"There is no doubt that even the greatest musical geniuses
have sometimes worked without inspiration.
This guest (inspiration) 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 endeavoring 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."
"Inspiration is a guest that does not
willingly visit the lazy."
"If that condition of mind and soul
which we call inspiration
lasted long without intermission,
no artist could survive it.
The strings would break
and the instrument be shattered into fragments."
"I sit down to the piano regularly
at nine-o'clock in the morning
and Mesdames les Muses
have learned to be on time for that rendezvous."
"What I have set down in a moment of ardor
I must then critically examine.
Sometimes I must do myself violence
before I can mercilessly erase things thought out with love."
"It is already a great thing
if the main ideas and general outline of a work come
without any racking of brains,
as the result of that supernatural and inexplicable force
we call inspiration."
"Even in the works of the greatest master,
the organic sequence can fail
and then a skillful join must be made."
"The creative process is like music which takes root
with extraordinary force and rapidity."
"To regret the past, to hope in the future,
and never to be satisfied with the present:
that is what I spend my whole life doing."
To his nephew (9 February 1893)
Just prior to composing the Pathetique Symphony:
"What I need is to believe in myself again;
for my faith has been greatly undermined;
it seems to me my role is over."
To his brother,
after composing the Pathetique Symphony (No. 6):
"I feel I shall live a long time."
"You see, my dear friend,
I am made up of contradictions,
and I have reached a very mature age
without resting upon anything positive,
without having calmed my restless spirit
either by religion or philosophy.
Undoubtedly I should have gone mad but for music.
Music is indeed the most beautiful of all Heaven's gifts
to humanity wandering in the darkness.
Alone it calms, enlightens, and stills our souls.
It is not the straw to which the drowning man clings;
but a true friend, refuge, and comforter,
for whose sake life is worth living."