Famous Quotes by Famous Composers

Inspiration From Words, Not Just Musical Notes

J S Bach
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Some of the most expressive composers from Beethoven to Tchaikovsky and Mozart to Handel have created musical works that have brought audiences to the point of tears while other composers have had the power to make people dance with joy or prepare to march out to battle. Not only do composers have a way of expressing themselves through music but as the following quotes illustrate, they have a way with words, too.

Their music spans from the Baroque period, classic age, and romantic periods, and no matter the time, the following quotations can still resonate for modern musicians about to embark on the hardest task (or performance) of their lives and connoisseurs who want to understand their favorite composers better. 

Musical Periods Matter

To perhaps understand the frame of the mind of the composer better, it might help to know a little more about the period the musician came from. 

The baroque period around 1600 is the period immediately following the renaissance. The music is still strongly associated with the Roman Catholic Church, although, at this point, the Protestant Reformation is taking place, which creates a societal break from the longstanding dominant church. Composers Bach and Handel hailed from Germany, at the same place where the Reformation first takes hold.

After 1750, Austria takes over as the major hotbed of musical activity, some of the biggest classical composers—Mozart, Shubert, and Haydn—all from Austria, emerge as the music movers of the time. The influence of music from the church is still present, but for the most part, the major composers were hired by royalty or nobility. Public concerts were becoming more popular during this time, and concert halls and opera houses were attended in all major cities. 

The romantic period from 1820 to 1910 gives you some of the most well-known composers Beethoven, Chopin, Brahms, Mendelssohn, and Tchaikovsky. The music of the time reflects a nod to the masters of the classical age, but now, composers are no longer composing at the behest of the church or working on commission. Most composers are composing from the heart, pursuing their own direction and pieces that reflect their deepest feelings.

Johann Sebastian Bach

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

Ludwig van Beethoven

"To play without passion is inexcusable!"

Johannes Brahms

"Without craftsmanship, inspiration is a mere reed shaken in the wind."

Frederic Chopin

"Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art."

George Frideric Handel

"Whether I was in my body or out of my body as I wrote it I know not. God knows."

Franz Joseph Haydn

"Young people can learn from my example that something can come from nothing. What I have become is the result of my hard efforts."

Felix Mendelssohn

"Even if, in one or other of them, I had a particular word or words in mind, I would not tell anyone, because the same word means different things to different people. Only the songs say the same thing, arouse the same feeling, for everyone—a feeling that can't be expressed in words."

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

"Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius."

Franz Schubert

"Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same."

Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky

"I sit down to the piano regularly at nine-o'clock in the morning and Mesdames Les Muses have learned to be on time for that rendezvous."