21 of the Best Quotes about Music

I’ve been collecting music quotes for a few years. I come across something I like and I stash it in my Notes app. Awesome.

Today’s post is dedicated to the je ne sais quoi of music and creativity. Here are 21 of my favorite quotes about music.

Who said it. What they said.

Robert Schumann

Robert Schumann was a German Romantic composer of the early 1800s.

To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts, such is the duty of the artist.

I just heard this quote very recently. Listening to a TED talk by Robert Gupta, a violinist with LA Symphony. Robert was talking about the choice he made between becoming a doctor or a violinist. Even though he chose the music world, he was still drawn to healing others. His doctor tools were his violin and the music of Brahms, Chopin, and others.


“Ah, music,” he said, wiping his eyes. “A magic beyond all we do here!”

Albus Dumbledore, J.K. Rowling’s lovable headmaster from the Harry Potter books, knows a thing or two about magic, and as it turns out, music, too!

Peggy Holroyde

In music and dance we soon become very aware of this world alive with gods and goddesses.

Ms. Holroyde wrote four books about the music of India. She may have been talking specifically about the many gods and goddesses of Hindu practices. But I find the quote holds up just as well here in the West; music and dance transports us to spiritual and sometimes mystical realms of the gods and goddesses.

Thelonious Monk, Minton's Playhouse, New York, N.Y., ca. Sept. 1947 (William P. Gottlieb 06191)Thelonius Monk

Talking about music is like dancing about architecture.

A note can be as small as a pin or as big as the world; it depends on your imagination.

American Jazz pianist and composer, Thelonius Monk offers us two rather contrasting statements. The first tongue-in-cheek quote pairs nicely with his other quote, an attempt to actually talk about music.

Given Monk’s dissonant-heavy compositional technique, it makes sense to have these two contrasting and perhaps dissonant views of music together.

George Santayana

The Earth has music for those who listen.

This quote is one of Spanish American philosopher, Jorge Santayana‘s lesser-known quotes. You’ve probably heard his oft-quoted: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Ben Hauper

Music is the sound track to optimism. Silent optimism is an 8, with music it’s a 10.

Well, now I can’t confirm if this quote is by Ben Hauper or Ben Harper, American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. It sounds like something the 1962-born Ben Harper would say rather than 1900-era Hauper from Tennessee.

Can you imagine your life without a soundtrack?! Well, you could. But it would only be an 8. 😉


Movies are real! Music is real! It affects people, it’s real. … The other night I went to a club and I watched a DJ control an entire room. Even politicians can’t do that.

With less than 100 days to go before the Presidential election, I thought I’d throw in this quote from the beloved and late Prince. Bonus video: Prince and Tom Petty have a musical lovefest in this video from their performance at his 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. Prince takes over at around 3:20.


Music is like a fire; you should keep it burning all the time.

The baritone opera singer reminds us to maintain our musical fire.

Victoria BondVictoria Bond

The daughter of musicians, composer and conductor Victoria Bond (b. 1949) described the feeling she had as a child when sleeping over at a friend’s home where there were no musical instruments:

“It was like being in a house with no windows!”

Such is the importance of music and having musical instruments in every household. Oh yeah, I just said that every household needs musical instruments. No, George, a radio doesn’t count.

Bobby McFerrin

To me, that’s our job as artists. That’s the job description. You must bring joy. I think that’s the assignment. I have no doubt about it.

Alright, musicians, we have our assignments! Thanks, Bobby. McFerrin followed his assignment with the hit Don’t Worry, Be Happy. And in this TED talk he does it again.

Dieter Rot

If you can’t draw something, just draw it.

Also true, if you can’t play something, just play it. There’s also a great deal of freedom in this outlook.

Frederick Delius

There is only one real happiness in life, and that is the happiness of creating.

Delius was a British composer born in 1862. Mr. Delius’ father wanted Frederick to follow in the family business as a wool merchant. But Frederick, or Fritz as he was called until he was 40, had no desire or motivation for the world of commerce. After a move to Florida at age 22, young Delius met Thomas Ward who became his teacher of counterpoint and composition. Delius knew from his own life experience that creating was his key to happiness.

Louis Armstrong

What we play is life.

Can’t play anyone else’s life. Can only play our own. Dig it. I feel ya, Satchmo.

Igor Stravinsky

I haven’t understood a bar of music in my life, but I have felt it.

Aaron Copland

So  long as the human spirit thrives on this planet, music in some living form will accompany and sustain it and give it expressive meaning.

No further comment needed except to let you know who Aaron Copland is, if you don’t know. Born in 1900, a Scorpio, one of our finest American composers, lived to be 90. His more popular works that evoke the sound of America:  Appalachian Spring, Billy the Kid, Rodeo, and Fanfare for the Common Man. 

Vincent Van Gogh

The more I think about it, the more I realize there is nothing more artistic than to love others.

Whether your art is with a paintbrush or a piano, the bottom line is the same. As Bobby McFerrin said, our job is to bring joy. And Robert Schumann said our duty is to bring light into the darkness of humankind. And as 19th century Dutch painter Vincent says, love others.

Bruce Springsteen

The best music is essentially there to provide you something to face the world with.

American musician, singer, songwriter, and humanitarian, Bruce Springsteen writes about working class issues and is a voice of American rock and folk music.

Ram Dass

The quieter you become, the more you can hear.

Not about music per se, unless you include silence as part of music as much as sound. And I do.

Pablo Picasso with his sister Lola, 1889Pablo Picasso

To draw, you must close your eyes and sing.

Picasso‘s quote echoes Stravinsky’s quote about feeling music rather than understanding it. And I enjoy the mixing of the visual and aural expressions.

John Lennon

The quotes here have spanned the gamut from technical to mystical, academic to spiritual. I close with this message from John Lennon that is all-encompassing.

All you need is love.

Featured image of John Lennon 1969 By Joost Evers / Anefo CC0

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