The Man and the Work
In a letter of 1902 to August Göllerich, Gustav Mahler professed that Bruckner’s life and aspirations had not been without an impact on his own development as both artist and man.1 To Bruno Walter, too, he often referred to Bruckner as his “predecessor” and voiced his conviction that his work was continuing in the direction Bruckner had taken. At the same time, Walter was precise in defining the specific differences between the two composers. “If Bruckner’s musical message,” he observes, “derives from the sphere of the sacred, the passion of the prophet speaks from Mahler, always seeking, again and again in battle, ending in mild resignation, whereas an unshakable consoling affirmation emanates from Bruckner’s tone world.”2
Twenty years later, Theodor W. Adorno, in his now famous Mahler “physiognomy,” depicted the relation between the two somewhat differently. According to him, fracturedness is the “experiential core” of the reflective Mahler, “the feeling of the alienation of the musical subject.” The tone of the “traumatic” in his music, too, is nothing other than a subjective factor of this fracturedness. By contrast, Adorno spoke of Bruckner’s “unspoiled forest darkness” (“walddunkle Unberührtheit”), and from it traced Bruckner’s supposed “unbroken use” of the language of forms. The difference between the two was one of tone of voice and intention. Bruckner’s intention was affirmative, that of Mahler, on the other hand, took its tone from unreserved sadness or mourning.3
That Bruckner’s intention was “affirmative” seems immediately convincing when...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.