Saturday, December 26, 2009

With stammering lips and insufficient sound
I strive and struggle to deliver right
That music of my nature . . .
This song of soul I struggle to outbear
Through portals of the sense, sublime and whole,
And utter all myself into the air . . .

-- Elizabeth Barrett Browning
(from The Things That Matter,
edited by Julia Neuberger)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

It is the duty of the composer to serve his fellow man, to beautify human life and point the way to a radiant future. Such is the immutable code of the artist as I see it.

-- Sergei Prokofiev
(in Notations: Quotations on Music,
edited by Sallye Leventhal)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The world is no more
than the Beloved's single face;
In the desire of the One
to know its own beauty, we exist.

Each place, each moment,
sings its particular song
of not-being and being.
Without reason, the clear glass
equally mirrors
wisdom and madness.

-- Ghalib
(from The Enlightened Heart,
edited by Stephen Mitchell)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Music rises on a scale or ladder: Its base level is just the notes, and many time-beaters can manage that. The next level is sensuous beauty, and there are conductors who have specialized in making the music as aurally attractive as possible. But above that there is a level of emotional power, music that compels. And yet above that, there is the moment that some few conductors achieve, of what you might call spiritual reckoning, where not only your head and heart are engaged but opened up and you can hear something transcendent.

-- Richard Nilsen
(from a review, "Guest Conductor Plays Safe with Schubert,"
in The Arizona Republic, May 4, 2008)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Inside this clay jar there are meadows and groves and the One who made them.

Inside this jar there are seven oceans and innumerable stars, acid to test gold, and a patient appraiser of jewels.

Inside this jar the music of eternity, and a spring flows from the source of all waters.

Kabir says: Listen friend! My beloved Master lives inside.

-- Kabir
(trans. by C. Milosz and R. Hass)
in The Enlightened Heart (ed. by Stephen Mitchell)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

There is an old Jewish legend about the origin of praise.
After God created mankind, says the legend,
He asked the angels what they thought
of the world He had made.
"Only one thing is lacking," they said.
"It is the sound of praise to the Creator."
So, the story continues,
"God created music,
the voice of birds,
the whispering wind,
the murmuring ocean,
and planted melody in people's hearts."

quoted from Music Lovers Quotations
(edited by Helen Exley)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

"A Tune"

I know a certain tune that my life plays;
Over and over I have heard it start
With all the wavering loveliness of viols
And gain in swiftness like a runner's heart.

It climbs and climbs; I watch it sway in climbing
High over time, high even over doubt,
It has all heaven to itself -- it pauses
And faltering blindly down the air, goes out.

-- Sara Teasdale
(from The Collected Poems of Sara Teasdale)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Praise to you
Spirit of fire!
To you who sound
The timbrel and the lyre.
Your music sets our minds ablaze!

-- Hildegard of Bingen
in Prayers of the Women Mystics
(edited by Ronda De Sola Chervin)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy. Music is the electrical soil in which the spirit lives, thinks and invents.

-- Ludwig van Beethoven
cited in Notations: Quotations on Music
(ed. by Sallye Leventhal)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Art is not a pleasure, a solace, or an amusement; art is a great matter. Art is an organ of human life, transmitting man's reasonable perception into feeling. In our age the common religious perception of men is the consciousness of the brotherhood of man -- we know that the well-being of man lies in union with his fellow-men. . . . Art should transform this perception into feeling.

Leo Tolstoy
in What is Art?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I am content to follow to its source
Every event in action or in thought;
Measure the lot; forgive myself the lot!
When such as I cast out remorse
So great a sweetness flows into the breast
We must laugh and we must sing,
We are blest by everything.
Everything we look upon is blest.

-- W. B. Yeats
from W. B. Yeats: Romantic Visionary,
"A Dialogue of Self and Soul", II

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Music is no illusion, but rather a revelation. Its triumphant power lies in the fact that it reveals to us beauties we find in no other sphere; and the apprehension of them is not transitory, but a perpetual reconcilement to life.

-- Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
quoted in The Music-Lover's Birthday Book

Saturday, October 3, 2009

If I try to find words to express that transcendent Reality, I have to use images and metaphors, which help to turn my mind toward the truth, and allow Truth itself to enlighten it.

. . . I can say that it is like a symphony in which all the notes are heard in a single perfect harmony, but in which each has its own particular time and place.

. . . Or going deeper, I can say that it is like a communion of persons in love, in which each understands the other and is one with the other. 'I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one.' This is as far as human words can go.

-- Bede Griffiths,
quoted in The Essential Mystics (ed. by Andrew Harvey)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Then join the general chorus of all worlds,
And let the song of charity begin
In strains seraphic, and melodious pray'r.

-- Christopher Smart
from The Religious Poetry,
edited by Marcus Walsh

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Let a man be stimulated by poetry,
established by the rules of propriety,
and perfected by music.

-- Confucius
(quoted in Notations,
edited by Sallye Leventhal)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Life's Drum
From the beginning there were drums,
beating out world rhythm --
the booming, never-failing
tide on the beach,
the four seasons,
gliding smoothly, one from the other;
when the birds come,
when they go,
the bear hibernating
for his winter sleep.
Unfathomable the why,
yet all in perfect time
Watch the heartbeat in your wrist
-- a precise pulsing beat
of life's drum.

-- Jimalee Burton (Cherokee)
quoted in In Beauty May I Walk . . . (Exley Pub.)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

"Music is almost like the air of higher regions: we breathe it deeply into the lungs of our spirit, and it infuses a more expansive blood into our hidden circulation."

-- Rainer Maria Rilke
from Letters on Life, translated by Ulrich Baer

Saturday, August 29, 2009

"For me, art, and especially music, exists to elevate us as far as possible above everyday existence."

-- Gabriel Faure', composer (1845-1924)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What drunkenness is this that brings me hope --
Who was the Cup-bearer, and whence the wine?
That minstrel singing with full voice divine,
What lay was his? for 'mid the woven rope
Of song, he brought word from my Friend to me
Set to his melody.

-- Hafiz, The Garden of Heaven, (trans. by G. Bell); poem XIX

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Each day may I count the causes of Thy mercy,
May I each day give heed to Thy laws;
Each day may I compose to Thee a song,
May I harp each day Thy praise, O God.

-- from The Celtic Vision, edited by Esther de Waal

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Standing quietly by the fence,
you smile your wondrous smile.
I am speechless, and my senses are filled
by the sounds of your beautiful song,
Beginningless and endless.
I bow deeply to you.

quoted by Thich Nhat Hanh
in For the Love of God: Handbook for the Spirit
edited by Benjamin Shield and Richard Carlson

Saturday, August 1, 2009

After silence,
that which come nearest
to expressing the inexpressible,
is music.

Aldous Huxley

Thursday, July 30, 2009

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,
. . . or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts.

T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

Saturday, July 25, 2009

My friend, this body is His lute.
He tightens the strings and plays its songs.

If the strings break and the pegs work loose,
this lute, made of dust, returns to dust.

Kabir says: Nobody else can wake from it that heavenly music.

-- Kabir (translated by C. Milosz and R. Haas)
from The Enlightened Heart, edited by Stephen Mitchell

Saturday, July 18, 2009

"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."

- Aaron Copland

Saturday, July 11, 2009

As the Source strikes the note,
Humanity sings --
The Holy Spirit is our harpist,
And all strings
Which are touched in Love
Must sound.

- Mechtild of Magdeburg (13th C. mystic)

from Women in Praise of the Sacred, ed. by Jane Hirshfield

Saturday, July 4, 2009

We rarely hear the inward music,
but we're all dancing to it nevertheless,

directed by the one who teaches us,
the pure joy of the sun,
our music master.

- Rumi

from The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks