Bruno Kassel
Quotes about Music and Musicians

Musicians' Jokes“Never look at the trombones – it only encourages them.”
Richard Strauss

“Wagner's music is better than it sounds.”
Mark Twain

“Composers shouldn’t think too much – it interferes with their plagiarism.”
Howard Dietz

“One of the perks of being an unemployed musician is that you get to play much less bad music.”
Jack Daney

“In opera, there is always too much singing.”
Claude Debussy

“Oh how wonderful, really wonderful opera would be if there were no singers!”
Gioacchino Rossini

“Music is, by its very nature, essentially powerless to express anything at all. Music expresses itself.”
Igor Stravinsky

“The drummer drives. Everybody else rides!”
Panama Francis

“Music is my mistress, and she plays second fiddle to no one.”
Duke Ellington

“We never play anything the same way once.”
Shelly Manne's definition of jazz musicians

“Music is a very hard instrument.”
Vido Musso

“If I could play like Wynton (Marsalis), I wouldn't play like Wynton.”
Chet Baker

“Musicians talk of nothing but money and jobs. Give me businessmen every time. They really are interested in music and art.”
Jean Sibelius, explaining why he rarely invited musicians to his home

“I am not handsome, but when women hear me play, they come crawling to my feet.”
Nicolo Paganini

“Critics can't even make music by rubbing their back legs together.”
Mel Brooks

“Berlioz says nothing in his music, but he says it magnificently.”
James Gibbons Hunekar

“Flint must be an extremely wealthy town: I see that each of you bought two or three seats.”
Victor Borge, playing to a half-filled house in Flint, Michigan

“There are still so many beautiful things to be said in C major.”
Sergei Prokofiev

“Already too loud!”
Conductor Bruno Walter at his first rehearsal with an American orchestra, on seeing the players reaching for their instruments

“When she started to play, Steinway himself came down personally and rubbed his name off the piano.”
Bob Hope, on comedienne Phyllis Diller

“If a young man at the age of twenty-three can write a symphony like that, in five years he will be ready to commit murder.”
Walter Damrosch on Aaron Copland

“Only become a musician if there is absolutely no other way you can make a living.”
Kirke Mecham, on his life as a composer

“I would rather play Chiquita Banana and have my swimming pool than play Bach and starve.”
Xavier Cugat

“The only tune they play in 4/4 is 'Take Five!'”
unknown, talking about the Don Ellis band

“Jazz is the only music in which the same note can be played night after night but differently each time.”
Ornette Coleman

“Some days you get up and put the horn to your chops and it sounds pretty good and you win. Some days you try and nothing works and the horn wins. This goes on and on and then you die and the horn wins.”
Dizzy Gillespie on playing the trumpet

“Hell is full of musical amateurs.”
George Bernard Shaw

“God tells me how the music should sound, but you stand in the way.”
Arturo Toscanini to a trumpet player

“To be a musician is a curse. To NOT be one is even worse.”
Jack Daney

“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.”
Hunter Thompson

“A ponderous orchestral absurdity.”
Frank Zappa on his rock symphony debuted by the Los Angeles Philharmonic

“Most people wouldn't know good music if it came up and bit them in the ass.”
Frank Zappa

“Jazz is not dead ... it just smells funny.”
Frank Zappa

“Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid.”
Frank Zappa

Interviewer: “So Frank, you have long hair. Does that make you a woman?”
Frank Zappa: “If you have a wooden leg – does that make you a table?”

Musicians' Jokes
"The Best Musicians' Jokes"
Mel Bay Publications, Inc.
ISBN 0786673001
112 pages
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