Saturday, December 31, 2011

Life has been your art.
You have set yourself to music.
Your days are your sonnets.

-- Oscar Wilde
(in Music: A Book of Quotations,
edited by Herb Galewitz)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

If you want the truth, I'll tell you the truth:
Listen to the secret sound, the real sound, which is inside you.
The one no one talks of speaks the secret sound to himself,
and he is the one who has made it all.

-- Kabir
(translated by Robert Bly,
in The Enlightened Heart,
compiled by Stephen Mitchell)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Art is . . . a means of union among men, joining them together in the same feelings, and indispensable for the life and progress toward well-being of individuals and of humanity.

-- Leo Tolstoy
(in What is Art?)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

It is the stretched soul that makes music, and souls are stretched by the pull of opposites -- opposite bents, tastes, yearnings, loyalties. Where there is no polarity -- where energies flow smoothly in one direction -- there will be much doing but no music.

-- Eric Hoffer
(in Notations: Quotations on Music,
edited by Sallye Leventhal)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The soul of man is like the rolling world,
One half in day, the other dipt in night;
The one has music and the flying cloud,
The other, silence and the wakeful stars.

-- Alexander Smith
(in Notations: Quotations on Music,
edited by Sallye Leventhal)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Let your throat-song
be clear and strong enough

to make an emperor fall full-length,
suppliant, at the door.

-- Rumi
(The Essential Rumi,
translated by Coleman Barks and John Moyne)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

If we respected only what is inevitable and has a right to be, music and poetry would resound along the streets. When we are unhurried and wise, we perceive that only great and worthy things have any permanent and absolute existence -- that petty fears and petty pleasures are but the shadow of the reality.

-- Henry David Thoreau
(Walden, Or Life in the Woods)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

We should always remember that sensitiveness and emotion constitute the real content of a work of art.

-- Maurice Ravel

Saturday, November 5, 2011

When I was a little child there used to be two blind performers in Rajkot. One of them was a musician. When he played on his instrument, his fingers swept the strings with an unerring instinct and everybody listened spellbound to his playing. Similarly there are chords in every human heart. If we only knew how to strike the right chord, we would bring out the music.

-- Mahatma Gandhi
(in The Essential Gandhi,
edited by Louis Fischer)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

You're song,
a wished-for song.

Go through the ear to the center
where sky is, where wind,
where silent knowing.

Put seeds and cover them.
Blades will sprout
where you do your work.

-- Rumi
(in The Essential Rumi,
translated by Coleman Barks with John Moyne)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Music, the greatest good that mortals know.
And all of heaven we have below.

-- Joseph Addison
(from A Song for St. Cecilia's Day)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

At different times in our journeys, if we're paying attention and able to create some luck, we get to sing the song we're meant to sing in the perfect key of life. Everything we've ever done and all we're meant to do comes together in harmony with who we are. When that happens, we feel the truest expression of ourselves.

-- Oprah Winfrey
(in "What I Know for Sure,"
O Magazine, November, 2011)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endeared,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone.

-- John Keats
(in The Music-Lover's Birthday Book,
edited by Alden Rockwell Murphy)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The singer stands at the center of sound,
of motion,
of life.

-- M. Scott Momaday
(in Divine Sparks,
edited by Karen Speerstra)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

O Friend! this body is His lyre;
He tightens its strings,
and draws from it
the melody of Brahma.
If the strings snap and the keys slacken,
then to dust must this instrument of dust return.
. . . . None but Brahma can evoke its melodies.

-- Kabir
(Songs of Kabir,
edited by R. Tagore and E. Underhill)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

And if sad the music is,
It is sad with mysteries
Of a small immortal thing
That the passing ages sing --
Simple music making mirth
Of the dying and the birth
Of the people of the earth.

-- Alice Meynell
(in The Things That Matter,
edited by Julie Neuberger)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

In this music there was a feeling as of time frozen into space, and above it there quivered a never-ending and superhuman serenity, an eternal, divine laughter.

-- Hermann Hesse
translated by B. Creighton,
revised by J. Mileck and H. Frenz)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Drumsound rises on the air,
its throb, my heart.

A voice inside the beat says,
"I know you're tired,
but come. This is the way."

-- Rumi
(The Essential Rumi,
translated by Coleman Barks with John Moyne)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Eternal Power of earth and air!
Unseen, yet seen in all around,
Remote, but dwelling everywhere,
Though silent, heard in every sound.

-- Ann Bronte
(in The Things That Matter,
edited by Julia Neuberger)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Music is a mysterious form of mathematics whose elements partake of the Infinite. It is responsible for the movements of water, the pattern of curves traced by the wavering breeze; nothing is more musical than a sunset. For anyone capable of seeing it emotionally, it is the finest lesson of development contained in this book, too seldom referred to by musicians -- I mean the book of Nature.

-- Claude Debussy

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Whoever wants to live and enjoy his life today must not be like you and me. Whoever wants music instead of noise, joy instead of pleasure, soul instead of gold, creative work instead of business, passion instead of foolery, finds no home in this trivial world of ours . . .

-- Hermann Hesse
translated by Basil Creighton,
revised by Joseph Mileck and Horst Frenz)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Remember the lips
where the wind-breath originated,
and let your note be clear.
Don't try to end it.
Be your note.
I'll show you how it's enough.

Go up on the roof at night
in this city of the soul.

Let everyone climb on their roofs
and sing their notes!

Sing loud!

-- Rumi
(The Essential Rumi,
translated by Coleman Barks with John Moyne)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

There falls the rhythmic beat of life and death:
Rapture wells forth, and all space is radiant with light.
There the Unstruck Music is sounded;
it is the music of the love of the three worlds.
There millions of lamps of sun and of moon are burning;
There the drum beats, and the lover swings in play.
There love-songs resound, and light rains in showers;
and the worshipper is entranced in the taste of the heavenly nectar.
Look upon life and death; there is no separation between them,
The right hand and the left hand are one and the same.

-- Kabir
(in Songs of Kabir,
translated by R. Tagore and E. Underhill)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Some to church repair,
Not for the doctrine, but the music there.

-- Alexander Pope
(in Music: A Book of Quotations,
edited by Herb Galewitz)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Siddhartha listened. He was now listening intently, completely absorbed, quite empty, taking in everything. . . . He had often heard all this before, all these numerous voices in the river, but today they sounded different. . . . . They were all interwoven and interlocked, entwined in a thousand ways. And all the voices, all the goals, all the yearnings, all the sorrows, all the pleasures, all the good and evil, all of them together was the world. All of them together was the stream of events, the music of life.

-- Hermann Hesse
translated by Hilda Rosner)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

I love you, gentlest of Ways,
who ripened us as we wrestled with you.

You, the great homesickness we could never shake off,
you, the forest that always surrounded us,

you, the song we sang in every silence,
you dark net threading through us . . .

-- Rainer Maria Rilke
(in Rilke's Book of Hours,
translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Music is the voice of all humanity, of whatever time or place. In its presence we are one.

-- Charlotte Gray
(in Music Lovers Quotations,
edited by Helen Exley)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Music the fiercest grief can charm,
And fate's severest rage disarm:
Music can soften pain to ease,
And make despair and madness please;
Our joys below it can improve,
And antedate the bliss above.

-- Alexander Pope
(in The Music Lover's Literary Companion,
compiled by Joan and Dannie Abse)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

. . . I urge young musicians: 'Don't be vain because you happen to have talent. You are not responsible for that; it was not of your doing. What you do with your talent is what matters. You must cherish this gift. Do not demean or waste what you have been given. Work -- work constantly and nourish it.'

Of course, the gift to be cherished most of all is that of life itself. One's work should be a salute to life.

-- Pablo Casals
(in The Music Lover's Literary Companion,
compiled by Joan and Dannie Abse)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

For the Trumpet of God is a blessed intelligence and so are all the instruments of Heaven.
For God the father Almighty plays upon the Harp of stupendous magnitude and melody.
For innumerable Angels fly out at every touch and his tune is a work of creation.
For at that time malignity ceases and the devils themselves are at peace.
For this time is perceptible to man by a remarkable stillness and serenity of soul.

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

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Artist should love life and show us that it is beautiful; without him, we might doubt it."

-- Gabriel Faure'

Saturday, May 28, 2011

I've listened with intense emotion to the waves of the sea, to the mountain torrents and waterfalls, and to all the sound made by water and wind. And I would add that I make no distinction between noise and sound, for me, all this represents music.

-- Olivier Messiaen
(in Divine Sparks: Collected Wisdom of the Heart,
edited by Karen Speerstra)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Don't worry about saving these songs!
And if one of our instruments breaks,
it doesn't matter.

We have fallen into the place
where everything is music.

The strumming and the flute notes
rise into the atmosphere,
and even if the whole world's harp
should burn up, there will still be
hidden instruments playing.

-- Rumi
(from The Essential Rumi,
translated by Coleman Barks with John Moyne)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

-- Henry David Thoreau
(in Notations: Quotations on Music,
edited by Sallye Leventhal)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

-- Arthur O'Shaughnessy

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Music wasn't made to make us wise, but better natured.

-- Josh Billings
(in Music: A Book of Quotations,
edited by Herb Galewitz)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Music is well said to be the speech of angels; in fact, nothing among the utterances allowed to man is felt to be so divine. It brings us near to the Infinite: we look for moments, across the cloudy elements, into the eternal Sea of Light, when song leads and inspires us.

-- Thomas Carlyle
(from "The Opera," in
The Music Lover's Literary Companion,
edited by Joan and Dannie Abse)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

No one imagines that symphony is supposed to improve as it goes along, or that the whole object of playing is to reach the finale. The point of music is discovered in every moment of playing and listening to it. It is the same, I feel, with the greater part of our lives, and if we are unduly absorbed in improving them we may forget altogether to live them.

-- Alan Watts

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The music you thrill to is actually one facet of the great voice of the Creator. When you understand this, you understand that the divine is not far away from you, but is actually dancing fierily in the core of your life at every moment.

-- Andrew Harvey
("Burning for God," in For the Love of God,
edited by Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

For myself as a writer -- and for any artist in the process of creating -- I realize sometimes that I am just an instrument, a channel, a conduit for a spirit far greater than myself. There's something truthful coming through me . . . . This is the experience of co-creation. We realize, "My God, we're creating with God and God needs us to create."

Matthew Fox
("Creation Spirituality" in
For the Love of God: Handbook for the Spirit,
edited by Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Music is the mediator between the sensual and the spiritual life.

-- Ludwig van Beethoven
(in Music: A Book of Quotations,
edited by Herb Galewitz)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

My idea is that there is music in the air, music all around us, the world is full of it and you simply take as much as you require.

-- Edward Elgar
(in Divine Sparks,
edited by Karen Speerstra)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A woman is singing in the valley. The shadows falling blot her out, but her song spreads over the fields.
. . . .

Her song, as pure as water filled with light, cleanses the plain and rinses the mean air of day in which men hate. From the throat of the woman who keeps on singing, day rises nobly evaporating toward the stars.

-- Gabriela Mistral
(translated by Langston Hughes)
(in Women in Praise of the Sacred,
edited by Jane Hirshfield)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Our soul was from the beginning endowed with the principle of this music, for the heavenly harmony is rightly said to be innate in anything whose origin is heavenly. This harmony is then imitated by various instruments and songs. This gift like the rest was give us through the love of the divine providence.

-- Marsilio Ficino
(translated by Sears Reynolds Jayne)
(in Philosophies of Art and Beauty,
edited by Albert Hofstadter and Richard Kuhns)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

There is one who sings the song of his soul, discovering in his soul everything -- utter spiritual fulfillment.
There is one who sings the song of his people. Emerging from the private circle of his soul -- not expansive enough, not yet tranquil -- he strives for fierce heights, clinging to the entire community of Israel in tender love. Together with her, he sings her song, feels her anguish, delights in her hopes. He conceives profound insights into her past and her future, deftly probing the inwardness of her spirit with the wisdom of love.
Then there is one whose soul expands until it extends beyond the border of Israel, singing the song of humanity. In the glory of the entire human race, in the glory of human form, his spirit spreads, aspiring to the goal of humankind, envisioning its consummation. From this spring of life, he draws all his deepest reflections, his searching, striving, and vision.
Then there is one who expands even further until he unites with all of existence, with all creatures, with all worlds, singing a song with them all.
There is one who ascends with all these songs in unison -- the song of the soul, the song of the nation, the song of humanity, the song of the cosmos -- resounding together, blending in harmony, circulating the sap of life, the sound of holy joy.

-- Abraham Isaac Kook
(in The Essential Mystics,
edited by Andrew Harvey)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.

-- Johannes Sebastian Bach
(in Notations: Quotations on Music,
edited by Sallye Leventhal)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

O Universe, all that is in tune with you is also in tune with me! Every note of your harmony resonates in my innermost being. For me nothing is early and nothing is late, if it is timely for you. O Nature, all that your seasons bring is fruit for me. From thee come all things; in thee do all things live and grow; and to thee do all things return . . .

Waste no more time talking about great souls and how they should be. Become one yourself!

-- Marcus Aurelius
(in The Essential Mystics,
edited by Andrew Harvey)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Birdsong brings relief
to my longing.

I am just as ecstatic as they are,
but with nothing to say!

Please, universal soul, practice
some song, or something, through me!

-- Rumi
(in The Essential Rumi,
translated by Coleman Barks)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

He is the only adorable one to me:
I have none other.
My tongue has left off impure words,
it sings His glory day and night:
Whether I rise or sit down,
I can never forget Him;
for the rhythm of His music
beats in my ears.

-- Kabir
(in The Essential Mystics,
edited by Andrew Harvey)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

In the swift whirl of time
music is a constant,
reminding us of what we were
and of that toward which we aspired.
Art thou troubled?
Music will not only calm,
it will ennoble thee.

-- Ralph Ellison
(in The Music Lover's Literary Companion,
compiled by Joan and Dannie Abse)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

When we are touched by mystic grace and allow ourselves to enter its field without fear, we see that we are all parts of a whole, elements of an universal harmony, unique, essential and sacred notes in a divine music that everyone and everything is playing together with us in God and for God.

-- Andrew Harvey
(in his introduction to The Essential Mystics)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

. . . . there is no better escape from life than through music, and yet there is no better way to understand life than through music.

-- Daniel Barenboim
(in A Life in Music,
by Daniel Barenboim)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Every work of art has 'two faces,' one directed toward eternity and the other towards its own time. . . . .

We can perceive the infinite in music only by searching for this quality in ourselves. As human beings we do not possess infinite qualities, but as musicians I believe we can extend our finite power to a point where we can create an illusion of infinity. It is only by knowing ourselves that we come to know the things outside ourselves.

-- Daniel Barenboim
(in A Life in Music,
by Daniel Barenboim)