Throughout his life Newman was an accomplished musician – he began to learn to play the violin when he was ten – from early days at Oxford where he played Beethoven quartets with Joseph Blanco White, to his days at the Birmingham Oratory, music was always important to him.
In 1865 he was offered the gift of a violin by Frederic Rogers and R. W. Church, two of his friends. He wrote to thank them:
“I only fear that I may give time to it more than I ought to spare. I could find solace in music from week to week’s end.” (Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman XXI, p. 502, June 25th 1865).
“I really think it will add to my power of working, and the length of my life. I never wrote more than when I played the fiddle. I always sleep better after music. There must be some electric current passing from the strings through the fingers into the brain and down the spinal marrow. Perhaps thought is music.” (Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman XXII, p. 9. July 11th 1865)