5 Beethoven Quotes on Music and Life

5 Beethoven Quotes on Music and Life
Gema Sánchez Cuevas

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Gema Sánchez Cuevas.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Beethoven is one of the most important composers in the history of music. Schools and conservatories still study his works as clear examples of what music was like during the Romanticism era. However, although he’s famous for his musical genius, some of his quotes are worth mentioning and remembering.

Many of Beethoven’s quotes unite music and life, as if both were part of the same whole. These quotes allow us to understand how Beethoven perceived and felt life. Many of these quotes will surprise you. Others will urge you to reflect on how you experience existence. Many others will bring you closer to that musical universe in which Beethoven became a genius.

Virtue brings happiness

“Recommend virtue to your children; it alone, not money, can make them happy. I speak from experience.”

This first quote makes us reflect on the importance we give to money. Today, we tell our children things like “That career is a dead-end” or “How’re you going to make a living painting?” Not only does this reduce motivation, but it also stops young people from pursuing creativity and being innovative.

This quote should make us consider whether having a fixed and guaranteed salary brings us happiness. It also makes us consider whether having a regular job makes us happy or if we’d be more satisfied building our own path.

Passion is the key

“To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable.”

This Beethoven quote teaches us to overcome, once and for all, the great fear we have of making mistakes. Failing and making mistakes seems unforgivable. Just thinking about it makes us want to hide away from everyone in shame.

But what about passion? It’s no use playing a perfect piece of music if there’s no passion in it. Passion exceeds any mistake. It’s what really gives life meaning. It pushes us and what we do. Therefore, doing something as important to us as music was to Beethoven without passion is unforgivable.

You can overcome any obstacle

“Let anyone similarly afflicted be consoled, by finding one like himself, who, in defiance of all the obstacles of Nature, has done all in his power to be included in the ranks of estimable artists and men.”

How many times have we given up because we’ve encountered obstaclesHow many times have we felt inferior to other people? Sometimes, we believe that we’ll never become astronauts, models, or other seemingly unreachable careers. This lack of faith spreads and keeps us from really trying.

However, we forget that those people we now admire were once in our position. Many of them had to fight hard to get what once was just a dream. We have to work hard to achieve our goals. If there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that inertia on its own won’t help us reach our goals.

A man and the sun.

Talent is not enough

“Genius is 1% talent and 99% hard work.”

Perhaps we can relate this quote to the previous reflections. Talent isn’t enough. People tend to believe that everything is easy if you have enough talent. However, this isn’t the case.

A person with great abilities has to work just as hard as any other. Because perseverance, not talent, is the key to success. What happens to those students who’re able to look over notes just hours before their exams and still get good grades? Many times they don’t study, they procrastinate, or just don’t do anything at all. They end up failing in most cases. The same goes for everything else in life. If you don’t work hard, you won’t see results.

On the limited access to art

“There ought to be but one large art warehouse in the world, to which the artist could carry his artworks, and from which he could carry away whatever he needed.”

This last Beethoven quote shows his desire to help people without receiving anything in return. He had an altruistic attitude because he offered his talent to those who needed it the most. However, money, personal interests, and the fear that people who take what they want will damage everything don’t allow us to be this way. We  just end up becoming selfish. We end up limiting ourselves in every way.


We all know Beethoven because of his musical genius, but few people knew that he had left such wonderful and wise quotes. Which of them caught your attention? Are there any you could apply to your life?

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.