“Alexander von Zemlinsky told me that Brahms had said that every time he faced difficult problems he would consult a significant work of Bach and one of Beethoven, both of which he always used to keep near his standing-desk. How did they handle a similar problem? Of course the model was not copied mechanically, but its mental essence was applied accordingly. In the same manner I learned, from the Eroica, solutions to my problems: how to avoid monotony and emptiness; how to create variety out of unity; how to create new forms out of basic material; how much can be achieved by slight modifications if not by developing variation out of often rather insignificant little formulations. From this masterpiece I learned also much of the creation of harmonic contrasts and their application. Brahms’ advice was excellent and I wish this story would persuade young composers that they must not forget what our musical forefathers have done for us.”

— Arnold Schoenberg