* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
Salieri wrote a memoir of his own, which his friend Ignacio von Mosel used as the basis for a biography, published in 1827. Salieri’s original document disappeared, but Mosel quoted parts of it. One anecdote is particularly winning. Salieri is recounting the premier, in 1770, of his second opera, “Le Donne Letterate” (“The Learned Woman”). The applause is vigorous, prompting the young composer to follow the audience out into the street, in the hope of soaking up more praise. He overheard a group of operagoers:
“The opera is not bad,” said one. “It pleased me right well,” said a second (that man I could have kissed). “For a pair of beginners, it is no small thing,” said the third. “For my part,” said the fourth, “I found it very tedious.” At these words I struck off into another street for fear of hearing something still worse.
Any creative person who has made the mistake of surreptiously canvassing public opinion will identify with Salieri’s fatal curiosity.
Alex Ross in Salieri’s Revenge in The New Yorker, June 3, 2019
Comments are welcome!
*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
Works of art are of an infinite loneliness and with nothing so little to be reached as with criticism. Only love can grasp and hold and be just toward them. Consider yourself and your feeling right every time with regard to every such argumentation, discussion, or introduction; if you are wrong after all, the natural growth of your inner life will lead you slowly and with time to other insights. Leave to your opinions their own quiet undisturbed development, which, like all progress, must come from deep within and cannot be pressed or hurried into anything. Everything is gestation and then bringing forth. To let each impression and each germ of a feeling come to completion wholly in itself, in the dark, in the inexpressible, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one’s own intelligence, and await with deep humility and patience the birth-hour of a new clarity: that alone is living the artist’s life: in understanding as in creating.
There is also no measuring with time, no year matters, and ten years are nothing. Being an artist means not reckoning and counting, but ripening like the tree which does not force its sap and stands confident in the storms of spring without the fear that after them may come no summer. It does come. But it comes only to the patient, who are there as though eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly still and wide. I learn it daily, learn it with pain to which I am grateful: patience is everything!
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet, Translation by M.D. Herter Norton
Comments are welcome!