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Quotations about Music


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Music!—who loves it not? who has not felt his soul soothed and softened by its sweet influence? ~F.B., "Notes of Music," 1848


Music is the higher poesy. ~F.B., "Notes of Music," 1848


To Hester, all the world seemed full of melody. Even the clouds in the sky sailed slowly along in time to a stately march in her brain, or danced to the tune of a merry schottische that sounded for her ears alone. And when she saw the sunset from the hill behind her home, there was always music then — low and tender if the colors were soft and pale-tinted, grand and awful if the wind blew shreds and tatters of storm-clouds across a purpling sky. ~Eleanor H. Porter, "A Delayed Heritage," 1904


[H]ow they all laughed at her, because she woke Amy in the night, by playing the piano on her face in her sleep... ~Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, "Beth Finds the Palace Beautiful," 1868


All deep things are Song. It seems somehow the very central essence of us, Song; as if all the rest were but wrappages and hulls! The primal element of us; of us, and of all things. The Greeks fabled of Sphere-Harmonies: it was the feeling they had of the inner structure of Nature: that the soul of all her voices and utterances was perfect music. ~Thomas Carlyle, "The Hero as Poet"


Take a music-bath once or twice a week for a few seasons, and you will find that it is to the soul what the water-bath is to the body. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes


Music is in the ear of him who hears,
As beauty in the eyes of him who sees...
~Florence Percy (Elizabeth Anne Chase Akers Allen, 1832–1911), "A Brace of Sonnets," Forest Buds, from the Woods of Maine, 1855


Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the spaces between the notes and curl my back to loneliness. ~Maya Angelou, Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas, 1976


Music is what feelings sound like. ~Author unknown


Music... What feeling feels like over time. An attempt to screw up what feeling feels like over time. Heartbreak and a high C. The twang the nervous system wants when it's in revolt... Ululation and a stomp of heels, scat-sense, voice and ear living together in brilliant sin. The soul's undersong... a flirtation with the boundaries of silence and space... a reminder that the self wants to disappear, be taken away from itself and returned. ~Stephen Dunn, "Music," of the pair "Music/Noise," Riffs and Reciprocities: Prose Pairs, 1998


Musical compositions, it should be remembered, do not inhabit certain countries, certain museums, like paintings and statues. The Mozart Quintet is not shut up in Salzburg: I have it in my pocket... ~Henri Rabaud


Thus, not only poems, but pictures and statues, might be set to music.... the Aurora of Guido.... begin with a slow, subdued, and solemn movement, to express the slumbrous softness of that dewy hour which precedes the coming of the day, and which in the picture broods over the distant landscape; then the stealing upwards of the gradual dawn; the brightening, the quickening of all life; the awakening of the birds, the burst of the sunlight, the rushing of the steeds of Hyperion through the sky, the aerial dance of the Hours, and the whole concluding with a magnificent choral song of triumph and rejoicing sent up from universal nature.... Can you not just imagine such a piece of music...? ~Anna Brownell Jameson (1794–1860), journal addressed to a friend, 1837 March 1st, Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada


If in the after life there is not music, we will have to import it. ~Doménico Cieri Estrada


"Ah, music," he said, wiping his eyes. "A magic beyond all we do here!" ~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, 1997  [Dumbledore speaking —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Alas for those that never sing,
But die with all their music in them!
~Oliver Wendell Holmes, "The Voiceless"


I was at a ball, with a jiggy kind of tune. Everything rattled to the jigging tune of the music and the dancers, the windows, the doors, all jigged, and I began to find myself involuntarily nodding to the same measure, and jigging like the rest. ~John Keast Lord, 1860 May 15th  [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Music is rhythm of the universe meets rhythm of self. ~Terri Guillemets, "Tuned," 1994


Good music — there are so many memories that never ride anything but sound-waves. ~Henry Stanley Haskins, "Memory," Meditations in Wall Street, 1940  [a little altered —tg]


Life can't be all bad when for ten dollars you can buy all the Beethoven sonatas and listen to them for ten years. ~William Buckley, as quoted in David Frost, "Social Questions, Pertinent and Impertinent," The Americans, 1970


Music is a liberal science, and ought to be liberally upheld... ~Olivia Dussek Buckley (1799–1847), Musical Truths, 1843


My music breathes of art; — hers is the warble
Borne up to heaven, in the morning's blue calms.
~Florence Percy (Elizabeth Anne Chase Akers Allen, 1832–1911), "Two," Forest Buds, from the Woods of Maine, 1855


Philosophers of all ages have dwelt upon the importance of music as both an outlet for the spirit and emotions and as discipline for the mind. It is generally recognized that music gives access to regions in the subconscious that can be reached in no other way. ~Sophie Lewis Hutchinson Drinker (1888–1967), Music and Women, 1948


When learnt with understanding, music is an ornament; but when trifled over, it is rather a defect. ~Olivia Dussek Buckley (1799–1847), Musical Truths, 1843


Many a time, now, the old childhood dreams came back to Hester, and her fingers would drift into tender melodies and minor chords not on the printed page, until all the stifled love and longing of those dreary, colorless years of the past found voice at her finger-tips. ~Eleanor H. Porter, "A Delayed Heritage," 1904


It was when... she was alone that the great joy of this new-found treasure of improvising came to her, and she could set free her heart and soul on the ivory keys. ~Eleanor H. Porter, "A Delayed Heritage," 1904


Art and composition tolerate no conventional fetters: mind and soul soar above them. ~Joseph Haydn, 1779


Melody is, and ever will be, the very flower of music. ~August W. Ambros (1816–1876)


Here's to Music,
Joy of joys!
One man's music's
Another man's noise.
~Oliver Herford, "To Music," Happy Days, illustrated by John Cecil Clay, 1917


Beth at last touched the great instrument, and straightway forgot her fear, herself, and everything else but the unspeakable delight which the music gave her, for it was like the voice of a beloved friend. ~Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, "Beth Finds the Palace Beautiful," 1868


For most of us, there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts...
~T. S. Eliot, "The Dry Salvages," Four Quartets, 1943


Music is the universal language of mankind, — poetry their universal pastime and delight. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "Ancient Spanish Ballads"


Music rots when it gets too far from the dance. Poetry atrophies when it gets too far from music. ~Ezra Pound, A B C of Reading, 1960


Handel, whose soul was raised to heaven, who sang of heavenly things; Haydn, whose cheerful and happy strains breathe forth the golden age, and whose magic chain twines round the heart, and delights the senses; Mozart, immortal Mozart, like immortal Shakespeare, king of composers, who left on earth all the inexhaustible treasures of his luxuriant mind; Beethoven, the kingly master of composition, prince of genius, super-excellent in all the deep and sombre conceptions of music idea, whose fancies seemed to flit from earth to heaven, as though to feed his soul with heavenly melody; Steibelt, his music is a scene of life, a vessel on the ocean, now tossed from wave to wave, now sailing on the unruffled sea in delightful calm. ~Olivia Dussek Buckley (1799–1847), Musical Truths, 1843  [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Music is what life sounds like. ~Eric Olson


Music is a charm which has so much influence over the senses... ~Olivia Dussek Buckley (1799–1847), Musical Truths, 1843


Music is lyrical literature... ~Stendhal (tr. Coe), paraphrased, 1824


The music is the shining path over which the poet travels to bring his song to the world. ~Lotte Lehmann, 1937


My young daughter was sitting at the piano randomly pecking away at a few keys when I walked by. “Hey Daddy, do you want to hear something pretty?” She tapped a couple individual keys at the far right and said “these sound nice” and tapped a couple individual keys to the far left and said “and these sound nice.” She then spread her hands as far left and right as they would reach, very carefully spread her fingers so that each hand was poised over multiple keys at the same time, and said “but it sounds the prettiest when you play the grumpy ones with the happy ones” while pressing all the keys she could simultaneously. I smiled and said that was very pretty, but that I’d never heard of grumpy keys before. She patiently explained, “well yeah, this is grumpy” (while tapping a far left key) “and this is happy” (while pressing a far right key). “Hear the difference?” I gave her a hug and told her I liked it when she taught me new things. ~Steven D. Woodhull, "Grumpy Keys," 2014


Age enlarges and enriches the powers of some musical instruments — notably those of the violin — but it seems to set a piano's teeth on edge. ~Mark Twain, Rambling Notes of an Idle Excursion


To youngsters, loud music and noise in general are the stimulants their elders find in a strong cup of tea or an extra dry Martini. ~Gerald Raftery, "The Natives Are Restless," in The Clearing House, January 1960


Marr'd is our music by the singer's tears
And vex'd with tremblings of the harper's hand.
The perfect notes of the symphonious spheres
Who but the listening stars may understand?
~William Watson, "'Subjectivity' in Art," Epigrams of Art, Life, and Nature, 1884


Philip had brightened at the proposition, for there is no feeling, perhaps, except the extremes of fear and grief, that does not find relief in music—that does not make a man sing or play the better... ~George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss, "Book Sixth: The Great Temptation: Philip re-enters," 1860


Music melts all the separate parts of our bodies together. Every rusty fragment, every scattered piece could be melted into one rhythm. A note was a whole, and it was in motion, ascending or descending, swelling in fullness or thrown away, thrown out into the air, but always moving. ~Anaïs Nin (1903–1977), "Winter of Artifice" (revised edition), originally titled "Lilith," 1939


The return of her husband at sunset is a feast, and the evening is delightful with poetry and music. ~Ednah D. Cheney, 1889, of May Alcott Nieriker (1840–1879)


The union between the air and the words should be so close that the poem seems made for the music, no less than the music for the poem. ~Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714–1787)


Strong lager and some early Zep tunes. I ask thee, is there a better way to spend an evening? ~Author unknown  [submitted anonymously to me in 2011 —tg]


Morning is brightest when it is breaking,
Music is sweetest just at its waking...
~Florence Percy (Elizabeth Anne Chase Akers Allen, 1832–1911), "A Lullaby," Forest Buds, from the Woods of Maine, 1855


Either your music is more than mortal, or all I ever heard before is less. ~Mrs. Grey (Elizabeth Duncan Grey, 1798–1869), The Young Husband, 1854


Music is the color of sound. ~Author unknown


Instrumentation is the colouring in music. ~E.T.A. Hoffmann (1776–1822)


The music rocks my soul so that I'm glad I'm alive. ~Big City Blues Magazine, June–July 1999


However, music and women I cannot but give way to, whatever my business is ~Samuel Pepys


Two little fairies skipped into a heart;
One was called Music, the other Art...
~John N. Pyke-Nott  [a little altered —tg]


As Goethe, when he had a joy or a grief, put it into a song, so Laurie resolved to embalm his love sorrow in music, and compose a Requiem which should harrow up Jo's soul and melt the heart of every hearer. ~Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, "Learning to Forget," 1869


But, whether the sorrow was too vast to be embodied in music, or music too ethereal to uplift a mortal woe, he soon discovered that the requiem was beyond him... ~Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, "Learning to Forget," 1869


Chords that vibrate sweetest pleasure,
      Thrill the deepest notes of woe.
~Robert Burns


The wonderful thing about music is that it immediately evokes certain eras of one's life, brings you back to where you've been, even if you don't want to go there. ~Donna de Matteo, Interviews with Contemporary Women Playwrights, Betsko & Koenig, 1987


How can you expect a musician to write beautiful vocal music without beautiful words? ~Friedrich Chrysander (1826–1901)


The saxophone is so human. Its tendency is to be rowdy, edgy, talk too loud, bump into people, say the wrong words at the wrong time. But then, you take a breath, all the way from the center of the earth and blow. All that heartache is forgiven. All that love we humans carry makes a sweet, deep sound and we fly a little. ~Joy Harjo, "Ahhhh Saxophone," joyharjo.com, 2017


[M]ore than anything else rhythm and harmony find their way into the secret places of the soul. ~Plato


O sweet and healing medicine of troubles. ~Horace


While there is not much music in medicine, there is a good deal of medicine in music... It is a universal language which reaches the heart and sympathetic nerves... The mother instinctively sings her nursing babe to sleep on her bosom... Music is medicine to the weary adult, worn with business, work, and worriment of mind... When the soul and body are refreshed by the music medicine, we are ready to take hold of life duties with renewed vigor and earnestness... Music quiets the sympathetic nervous system; and the digestive, circulatory, secretive, nutritive, and reparatory functions are better performed when the sympathetic nerves are let alone and allowed to do their work... I think I would go so far as to put music in the materia medica as a remedy for insomnia, neurasthenia, and nervous prostration... ~Ephraim Cutter, M.D., "The Relations of Medicine to Music," 1886


...Perhaps the breath of music
May prove more eloquent than my poor words:
It is the medicine of the breaking heart.
~Aubrey de Vere Hunt, Julian the Apostate, 1822


Music is the medicine of a troubled mind. ~Walter Haddon


I think sometimes, could I only have music on my own terms; could I live in a great city and know where I could go whenever I wished the ablution and inundation of musical waves, — that were a bath and a medicine. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


Music is said to be the rejoicing of the heart:
Music comforteth the mind, and feareth the enemy.
~John Florio


Music... fills the present with electric ecstasy. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897


Listen—that man in the nearby flat—
      He fiddles the hours away...
...whenever he draws his loosened bow
      Across the taut G string,
It thrills me down to my very boots
      And the strings of my heart all wring.
~Jean Wright, "A Fool on a Roof: Et in Arcadia Ego"


Music is one of the best ways to enjoy the present. It's not that much fun to look forward to hearing music or to remember what a song sounded like last week, but music right now absorbs you and places you directly in the moment. ~Terri Guillemets


Five-and-thirty black slaves,
Half-a-hundred white,
All their duty but to sing
For their Queen's delight,
Now with throats of thunder,
Now with dulcet lips,
While she rules them royally
With her finger-tips!
~William Watson, "The Key-board," c.1892


Where gripping griefs the heart would wound,
And doleful dumps the mind oppress,
There music with her silver sound
With speed is wont to send redress:
Of troubled minds, in every sore,
Sweet music hath a salve in store.
~Richard Edwards


Mozart composed music of radiant vivacity, sparkle, and wit at times when he was crushed by neglect, debt, and the awful discouragement of living his whole life insufficiently compensated and recognized. ~Marcia Davenport, Mozart, 1932


Classic music is th' kind that we keep thinkin' 'll turn into a tune. ~Kin Hubbard, Comments of Abe Martin and His Neighbors, 1923


There's only one woman I know who could never be a symphony conductor, and that's the Venus de Milo. ~Margaret Hillis (1921–1998), director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra


The bones of music are the universal rhythms within us all. ~Terri Guillemets


Country music is three chords and the truth. ~Harlan Howard, as quoted in The Reader's Digest, 1995


I'm not crazy about country-western music. But the lyrics are good. ~Alice Cooper, interview with Cal Fussman, 2008 August 2nd, for Esquire's January 2009 eighth annual Meaning of Life issue  [My thoughts, exactly! —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


It had never occurred to me before that music and thinking are so much alike. In fact you could say music is another way of thinking, or maybe thinking is another kind of music. ~Ursula K. Le Guin, Very Far Away from Anywhere Else, 1976


It is a sovereign remedy against Despair and Melancholy. ~Robert Burton


Music—the rich mastery of the gloomier emotions of our nature; Music—that seems to use the ears as a conductor to the heart, and teaches us more distinctly than any abstract philosophy can do, how mysteriously intimate is the union between soul and body—has to a great extent shared that honour; for Music and Poetry have been, and still are, always to continue inseparably, indissolubly allied... ~Frederick Hinde, Poetry, a lecture delivered in London on the evening of April 8, 1858


Rhythm is the heartbeat of life. Rhythm is a universal vibrational language. The drum's sonorous voice expresses the basic rhythm patterns: the tides, the phases of the moon, the changing seasons, and the myriad cycles of life. ~Michael Drake, "The Role of the Drum," The Shamanic Drum: A Guide to Sacred Drumming, first printing 1991, revised edition 2009, ShamanicDrumming.com  [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Drumming affects aurally generated emotion more than any other musical instrument. ~Michael Drake, "The Role of the Drum," The Shamanic Drum: A Guide to Sacred Drumming, first printing 1991, revised edition 2009, ShamanicDrumming.com


Most chamber music is of a nature so intimate, a charm so delicate, that its quality is wholly destroyed under the stampede of eighty breathing mortals. ~Catherine Drinker Bowen (1897–1973), Friends and Fiddlers, 1939


Only the true musician knows how to take music seriously enough to be able to take it lightly. If prayer is an art, so is flirtation: only your true artist, to whom music is a thing serious as his own life — only he knows how to flirt with music, to follow up a Bach fugue with a café waltz and derive, as it were, equal pleasures from both. ~Catherine Drinker Bowen (1897–1973), Friends and Fiddlers, 1939


Music rocks my soul and jazzes up my life. ~Terri Guillemets, "Wishing well," 1988


Here the women have a metronome under their corsets, which beats time, but not music. ~Israel Zangwill, Dreamers of the Ghetto, "From a Mattress Grave," 1897  [speaking as the character Heinrich Heine, of Paris —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Good music can make the difference between a mediocre workout and a slam-damn-fantastic workout! ~Terri Guillemets


[I]f I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once a week; for perhaps the parts of my brain now atrophied would thus have been kept active through use. The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature. ~Charles Darwin


After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music. (And, significantly, silence is an integral part of all good music...) ~Aldous Huxley, "The Rest Is Silence," 1931


[H]e... finally came to the wise conclusion that everyone who loved music was not a composer. Returning from one of Mozart's grand operas, splendidly performed, at the Royal Theatre, he looked over his own, played a few of the best parts, sat staring up at the busts of Mendelssohn, Beethoven, and Bach, who stared benignly back again... ~Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, "Learning to Forget," 1869


I'm a singer-songwriter... If I'm not writing songs, I'm like a flower without water. When I'm writing songs, I'm a sunflower six feet tall... It is like free therapy. Instead of paying a guy 125 bucks an hour to pull stuff out of me, I pull it out of myself and put it on paper. And then I own it, but it doesn't own me. ~Rob from Tucson, Arizona, Intervention, 2009  [S8, E4 —tg]


Music echoes rhythms of the universe
Music is audible time
Music is past meets present
Our heartbeats are the drums of life
We dance to life, not music
~Terri Guillemets, "Walking…hearing," 1994


Forgive me for sounding hostile, but I am getting SICK AND TIRED OF LOUD INTRUSIVE MUSIC IN PUBLIC. It is everywhere. All the shopping malls and restaurants and airports are riddled with low-fidelity loudspeakers, which apparently have developed the ability to reproduce by themselves; these are all connected to a special programming service called Music That Nobody Really Likes, and YOU CANNOT GET AWAY FROM IT. ~Dave Barry, "As the Old Saying Doesn't Go: Don't Say It with Music," in Chicago Tribune, 1994


I worry that the person who thought up Muzak may be thinking up something else. ~Lily Tomlin


Pierpoint:  I think I'm really starting to enjoy jazz these days.
Gunther:  Did you know that the radio is stuck between different stations?
Pierpoint:  Shh!.. I'm diggin' it.
~Bill Schorr, The Grizzwells (comic), 2010


Just before dinner Brandon came upon her alone in the music room where she was racing her fingers through the runs and trills of an impromptu at an almost impossible speed. ~Eleanor H. Porter, The Turn of the Tide: The Story of How Margaret Solved Her Problem, 1908


Avoid the raptures and the prejudices, sometimes the attendant follies on an unbounded love of music. ~Countess Dowager of Carlisle, Thoughts in the Form of Maxims addressed to Young Ladies, on their First Establishment in the World, 1790  [Isabella Howard (1721–1795). Honestly, I don't really know what this means, but it sounded cool. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Opera is where a guy gets stabbed in the back, and instead of dying, he sings. ~Robert Benchley, unverified


Going to the opera, like getting drunk, is a sin that carries its own punishment with it, and that a very severe one. ~Hannah More, letter to sister, 1775


The taxpayers also cannot be relied upon to support performing arts such as opera. As a taxpayer, I am forced to admit that I would rather undergo a vasectomy via Weed Whacker than attend an opera. ~Dave Barry, Dave Barry Talks Back, 1991


No good opera plot can be sensible for people do not sing when they are feeling sensible. ~W.H. Auden, 1948



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