Tchaikovsky: We must always work…

“Do not believe those who try to persuade you that composition is only a cold exercise of the intellect. The only music capable of moving and touching us is that which flows from the depths of a composer’s soul when he is stirred by inspiration. There is no doubt that even the greatest musical geniuses have sometimes worked without inspiration. This guest does not always respond to the first invitation. We must always work, and a self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood. If we wait for the mood, without endeavouring to meet it half-way, we easily become indolent and apathetic. We must be patient, and believe that inspiration will come to those who can master their disinclination.

A few days ago I told you I was working every day without any real inspiration. Had I given way to my disinclination, undoubtedly I should have drifted into a long period of idleness. But my patience and faith did not fail me, and to-day I felt that inexplicable glow of inspiration of which I told you; thanks to which I know beforehand that whatever I write to-day will have power to make an impression, and to touch the hearts of those who hear it. I hope you will not think I am indulging in self-laudation, if I tell you that I very seldom suffer from this disinclination to work. I believe the reason for this is that I am naturally patient. I have learnt to master myself, and I am glad I have not followed in the steps of some of my Russian colleagues, who have no self-confidence and are so impatient that at the least difficulty they are ready to throw up the sponge. This is why, in spite of great gifts, they accomplish so little, and that in an amateur way.”

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Source: Brainpickings.  Tchaikovsky, the legendary composer, wrote this in a letter to his benefactress, Nadezhda von Meck, dated March 17th, 1878.  It can be found in the 1905 volumeThe Life & Letters of Pete Ilich Tchaikovsky.

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  1. There is something so intimate about reading letters..I miss them. Somehow I am not surprised that his eloquence would cross from music to pen.. And I adore the music. I will return to this – in fact, I’m going to re-blog it. Fantastic..


  2. Reblogged this on Waiting for the Karma Truck and commented:
    You cannot read and listen to this post and not be transported…perhaps inward to your own inspiration. continues to amaze and delight…thank you!


  3. And his music inspires other artists as well…..I can visualize this dance from the Nutcracker in my head.


  4. Alex Jones says:

    Wise words. It is good to listen to the words of the successful.


  5. LaDona's Music Studio says:

    Awesome way to start the day. Thank you Dave. It’s a great video – I like the snippets of information and photos. And the quote says it all… “a self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood.” Love it.


  6. As a child I listened to Tchaikovsky whilst my family members and piers listened to ‘other’ music. I also listened to ‘other’ music (in fact, most music) however, I loved many of the ‘greats’ of history. This incredibly gentle, heart lifting piece (Waltz of the Flowers) was a favourite…
    Thank You, David… That was lovely…..


    • Thanks Carolyn. Unfortunately I did not (listen or care to listen to this music as a child). Glad that I have found my way to it today. Thanks for sharing your thoughts – it is in fact a heart lifting piece. Dave


  7. I agree. I’ve felt like that with my writing. I have to begin to work and then inspiration comes. (I don’t mean that I can compare myself to a great composer, but the basic beginnings are the same, and they do involve work.)


  8. If one ‘I very seldom suffer from this disinclination to work. I believe the reason for this is that I am naturally patient.’ claims to be like this then one is laudable. I always wait for something to inspire me. Thanks for this post, very inspiring.


    • I too seldom suffer for a disinclination to work. But the “naturally patient part” – not so much. 🙂 I generally get inspired by accomplishment. Taking small bites at a time and then momentum seems to build. Thanks for sharing Indira.


  9. LaDona's Music Studio says:

    Reblogged this on LaDona's Music Studio and commented:
    From one of my favourite blogs – insight into Tchaikovsky’s life and thoughts. “…a self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood.” The video with Waltz of the Flowers is a beautiful slide show of informational tidbits and photos. This one hit my sweet spot.


  10. Beautiful and enchanting piece of music…very soothing, thanks for the post ( I’ll take the link and listen to it again on you tube )


  11. Loved listening to your words and the music.


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