Tchaikovsky on Work Ethic vs. Inspiration – Brain Pickings

mickyates ideas, Innovation, Inspiration Leave a Comment

Tchaikovsky

“A self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood.”

This from Maria Popova at Brain Pickings

“I recently stumbled upon a recurring theme articulated by both Jack White and Nick Cave, a concept that flies in the face of our cultural mythology about how creativity works …

… the idea that just showing up and doing the work, or what Jonah Lehrer calls “grit,” the same quality that Ira Glass says separates mere good taste from great work and Anne Lamott believes is the secret to telling a good story — is just as important as the notion of “inspiration” in the creative process.

All of this reminded me of a fantastic letter legendary composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky wrote to his benefactress, Nadezhda von Meck, dated March 17th, 1878, and found in the 1905 volumeThe Life & Letters of Pete Ilich Tchaikovsky (public domain):

“Do not believe those who try to persuade you that composition is only a cold exercise of the intellect. The only music capable of moving and touching us is that which flows from the depths of a composer’s soul when he is stirred by inspiration. There is no doubt that even the greatest musical geniuses have sometimes worked without inspiration. This guest 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 endeavouring 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.”

Read the rest of this fascinating article – including a video from Jack White on Inspiration