Quotes by Igor Stravinsky

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I haven't understood a bar of music in my life, but I have felt it. more...

What force is more potent than love? more...

The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one's self. And the arbitrariness of the constraint serves only to obtain precision of execution. more...

The real composer thinks about his work the whole time; he is not always conscious of this, but he is aware of it later when he suddenly knows what he will do. more...

My music is best understood by children and animals. more...

To listen is an effort, and just to hear is no merit. A duck hears also. more...

Is it not by love alone that we succeed in penetrating to the very essence of being? more...

The Church knew what the psalmist knew: Music praises God. Music is well or better able to praise him than the building of the church and all its decoration; it is the Church's greatest ornament. more...

I am in the present. I cannot know what tomorrow will bring forth. I can know only what the truth is for me today. That is what I am called upon to serve, and I serve it in all lucidity. more...

Lesser artists borrow, great artists steal. more...

A good composer does not imitate; he steals. more...

A plague on eminence! I hardly dare cross the street anymore without a convoy, and I am stared at wherever I go like an idiot member of a royal family or an animal in a zoo; and zoo animals have been known to die from stares. more...

Sins cannot be undone, only forgiven. more...

Music is given to us with the sole purpose of establishing an order in things, including, and particularly, the coordination between man and time. more...

The trouble with music appreciation in general is that people are taught to have too much respect for music they should be taught to love it instead. more...

What gives the artist real prestige is his imitators. more...

I know that the twelve notes in each octave and the variety of rhythm offer me opportunities that all of human genius will never exhaust. more...

Just as appetite comes by eating, so work brings inspiration, if inspiration is not discernible at the beginning. more...

I have learned throughout my life as a composer chiefly through my mistakes and pursuits of false assumptions, not by my exposure to founts of wisdom and knowledge. more...

Harpists spend 90 percent of their lives tuning their harps and 10 percent playing out of tune. more...

In order to create there must be a dynamic force, and what force is more potent than love? more...

Too many pieces of music finish too long after the end. more...

Film music should have the same relationship to the film drama that somebody's piano playing in my living room has on the book I am reading. more...

Money may kindle, but it cannot by itself, and for very long, burn. more...

Conductors' careers are made for the most part with 'Romantic' music. 'Classic' music eliminates the conductor; we do not remember him in it. more...

It's one of nature's way that we often feel closer to distant generations than to the generation immediately preceding us. more...

I had another dream the other day about music critics. They were small and rodent-like with padlocked ears, as if they had stepped out of a painting by Goya. more...

Mediocrity borrows, genius steals. more...

All you have to do is close your eyes and wait for the symbols. more...

Hurry? I have no time to hurry. more...

Silence will save me from being wrong (and foolish), but it will also deprive me of the possibility of being right. more...

One has a nose. The nose scents and it chooses. An artist is simply a kind of pig snouting truffles. more...

Revolution means turning the wheel. more...

The more controlled, limited and tormented art is, the freer it is. more...

My God, so much I like to drink Scotch that sometimes I think my name is Igor Stra-whiskey. more...

I was...attacked for being a pasticheur, chided for composing "simple" music, blamed for deserting "modernism," accused of renouncing my "true Russian heritage." People who had never heard of, or cared about, the originals cried "sacrilege": "The classics are ours. Leave the classics alone." To them all my answer was and is the same: You "respect," but I love. more...

My freedom will be so much the greater and more meaningful the more narrowly I limit my field of action and the more I surround myself with obstacles. Whatever diminishes constraint diminishes strength. The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one's self of the chains that shackle the spirit. more...

Silence, which will save from shame, will also deprive me of fame. more...

The further one separates himself from the precepts of the Christian Church, the further one distances himself from the truth. Only God can create. I make music from music. more...

Composition is frozen improvisation. more...

Music is, by its very nature, essentially powerless to express anything at all. Music expresses itself. more...

I never understood the need for a "live" audience. My music, because of its extreme quietude, would be happiest with a dead one. more...

Composition is selective improvisation. more...

The faculty of creating is never given to us all by itself. It always goes hand in hand with the gift of observation. more...

The one true comment on a piece of music is another piece of music. more...

Art postulates communion, and the artist has an imperative need to make others share the joy which he experiences himself. more...

The past slips from our grasp. It leaves us only scattered things. The bond that united them eludes us. Our imagination usually fills in the void by making use of preconceived theories...Archaeology, then, does not supply us with certitudes, but rather with vague hypotheses. And in the shade of these hypotheses some artists are content to dream, considering them less as scientific facts than as sources of inspiration. more...

Music's exclusive function is to structure the flow of time and keep order in it. more...

A plague on eminence! I hardly dare cross the street any more without a convoy, and I am stared at wherever I go like an idiot member of a royal family or an animal in a zoo; and zoo animals have been known to die from stares. more...

The profound meaning of music's essential aim... is to produce a communion, a union of man with his fellow man with the Supreme Being more...

A composer is not only an architect but also an inventor, and he should not build houses in which he cannot live. more...

The Church knew what the psalmist knew: Music praises God. Music is well or better able to praise him than the building of the church and all its decoration; it is the Church's greatest ornament. more...

To continue in one path is to go backward. more...

Music is the sole domain in which man realizes the present. more...

One lives by memory . . . and not by truth. more...

The trick is to compose what one wants to compose and to get it commissioned afterward. more...

I live neither in the past nor in the future. I am in the present. I cannot know what tomorrow will bring forth. I can know only what the truth is for me today. That is what I am called upon to serve, and I serve it in all lucidity. more...

What gives the artist real prestige is his imitators.... more...

Why is it that whenever I hear a piece of music I don't like, it's always by Villa Lobos? more...

I knew I had to write a Mass of my own, but a real one. more...

Consonance, says the dictionary, is the combination of several tones into a harmonic unit. Dissonance results from the deranging of this harmony by the addition of tones foreign to it. One must admit that all this is not clear. Ever since it appeared in our vocabulary, the word 'dissonance' has carried with it a certain odor of sinfulness. Let us light our lantern: in textbook language, dissonance is an element of transition, a complex or interval of tones that is not complete in itself and that must be resolved to the ear's satisfaction into a perfect consonance. more...

There is music wherever there is rhythm, as there is life wherever there beats a pulse. more...

It is the transcendent (or 'abstract' or 'self-contained') nature of music that the new so called concretism-Pop Art, eighteen-hour slices-of-reality films, musique concrete-opposes. But instead of bringing art and reality closer together, the new movement merely thins out the distinction. more...

What I cannot follow are the manic-depressive fluctuations from total control to no control, from the serialization of all elements to chance. more...

Composers combine notes, that's all. more...

Music must be listened to; it is not enough to hear it. A duck hears also. more...

Good composers don't borrow, they steal more...

I remember being handed a score composed by Mozart at the age of eleven. What could I say? I felt like de Kooning, who was asked to comment on a certain abstract painting, and answered in the negative. He was then told it was the work of a celebrated monkey. 'That's different. For a monkey, it's terrific'. more...

We cannot describe sound, but we cannot forget it either. more...

All music is nothing more than a succession of impulses that converge towards a definite point of repose. more...

An audience is an abstraction; it has no taste. It must depend on the only person who has (pardon, should have), the conductor. more...

It is my conviction that the public always shows itself more honest in its spontaneity than do those who officially set themselves up as judges of works of art. more...

Nothing is likely about masterpieces, least of all whether there will be any. more...

The performance of performance has developed to such an extent in recent years that it challenges the music itself and will soon threaten it with relegation. more...

One's belief that one is sincere is not so dangerous as one's conviction that one is right. We all feel we are right; but we felt the same way twenty years ago and today we know we weren't always right. more...

The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one more...

The true creator may be recognized by his ability always to find about him, in the commonest and humblest thing, items worthy of note. more...

Old age is a time of humiliations, the most disagreeable of which, for me, is that I cannot work long at sustained high pressure with no leaks in concentration. more...

Conformism is so hot on the heels of the mass-produced avant-garde that the 'ins' and the 'outs' change places with the speed of mach 3. more...

Music is given to us specifically to make order of things, to move from an anarchic, individualistic state to a regulated, perfectly concious one, which alone insures vitality and durability. more...

My childhood was a period of waiting for the moment when I could send everyone and everything connected with it to hell. more...

An artist is like a pig snouting truffles. more...

Invention presupposes imagination but should not be confused with it. more...

We have a duty towards music, namely, to invent it. more...

I take no pride in my artistic talents; they are God-given and I see absolutely no reason to become puffed up over something that one has received. more...

Music is...the coordination between man and time. more...

We can neither put back the clock nor slow down our forward speed, and as we are already flying pilotless, on instrument controls, it is even too late to ask where we are going. more...

To be deprived of art and left alone with philosophy is to be close to Hell. more...

When I discovered that I had been made custodian of this gift, in my earliest childhood, I pledged myself to God to be worthy of it, but I have received uncovenanted mercies all my life. The custodian has too often kept faith on his all-too-worldly terms. more...

We have a duty towards music; namely to invent it. ...Invention presupposes imagination but should not be confused with it. For the act of invention implies the necessity of a lucky find and of achieving realization of this find. What we imagine does not necessarily take on concrete form and may remain in a state of virtuality; whereas invention is not conceivable apart from its actually being worked out. more...

Vivaldi didn't write 400 concertos; he wrote one concerto 400 times. more...

A cultural snob is someone who claims to be familiar with the incomprehensible. more...

Art is the opposite of chaos. Art is organized chaos. more...

I never am sea sick, never. I am sea drunk! more...

I remember being handed a score composed by Mozart at the age of eleven. What could I say? I felt like de Kooning, who was asked to comment on a certain abstract painting, and answered in the negative. He was then told it was the work of a celebrated monkey. That's different. For a monkey, it's terrific. more...

Look for the music on all things, and life will be a symphony of joy. My music is best understood by children and animals. more...

I cannot now evaluate the events that, at the end of those thirty years, made me discover the necessity of religious belief. I was not reasoned into my disposition. Though I admire the structured thought of theology, it is to religion no more than counterpoint exercises are to music. more...

The phenomenon of music is given to us with the sole purpose of establishing an order in things, including, and particularly, the co-ordination between man and time. more...

Now that Mr. [John] Cage's most successful opus is undoubtedly the delectable silent piece 4'33, we may expect his example to be followed by more and more silent pieces by younger composers who, in rapid escalation, will produce their silences with more and more varied and beguiling combinations.... I only hope they turn out to be works of major length. more...

It is one of nature's ways that we often feel closer to distant generations than to the generation immediately preceding us. more...

The trouble with music appreciation in general is that people are taught to have too much respect for music; they should be taught to love it instead. more...

I am an inventor of music. more...

Why is it that whenever I hear a piece of music I don't like, it's always by Villa-Lobos? more...

The principle of the endless melody is the perpetual becoming of a music that never had any reason for starting, any more than it has any reason for ending. more...

I was born out of due time in the sense that by temperament and talent I should have been more suited for the life of a small Bach, living in anonymity and composing regularly for an established service and for God. more...


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