Composers found creative power in daily walks

Posted on: April 25, 2013

Thursday (4/25) on Slate, Mason Currey writes, “In 1885, Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky rented a cottage in a small village some 50 miles northwest of Moscow. After years of restless wandering through Europe, the 45-year-old composer found his new living arrangement a wonderful relief. ‘What a joy to be in my own home!’ he wrote to his patroness. ‘What a bliss to know that no one will come to interfere with my work, my reading, my walks.’ Those walks were especially important. Before sitting down to work in the morning, Tchaikovsky took a short stroll, lasting no more than 45 minutes. Then, after lunch, regardless of the weather, he went out again. … this is true of the majority of the composers in my Daily Rituals book—most of them required a long (and sometimes very long) daily walk to keep the ideas flowing. Beethoven went for a vigorous walk after lunch, and he always carried a pencil and a couple of sheets of paper in his pocket, to record chance musical thoughts. Gustav Mahler followed much the same routine—he would take a three- or four-hour walk after lunch, stopping to jot down ideas in his notebook. Benjamin Britten said that his afternoon walks were ‘where I plan out what I’m going to write in the next period at my desk.’ ”

Posted April 25, 2013