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Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) | Quotes


  • In order to create there must be a dynamic force, and what force is more potent than love?
  • Per creare ci deve essere una grande forza dinamica. E quale forza è più potente dell'amore.
  • Gli artisti mediocri prendono in prestito, quelli grandi rubano.
  • A good composer does not imitate; he steals.
  • Composers combine notes, that's all.
  • I compositori combinano le note, tutto qui.
  • To listen is an effort, and just to hear is no merit. A duck hears also.
  • Silence will save me from being wrong (and foolish), but it will also deprive me of the possibility of being right.
  • Too many pieces of music finish too long after the end.
  • Film music should have the same relationship to the film drama that somebody's piano playing in my living room has to the book I am reading.
  • One lives by memory . . . and not by truth.
  • To continue in one path is to go backward.
  • Music is the sole domain in which man realizes the present.
  • Recordings of Georgian folk polyphonic songs makes a great musical impression. They are recorded in a tradition of active reproduction of Georgian folk music the origin of which begins from ancient time. It is a wonderful finding and can give to the performance much more than all the modem music can... Yodel or "Krimanchuli" as it is called in Georgia is the best song which I have ever heard.

Igor Stravinsky, 1962
Igor Stravinsky, 1956
  • Music praises God. Music is well or better able to praise him than the building of the church and all its decoration; it is the Church's greatest ornament.
  • He was a six and a half foot scowl. (on Rachmaninov)
  • 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 know only what the truth is for me today. That is what I am called upon to serve, and I serve it in all lucidity.
  • I have no use for a theoretic freedom. Let me have something finite, definite — matter that can lend itself to my operation only insofar as it is commensurate with my possibilities. And such matter presents itself to me together with limitations. I must in turn impose mine upon it. So here we are, whether we like it or not, in the realm of necessity. And yet which of us has ever heard talk of art as other than a realm of freedom? This sort of heresy is uniformly widespread because it is imagined that art is outside the bounds of ordinary activity. Well, in art as in everything else, one can build only upon a resisting foundation: whatever constantly gives way to pressure, constantly renders movement impossible.
  • My freedom thus consists in my moving about within the narrow frame that I have assigned myself for each one of my undertakings.

Jacques Emile Blanche | Portrait of Igor Stravinsky, 1915
  • I shall go even further: my freedom will be so much the greater and more meaningful the more narrowly I limit my field of action and the more I surround myself with obstacles. Whatever diminishes constraint, diminishes strength. The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one’s self of the chains that shackle the spirit.
  • The trick is to compose what one wants to compose and to get it commissioned afterward.
  • For I consider that music is, by its very nature, essentially powerless to express anything at all, whether a feeling, an attitude of mind, a psychological mood, a phenomenon of nature, etc. Expression has never been an inherent property of music. That is by no means the purpose of its existence. If, as is nearly always the case, music appears to express something, this is only an illusion and not a reality. It is simply an additional attribute which, by tacit and inveterate agreement, we have lent it, thrust upon it, as a label, a convention – in short, an aspect which, unconsciously or by force of habit, we have come to confuse with its essential being.
  • Georgian folk music has more new musical ideas than all the contemporary music.
  • 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.
  • I cannot now evaluate the events that, at the end of those thirty years, made me discover the necessity of religious belief. I was not reasoned into my disposition. Though I admire the structured thought of theology, it is to religion no more than counterpoint exercises are to music.
  • There is no beauty in Music itself, the beauty is within the listener.
  • The perfection of performance has escalated to the extent that the music itself is threatened with relegation.
  • I love ballet and am more interested in it than in anything else. . . . For the only form of scenic art that sets itself, as its cornerstone, the tasks of beauty, and nothing else, is ballet.
  • The phenomenon of music is given to us with the sole purpose of establishing an order in things, including, and particularly, the co-ordination between man [sic] and time.
Giacomo Balla | Sketch for the ballet by Igor Stravinsky fireworks feu d'artifice, 1915
Robert Delaunay | Portrait of Igor Stravinsky
  • Abbiamo un dovere nei confronti della musica: inventarla.
  • Più l'arte è controllata, limitata, lavorata, e più è libera.
  • Una vera tradizione non è la testimonianza di un passato concluso, ma una forza viva che anima e informa di sé il presente.
  • Più invecchio, più mi convinco che La bohème è un capolavoro e che adoro Puccini, il quale mi sembra sempre più bello.
  • Gli arpisti spendono il novanta per cento del loro tempo accordando le loro arpe e il dieci percento suonando scordati.
  • Per sua natura la musica non può spiegare niente: né delle emozioni, né dei punti di vista, né dei sentimenti, né dei fenomeni della natura. Essa non spiega che se stessa.
  • Ho imparato durante tutta la mia vita di compositore principalmente attraverso i miei errori e l'inseguimento di false supposizioni, non dalla mia esposizione a fonti di saggezza e conoscenza.
  • Ho ascoltato, e ho scritto ciò che ho ascoltato. Sono stato il recipiente attraverso cui è passata Le sacre.
  • Abbiamo un naso. Il naso sente l'odore e sceglie. Un artista è semplicemente una specie di maiale che cerca tartufi.
  • Se, come quasi sempre accade, la musica sembra esprimere qualcosa, questa è soltanto un'illusione.
  • Il veleno del dramma lirico doveva essere proprio sottile e tenace per potersi insinuare fin nelle vene di quel gigante che è Verdi! Come non rammaricarci che il grande maestro dell'opera tradizionale, giunto al termine di una lunga vita costellata da tanti autentici capolavori, abbia coronato la sua carriera con quel Falstaff che, se non è la migliore opera di Wagner, non è nemmeno la migliore opera di Verdi?
Albert Gleizes | Portrait of Igor Stravinsky, 1914 | MoMA
Igor Stravinsky Statue At Geneva Lake, Montreux
Igor Stravinsky Statue At Geneva Lake, Montreux


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