JOHN OLIVER


composer

Words

about music, concerts, the arts in Canada, and more. A collection of essays and blogs (which I’ve embedded here all in one place).

Famous composer quotes

…composers whose words inspire…

  • "Art, and, above all, music, has a fundamental function, which is to catalyze the sublimation that it can bring about through all means of expression. It must aim through fixations which are landmarks, to draw [one] towards a total exaltation in which the individual mingles, losing his consciousness in a truth immediate, rare, enormous, and perfect. If a work of art succeeds in this undertaking even for a single moment, it attains its goal." — Iannis Xenakis

  • "Music is the arithmetic of sounds as optics is the geometry of light." — Claude Debussy

  • “For me there is something primitively soothing about this music, and it went straight to my nervous system, making me feel ten feet tall.” ― Eric Clapton

  • "The point is that even if music can arouse in us associations with the rich world of human feelings, in different people these associations will be different. Hence a simple conclusion: it is unimportant whether the composer writes his work under the influence of extra-musical impulses, whether it is related in his consciousness or subconsciousness to some cycle of events, or whether he himself plans to express something which could be said in words. All this belongs to the field of sources of musical inspiration, but for me it never becomes the ultimate goal. And that is why, just like so many other composers, I could not answer enquiry about the concrete meaning of my music. Just as I could not say what is the meaning of Debussy’s preludes or Bach’s partitas. But isn’t it part of the great attraction of music that what is says cannot be expressed in any other way?" — W. Lutoslawski

  • “Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.” ― Confucius, The Book of Rites

  • "Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art." — Claude Debussy

  • “This machine kills fascists.” ― Woody Guthrie

  • “Music is...a higher revelation than all wisdom & philosophy” ― Ludwig van Beethoven

  • “Where words leave off, music begins.” ― Heinrich Heine

  • "The listener must be gripped and whether he likes it or not, drawn into the flight path of the sounds without special training being necessary. The sensual shock must be just as forceful as when one hears a clap of thunder or looks into a bottomless abyss." — Iannis Xenakis

  • "Now there is no taboo; everything is allowed. But one cannot simply go back to tonality, it’s not the way. We must find a way of neither going back nor continuing the avant-garde. I am in a prison: one wall is the avant-garde, the other wall is the past, and I want to escape." — Gyorgy Ligeti

  • “Too bad people can't always be playing music, maybe then there wouldn't be any more wars.” ― Margot Benary-Isbert, Rowan Farm