“Then in a flash, it all came to me – streams, flowers, hills; the distant snow mountains in one direction and the blue Mediterranean in the other; the conflict of the armies on that very spot long ago, where I now stood – the contrast of the ruin and the shepherd – and then, all of a sudden, I came back to reality. In that time I had composed the overture – the rest was merely writing it down.”
Many years ago on NPR’s Performance Today we developed an entire [summertime, natch] series around the topic, called Postcards from Composers. Amazingly, a few are still available online, included Dvorak’s reminiscences about his summer in Spillville, Iowa
The three months spent here in Spillville will be a happy memory for the rest of our lives. We enjoyed being here and were very happy….though we found the three months of heat rather trying! But it was made up for us by being among our own people…our Czech countrymen. And that caused us great joy. If it had not been for that, we would not have come at all.
…and Gustav Mahler’s yearning to get away from the bustle of Paris, in the grip of the 1900 World’s Fair, and head to the Austrian woods:
“The summer for me has been so glorious, I feel I am really and truly braced for the coming winter. If I can keep this up in the future, managing to get mental and physical rest in summer, then I shall always be able to lead…a human sort of life.”
“In projecting our very selves onto paper, or canvas, or clay, we literally have to lose our life….in order to save it in the shape of any tangible result of our labors. And to accomplish this at its highest and noblest, one thing above all is needed: Silence….and solitude.”
This is one of the pieces Beach wrote at the Colony: “The Hermit Thrush at Morn:”