I compose everywhere, walking or driving, eating or drinking, at home or abroad, in noisy hotels, in my garden, in railway carriages. My sketch book never leaves me, and as soon as a motive strikes me I jot it down. One of the most important melodies for [Der Rosenkavalier] struck me while I was playing a Bavarian card game…But before I improvise even the smallest sketch for an opera, I allow the texts to permeate my thoughts and mature in me for at least six months so that the situation and characters may be thoroughly assimilated. Then only do I let my musical thoughts enter my mind. The subsketches then become sketches. They are copied out, worked out, arranged for piano and rearranged as often as four times. This is the hard part of the work. The score I write in my study, straightway without troubling, working at it twelve hours a day…With the flight of time, interest accumulates. Likewise as time flies, the outlined ideas develop within me. One fine day I take all the sheets out of the closet and an opera grows out of it.
I have more skill, but he is greater.
Richard Strauss, referring to Jean Sibelius