Ten Famous and Moving Definitions of Music

Compiled by Geoffrey Larson

Plato, Ancient Greek philosopher
Plato

“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”
-Plato

“Music, moody food of us that trade in love.”
-William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra, c. 1606

“Music, the greatest good that mortals know,
And all of heaven we have below.”
-Joseph Addison, “Song for St. Cecilia’s Day,” 1694

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Music is the moonlight in the gloomy night of life.”
-Jean Paul Richter, Titan, 1803

“Music is the universal language of mankind.”
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Outre-Mer, 1834

“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.”
-Victor Hugo, William Shakespeare, 1864

Jack Kerouac
Jack Kerouac

“Music is love in search of a word.”
-Sydney Lanier, The Symphony, 1875

“Music is, first of all, motion; after that emotion.”
-James Huneker, Old Fogy, 1913

“The only truth is music.”
-Jack Kerouac

“I’ll play it first and tell you what it is later.”
-Miles Davis, c. 1970

Miles Davis
Miles Davis


Bonus quote
“Ah, music, a magic beyond all we do here!”
-Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling, 2001

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