Love your music

When I was 19 years old I joined Columbia Artists in New York.  It was my first management and a momentous event in my life.  All of a sudden here I was, part of what was perceived to be one of the most prestigious such organizations in the country.  It was a big time and I had many apprehensions about it.  I went to Mr. [Rudolf] Serkin [his teacher] for advice about it.  “I told him, “Mr. Serkin, I’ve just signed with Columbia, I don’t know these people, I don’t know how to deal with them. Can you help me?” He just dismissed me, saying, “Don’t worry about those things. They’re unimportant.  Just love your music, that’s all. Don’t think about anything else, just love your music.” I came away so irritated, so angry with him.  How could he give me this naïve, simplistic answer?  I needed help, I wanted some practical advice.  I remained angry with him for a long time.  I thought he just hadn’t heard me or didn’t care.  But, you know, I came to realize that that was the only answer.  Because one is powerless, really, to deal with a lot of those other things.  Really quite powerless.  The only thing you can do is to try to play as beautifully as possible, be true to the music, true to yourself, do the very best you can, be ready, love your music.

Seymour Lipkin, American conductor and pianist.
Cited in Lehmann, Stephen (2003) Rudolf Serkin: A Life.  New York: Oxford University Press, p. 212.