Friday, August 3, 2007

Thomson on the Musical Life

“Of all the professional trainings, music is the most demanding. Even medicine, law, and scholarship, though they often delay a man’s entry into married life, do not interfere with his childhood or adolescence.

Music does. No musician ever passes an average or normal infancy, with all that that means of abundant physical exercise and a certain mental passivity. He must work very hard indeed to learn his musical matters and to train his hand, all in addition to his schoolwork and his play-life. I do not think he is necessarily overworked. I think rather that he is just more elaborately educated than his neighbors. ...In any case, musical training is long, elaborate, difficult, and intense. Nobody who has had it ever regrets it or forgets it. And it builds up in the heart of every musician that those who have had it are not only different from everybody else but definitely superior to most and that all musicians together somehow form an idealistic society in the midst of a tawdry world.”

--Virgil Thomson, From "The State of Music," (1962 Second Edition) in Contemporary Composers on Contemporary Musiced. Elliott Schwartz and Barney Childs (New York: Da Capo, 1998), 173-4.