To stop the flow of music would be like the stopping of time itself, incredible and inconceivable.
Most people use music as a couch; they want to be pillowed on it, relaxed and consoled for the stress of daily living. But serious music was never meant to be soporific.
The greatest moments of the human spirit may be deduced from the greatest moments in music.
You compose because you want to somehow summarize in some permanent form your most basic feelings about being alive, to set down some sort of permanent statement about the way it feels to live now, today.
Music that is born complex is not inherently better or worse than music that is born simple.
The main thing is to be satisfied with your work yourself. It's useless to have an audience happy if you are not happy.
If you want to know about the Sixties, play the music of The Beatles.
For me, the most important thing is the element of chance that is built into a live performance. The very great drawback of recorded sound is the fact that it is always the same. No matter how wonderful a recording is, I know that I couldn't live with it--even of my own music--with the same nuances forever.
Composers tend to assume that everyone loves music. Surprisingly enough, everyone doesn’t.
A great symphony is a man-made Mississippi down which we irresistibly flow from the instant of our leave-taking to a long forseen destination.
Mozart in his music was probably the most reasonable of the world's great composers. It is the happy balance between flight and control, between sensibility and self-discipline, simplicity and sophistication of style that is his particular province... Mozart tapped once again the source from which all music flows, expressing himself with a spontaneity and refinement and breath-taking rightness that has never since been duplicated.
The inspired moment may sometimes be described as a kind of hallucinatory state of mind: one half of the personality emotes and dictates while the other half listens and notates. The half that listens has better look the other way, had better simulate a half attention only, for the half that dictates is easily disgruntled and avenges itself for too close inspection by fading entirely away.
I don't compose. I assemble materials.
When I speak of the gifted listener, I am thinking of the nonmusician primarily, of the listener who intends to retain his amateur status. It is the thought of just such a listener that excites the composer in me.
There is something about music that keeps its distance even at the moment that it engulfs us. It is at the same time outside and away from us and inside and part of us. In one sense it dwarfs us, and in another we master it. We are led on and on, and yet in some strange way we never lose control.
I adore extravagance but I abhor waste.
Mozart tapped the source from which all music flows, expressing himself with a spontaneity and refinement and breathtaking rightness.
You may be sitting in a room reading this book. Imagine one note struck upon the piano. Immediately that one note is enough to change the atmosphere of the room - proving that the sound element in music is a powerful and mysterious agent, which it would be foolish to deride or belittle.
If one were asked to name one musician who came closest to composing without human flaw, I suppose general consensus would choose Johann Sebastian Bach...
Inspiration may be a form of super-consciousness, or perhaps of subconsciousness—I wouldn't know. But I am sure it is the antithesis of self-consciousness.
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'.
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.
Listening to the Fifth Symphony of Ralph Vaughan Williams is like staring at a cow for 45 minutes.
If a literary man puts together two words about music, one of them will be wrong.
But I have always suspected that one could substitute the Minuet of Haydn’s 98th symphony for the Minuet in Haydn’s 99th symphony without sensing a serious lack of coherence in either work.
Every symphony, for example, is a sonata for orchestra; every string quartet is a sonata for four strings; every concerto a sonata for a solo instrument and orchestra.