Music Quotes
The Samuel Johnson Sound Bite Page
Home | Topical Guide | Search the Site


Other related topics at:

102. Music
"There is nothing, I think, in which the power of art is shown so much as in playing on the fiddle. In all other things we can do something at first. Any man will forge a bar of iron, if you give him a hammer; not so well as a smith, but tolerably. A man will saw a piece of wood, and make a box, though a clumsy one; but give him a fiddle and a fiddle-stick, and he can do nothing."
Boswell: Life

257. Diversion; Music
"It must be born with a man to be contented to take up with little things. Women have a great advantage that they may take up with little things, without disgracing themselves: a man cannot, except with fiddling. Had I learned to fiddle I should have done nothing else."
Boswell: Life

301. Music
[After a parlor performance of music, one which Johnson paid absolutely no attention to, perhaps because of his deafness and paying greater attention to books on the shelves] Mrs. Thrale, in a laughing manner, said "Pray, Dr. Burney, can you tell me what that song was and whose, which Savoi sung last night at [J.C., not J.S.] Bach's Concert, and which you did not hear?" ...wishing to draw Dr. Johnson into some conversation, [Dr. Burney] told him the question. The Doctor, seeing his drift, good-naturedly put away his book, and said very drolly, "And pray, Sir, who is Bach? Is he a piper?" Many exclamations of surprise, you will believe, followed this question. "Why you have read his name often in the papers," said Mrs. Thrale; and then she gave him some account of his Concert, and the number of performances she had heard at it.
"Pray," said he, gravely, "Madam, what is the expense?"
"Oh!" answered she, "much trouble and solicitation, to get a Subscriber's ticket; or else, half a Guinea."
"Trouble and solicitation," said he, "I will have nothing to do with; but I would be willing to give eighteen pence."
Anecdote from Fanny Burney, in C.B. Tinker, Dr. Johnson and Fanny Burney (1912)

1,510. Music; Ouch!!
Dr. Johnson was observed by a musical friend of his to be extremely inattentive at a concert, whilst a celebrated solo player was running up the divisions and subdivisions of notes upon his violin. His friend, to induce him to take greater notice of what was going on, told him how extremely difficult it was. "Difficult do you call it, Sir?" replied the Doctor; "I wish it were impossible."
Anecdotes by William Seward, in Johnsonian Miscellanies, edited by G. B. Hill

1,869. Music
"OF music Dr. Johnson used to say that it was the only sensual pleasure without vice."
Johnson: quoted in Anecdotes of William Seward, reprinted in "Johnsonian Miscellanies," edited by George Birkbeck Hill.

The Samuel Johnson Sound Bite Page
Back to Top
Home | Topical Guide | Search the SiteThis image is only to register visitors
who come through cached search engine pages.