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

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    Senior Member Keemun's Avatar
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    Question Bruckner Symphonies...What am I missing?

    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?

    Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.
    - Ludwig van Beethoven

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    Junior Member captaintim's Avatar
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    Hours and hours of music and not much interest if you ask me, although I did like bruckner 4 a few years ago. Haven't heard it for a while though.

    Good luck getting into them though - I'm sure there are people who can appreciate them, but I just haven't got there yet! Maybe you're right, maybe it is just personal taste.

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    Senior Member Kurkikohtaus's Avatar
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    Bruckner is a little like a religion... to the newcomer, it can be unbelieveable, huge, frightening, awe-inspiring, confusing, contradictory, exhalting and all-encompassing all at the same time.

    There usually comes a breaking point. Once people have heard the symphonies that you list, they are either won-over to this faith, or they are absolutely sure that it's just not for them. I don't think there's anything wrong for not liking Bruckner, because 80 minute symphonies are simply not for everybody. But people who like Bruckner usually love him in a fanatic way, and take the bad with the good as a total (long winded) package.

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    Senior Member Keemun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by captaintim View Post
    Hours and hours of music and not much interest if you ask me. . . .

    This is what I suspect my ultimate conclusion will be, although I haven't quite reached that point yet.

    Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.
    - Ludwig van Beethoven

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    Senior Member Keemun's Avatar
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    Kurkikohtaus,

    Your comparison to a religion is interesting. It would certainly explain the level of admiration some have for Bruckner's symphonies, and the way in which they defend his supposed genius.

    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?

    Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.
    - Ludwig van Beethoven

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    Member johnnyx's Avatar
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    Have you listend to Celibidache conducting Bruckner? To me, Bruckner is the greatest symphonist ever, and in my opinion nobody interprets it better than Celi! But, as best I can tell that is not a widely held opinion. However, those that agree with me do so in a very big way.
    I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.

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    Senior Member Kurkikohtaus's Avatar
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    Celibidache (Munich) never actually made any commercial recordings, he was opposed to the whole concept (I happen to admire him for that).

    There are however archive recordings of his performances with the Munich Philharmonic, and after his death, his wife and son released these recordings, with part of the proceeds going to a children's charity. They were of course all the rage when they were released, I bought a whole bunch of them in the mid-90's, especially Bruckner.

    I find them absolutely undigestible. Celibidache had an incredible sense of pace, his tempos are so slow that they are complete and total distortions of the music. BUT, this CAN work in the concert hall for a live performance, if the conductor has a strong enough presence and musical personality, as Celibidache certainly had. It just doesn't translate onto a recording, and Celibidache knew that. That's why he never made any.

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    Senior Member Keemun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnnyx View Post
    Have you listend to Celibidache conducting Bruckner?
    No, I haven't listened to Celebidache. Thanks for the recommendation. I'll keep him in mind, but considering the price for most of his Bruckner CDs, I'll see if I can find a bargain first.

    Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.
    - Ludwig van Beethoven

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    Senior Member Lisztfreak's Avatar
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    I've heard only two of his symphonies, nos. 4 and 5. I must say that:

    The 4th and especially 9th symphonies scherzos are unbelievable.
    The first movement of the 9th is something I expect will be heard as herald music before the end of the world.
    ''Oh, the String Quartet - oh, the Divine Scratching!''

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    Senior Member Kurkikohtaus's Avatar
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    lol ... something doesn't line up in your post, Lisztfreak...

    Do you mean the 9th or the 5th? Although the 9th is certainly a monument (too bad about the missing finale), I really, really like the 5th with its (super)natural use of counterpoint, but without the intellectual stigma that usually comes with that type of writing (as in Brahms).

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    Senior Member Lisztfreak's Avatar
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    Well yes, I meant the no.9 - sorry! I sometimes have this little problem with numbers 5 and 9 (well what? they're quite alike!). So I don't know about the 5th. You did intrigue me now... I'll try to find some money for that CD.
    ''Oh, the String Quartet - oh, the Divine Scratching!''

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    never heard any of his stuff.

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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    I listened to Bruckner at a live concert ... once ... fell asleep ... I don't remember which symphony it was, but it was awfully boring ... again, roses or fertilizer for some. Just getting into Mahler ... never ventured into him before in my life - but certainly lots more interesting than Bruckner ... lol
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    Senior Member Keemun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krummhorn View Post
    Just getting into Mahler ... never ventured into him before in my life - but certainly lots more interesting than Bruckner ... lol
    Try Mahler Symphonies Nos. 2, 5 and 9.

    Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.
    - Ludwig van Beethoven

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    Senior Member ChamberNut's Avatar
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    I'm probably in the minority, but I seem to be able to "get into" Bruckner's symphonies more than I can Mahler's.

    Overall, I mildly enjoy them both, but not enthusiastically.

    My enjoyment will probably increase upon hearing a live symphony of theirs.

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