Musical Quotations – Index To Pro Musica Classica Main Page
Musical Quotations
A personal selection by
Arto Sakari Korpinen

These quotations - many of them witty remarks - are all my favourites,
but nevertheless I don't agree with everyone! - ASK

Mili Balakirev

Haydn, that genius of vulgar music who induces an inordinate thirst for beer.

(Letter to Tchaikovsky 1869)

Thomas Beecham

Why do we have to have all these third-rate foreign conductors around - when we have so many second-rate ones of our own?

A musicologist is a man who can read music but can't hear it.

Festivals are for the purpose of attracting trade to the town. What that has to do with music I don't know.

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.

Ludwig van Beethoven

Music is higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy, it is the wine of a new procreation, and I am Bacchus who presses out this glorious wine for men and makes them drunk with the spirit.

Eduard Hanslick

The other arts persuade us, but music takes us by surprise.

John Hawkins

The peculiar characteristic of Vivaldi's music is, that it is wild and irregular. (1776)

Joseph Haydn

It is the melody which is the charm of music, and it is that which is most difficult to produce.

Paul Hindemith

A true musician believes only what he hears.

Tonality is a natural force, like gravity.

José Iturbi

The baton is always in C major.

Zoltán Kodály

When you are playing, do not be concerned about who is listening to you. Always play as though a master were listening to you.

The laws of morals and the laws of art are the same.

Charles Lamb

Some cry up Haydn, some Mozart,
Just as the whim bites; for my part
I care not a farthing candle
For either of them, or for Handel.

(Free Thoughts on Several Eminent Composers 1830)

Gustav Mahler

What is best in music is not to be found in the notes.

Fortissimo at last!
(on seeing Niagara Falls)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Melody is the very essence of music. When I think of a good melodist I think of a fine race-horse. A contrapuntist is only a post-horse.

It is much easier to play a thing quickly than to play it slowly.

Francis Poulenc

Above all do not analyse my music - love it!

David Randolph

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

Artur Schnabel

Great music is better than it can be performed.

Applause is a receipt, not a note of demand.

You are there and I am here - but where is Beethoven? (to the conductor during a Beethoven rehearsal)

Jean Sibelius

Never pay any attention to what critics say. A statue has never been set up in honour of a critic.

Leopold Stokowski

We are becoming the slaves of little marks on a piece of white paper which we call music.

Igor Stravinsky

What survives every change of system is melody.

'Great' conductors, like 'great' actors, soon become unable to play anything but themselves.

A sin against the spirit of a work always begins with a sin against the letter.

A member of the Hallé Orchestra:

I prefer to face the wrath of the police than the wrath of Sir John Barbirolli.
(on a speeding charge)

Oral tradition:

The baton makes no sound.

Salzburg oral tradition:

This is where von Karajan was born - oh, by the way, Mozart was born here too.

Musical Quotations - a personal selection by Arto Sakari Korpinen