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

  1. #181
    Senior Member TxllxT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by daspianist View Post
    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.
    Thanks for your analysis. But you make an opposition of Mahler = theatrical against Bruckner = personal. I would say: Mahler = revelatory, or: coming from heaven down to earth. Bruckner = religious or: babylonically building tower on tower trying to penetrate heaven.... so from earth towards heaven, per aspera ad astra (Beethoven's adagium).

  2. #182
    Senior Member World Violist's Avatar
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    I think the major problem with approaching Bruckner is that most people approach him from Mahler. It's ridiculous; they're nothing alike. Approach him from Sibelius instead, and then you'll get some real results. Sibelius and Bruckner are actually quite similar, and I'm surprised that this connection isn't made more often.

    Edit: And contrasting Mahler with Bruckner doesn't tend to get anywhere, either. They're two very different symphonists. Approach them on their own terms.

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  4. #183
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  5. #184
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    Quote Originally Posted by World Violist View Post
    I think the major problem with approaching Bruckner is that most people approach him from Mahler. It's ridiculous; they're nothing alike. [too true, mate. too true] Approach him from Sibelius instead, and then you'll get some real results. Sibelius and Bruckner are actually quite similar, and I'm surprised that this connection isn't made more often.

    Edit: And contrasting Mahler with Bruckner doesn't tend to get anywhere, either. They're two very different symphonists. Approach them on their own terms.
    Thank you. Very true - you cannot approach their music with the same mentality.

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    Senior Member World Violist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vaneyes View Post
    If I might be so bold, very little of what Walter says in his article about what joins the two is of consequence; any two roughly contemporaneous composers could be Austrian and have written nine symphonies in the space of about thirty years with special emphasis on the finale and with various changes from symphony to symphony. History just happened to frown on those two.

    I find a lot more of substance in what Mr. Walter has to say about what divides them. Not only does he point out the wild differences in instrumentation within Mahler's opus as opposed to Bruckner's relative sameness across the board (never branching out into voices, hammers, guitars, mandolins, violins in scordatura, et al.), but also, at length, gets to the real difference: "If I wished to present the difference between the two masters in the shortest imaginable formula, I would say (conscious of the exaggeration of such a summary): at bottom Bruckner's spirit was repose, Mahler's unrest." This is the only thing that really matters to a listener, not instrumentation, not how many movements a symphony has, but what the composer has to say about himself and the world around him, and in that sense these two composers could be no more different.

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  8. #186
    Senior Member tdc's Avatar
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    Yes I pretty much agree on the many differences between Mahler and Bruckner...The length of their symphonies and a bit of that flair for the dramatic I hear in both, but aside from that they are quite different. I am able to extract more direction and specific ideas out of Mahler's music. Bruckner builds vast architectural landscapes, but I don't sense the same refined state of expression. With Bruckner I am at times blown away by the awesome layers of sound, but I don't get those eureka moments as often as I do with Mahler. Its almost as if Bruckner's music is like the background to something else happening, where Mahler tries to create specific ideas and then unfold them in a methodical way all with just the music...

  9. #187
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vaneyes View Post
    "...the image of Ottilie fills Eduard's eyes during a conjugal meeting with his wife Charlotte, while the latter beholds the captain's image" Brilliant.
    Last edited by daspianist; Jun-07-2011 at 14:40.

  10. #188
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    Their only commonality is their nationality and writing 60+ minutes symphonies, surely? Bruckner was Brahms' comtemporary, not Mahler's. Mahler as a student attended Bruckner's lectures, for goodness sake. Bruckner wrote 11 symphonies, Mahler ten and-a-bit.
    Even for length, Bruckner only journeys beyond 70 minutes in 5 and 8 (marginally in 7) - Celibidache excepted!, whereas Mahler does so in all but 1 and 4.
    And as others have pointed out, the music is nothing alike.
    GG

  11. #189
    Senior Member Bill H.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by World Violist View Post
    I think the major problem with approaching Bruckner is that most people approach him from Mahler. It's ridiculous; they're nothing alike. Approach him from Sibelius instead, and then you'll get some real results. Sibelius and Bruckner are actually quite similar, and I'm surprised that this connection isn't made more often.

    Edit: And contrasting Mahler with Bruckner doesn't tend to get anywhere, either. They're two very different symphonists. Approach them on their own terms.
    This makes sense to me. For example, one of our local regional orchestras is doing a very good Sibelius cycle over a few years, and I mentioned to the conductor (based on his pre-performance comments) that Bruckner might be a good cycle to tackle as well, based on their approaches to creating sound and color. He agreed and asked me what my favorite Bruckner symphony was--I think I surprised him a bit by saying mine (at least right now) is probably the Fifth.

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  13. #190
    Junior Member Laudemont's Avatar
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    Random thoughts and responses after scanning this entire thread after joining this forum yesterday:

    1. I first heard Bruckner in a late-night radio broadcast in the 1950s while I was in college, and immediately became fascinated. It was the 3rd Symphony (I believe the Knappertsbusch recording on London), which is still my favorite. But to say any Bruckner symphony is "favorite" for me is hardly accurate; Bruckner is Bruckner, wherever you find him, and each symphony has its distinctive "feel." I now have recordings of all 11 Bruckner symphonies, some in multiple versions. Personally, I find the 2nd and the 6th less Brucknerian than the others, but enjoy them along with the rest.

    2. I think it is rather silly to play off one composer against another, because each has his (or her) "specialties." I am also a fan of Haydn (wrote a paper on his symphonies while in college) and enjoy his clever humor. The academic intricacy of Brahms fascinates me -- and I see no Beethoven copy-catting in his music. Mahler is nothing like Bruckner; I find a lot of his symphonic music kind of sappy, or painfully slow, but I will not just write him off because he lacks Bruckner's sense of striving toward a goal. I could go on, but my point is that each composer is "doing his own thing" and just because it's not your thing is no reason to flame him, or his fans.

    3. No, Bruckner was not a creative orchestrator like Mahler, Elgar, Berlioz. But neither was Schumann, because orchestration is not the point in their symphonies and fussing with the orchestration would do little to change the impact (the brass being, perhaps, the exception to this statement). Bruckner's music is "baroque" in that, as in Bach, different instruments can play the same part; it is not the timbre that matters but the structure.

    4. Bruckner has a lot of memorable tunes. I often whistle Bruckner while driving, working in the yard, walking through Walmart, etc. The opening of his 3rd Symphony would make a great cell phone ring tone.

    5. Bruckner himself sanctioned most of the revisions to his symphonies. Perhaps he was cowed by conductors into making cuts or changes, but having heard both the "original" and the "revised" versions in a few cases I often prefer the later versions. For example, I was so disappointed to come to the very end of Tintner's recording of the 1st Symphony and find only a timpani roll and not that wonderful trumpet fanfare that rounds it off in the (I believe) Linz version. The "original" 3rd does not seem to have the taught drama of the version usually performed. I am glad that we have access to the several versions, because each listener can decided for himself (herself) which is preferable.

    6. John Berky has a lot of Bruckner downloads on his site, www.abruckner.com. If you don't want to spend a lot of money for Bruckner recordings you can download a lot of music there, and create your own CDs from them if you like (I have made more than a dozen CDs this way.) If you donate to Mr. Berky (as you should, in appreciation) you will get occasional emails from him about items of special interest to Bruckner lovers.

  14. #191
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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?
    Tough one. They are slow-moving and repetitive, but (for me) that just adds to the grandeur and majesty.

    One analogy that might help is one I once heard a commentator say this: an entire Bruckner symphony is like one single movement of a Beethoven symphony broken into four parts and played back really slowly. Bruckner makes his point very, very simply and very, very gradually.

    When listening, I very often imagine a climb or hike to the summit of a mountain--you don't want to go too fast or you'll miss a lot of the sublime beauty. Bruckner helps you take your time and enjoy the various vistas on the way up.
    Last edited by hoodjem; Jul-25-2019 at 21:16.

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    Quote Originally Posted by the_emptier View Post
    I sorely sorely wish the 9th was finished, I read an interesting article about lost pages slowly resurfacing over the years...maybe one day?
    Check this out: https://www.amazon.com/Bruckner-Symp...s=music&sr=1-1
    Last edited by hoodjem; Jul-25-2019 at 21:16.

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