Everybody is different. Some writers can write reams of great books and then J. D. Salinger wrote just a few. Beethoven wrote nine symphonies. They were all phenomenal. Mozart wrote some 40 symphonies, and they were all phenomenal. That doesn't mean Beethoven was a lesser writer, it's just some guys are capable of more productivity, some guys take more time.
All the charming and beautiful things, from the Song of Songs, to bouillabaisse, and from the nine Beethoven symphonies to the Martini cocktail, have been given to humanity by men who, when the hour came, turned from tap water to something with color in it, and more in it than mere oxygen and hydrogen.
H. L. Mencken
Symphonies can generate a tremendous amount of sounds, beauty, and emotion. That is part of their human feel and sweetness. Keyboards, on the other hand, give us access to millions of sounds. When I put the two together, the result is unique, and it's not only pleasing to the ear, but produces emotional responses that neither of the two can achieve on their own.
I don't think that either self-deprecation or self-aggrandizement is among the defining qualities of an artist... Beethoven could have been forgiven if his symphonies had gone to his head. Gretchaninoff could also be forgiven if his Dobrinya Nikititch went to his head. But neither one could be forgiven for writing a piece that was amoral, servile, the work of a flunky.
I never listen to music when I am writing. It would be impossible. I listen to Bach in the mornings, mostly choral music; also some Handel, mostly songs and arias; I like Schubert's and Beethoven's chamber music and Sibelius' symphonies; for opera, I listen to Mozart and in recent years Wagner.
What are our conductors giving us year after year? Only fresh corpses. Over these beautifully embalmed sonatas, toccatas, symphonies and operas the public dance the jitterbug. Night and day without let the radio drowns us in a hog-wash of the most nauseating, sentimental ditties. From the churches comes the melancholy dirge of the dead Christ, a music which is no more sacred than a rotten turnip.
Many consider that Shostakovich is the greatest 20th-century composer. In his 15 symphonies, 15 quartets, and in other works he demonstrated mastery of the largest and most challenging forms with music of great emotional power and technical invention...All his works are marked by emotional extremes - tragic intensity, grotesque and bizarre wit, humour, parody, and savage sarcasm.
A young man, just beginning the study of musical composition, once went to Mozart and asked him the formula for developing the theme of a symphony. Mozart suggested that a symphony was rather an ambitious project for a beginner: perhaps the young man might better try his hand at something simpler first. "But you were writing symphonies when you were my age." the student protested. "Yes, but I didn't have to ask how."
But we were born of risen apes, not fallen angels, and the apes were armed killers besides. And so what shall we wonder at? Our murders and massacres and missiles, and our irreconcilable regiments? Or our treaties whatever they may be worth; our symphonies however seldom they may be played; our peaceful acres, however frequently they may be converted into battlefields; our dreams however rarely they may be accomplished. The miracle of man is not how far he has sunk but how magnificently he has risen. We are known among the stars by our poems, not our corpses.
I have been told that a young would-be composer wrote to Mozart asking advice about how to compose a symphony. Mozart responded that a symphony was a complex and demanding form and it would be better to start with something simpler. The young man protested, 'But, Herr Mozart, you wrote symphonies when you were younger than I am now.' Mozart replied, 'I never asked how.
Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart. The nearer I approach the end, the plainer I hear around me the immortal symphonies of the worlds which invite me. . . . For half a century I have been writing thoughts in prose, verse, history, drama, romance, tradition, satire, ode, and song. I have tried them all, but I feel I have not said a thousandth part of that which is within me. When I go down to the grave, I can say "I have finished my day's work," but I cannot say "I have finished my life's work."
Comics play a trite but lusty tune on the C natural keys of human nature. They rouse the most primitive, but also the most powerful, reverberations in the noisy cranial sound-box of consciousness, drowning out more subtle symphonies. Comics scorn finesse, thereby incurring the wrath of linguistic adepts. They defy the limits of accepted fact and convention, thus amortizing to apoplexy the ossified arteries of routine thought.
William Moulton Marston
The world values the seer above all men, and has always done so. Nay, it values all men in proportion as they partake of the character of seers. The Elgin Marbles and a decision of John Marshall are valued for the same reason. What we feel in them is a painstaking submission to facts beyond the author's control, and to ideas imposed on him by his vision. So with Beethoven's Symphonies, with Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations - with any conceivable output of the human mind of which you approve. You love them because you say, These things were not made, they were seen.
John Jay Chapman
One song isn't going to ever change things, but I suppose it's the accumulation of music generally [that is]. If you can imagine a world that has no music in it, it would be a very different world, so music does change the world by virtue of all the music in it. Cumulative music of every kind, from banging a drum to playing a flute or recording symphonies, or singing 'War, what is it good for?' All those things change the whole way we live.
What deep and worthy love is so, whether of woman or child, or art or music. Our caresses, our tender words, our still rapture under the influence of autumn sunsets, or pillared vistas, or calm majestic statues, or Beethoven symphonies all bring with them the consciousness that they are mere waves and ripples in an unfathomable ocean of love and beauty; our emotion in its keenest moment passes from expression into silence, our love at its highest flood rushes beyond its object and loses itself in the sense of divine mystery.
I see that you believe in love such as the poets and romancers have represented... The poets represent love as the sculptors design beauty, as the musicians create melody; that is to say, endowed with an exquisite nervous organization, they gather up with discerning ardor the purest elements of life, the most beautiful lines of matter, and the most harmonious voices of nature.... To try to find in real life such love as this, eternal and absolute, is the same thing as to seek on the public squares such a woman as Venus or to expect nightingales to sing the symphonies of Beethoven.
Alfred de Musset
These are thy glorious works Parent of Good, Almighty, thine this universal Frame, Thus wondrous fair; thy self how wondrous then! Unspeakable, who sitst above these Heavens To us invisible or dimly seen In these thy lowest works, yet these declare Thy goodness beyond thought, and Power Divine: Speak ye who best can tell, ye Sons of light, Angels, for ye behold him, and with songs And choral symphonies, Day without Night, Circle his Throne rejoicing, ye in Heav'n, On Earth join all ye Creatures to extoll Him first, him last, him midst, and without end.
Because life is a symphony it must have its C Minor. Days there be when we hear only a discord of sharps and flats, and we wonder whether harmony will ever be restored. On other days we hear only an ominous, deep strain which seems to say that hope is fled. But why this chill despair? Symphonies are a blending of many tones, high and low, over and under, major and minor. One day cannot make a life a whole any more than shadows can make a picture or minor notes a symphony. We need to hear life's song, not as the discord of a single day, but as the completed harmony of all the years. Then will today's sorrow and tomorrow's disappointment ring forth in major key as glorious melody.
W. Waldemar W. Argow
I have often noticed that we are inclined to endow our friends with the stability of type that literary characters acquire in the reader's mind. [... ] Whatever evolution this or that popular character has gone through between the book covers, his fate is fixed in our minds, and, similarly, we expect our friends to follow this or that logical and conventional pattern we have fixed for them. Thus X will never compose the immortal music that would clash with the second-rate symphonies he has accustomed us to. Y will never commit murder. Under no circumstances can Z ever betray us. We have it all arranged in our minds, and the less often we see a particular person, the more satisfying it is to check how obediently he conforms to our notion of him every time we hear of him. Any deviation in the fates we have ordained would strike us as not only anomalous but unethical. We could prefer not to have known at all our neighbor, the retired hot-dog stand operator, if it turns out he has just produced the greatest book of poetry his age has seen.
I am not a finished poem, and I am not the song you've turned me into. I am a detached human being, making my way in a world that is constantly trying to push me aside, and you who send me letters and emails and beautiful gifts wouldn't even recognise me if you saw me walking down the street where I live tomorrow for I am not a poem. I am tired and worn out and the eyes you would see would not be painted or inspired but empty and weary from drinking too much at all times and I am not the life of your party who sings and has glorious words to speak for I don't speak much at all and my voice is raspy and unsteady from unhealthy living and not much sleep and I only use it when I sing and I always sing too much or not at all and never when people are around because they expect poems and symphonies and I am not a poem but an elegy at my best but unedited and uncut and not a lot of people want to work with me because there's only so much you can do with an audio take, with the plug-ins and EQs and I was born distorted, disordered, and I'm pretty fine with that, but others are not.
It was a pleasure to burn. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed. With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his head, and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history. With his symbolic helmet numbered 451 on his stolid head, and his eyes all orange flame with the thought of what came next, he flicked the igniter and the house jumped up in a gorging fire that burned the evening sky red and yellow and black. He strode in a swarm of fireflies. He wanted above all, like the old joke, to shove a marshmallow on a stick in the furnace, while the flapping pigeon-winged books died on the porch and lawn of the house. While the books went up in sparkling whirls and blew away on a wind turned dark with burning.
Strike, with hand of fire, O weird musician, thy harp strung with Apollo's golden hair; fill the vast cathedral aisles with symphonies sweet and dim, deft toucher of the organ keys; blow, bugler, blow, until thy silver notes do touch and kiss the moonlit waves, and charm the lovers wandering 'mid the vine-clad hills. But know, your sweetest strains are discords all, compared with childhood's happy laugh-the laugh that fills the eyes with light and every heart with joy. O rippling river of laughter, thou art the blessed boundary line between the beasts and men; and every wayward wave of thine doth drown some fretful fiend of care. O Laughter, rose-lipped daughter of Joy, there are dimples enough in thy cheeks to catch and hold and glorify all the tears of grief.
Robert G. Ingersoll