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Anton Bruckner

The Man and the Work

Constantin Floros

While unappreciated and controversial during most of his life, Anton Bruckner is today regarded as the greatest symphonist between Beethoven and Gustav Mahler – in terms of originality, boldness and monumentality of his music. The image of Bruckner the man, however, is still extreme instance of the tenacious power of prejudice. No less a figure than Gustav Mahler coined the aperçu about Bruckner being «a simpleton – half genius, half imbecile». The author is out to correct that misperception. His thesis in this study is that contrary to what has hitherto been asserted, there is an intimate relation between Bruckner’s sacred music and his symphonies from multiple perspectives: biographical data, sources and influences, the psychology of creation, musical structure, contemporary testimony and reception history. Additional chapters assess important Bruckner recordings and interpreters and the progressiveness of his music.

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Table of Contents

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Preface ........................................................................................................... 1 PART ONE A Character Portrait................................................................................... 3 Who Was Bruckner? ..................................................................................... 5 Authoritarianism and Self-Assurance ......................................................... 11 The World as “Bad Lot”.............................................................................. 14 Neurosis....................................................................................................... 17 Libido .......................................................................................................... 20 Emotionality ................................................................................................ 22 The “Passionate Urge to Compose”............................................................ 25 Securing an Income..................................................................................... 28 Persecution Mania ....................................................................................... 30 Worries about the Success of the Work ...................................................... 38 Interest in the Exceptional........................................................................... 42 “Sympathy with Death” .............................................................................. 44 Religiosity ................................................................................................... 48 Plates ........................................................................................................... 51 PART TWO Sacred Music.............................................................................................. 59 Personality and Oeuvre ............................................................................... 61 Music as Religious Confession ................................................................... 62 A New, Dramatic Conception of the Mass ................................................. 65 The Credo Settings ...................................................................................... 68 Religious Tone Symbolism......................................................................... 75 Jubilant and Devotional Music.................................................................... 82 “Let Me Not Be Confounded in Eternity” – The Te Deum ........................ 84 Music as Song of Praise .............................................................................. 91 VI PART THREE The Symphonies......................................................................................... 95 The Fiction of “Absolute Music”................................................................ 97 Originality and Modernity........................................................................... 98 Matters of Style ......................................................................................... 101 How Bruckner Came to the Symphony .................................................... 104 Autobiographic Elements in the Second and Third Symphony................ 110 The Allegiance to Richard Wagner........................................................... 116 The Triad of the Middle Symphonies ....................................................... 122 The Seventh – a Second “Wagner Symphony” ........................................ 127 Secular and Religious................................................................................ 132 Imaginations – Bruckner’s Associations in the Eighth............................. 143 The Ninth – Bruckner’s “Farewell to Life” .............................................. 147 Reflections on the Bruckner Interpretation – Günter Wand, Eugen Jochum and Sergiu Celibidache..................................................... 159 The Progressive ......................................................................................... 166 Afterword .................................................................................................. 175 APPENDIX ............................................................................................... 179 Notes.......................................................................................................... 181 Biographical Dates .................................................................................... 213 Abbreviations ............................................................................................ 217 Works by Anton Bruckner ........................................................................ 220 Selective Bibliography .............................................................................. 224 Author’s Papers ......................................................................................... 227 Photo Credits ............................................................................................. 229 Index of Names ......................................................................................... 230

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