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On art and artists

96. "How eagerly mankind withdraws from the poor artist what it
has once given him;--and Zeus, from whom one might ask an
invitation to sup on ambrosia, lives no longer."

(In the summer of 1814, to Kauka, an advocate who represented him
in the lawsuit against the heirs of Kinsky.)

97. "I love straightforwardness and uprightness, and believe that
the artist ought not to be belittled; for, alas! brilliant as
fame is externally, it is not always the privilege of the artist
to be Jupiter's guest on Olympus all the time. Unfortunately
vulgar humanity drags him down only too often and too rudely from
the pure upper ether."

(June 5, 1852, to C. F. Peters, music publisher, in Leipzig when
treating with him touching a complete edition of his works.)

98. "The true artist has no pride; unhappily he realizes that art
has no limitations, he feels darkly how far he is from the goal,
and while, perhaps he is admired by others, he grieves that he
has not yet reached the point where the better genius shall
shine before him like a distant sun."

(Teplitz, July 17, to an admirer ten years old.)

99. "You yourself know what a change is wrought by a few years in
the case of an artist who is continually pushing forward. The
greater the progress which one makes in art, the less is one
satisfied with one's old works.

(Vienna, August 4, 1800, to Mathisson, in the dedication of his
setting of "Adelaide." "My most ardent wish will be fulfilled if
you are not displeased with the musical composition of your
heavenly 'Adelaide.'")

100. "Those composers are exemplars who unite nature and art in
their works."

(Baden, in 1824, to Freudenberg, organist from Breslau.)

101. "What will be the judgment a century hence concerning the
lauded works of our favorite composers today? Inasmuch as nearly
everything is subject to the changes of time, and, more's the
pity, the fashions of time, only that which is good and true, will
endure like a rock, and no wanton hand will ever venture to defile
it. Then let every man do that which is right, strive with all his
might toward the goal which can never be attained, develop to the
last breath the gifts with which a gracious Creator has endowed
him, and never cease to learn; for 'Life is short, art eternal!'"

(From the notes in the instruction book of Archduke Rudolph.)

102. "Famous artists always labor under an embarrassment;--
therefore first works are the best, though they may have sprung
out of dark ground."

(Conversation-book of 1840.)

103. "A musician is also a poet; he also can feel himself
transported by a pair of eyes into another and more beautiful
world where greater souls make sport of him and set him right
difficult tasks."

(August 15, 1812, to Bettina von Arnim.)

104. "I told Goethe my opinion as to how applause affects men
like us, and that we want our equals to hear us understandingly!
Emotion suits women only; music ought to strike fire from the
soul of a man."

(August 15, 1810, to Bettina von Arnim.)

105. "Most people are touched by anything good; but they do not
partake of the artist's nature; artists are ardent, they do not

(Reported to Goethe by Bettina von Arnim, May 28, 1810.)

106. "L'art unit tout le monde,--how much more the true artist!"

(March 15, 1823, to Cherubini, in Paris.)

107. "Only the artist, or the free scholar, carries his happiness
within him."

(Reported by Karl von Bursy as part of a conversation in 1816.)

108. "There ought to be only one large art warehouse in the
world, to which the artist could carry his art-works and from
which he could carry away whatever he needed. As it is one must
be half a tradesman."

(January, 1801, to Hofmeister, in Leipzig.)

Jan 6, 2016
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