75 Inspirational Composer Quotes

Welcome to another Flute Friday! Happy Easter to those celebrating this upcoming Sunday. May your Easter baskets runeth over.

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I often discuss finding musical inspiration in my weekly posts, whether in relation to playing, writing, or teaching. In some instances, however, all we really need is a few words of wisdom. In today’s blog, I offer you 75 of my favorite inspirational quotes from composers so that you too may find creative insights from the geniuses of the past. Find one that speaks to you and carry it with you to your next rehearsal or performance.

75 Inspirational Composer Quotes

1.             Claude Debussy: “Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.”

2.             Georg Frideric Handel: “I should be sorry if I only entertained them. I wish to make them better.”

3.              Leonard Bernstein: “To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.”

composers bernstein

4.              Giuseppe Verdi: “To copy the truth can be a good thing, but to invent the truth is better, much better.”

5.               Bela Bartok: “Competitions are for horses, not artists.”

6.            Aaron Copland: “So long as the human spirit thrives on this planet, music in some living form will accompany and sustain it.”

7.            Franz Liszt: “Mournful and yet grand is the destiny of the artist.”

8.            Jean Sibelius: “Music begins where the possibilities of language end.”

9.            Gustav Mahler: “I am hitting my head against the walls, but the walls are giving way.”

10.          George Gershwin: “I frequently hear music in the heart of noise.”

11.          Igor Stravinsky: “Lesser artists borrow, great artists steal.”

composers stravinsky

12.          Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: “Inspiration is a guest that does not willingly visit the lazy.”

13.          Edward Elgar: “I always said God was against art and I still believe it.”

14.          Gustav Holst: “Music, being identical with heaven, isn’t a thing of momentary thrills, or even hourly ones. It’s a condition of eternity.”

15.          Johannes Brahms: “Without craftsmanship, inspiration is a mere reed shaken in the wind.”

16.          Ludwig van Beethoven: Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets.”

17.          Joseph Haydn: “There was no one near to confuse me, so I was forced to become original.”

18.          Arnold Schoenberg: “If it is art, it is not for all, and if it is for all, it is not art.”

19.          George Bizet: “As a musician I tell you that if you were to suppress adultery, fanaticism, crime, evil, the supernatural, there would no longer be the means for writing one note.”

20.          Alexander Borodin: “Music is a pastime, a relaxation from more serious occupations.”

21.          J.S. Bach: “I was obliged to be industrious. Whoever is equally industrious will succeed equally well.”

22.          Giacchino Rossini: “Nothing primes inspiration more than necessity.”

23.          Erik Satie: “The musician is perhaps the most modest of animals, but he is also the proudest.”

24.          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.”

25.          Robert Schumann: “To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts – such is the duty of the artist.”

composers schumann

26.          Frederick Delius: “There is only one real happiness in life and that is the happiness of creating.”

27.          Dmitri Shostakovich: “A creative artist works on his next composition because he was not satisfied with his previous one.”

28.          Robert Schumann: “In order to compose, all you need to do is remember a tune that nobody else has thought of.”

29.          Richard Strauss: “I may not be a first-rate composer, but I am a first-class second-rate composer.”

30.          Hector Berlioz: “Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils.”

31.          John Cage: “I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.”

32.          Charles Ives: “Every great inspiration is but an experiment.”

33.          Karlheinz Stockhausen: “I’m an adventurer. I like invention, I like discovery.”

32.          Franz Schubert: “When I wished to sing of love, it turned to sorrow. And when I wished to sing of sorrow, it was transformed for me into love.”

33.          Benjamin Britten: “The old idea of a composer suddenly having a terrific idea and sitting up all night to write it is nonsense. Nighttime is for sleeping.”

34.          Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: “It is a mistake to think that the practice of my art has become easy to me.”

35.          Giacomo Puccini: “Inspiration is an awakening, a quickening of all man’s faculties, and it is manifested in all high artistic achievements.”

36.          Ralph Vaughan Williams: “It never seems to occur to people that a man might just want to write a piece of music.”

37.          Malcolm Arnold: “Music is the social act of communication among people, a gesture of friendship, the strongest there is.”

38.          Sergei Prokofiev: “I detest imitation, I detest hackneyed devices.”

39.          Maurice Ravel: “The only love affair I have ever had was with music.”

40.          Alan Hovhaness: “There is nothing like practice.”

41.          Richard Wagner: “Imagination creates reality.”

42.          Alban Berg: “Music is at once the product of feeling and knowledge, for it requires from its disciples, composers and performers alike, not only talent and enthusiasm, but also that knowledge and perception which are the result of protracted study and reflection.”

43.          Alexander Scriabin: “In love’s godlike breathing, there’s the innermost aspect of the universe.”

44.          Franz Liszt: “Music embodies feeling without forcing it to contend and combine with thought, as it is forced in most arts and especially in the art of words.”

composers liszt

45.          Aaron Copland: “To stop the flow of music would be like the stopping of time itself, incredible and inconceivable.”

46.          Luciano Berio: “In music, as I find myself forever saying, things don’t get better or worse: they evolve and transform themselves.”

47.          Igor Stravinsky; “I haven’t understood a bar of music in my life, but I have felt it.”

48.          Robert Schumann: “Nothing right can be accomplished in art without enthusiasm.”

49.          Franz Schubert: “I try to decorate my imagination as much as I can.”

50.          Igor Stravinsky: “Music is given to us with the sole purpose of establishing an order in things, including and particularly, the coordination between man and time.”

51.          Ludwig van Beethoven: “Music is a high revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.”

composers beethoven

52.          Leonard Bernstein: “Music can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable.”

53.          Zoltan Kodaly: “Real art is one of the most powerful forces in the rise of mankind, and he who renders it accessible to as many people as possible is a benefactor of humanity.”

54.          Toru Takemitsu: “Music is a form of prayer.”

55.          Virgil Thomson: “I’ve never known a musician who regretted being one. Whatever deceptions life may have in store for you, music itself is not going to let you down.

56.          Edgard Varese: “Contrary to general belief, an artist is never ahead of his time but most people are far behind theirs.”

57.          Felix Mendelssohn: “The essence of the beautiful is unity in variety.”

58.          Gustav Mahler: “Never let oneself be guided by the opinion of one’s contemporaries. Continue steadfastly on one’s way.”

59.          Johann Sebastian Bach: “It’s easy to play any musical instrument: all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time and the instrument will play itself.”

composers bach

60.          Carl Maria von Weber: “An artist’s sphere of influence is the world.”

61.          Carl Orff: “Tell me, I forget, show me, I remember, involve me, I understand.”

62.          Charles Ives: “Vagueness is at times an indication of nearness to a perfect truth.”

63.          Claudio Monteverdi: “The end of all good music is to affect the soul.”

64.          Elliott Carter: “Silences between movements are employed only in order to bring the opposing duo to the fore.”

65.          Ludwig van Beethoven: “Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.”

66.          Eric Whitacre: “A really good poem is full of music.”

67.          George Gershwin: “Life is a lot like jazz…it’s best when you improvise.”

68.          Giuseppe Verdi: “I adore art… when I am alone with my notes, my heart pounds and the tears stream from my eyes, and my emotion and my joys are too much to bear.”

69.          John Corigliano: “Art is not only about angst.”

70.          Ludwig van Beethoven: “Music is the one incorporeal entrance into the higher world of knowledge which comprehends mankind but which mankind cannot comprehend.”

 71.         Maurice Ravel: “Music, I feel, must be emotional first and intellectual second.”

composers ravel

72.          Modest Mussorgsky: “Art is not an end in itself, but a means of addressing humanity.”

73.          Leonard Bernstein: “The key to the mystery of a great artist is that for reasons unknown, he will give away his energies and his life just make sure that one note follows another…and leaves us with the feeling that something is right in the world.”

74.          Richard Wagner: “Everything lives and lasts by the inner necessity of its being, by its own nature’s need.”

75.          Hector Berlioz: “Love cannot express the idea of music, while music may give an idea of love.”


What is your favorite composer quote? Is there a quote that really speaks to you but is not included on the above list? Please comment below!


Happy fluting!




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