"I might be [part of the Establishment], but not my music."
"People feel attacked by new music, insecure. Your relationship with contemporary music is different from your relationship with contemporary art. You can look at a picture every day and find new things in it. Music is not like that; it's special. It takes time to listen."
"It's always said that practice makes perfect. Not true! Practice just makes the talentless a bit better."
"People find things in my music that I never intended or wanted. But whatever they discover is the truth, regardless of whether I wrote it consciously or unconsciously."
"Composing is approaching an idea that is never entirely realised."
"[Directors] can do whatever they want. And I might not like it. They can stage it underwater if they like. I only get angry when directors use my work to put across their own ideas. It's my piece! The story must be told."
"People often question me on details of my works. But I can't remember everything."
Sir Harrison Birtwistle, interviewed in Der Standard.