Sunday, August 31, 2008

Musician Quotes: A poem for David Markson

I have been a fan of the unconventional fiction of David Markson, since I randomly picked up one of his "novels" called, interestingly enough, 'This is not a novel.' Like all of his recent work, it is a collection of pithy observations, biographical trivia on the lives of artists, interspersed with an occasional self-referential nod to the idea of readers and writers having identities within the work.

So, I collected some quotes on Puccini earlier this summer for a seminar Amy and I did for the Washinton and Lee Alumni College. This practice caused me to begin peppering my journal with interesting quotes by and about other artists. The quotes by the great Finnish composer, Jean Sibelius, are from the elegant documentary on the composer by Christopher Nupen.

This is the first in what I imagine will be an ongoing series of entries, and is humbly dedicated to the artist who inspired it.

Quotes (for David Markson)

I. Puccini & co.

“He wrote marvelous operas,
but dreadful music” Shostakovich said of Puccini.

“A sin against art” is how one critic
decribed Puccini’s second opera, Edgar.

“After the piano, my favorite instrument
is the rifle” said the same composer.

“The simpler the surface of the music is,
the more difficult it is to find the inner truth in it”
Bernstein shrewdly observed.

“You have to have maturity to understand beauty”
commented Bruno Walter, on the late arrival in his career conducting Mozart.

Fritz Reiner challenged his students, Bernstein among them, saying
“You have to have the right to conduct.”

“Like a beautiful painting without a frame” is how Daniel Barenboim described Martha Argerich.

II. Sibelius

“The mysticism of nature and the agony of life” is how the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius described the shrill call of the swan.

“I do not know how many times I have considered giving up music completely and becoming an idiot,” said Sibelius, quite early in his career.

“A role for which I have always had the greatest inclination” concluded the same composer, whose last work appeared in 1925.

Sibelius lived over 30 years longer, dying in 1957 at age 91.

PS: “Culture is for living, and art should be about taking part.”
said director Lee Hall.

1 comment:

MySASstory said...

I like the Sibelius quote.Watching a TV program on him now and they mentioned the quote. According to Google you are the only page on the whole of the internet with it!

Well done!