HumanitiesWeb.org - Igor Stravinsky - The Musical Chameleon [Quotations]
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26 June, 2013

Igor Stravinsky
Quotations



"A good composer does not imitate; he steals."
 
"For the phenomenon of music is nothing other than a phenomenon of speculation. There is nothing in this expression that should frighten you. It simply presupposes that the basis of musical creation is a preliminary feeling out, a will moving first in an abstract realm with the object of giving shape to something concrete. The elements at which this speculation necessarily aims are those of sound and time. Music is inconceivable apart from these two elements."
 
"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."
 
"My music is best understood by children and animals."
 
"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."
 
"Too many pieces of music finish too long after the end."
 
"I hold that it was a mistake to consider me a revolutionary. If one only need break habit in order to be labeled a revolutionary, then every artist who has something to say and who in order to say it stops outside the bounds of established convention could be considered revolutionary. "
 
"All music is nothing more than a succession of impulses that converge towards a definite point of repose. "
 
"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 only know what the truth is for me today"
 
"I heard Rosenkavalier for the first time after the war and I confess I prefer Gilbert and Sullivan...Sullivan has a sense of timing and punctuation which I have never been able to find in Strauss."
 
"I never understood the need for a "live" audience. My music, because of its extreme quietude, would be happiest with a dead one."
 
"Schumann is the composer of childhood...both because he created a children's imaginative world and because children learn some of their first music in his marvelous piano albums."
 
"Harpists spend ninety percent of their lives tuning their harps and ten percent playing out of tune."
 
"We cannot describe sound, but we cannot forget it either."
 
"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."
 
"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. "
 
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