Music: ecstasy's heart-hunger

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Johann Sebastian Bach

No pain, no gain.
Hard work is a must
If you want to succeed
In any walk of life.

Only from aspiration and determination
We can achieve
Perfection and satisfaction.

The immortal utterance of music-sovereign Bach runs:
"I was obliged to work hard.
  Whoever is equally industrious will succeed just as well."

Johann Sebastian Bach

When the ignorance-prince
Wants to instruct and guide the world,
Specially the music-world,
He speaks through a village organist:

"This can only be the devil or Bach himself!"

Johann Sebastian Bach

A member of the Arnstadt City Council states: "If Bach continues to play in this way, the organ will be ruined in two years, or most of the congregation will be deaf."

It goes without saying
That I am no match for Bach.
In the music-world
He is the Himalayas
And I am the anthill.
But I am extremely proud of myself
For having the capacity
To follow devotedly in his footsteps.

Leonard Bernstein

"It would be nice to hear someone accidentally whistle something of mine, somewhere, just once.
  " — Leonard Bernstein

A soulful wish
Cannot remain unanswered.
Divinity's soul and humanity's heart
Get tremendous satisfaction
By fulfilling a charming, loving
And soulful wish.

You have quenched the thirst
Of the music-world.
The colossal pride of the music-world
In you is superbly genuine.

Ludwig Van Beethoven

You as the seed,
You as the plant,
You as a huge tree
With an inimitable variety
Of flowers and fruits
Are indeed the grandeur-expression
Of Infinity's power-fragrance.

This world of ours and its heart are absolutely at one with the admirer-mourner-woman at your funeral:
"They are burying the general of the musicians."

Ludwig Van Beethoven

In Heaven we are.
On earth we become.
In the inner world we are.
In the outer world we become.
Indeed, there is an immeasurable gulf
Between "we are" and "we become."
Unfortunately, no human being
Either can remain
Or is destined to remain forever
At the Heights transcendental.

O critic in Eduard Hanslick, we are not ready to hear from you what you have to say:
"The first of Beethoven's compositions are his music; in his last compositions Beethoven makes music."

Franz Peter Schubert

"Here lie rich treasure and still fairer hopes.
  Epitaph on Schubert's tombstone"

You are the embodiment
Of humanity's tearful heart-cry
And Divinity's powerful soul-smile.

True, hope-bird tries to fly
Beyond reality's horizon.
Again, reality's contribution
Can be unimaginably fruitful.

Death snatched your body
At a most deplorably early age of 31.
But Immortality kept your soul
Permanently here on earth
To be treasured eternally by earth.

Franz Peter Schubert

Tenebrous agonies ruthlessly torture your joy-smitten heart when the voice of your life whispers:
"'My peace is gone, my heart is sore, I shall find it never and nevermore,' I may well sing every day now, for each night, on retiring to bed, I hope I may not wake again, and each morning but recalls yesterday's grief."

Indeed, your suffering-life is the world's tragedy-experience.

Franz Peter Schubert

"It sometimes seems to me as if I did not belong to this world at all."

Down the sweep of centuries it has been an obvious fact that a great man is destined to be misunderstood. This unalterable fact is indeed hard reality. But when the contemporaries are buried in oblivion, immortal achievements of the immortal world figures adorn the four corners of the globe throughout the length and breadth of the world.

Schubert, in the firmament of heart-music, you are beauty's power and power's silence.

George Frederic Handel

"My Lord, I should be sorry if I only entertained them; I wished to make them better.
  " — George Frederic Handel

The musicians who have the capacity to entertain the audience are indeed great. But the musicians who have the capacity to inspire and enlighten the audience are infinitely greater and better.

As the vital thrill is apt to lower the consciousness of human beings, even so the psychic touch can heighten the consciousness of the audience. The musicians who want to make a better world with their soul-stirring music are indeed the unparalleled pride of the Mother-Earth.

George Frederic Handel

When the composer is surcharged with the inspiration, aspiration and dedication of the transcendental Heights, it goes far beyond the body-boundary. He brings down Immortality's delight and shares it with the world at large. He becomes the pioneer of earth's Heaven-climbing journey.

On composing the Hallelujah Chorus, Handel tells us: "Whether I was in my body or out of my body as I wrote it, I know not. God knows."

God the Doer chooses His choicest instrument to reveal Him and manifest Him on earth in an unprecedented manner.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

If you can remain unaffected, either when you are thrown into the abysmal abyss or when you are extolled to the skies, then you can achieve and offer something divinely great and supremely good. When the composer closes his eyes and ears to the world while composing, his inner eyes and inner ears see Heaven's beauty and hear Heaven's messages. Then he is unquestionably entitled to be in the galaxy of the Immortals.

As Mozart writes to his father, "I pay no attention whatever to anybody's praise or blame….I simply follow my own feelings."

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Insecurity and jealousy reign supreme. The old generation finds it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to appreciate, admire and adore the young generation. But he who has transcended the power of time and clime is nobility incarnate. Hence, he becomes a special boon to humanity from Divinity. Again, he who is not the possessor of a magnanimous heart is undoubtedly a colossal failure in the evolving consciousness of mankind.

About the 15-year-old Mozart, Johann Adolf Hasse states, "This boy will cause us all to be forgotten."

Richard Wagner

You are not only a musician of lofty heights, but a human being who could brook ruthless showers of criticism, unlike most other human beings.
"I have been told that Wagner's music is better than it sounds.
  " — Mark Twain

"Is Wagner a human being at all? Is he not rather a disease? He contaminates everything he touches" — he has made music sick....Wagner's art is diseased.
   — Friedrich Nietzsche

"Happily for Wagner, he is endowed with a temper so insolent that criticism cannot touch his heart-even admitting that he has heart, which I doubt.
  " — Georges Bizet

Richard Wagner

We do not know how and when and which consciousness Wagner is in when he says, "I know nothing at all about music."

Again, in a letter to Liszt he declares, "Whatever my passions demand of me, I become for the time being — musician, poet, director, author, lecturer or anything else."

Indeed, what Wagner writes is sublimely instructive and unmistakably inspiring.

Johannes Brahms

This world of ours is flooded with destructive criticism. Perhaps the critics do know that their criticism-tongues have the capacity to slash the hearts of the composer. Hence, they greedily enjoy this game.

About Brahms, George Bernard Shaw said, "His Requiem is patiently borne only by the corpse."

Another man added, "Too much beer and beard."

Johannes Brahms

To acknowledge one's imperfection is a sign of greatness. And to ask for pardon is definitely a sign of goodness. Here, indeed, you have shown both your greatness and goodness: "I beg a thousand pardons if there should be anyone here whom I have not insulted tonight!"

Frederic Chopin

Chopin, your appreciations of Bach and Beethoven are at once extremely illumining and richly fulfilling:
"Bach is like an astronomer who, with the help of ciphers, finds the most wonderful stars.... Beethoven embraced the universe with the power of his spirit....I do not climb so high. A long time ago I decided that my universe will be the soul and heart of man."

Frederic Chopin

Your life-boat plies between appreciation-shore and deprecation-shore.

One man states, "He is the truest artist I have ever met."

Robert Schumann concisely concludes, "Hats off, gentlemen, a genius!"

But then, Oscar Wilde remarks, "After playing Chopin, I feel as if I had been weeping over sins that I had never committed and mourning over tragedies that were not my own."

Another man comments, "Compared with Berlioz, Chopin was a morbidly sentimental flea by the side of a roaring lion."

My heart soulfully and readily agrees with Miss Gladkowska: "Remember! Never forget that we in Poland love you….In foreign lands they may appreciate and reward you better, but they cannot love you more."

Franz Liszt

The pianist in me has taken safest shelter in your immortal piano performances. Unfortunately, there will always be some critics to pass their own self-satisfied judgments.

Clara Schumann, for example, tersely states: "A smasher of pianos."

Felix Mendelssohn adds: "He performed works by Beethoven, Bach, Handel and Weber in such a pitiably imperfect style, so uncleanly, so ignorantly, that I could have listened to many a middling pianist with more pleasure."

Am I not lucky that I will not dare to play Bach, Beethoven and Handel? I would have played them infinitely worse and infinitely more destructively. Who knows, perhaps I would have rightly deserved the same.

Again, who in his right mind can dare to ignore the high appreciation that you have received?

Robert Schumann comments: "He must be heard — and also seen; for if he played behind the scenes, a great deal of the poetry of his playing would be lost."

Claude Debussy

"I wish to write down my musical dreams in a spirit of utter self-detachment.
  " — Claude Debussy

Self-detachment is of supreme importance. When we have self-detachment, we can enter into the world of self-transcendence. Self-transcendence at once embodies perfect perfection and complete satisfaction.

Claude Debussy

Francis Poulenc states: "Debussy has always remained my favourite composer after Mozart. I could not do without his music. It is my oxygen."

I am sure there will be many who gladly and devotedly will sail in your Debussy-admiration and Debussy-adoration-boat.

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

"Music is not illusion, but revelation.
  " — Peter Ilyicb Tchaikovsky

One does not have to be a musician of the highest order in order to see eye-to-eye with you. Any man, as long as he is a music-lover, knows and feels that the supreme utterance by the supreme musician in you is absolutely true.

Robert Schumann

"I should not like to be understood by everybody.
  " — Robert Schumann

The philosopher in you
Is divinely great.
The God-lover in you
Is supremely good.

Gioacchino Rossini

The Vedic wisdom-light of India tells the world that from delight we all come into existence, in delight we grow and at the end of our journey's close, we return to delight, our eternal Source.

The supreme musician in Rossini has practically the same message:

"Delight must be the basis and aim of this art."

Joseph Haydn

In any field of life, he who offers compassion and encouragement is indeed a great mind and a good heart.

Speaking to a child violinist, Haydn states: "No need to be scared of me, my boy. I'm a bad player myself."

Joseph Haydn

Haydn, not only do you offer compassion and encouragement, but also humility and genuine sincerity:
"Friends often flatter me that I have some genius, but he [Mozart] stands far above me."

Your soulful humility is proudly blessed by the highest Heights. At a performance of The Creation, you affirm: "Not from me — it came from above."

Editor's note

Note: All quotations contained in this pamphlet are taken from A Dictionary of Musical Quotations, edited by Ian Crofton and Donald Fraser, Routledge Publishers, London, 1985.