See also W. S. Gilbert.
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- One day work is hard, and another day it is easy; but if I had waited for inspiration I am afraid I should have done nothing. The miner does not sit at the top of the shaft waiting for the coal to come bubbling up to the surface. One must go deep down, and work out every vein carefully.
- Untitled essay, reprinted in Arthur Lawrence Sir Arthur Sullivan: Life-story, Letters and Reminiscences (London: James Bowden, 1899) p. 225.
- After all we [have] each of us only eight notes to work upon.
- Quoted in Thomas F. Dunhill Sullivan's Comic Operas: A Critical Appreciation (London: Edward Arnold, 1928) p. 182.
- On being accused of plagiarism.
- The theatre is not the place for the musician. When the curtain is up the music interrupts the actor, and when it is down the music interrupts the audience.
- Quoted in The Musical Times, February 1909; cited from Percy A. Scholes The Mirror of Music, 1844-1944 (London: Novello, 1947) vol. 1, p. 267.
- I am astonished and somewhat terrified at the results of this evening's experiments – astonished at the wonderful power you have developed, and terrified at the thought that so much hideous and bad music may be put on record forever! ... I think it is the most wonderful thing that I have ever experienced, and I congratulate you with all my heart on this wonderful discovery.
- A message on a phonograph cylinder, recorded by Arthur Sullivan at a demonstration of Thomas Edison's phonograph in London on 5 October 1888; cited from Michael Chanan Repeated Takes: A Short History of Recording and its Effects on Music (London: Verso, 1995) p. 26. See also "Historic Sullivan Recordings" at the Gilbert and Sullivan Archive; and Very Early Recorded Sound at the National Historical Park website. The recording was issued on CD by the British Library (Voices of History 2: NSACD 19-20, 2005).
- Goss and Bennett…trained him to make Europe yawn; and he took advantage of their training to make London and New York laugh and whistle.
- We shall never know of the numbers of "mute and inglorious Miltons" who failed because the place and time were not ready for them…Was not Sullivan a jewel in the wrong setting?
- Ralph Vaughan Williams National Music (London: Oxford University Press, 1934) p. 7