung.

~ Anon

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Mine was the kind of piece in which nobody knew what was going on, including the composer, the conductor and the critics. Consequently I got pretty good notices.

Oscar Levant, "A Smattering of Ignorance", 1940

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I'll play it first and tell you what it is later.

~ Miles Davis

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No good opera plot can be sensible, for people do not sing when they're feeling sensible.

~ W H Auden

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Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.

~ Berthold Auerbach

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When music fails to agree with the ear, to soothe the ear and the heart and the senses, then it had missed the point.

~ Maria Callas

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I am amazed at radio DJ's today. I am firmly convinced that AM on my radio stands for Absolute Moron. I will not begin to tell you what FM stands for.

~ Jasper Carrott

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Music was invented to confirm human loneliness.

~ Lawrence Durrell

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There is no feeling, except for the extremes of fear and grief, that does not find relief in music.

~ George Eliot

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I know only two tunes; one of them is 'Yankee Doodle' and the other one isn't.

~ Ulysses S Grant

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Classical music is the kind we keep thinking will turn into a tune.

~ Kim Hubbard

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Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.

~ Victor Hugo

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Only sick music makes money today.

~ Nietsche

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Music is essentially useless, as is life.

~ George Santayana

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Hell is full of musical amateurs.

~ George Bernard Shaw

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Our sweetest songs are those that tell of the saddest thoughts.

~ Percy Bysshe Shelley

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Too many pieces of music finish too long after the end.

~ Igor Stravinsky

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Men profess to be lovers of music, but for the most part they give no evidence of it in their opinions and lives that they have heard it. It would not leave them narrow-minded and bigoted.

~ Thoreau

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Most rock journalism is people who cannot write interviewing people who cannot talk.

~ Frank Zappa

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The typical rock fan is not smart enough to know when he is being dumped on.

~ Frank Zappa

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