Composer Sayings and Quotes

Below you will find our collection of inspirational, wise, and humorous old composer quotes, composer sayings, and composer proverbs, collected over the years from a variety of sources.


Remember always that the composer's pen is still mightier than the bow of the violinist; in you lie all the possibilities of the creation of beauty.     

John Philip Sousa

Composers shouldn't think too much - it interferes with their plagiarism.     

Howard Dietz

It doesn't necessarily mean at all that the composer plays his own works best.     

Leo Ornstein

The composer opens the cage door for arithmetic, the draftsman gives geometry its freedom.

Jean Cocteau

Competitions are for horses, not artists.

Bela Bartok

Composers love to write for symphony orchestras because the symphony is the Rolls Royce of musical instruments.     

David Del Tredici

The composers could no longer direct all performances in person, and so the responsibility of interpreting their works in the spirit in which they had been conceived was placed upon conductors.     

Anton Seidl

Composers are not all good conductors.     

Anton Seidl

A composer is a guy who goes around forcing his will on unsuspecting air molecules, often with the assistance of unsuspecting musicians.     

Frank Zappa

Any composer who is gloriously conscious that he is a composer must believe that he receives his inspiration from a source higher than himself.

John Philip Sousa

If you're a composer, there's never a moment you're not working.

Ellen Taaffe Zwilich

The further the music develops, the more complex the apparatus used by the composer to express his thoughts becomes.

Gustav Mahler

A composer's job involves the decoration of fragments of time.     

Frank Zappa

Every composer's music reflects in its subject-matter and in its style the source of the money the composer is living on while writing the music.     

Virgil Thomson

Many, many composers have only found their way to a certain form, through familiarizing themselves with texts.     

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau

A composer is not only an architect but also an inventor, and he should not build houses in which he cannot live.

Igor Stravinsky

The greatest composer does not sit down to work because he is inspired, but becomes inspired because he is working.

Ernest Newman

Composers should write tunes that chauffeurs and errand boys can whistle.

Thomas Beecham

Composers are always going back to the past.

Anne Dudley

A good composer does not imitate; he steals.

Igor Stravinsky

Every composer knows the anguish and despair occasioned by forgetting ideas which one had no time to write down.     

Hector Berlioz

The old idea of a composer suddenly having a terrific idea and sitting up all night to write it is nonsense. Nighttime is for sleeping.

Benjamin Britten

A composer knows that music is written by human beings for human beings and that music is a continuation of life, not something separated from it.     

Hanns Eisler

Composers often think in terms of music and not of an instrument itself.

Michala Petri

God is the composer; you are the song.

Steve Maraboli

Many composers today don't know what the human throat is.     

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf

A good composer is slowly discovered and a bad composer is slowly found out.     

Ernest Newman

The real composer thinks about his work the whole time; he is not always conscious of this, but he is aware of it later when he suddenly knows what he will do.     

Igor Stravinsky

If a composer could say what he had to say in words he would not bother trying to say it in music.

Gustav Mahler

Composers are the only people who can hear good music above bad sounds.

John Philip Sousa


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