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Thread: Bruckner Symphonies...What am I missing?

  1. #166
    Junior Member 1648's Avatar
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    Hello everyone.

    Quote Originally Posted by kmisho View Post
    I haven't read through everything to see if anyone mentioned Bruckner's deficiency as an orchestrator. Regardless of the musical and structural content of his music, I feel that he had neither an original or personal sense of the orchestra itself.

    [wikipedia quote]

    Essentially, a lot of his symphonic work is like organ music "transcribed" to symphony. Contrast this with, say, William Walton, who "played" the symphony like it was an instrument in itself, like it was his instrument, and that he played the orchestra the way another musician might play the violin or the piano.
    If you really feel the need to reiterate those tired stereotypes please make sure your presentation is logically consistent and backed up by something a little more persuasive than a quick, unformatted wikipedia quote.

    I'll disregard the folly of drawing a strict line between "musical and structural content" and "orchestration" for now, but the first time you specify what you consider his "deficiencies" as an orchestral composer you mention that his writing was "neither original nor personal" - I simply cannot fathom what would lead you to that abstruse conclusion, Bruckner's audaciously sharp-contoured treatment of orchestral color is a direct consequence of his equally original rhythmic and contrapuntal writing, neither of which would be feasible on an organ - they were clearly inspired by and invented for an orchestral setting.

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    Senior Member graaf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TxllxT View Post
    So when someone is missing in Bruckner's slow movements the music & musical sense, someone else may feel there the stress & thrust building up, the growing tension to conclude a wide arc, the addition of another flying buttress to keep the thrust inward. Why the massive crescendos, leading seemingly nowhere? The question may be answered with a counterquestion: Why do gothic cathedrals have so many pinnacles, arcs, flying buttresses etc.?
    Because pinnacles, arcs, flying buttresses make cathedrals beautiful
    That was very good description of Bruckner's music; I think that sometimes we need to remind ourselves of Debussy's quote: "You have only to listen. Pleasure is the law".

  3. #168
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1648 View Post
    Hello everyone.

    If you really feel the need to reiterate those tired stereotypes please make sure your presentation is logically consistent and backed up by something a little more persuasive than a quick, unformatted wikipedia quote.

    I'll disregard the folly of drawing a strict line between "musical and structural content" and "orchestration" for now, but the first time you specify what you consider his "deficiencies" as an orchestral composer you mention that his writing was "neither original nor personal" - I simply cannot fathom what would lead you to that abstruse conclusion, Bruckner's audaciously sharp-contoured treatment of orchestral color is a direct consequence of his equally original rhythmic and contrapuntal writing, neither of which would be feasible on an organ - they were clearly inspired by and invented for an orchestral setting.
    I don't like admitting to this, but as an organist I know there is some truth in it. The inability to play it on an organ is a non-issue as the treatment of the orchestra is organ-like rather than orchestra-like. finis

  4. #169
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    Quote Originally Posted by kmisho View Post
    I don't like admitting to this, but as an organist I know there is some truth in it. The inability to play it on an organ is a non-issue as the treatment of the orchestra is organ-like rather than orchestra-like. finis
    Finis? Hardly. We're just getting to the crux of the issue, namely that you consider the fact that some of Bruckner's orchestral writing was influenced by his familiarity with the organ and its repertoire (which I do not deny, though I would not reduce the source of his invention to this) an utter deficiency (rather than a feature that is inextricably intertwined with and absolutely essential to his music as a whole) and had the nerve to call this then unprecedented treatment of the orchestra "neither original or personal" - which is as ignorant as it is inconsistent with the rest of your post. To be frank I believe you're elevating your personal preference for the sound-effect prone Straussian style of orchestral composition to an absolute ideal by which all other orchestral music is to be judged, something I wouldn't do.

    Forgive me if I'm rather touchy on this subject, but equating Bruckner the symphonist with Bruckner the organist is part of the reason why later 20th century performances of his music tend to be rather dreadful, the modern instruments and playing conventions don't do his peculiarly delicate music any favors either.

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    Senior Member Xaltotun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by graaf View Post
    Because pinnacles, arcs, flying buttresses make cathedrals beautiful
    That was very good description of Bruckner's music; I think that sometimes we need to remind ourselves of Debussy's quote: "You have only to listen. Pleasure is the law".
    I'm not really overly fond of that quote. There's more than pleasure to music, I think. But in the end, I'll quote Goethe instead: "Grau ist alle Theorie...". Theory is devoid of life, it cannot give us any pleasure; but pure pleasure, while important, cannot give complete satisfaction.

    Bruckner has really pleasant melodies that make me squirm with delight, but his music also makes me think, dream... and question itself. If I judged it purely by the standard of pleasure, it would not succeed completely. "Nature" needs "idea" and vice versa, I think... and when they meet, we get "Art".
    Wäre das Faktum wahr, – wäre der außerordentliche Fall wirklich eingetreten, daß die politische Gesetzgebung der Vernunft übertragen, der Mensch als Selbstzweck respektiert und behandelt, das Gesetz auf den Thron erhoben, und wahre Freiheit zur Grundlage des Staatsgebäudes gemacht worden, so wollte ich auf ewig von den Musen Abschied nehmen, und dem herrlichsten aller Kunstwerke, der Monarchie der Vernunft, alle meine Thätigkeit widmen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keemun View Post
    I've tried listening to Bruckner's symphonies (4th, 5th, 7th, 8th and 9th), but I get bored with them. I know that some find them deeply spiritual, moving, etc. Not me. They have some nice movements, but as a whole the symphonies that I've listened to didn't keep my interest all the way through.

    I know I'm not the only person who feels this way, but I still wonder if I'm missing something since there are so many people who love Bruckner's symphonies. Should I consider my lack of interest in his symphonies a matter of personal taste, or keep trying and hope that I too will grow to love his symphonies?
    You need to be in love in order to understand them. The 3rd movement of the 8th, the 2nd movement of the 7th: the apotheosis of romantic love.

    You can throw sticks at me for making such a banal statement, but its 100% true.

    P.S. I am aware of the fact that 2nd movement of the 7th was written for Wagner's funeral.. and was also played at a host of other people's funerals as well (including he-who-shall-not-be-named). It, however, does not detract from the rich romantic undertones inherent in these works.
    Last edited by daspianist; Jun-01-2011 at 20:35.

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    Quote Originally Posted by daspianist View Post
    You need to be in love in order to understand them. The 3rd movement of the 8th, the 2nd movement of the 7th: the apotheosis of romantic love.

    You can throw sticks at me for making such a banal statement, but its 100% true.
    What works for you is fine, and I think Bruckner would be pleased and surprised.

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    Senior Member Ukko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by graaf View Post
    Because pinnacles, arcs, flying buttresses make cathedrals beautiful
    That was very good description of Bruckner's music; I think that sometimes we need to remind ourselves of Debussy's quote: "You have only to listen. Pleasure is the law".
    If by 'arcs' is meant arches, both those and flying buttresses were necessary structural components of a structure with a heavy, vaulting roof and few internal supports. When I see those things, I am more apt to 'feel' the forces they resist than to hear music. And yet, both Franck's symphony and those of Bruckner bring to my mind a structure. Franck's is one of faith, Bruckner's one of vaulted spaces and icons.

    I spent a fortune on deodorant before I realized that people don't like me anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hilltroll72 View Post
    If by 'arcs' is meant arches, both those and flying buttresses were necessary structural components of a structure with a heavy, vaulting roof and few internal supports. When I see those things, I am more apt to 'feel' the forces they resist than to hear music. And yet, both Franck's symphony and those of Bruckner bring to my mind a structure. Franck's is one of faith, Bruckner's one of vaulted spaces and icons.

    Cathedrals of sound Bruckner's outputs may be, it is the vast range of emotions that these cathedrals elicits from its listeners - just as the real Notre Dame or Amines Cathedral elicit from travelers and churchgoers - that ultimately designated Bruckner's place in the pantheon of great classical composers. Listen beyond the musical/architectural ingenuity, and you will see why Furtwangler, Karajan, and a host of others all chose Bruckner to debut their careers. [Furtwangler choose Bruckner 9. Karajan made his very first recording with Bruckner 8]
    Last edited by daspianist; Jun-01-2011 at 20:56.

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    Senior Member TxllxT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hilltroll72 View Post
    If by 'arcs' is meant arches, both those and flying buttresses were necessary structural components of a structure with a heavy, vaulting roof and few internal supports. When I see those things, I am more apt to 'feel' the forces they resist than to hear music. And yet, both Franck's symphony and those of Bruckner bring to my mind a structure. Franck's is one of faith, Bruckner's one of vaulted spaces and icons.

    When I behold a cathedral like in Amiens, Rouen, Beauvais or Strassbourg, 'heaviness' is not what I experience. Especially those 'Gothic' craftsmen build upwards & upwards with so economic use of materials! Bruckner repeats & repeats: when you don't feel an upward surge inside this, your ears soon will become heavy. When you do feel the upwards surge, Bruckner's music actually becomes light on the ears.

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    Senior Member Ukko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TxllxT View Post
    When I behold a cathedral like in Amiens, Rouen, Beauvais or Strassbourg, 'heaviness' is not what I experience. Especially those 'Gothic' craftsmen build upwards & upwards with so economic use of materials! Bruckner repeats & repeats: when you don't feel an upward surge inside this, your ears soon will become heavy. When you do feel the upwards surge, Bruckner's music actually becomes light on the ears.
    I'm going to have to take your word.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keemun View Post
    As for 80 minute symphonies, I do like Mahler's symphonies quite a bit, and they tend to rival Bruckner's in length. Perhaps Mahler's symphonies have somehow hindered my ability to like Bruckner's?
    Hey man,i am a huge Bruckner fan.I will try to answer to your questions sincere.Look,i believe that Bruckner has influenced Mahler a lot,and Mahler from his side,inspired a lot Shostakovich.So we must put these guys in a ''chronological line'',let's say Bruckner-Mahler-Shostakovich.Now,who inspired Bruckner?Bruckner's music is almost prototype,although if you listen in some parts,you will see some influences from Beethoven and Wagner,but he was the one that mastered the symphonic type and followed his own way.In the first hear,you will find him,as you said,boring and tiring,and it is very difficult to ''catch'' the themes immediately.You have to listen again and again his symphonies to understand them.BUT apart from that,i think it is a personal taste.I mean,ok,Bruckner's symphonies,as of course Beethoven's or Mahler's,are EPIC,in an ''objective'' way,but if you want to get a ''closer touch'' ,then it is subjective,personal taste-tend for the epic!For example people who prefer Mozart or Haydn's symphonies,prefer the more melodic parts,and less the powerful,spiritual,deep emotions that exist in Bruckner/Mahler works.Now,as far as the Mahler-Bruckner comparison,i must say that although Bruckner influenced Mahler a lot,you can see wide differences in their works.I can't explain with words what exactly are the differences,but Bruckner is let's say more apocalyptic,mystic he is more revealing in his works than Mahler,he has a specific type when he writes,he begins with dark,scary agony and he finally gets into the apocalyptic-revealing theme that every listener ''awaits'' to hear after that.He is difficult,but despite the many times you have to hear him,it's also a matter of personal taste.And i agree,Celibidache is probably the man that understood Bruckner completely,and mastered the conducting in a slow motive!

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    Senior Member TxllxT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SUMMONING View Post
    Hey man,i am a huge Bruckner fan.I will try to answer to your questions sincere.Look,i believe that Bruckner has influenced Mahler a lot,and Mahler from his side,inspired a lot Shostakovich.So we must put these guys in a ''chronological line'',let's say Bruckner-Mahler-Shostakovich.Now,who inspired Bruckner?Bruckner's music is almost prototype,although if you listen in some parts,you will see some influences from Beethoven and Wagner,but he was the one that mastered the symphonic type and followed his own way.In the first hear,you will find him,as you said,boring and tiring,and it is very difficult to ''catch'' the themes immediately.You have to listen again and again his symphonies to understand them.BUT apart from that,i think it is a personal taste.I mean,ok,Bruckner's symphonies,as of course Beethoven's or Mahler's,are EPIC,in an ''objective'' way,but if you want to get a ''closer touch'' ,then it is subjective,personal taste-tend for the epic!For example people who prefer Mozart or Haydn's symphonies,prefer the more melodic parts,and less the powerful,spiritual,deep emotions that exist in Bruckner/Mahler works.Now,as far as the Mahler-Bruckner comparison,i must say that although Bruckner influenced Mahler a lot,you can see wide differences in their works.I can't explain with words what exactly are the differences,but Bruckner is let's say more apocalyptic,mystic he is more revealing in his works than Mahler,he has a specific type when he writes,he begins with dark,scary agony and he finally gets into the apocalyptic-revealing theme that every listener ''awaits'' to hear after that.He is difficult,but despite the many times you have to hear him,it's also a matter of personal taste.And i agree,Celibidache is probably the man that understood Bruckner completely,and mastered the conducting in a slow motive!
    Mahler needs only one angel saying "Nein, ich lasse mich nicht abweisen" (No, I will not let myself be turned away), where Bruckner broods & broods, builds & builds a gigantic structure upon another gigantic symphonic structure. Mahler has humour to hit home in a revelatory way (: I at least get a glimpse of heaven through his music), Bruckner on the other hand labours out of a childlike faith that is moving mountains. With Bruckner I get long views on mountains-on-the-move, towering cathedrals, but no surprising glimpse of heaven. Sorry, I do not hear apocalypse-revelations in Bruckner.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TxllxT View Post
    Mahler needs only one angel saying "Nein, ich lasse mich nicht abweisen" (No, I will not let myself be turned away), where Bruckner broods & broods, builds & builds a gigantic structure upon another gigantic symphonic structure. Mahler has humour to hit home in a revelatory way (: I at least get a glimpse of heaven through his music), Bruckner on the other hand labours out of a childlike faith that is moving mountains. With Bruckner I get long views on mountains-on-the-move, towering cathedrals, but no surprising glimpse of heaven. Sorry, I do not hear apocalypse-revelations in Bruckner.

    May I respond to the "glimpse of heaven" comment?

    Mahler and Bruckner are two inherently different symphonists with vastly different conceptions on how music - symphonies - should be. Mahler's "heaven" is made up of the snippets of highly theatrical musical moments: think to the timpani motif in the 6th, for example They work especially well to jar the listener emotionally at key moments: when the motif appears towards the end of the 4th movement, we realize that the "hero" has been through defeated ... and hence, the tragisch symphony. Without an appreciation of the underlying theatrical motifs in a work such as the 6th symphony, the audience would simply be confounded by the juxtaposition of such sounds. Mahler's music is emotionally powerful precisely because it rely on the theatrical - and in today's highly theatrical world they resonate perfectly with audience.

    Bruckner, on the other hand, is a composer who prefers an organic growth of certain ideas and motifs, and never makes use of theatrical tricks like big timpani strikes. Think to the transcendental culmination towards the end of the 3rd movement of the 8th symphony: it grows out of ideas initially heard piano in strings, and though various harmonic and textural transformations it apexes in a tragically deceptive chord, returning the music to its first themes. This glimpse of heaven - by all means - is not created by that of a cold and calculating architect, nor that of a theatrican, but that of an utterly devout and tragically naive human being: a music of genuine expression. In today's world, where even our daily conversation has become highly theatrical due to many sources of influences, it is certainly difficult to relate to musical outputs of such genuine character.

    I am going to draw some flames here : Mahler's "heaven" can be likened to a beautifully rendered CGI heaven, seen in an IMAX theater - impressive, awesome, widely appealing, and certainly able inspire more than a few financiers to want to conduct their own versions.

    Bruckner's heaven, on the other hand, is that of a very personal one. It requires patience, reflection, and is a state of being that derives both from the musical journey, and that of the journey of self-discovery.

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    Quote Originally Posted by daspianist View Post
    Bruckner's heaven, on the other hand, is that of a very personal one. It requires patience, reflection, and is a state of being that derives both from the musical journey, and that of the journey of self-discovery.
    That was exactly what i was trying to say but i couldn't because of my bad English!

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