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"The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity."

- W.B. Yeats, "The Second Coming"


"E questo ti sia sempre piombo a' piedi, per farti mover lento com'uom lasso e al sì e al no che tu non vedi . . .

. . . perch'elli 'ncontra che più volte piega l'oppinion corrente in falsa parte, e poi l'affetto l'intelletto lega.»

("And let this always weigh down your feet like lead, to make you move as slowly as a weary man, to refrain from yes or no when you do not see ...

because hasty opinion too often points the wrong way and then affection for one's own opinion binds up the intellect.")

- Dante, Purgatorio XIII: 112-114, 118-120


"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts"

- Bertrand Russell


(Hear Daniel Schorr explain why music criticism is disreputable. From an NPR interview.)


"No statue was ever erected in memory of a critic.”

- Sibelius


"A critic is a man that knows the way but can't drive the car.”

- Kenneth Tyan


"The aim of a critic, beyond that of saying what he thinks, is to make two thoughts grow where only one grew before.”

- Jacques Barzun, A Jacques Barzun Reader


"Don’t try to explain it, just sell it.”

- Colonel Tom Parker


"A work of art is never beautiful, by decree, for everyone. Criticism is, therefore, useless; it only exists subjectively, for every individual,, and without the slightest general characteristic."

- Tristan Tzara, Dada Manifesto


"The critic always think that they are clever that the artists. They often abuse their rights when they scold the artist for his performance. Artists are poor and tremble before the critic. They feel hurt and suffer. The soul weeps."

- Vaslav Nijinsky, The Diary of Vaslav Nijinsky


"The language of music is an entirely different mode of communication than the written word. When a writer chooses a single word to illustrate a form, a 'school' or even the approach of a given artist he had better be prepared to explain the context of that term. The art -or craft- of writing about music implies describing the inexplicable. Categorization of music generally denotes sheer laziness, lack of insight, and in the worst cases, hack journalism on the part of a writer."

- Laurence M Svirchev, Writer-Photographer, Vancouver, BC Canada


"The only truly objective critic is a dead critic."

- San Francisco-based music critic Stephanie von Buchau


"In order to understand a thing, you must first be able to describe it."

- Donna Woolfolk Cross


"The level of writing that passes for music criticism...is depressingly low. There exists no tradition of really informed, vibrant writing in small journals...I regret the fact that composers have given up writing about music. Berlioz, Schumann and Wagner were highly educated writers and grappled with aesthetic and historical stylistic issues - they preached and practiced."

- Composer/conductor John Adams


"Reviewers are usually people who would have been poets, historians, biographers, if they could: they have tried their talents at one or the other, and have failed; therefore they turn critics."

- Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lectures: Sheakespeare and Milton


"Critics - murderers!"

- Samuel Taylor Coleridge


"Those who write ill, and they who ne'er durst to write,
Turn critics out of mere revenge and spite."


- John Dryden, Conquest of Granada


"Blame where you must, be candid where you can,
And be each critic the Good-Natured Man."


- Oliver Goldsmith The Good-Natured Man


"Criticism is the are wherewith a critic tries to guess himself into a share of the artist's fame."

- George Jean Nathan, House of Satan


"They damn what they do nut understand."

- Quintilian, De Institutione Oratoria


"Really to stop criticism they say one must die."

- Voltaire


"The good critic is he who narrates the adventures of his soul among masterpieces."

- Anatole France, La Vie Litteraire


"'Tis hard to say if greater want of skill
Appears in writing or judging ill."


- Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism


"Definition of rock journalism: People who can't write, doing interviews with people who can't think, in order to prepare articles for people who can't read."

- Frank Zappa, The Real Frank Zappa Book


"A music critic couldn't get up on stage and do it if he had to. A music critic nine timesout of ten is a frustrated performer...Music is too precious to me,I do not want to be distractedfrom it by the trashiness of music reviews."

- Soprano Sylvia McNair


"A critic is a man who knows the way but can't drive the car."

- Kenneth Tyan


Christopher Hampton says asking a working musicians what he thinks about critics is like "asking a lamp-post what it thinks about dogs."


Finnish composer Jean Sibelius observes, "pay no attention to what the critics say. No good songs were ever written by a critic..."


To paraphrase Edvard Munch, who painted The Scream, "After all his musical efforts had come to nought and he had to wear a hearing aid, he became an art critic..."


"A critic is a man who writes about things he doesn't like."

- H. L. Mencken


"Man derides what he does not understand."

- Goethe



"Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how its done, they've seen it done everyday, but they're unable to do it themselves."

- Brendan Behan



"Any fool can criticize and many of them do."

- Cyril Garbett



"Songs are so much more than lyrics, but your normal rock critic can't really deal with anything more than the lyrics. He can't address the other issues because he doesn't understand them. Most guys who review records don't know anything about tunings, drum beats, notes, measures, all that stuff, so it's just lost on them."

- John Mellencamp


"I have no responsibility to the critics. It's easy to hate something. A lot of those guys could never, ever say 'I really liked this John Tesh concert' and get back into the newsroom with their skin. The rest of the guys would kill 'em. It's akin to liking Satan."

- John Tesh
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