Alan Tongue's Favourite Quotations.
Samuel Becket: Music - a perfectly intelligible and perfectly inexplicable art.
Mahler: What is best in music is not to be found in the notes.
Jonathan Harvey: Music is a picture of wisdom.
Kodaly: Let music belong to everyone.
Janacek: I do not play with empty melodies. I dip them in life and nature.
Berlioz: Which of the two powers, Love or Music, can elevate man to the sublimest heights? It is a great problem, and yet it seems to me that this is the answer: “Love can give no idea of music, music can give an idea of love”. Why separate them? They are the two wings of the soul.
Roger Sessions: What music expresses is rather more the affair of the listener than of the composer.
Alfredo Cassella: A composer playing his own work is but an interpreter among other interpreters.
Vaughan Williams: Of course music has a meaning but I think that can only be expressed in terms of music.
Alfred Beer, piano teacher: In order to interpret music properly, you must first master technique and then forget it.
H.L.Mencken: Opera in English makes about as much sense as baseball in Italian.
Sir Edward Appleton: I do not mind what language an opera is sung in so long as it is a language I don't understand.
Anon: It is satisfying when amateurs manage to disguise their amateurism - it is equally satisfying when professionals manage to disguise their professionalism.
Keats: Give me books, fruit, French wine and fine weather, and a little music out of doors, played by somebody I do not know.
Paul Simon: Improvisation is too good to leave to chance.
Shostakovitch: What can a film-maker do? It's a strange profession, something like that of a conductor. The first impression one has is that the director - like the conductor - merely gets in the way of other people trying to do their work. The second impression is the same.
Thomas Beecham: The English may not like music, but they absolutely love the noise it makes.
Dostoevsky: Beauty will save the world.
T.S.Eliot: There are frontiers of consciousness beyond which words fail but meanings still exist.
Barenboim: Music, to me, is sound with thought.
Etienne-Louis Boullée: Grandeur pleases because our soul yearns to embrace the universe.
Goethe: Music is liquid architecture, architecture is frozen music.
Seamus Heaney: In telling his own secrets, the artist tells the secrets of his community.
George Herbert: ...the land of spices, something understood.
Schopenhauer: The composer reveals the inmost essence of the world and utters the most profound wisdom in a language which his reason does not understand, just as a magnetic Somnambulist gives disclosures about things which she has no idea of when awake.
Sean Scully, visual artist: Art is the opposite of war.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh: Reason informed by emotion - expressed in beauty - elevated by earnestness - lightened by humour - that is the ideal that should guide all artists.
John Armstrong, Scottish poet & physician: Music exalts each joy, allays each grief, expels diseases, softens every pain and subdues the rage of poison and the plague.
Michael Tippett: For it is only through images that the inner world communicates at all. Images of the past, shapes of the future. Images of vigour for a decadent period, images of calm for one too violent. Images of reconciliation for a world torn by division. And in an age of mediocrity and shattered dreams, images of abounding, generous, exuberant beauty.
Goethe: We must encourage the beautiful, the useful encourages itself.
Agricola on Bach as a conductor: Precise and particular, and preferred a lively tempo.
Voltaire: All the arts are brothers, each one is a light to the other.
Oscar Wilde: Nothing can cure the soul but the senses.
Aristotle: Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d rather have been talking.
David Bowie: Talking about art is like dancing about architecture.
Robert Wilson, theatre director: The moment you think you understand a great work of art, it's dead for you.
Bertrand Russell: To be able to fill leisure intelligently is the last product of civilisation.
Schoenberg: How much pleasure it gives the connoisseur to watch the second violin in a Mozart quartet, as it accommodates itself to the first, assists or contradicts, expresses sympathy or antipathy by characteristic interjections!
Duke Ellington: Pick the petals of a flower and you may find what makes the flower tick, but you won't have a flower afterwards.
James Agate: I don’t want to see a Swiss watch in pieces, I want to hear it tick.
Dutch tile: From concert of life nobody gets a program.
Erasmus: The highest form of bliss is living with a certain degree of folly.
Tyrone Guthrie: The most you can hope for is to take a respectable shot at an unattainable goal and then run out into the rain.
Pierre Boulez: You know, if you are not obstinate you don’t obtain anything.
Wittgenstein: Always remember, when things are going well, that they don't have to.
Montaigne: The excitement of the chase is properly our quarry; we are not to be pardoned if we carry it on badly or foolishly. To fail to seize the prey is a different matter. We are born to search after the truth; to possess it belongs to a greater power.
Lindsay Anderson: No art is worth much which does not aim to change the world.
Jerome Robbins on Balanchine: He was part poet and part general.
Emerson: Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.
Kennedy: Some men see things as they are and ask Why? I dream of things that never were and ask Why not?
Yugoslav saying: The more a man dreams, the more solidly his feet are planted on earth.
John Harvey Jones: Leadership is about getting extraordinary results from ordinary people.
John Wesley: Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.
John Lennon: Life is what happens while you are making other plans.
Don Taylor: Television does not have to be cheap, depressing and second-rate. It is a beautiful medium, capable of anything and everything the human imagination can conceive. It can be whatever we want it to be. Why are we throwing it away?
Henry Ford: Whether you think you can or think you can’t - you are right.
Solzhenitsyn: Now listen to the rule of the last inch. The job is almost finished, the goal almost attained, everything possible seems to have been achieved, every difficulty overcome - and yet the quality is not there... In that moment of weariness and self-satisfaction, the temptation is greatest to give up, not to strive for the peak of quality. That's the realm of the last inch... The rule of the last inch is simply this - not to leave it undone. And not to put it off - because otherwise your mind loses touch with that realm. And not to mind how much time you spend on it, because the aim is not to finish the job quickly but to reach perfection.
Frank O’connor: Yeats was the only person i knew who could deduce a universal truth from two fallacies and an error.
Pidgin description of the piano: Big-Black-Box-He-Got-White-Black-Teeth-All-Time-You-Fight-Him-He-Cry-Out.
Over a Cambridge gateway: Go easy, step lightly, stay free.
Debussy: People come to music seeking another world.
with apologies to anyone whose copyright I have offended