Tuesday, May 3, 2011

This Just In: Old Quotes, New Depth

Now that its summer, I've been taking the time to get organized. Part of that means sorting out years of papers that have been slowly accumulating. Today I threw away about half a ream of photocopied music that is A)Not legally mine and B)Irrelevant, since it was for classes or accompaniment work I did back at BYU-Idaho. I also found a great sheet of hand typed quotes from various composers and artists, dating from 2004 before my mission. Unfortunately, I don't have the sources of the quotes, which goes against my normal modus operandi when citing somebody. Also, I considered putting them up one by one and commenting on them, but this paper is deteriorating fast (ripped in half!) so here they are in all of their sourceless, one-after-the-other glory. I find it fascinating that while I understand the context and depth of these quotes better now in 2011, they still mean the same to me as they did that first heady year when I knew that I was going to become a composer.

"The current state of music presents a variety of solutions in search of a problem, the problem being to find somebody left to listen." - Ned Rorem

"I believe composers must forge forms out of the many influences that play upon them and never close their ears to any part of the world of sound." - Henry Cowell

"The language of the poet is our common language. Everybody understands or feels it...In the case of the musician, all he needs to do is refine his own language." - Silvestre Revueltus

"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...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." - Aaron Copland

"Whether one calls oneself conservative or revolutionary, whether one composes in a conventional or progressive manner, whether one tries to imitate old styles or is destined to express new ideas - whether one is a good composer or not - one must be convinced of the infallibility of one's own fantasy and one must believe in one's own imagination." - Arnold Schoenberg

"I know that so long as I can sum up my experience in words, I can certainly not create music about it. My need to express myself in music symphonically begins precisely where dark feelings hold sway, at the gate that leads into the "other world," the world in which things no longer are divided by time and space." - Gustav Mahler

"How can one express the indefinable sensations that one experiences while writing an instrumental composition that has no definite subject? It is a purely lyrical process. It is a musical confession of the soul, which unburdens itself through sounds just as a lyric poet expresses himself through poetry...As the poet Heine said, "Where words leave off, music begins." - Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

"Composing gives me great pleasure...there is nothing that surpasses the joy of creation, if only because through it one wins hours of self-forgetfulness, when one lives in a world of sound." - Clara Schumann

"It is in music, perhaps, that the soul most nearly attains the great end for which, when inspired by the poetic sentiment, it struggles - the creation of supernal beauty." - Edgar Allen Poe
The 19 year old Michael Wahlquist would be pretty happy 
with how the 25 year old Michael Wahlquist is doing.


Qait said...

I'd like to quote you: "hand typed." Hah! Cute! :D

I can especially relate with Clara Schumann, just because I too experience the timeless self-forgetfulness. But I love the way all of these quotes capture the sense of music being beyond words, so very much of the soul.

Eric Hanson said...

I agree Qait, I love the Clara Schumann quote. And I love the Rorem quote - though I think in order to find somebody left to listen it may be a good idea to actually start writing things that people want to listen to, a la the Aaron Copland quote. Thanks for posting these!