Ten Famous and Moving Definitions of Music

Compiled by Geoffrey Larson

Plato, Ancient Greek philosopher

“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.”

“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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