a performance dialogue

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


I found a few quotes of Stravinsky really relevant in relation to the act of creating mathematics:

“The creator’s function is to shift the elements he receives from the imagination, for human activity must impose limits upon itself. The more art is controlled, limited, worked over, the more it is free… My freedom consists in my moving about within the narrow frame that I have assigned myself for each one of my undertakings. I shall go even further: my freedom will be so much the greater and more meaningful the more narrowly I limit my field of action and the more I surround myself with obstacles. Whatever diminishes contstraint, diminishes strength. The more contstraints one imposes, the more one frees one’s self of the chains that shackle the spirit.”

I also like this quote from Stravinsky:

“The musician should find in mathematics a study as useful to him as the learning of another language is to a poet. Mathematics swims seductively just below the surface.”

Guess whether the following is a quote by a mathematician or a composer:

"To create consists precisely in not making useless combinations. Invention is discernment, choice. . . .The sterile combinations do not even present themselves to the mind of the inventor."

That was Henri Poincare, one of the great mathematicians of the twentieth century. Perhaps the word inventor gave it away but Stravinsky always insisted on calling himself an inventor of music rather than a composer.

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