Talks with Great Composers . . . by Arthur Abell
Quotes from a conversation with Johannes Brahms:
“To realize we are one with the Creator, as Beethoven did, is a wonderful and awe-inspiring experience. Very few human beings ever come into that realization and that is why there are so few great composers or creative geniuses in any line of human endeavor. I always contemplate all this before commencing to compose. This is the first step. When I feel the urge I begin by appealing directly to my Maker and I first ask Him the three most important questions pertaining to our life here in this world—woher, warum, wohin?” (Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going?)
“I immediately feel vibrations that thrill my whole being,” Brahms continued. “These are the Spirit illuminating the soul within, and in this exalted state I see clearly what is obscure in my ordinary moods; then I feel capable of drawing inspiration from above, as Beethoven did. Above all, I realize at such moments the tremendous significance of Jesus' supreme revelation, ‘I and my Father are one.’ Those vibrations assume the forms of distinct mental images; after I have formulated my desire and resolve in regard to what I want—namely, to be inspired so that I can compose something that will uplift and benefit humanity, something of permanent value.
Straightway the ideas flow in upon me, directly from God, and not only do I see distinct themes in my mind's eye, but they are clothed in the right forms, harmonies and orchestrations. Measure by measure, the finished product is revealed to me when I am in those rare, inspired moods, I have to be in a semi-trance—a condition when the conscious mind is in temporary abeyance and the subconscious is in control, for it is through the subconscious mind, which is a part of Omnipotence, that the inspiration comes. I have to be careful, however, not to lose consciousness, otherwise the ideas fade away."
That is the way Mozart composed. He was once asked what the process was for him and he said, "Es geht bie mir zu wie in einem schonen, starken Traume." (It comes to me like a beautiful, vivid dream.)
"Spirit is the light of the soul," Brahms continued. "Spirit is universal. Spirit is the creative energy on the Cosmos. The soul of man is not conscious of its powers until it is enlightened by Spirit; therefore, to evolve and grow, Man must learn how to use and develop his own soul forces. All great creative geniuses do this, although some of them do not seem to be as conscious of the process as others."
"For instance, those supremely endowed geniuses Shakespeare, Milton and Beethoven were aware of the fact that they were inspired, and they have left records to that effect."
"All true inspiration emanates from God, and He can reveal Himself to us only through that spark of divinity within—through what modern psychologists call the subconscious mind. . . It is the most inappropriate name for a part of divinity; super-conscious would be a much better term, but the best answer is in John, 14:11 ‘Believe me, that I am in the Father and the Father in me.’"
"I know several young composers who are atheists. I have read their scores, and I assure you that they are doomed to speedy oblivion because they are utterly lacking in inspiration. Their work is purely cerebral. No atheist has ever been or ever will be a great composer."