25 Famous Leonard Bernstein Quotes

25 Famous Leonard Bernstein Quotes

by / Comments Off / 1784 View / Nov 24, 2014

Leonard Bernstein was a composer and conductor as well as a pianist and author. His fame stemmed from his work as the music director of the New York Philharmonic. He died of a heart attack in 1990.

“A liberal is a man or a woman or a child who looks forward to a better day, a more tranquil night, and a bright, infinite future.”

“A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”

“Any great work of art … revives and readapts time and space, and the measure of its success is the extent to which it makes you an inhabitant of that world — the extent to which it invites you in and lets you breathe its strange, special air.”

“I believe in people. I feel, love, need and respect people above all else, including natural scenery, organized piety and nationalistic superstructures. One human figure on the slope of a mountain can make the mountain disappear for me, one person fighting for truth can disqualify for me the entire system which had dispensed it.”

“I can’t live one day without hearing music, playing it, studying it, or thinking about it.”

“If I don’t become Brahms or Tchaikovsky or Stravinsky when I’m conducting their works, then it won’t be a great performance.”

“If you’re a good composer, you steal good steals.”

“I’m no longer quite sure what the question is, but I do know that the answer is Yes.”

“I’m not interested in having an orchestra sound like itself. I want it to sound like the composer.”

“In the olden days, everybody sang. You were expected to sing as well as talk. It was a mark of the cultured man to sing.”

“Inspiration is wonderful when it happens, but the writer must develop an approach for the rest of the time…. The wait is simply too long.”

“I’ve been all over the world and I’ve never seen a statue of a critic.”

“Mozart’s music is constantly escaping from its frame, because it cannot be contained in it.”

“Music can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable.”

“Music, of all the arts, stands in a special region, unlit by any star but its own, and utterly without meaning … except its own.”

“She was pure electricity.”

“So why do so many of us try to explain the beauty of music, thus depriving it of its mystery?”

“Stillness is our most intense mode of action. It is in our moments of deep quiet that is born every idea, emotion, and drive which we eventually honor with the name of action. Our most emotionally active life is lived in our dreams, and our cells renew themselves most industriously in sleep. We reach highest in meditation, and farthest in prayer. In stillness every human
being is great; he is free from the experience of hostility; he is a poet, and most like an angel.”

“Technique is communication: the two words are synonymous in conductors.”

“The 20th century has been a badly written drama, from the beginning.”

“The key to the mystery of a great artist is that for reasons unknown, he will give away his energies and his life just to make sure that one note follows another…and leaves us with the feeling that something is right in the world.”

“The trouble with you and me, Ned, is that we want everyone in the world to personally love us, and of course that’s impossible; you just don’t meet everyone in the world.”

“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.”

“To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.”

“Why do so many of us try to explain the beauty of music, thus depriving it of its mystery?”