HumanitiesWeb.org - Aaron Copland - The Gift To Be Simple [Quotations]
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26 June, 2013

Aaron Copland
Quotations



"Inspiration may be a form of superconsciousness, or perhaps of subconsciousness – I wouldn’t know. But I am sure it is the antithesis of self-consciousness. "

"The whole problem can be stated quite simply by asking 'is there a meaning to music?' My answer would be, 'Yes.' And 'can you state in so many words what the meaning is?' My answer to that would be, 'No.'"
 
"There is nothing puny or casual about the form [of the symphony]. It is still the form in which the composer tries to come to grips with big emotions."
 
"To stop the flow of music would be like the stopping of time itself, incredible and inconceivable."
 
"I no longer feel the need of seeking out conscious Americanism. Because we live here and work here, we can be certain that when our music is mature it will also be American in quality. "
 
"The entire history of modern music may be said to be a history of the gradual pull-away from the German musical tradition of the past century. "
 
"An artist can take his personal sadness or his fear or his anger or his joy and crystallize it, giving it a life of its own. Thus he is released from his emotion as others cannot be. The arts offer the opportunity to do something that cannot be done anywhere else. It is the only place one can express in public the feelings ordinarily regarded as private. It is the place where a man or woman can be completely honest, where we can say whatever is in our hearts or minds, where we never need to hide from ourselves or from others."
 
"The passage of time is then a big help in reaching a true and just estimation of what you've accomplished."
 
"I don't compose, I assemble materials."
 
"A great symphony is a man-made Mississippi down which we irresistibly flow from the instant of our leave-taking to a long foreseen destination."
 
"You may be sitting in a room reading this book. Imagine one note struck upon the piano. Immediately that one note is enough to change the atmosphere of the room - proving that the sound element in music is a powerful and mysterious agent, which it would be foolish to deride or belittle."
 
"To explain the creative musician's basic objective in elementary terms, I would say that a composer writes music to express and communicate and put down in permanent form certain thoughts, emotions and states of being. These thoughts and emotions are gradually formed by the contact of the composer's personality with the world in which he lives. He expresses these thoughts (musical ones...) in the musical language of his own time. The resultant work of art should speak to men and women of the artist's own time with a directness and immediacy of communicative power that no previous art expression can give."
 
"The melody is generally what the piece is all about."
 
"Inspiration may be a form of superconsciousness, or perhaps of subconsciousness – I wouldn’t know. But I am sure it is the antithesis of self-consciousness. "
 
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