Sunday, January 20, 2008

Anton Bruckner: Symphony #4 "Romantic"

Part of me is almost sheepish about promoting Anton Bruckner. I suppose I consider him one of my guilty pleasures.

Claudio Abbado and the Weiner Philharmoniker
Anton Bruckner (1824-1896)
Symphony #4 "Romantic" (ca. 1874)
Deutsche Grammophon, 1991

I had a friend back in high school who really insulted me once when I told her that I liked Bruckner:

Bruckner? Come on. He's the John Williams of .... no, he's the Andrew Lloyd Webber of classical music!

If you were a music student in the 1980s, and if you thought of yourself as culturally superior in an era of overwrought musicals like Phantom and Cats and cheesy movie scores for movies like E.T. and Star Wars, then you'd understand how profoundly condescending this statement was to me. All I could do was weakly claim that she'd "get" Bruckner if she played a brass instrument instead of a clarinet.

I rarely find anybody who finds this story funny when I tell it, but trust me, to the right people, it is funny.

But if you spend five minutes reading about this man--deeply miserable, alone, a misfit in the world in which he lived, scathingly criticized and mocked by critics and audiences alike--and then spend one hour listening to the beautiful 4th Symphony, I'll bet you'll turn into a Bruckner fan too.

Finally, there is one particular passage in the first movement (it runs from about the 9:30 minute mark to the 11:00 minute mark in the recording I have) that I consider one the most emotionally moving pieces of symphonic music in existence. I don't care if it's schmaltzy or overwrought in some peoples' eyes.

1 comment:

peskypesky said...

I've only recently "discovered" Bruckner and I think his music is fantastic, passionate and beautiful.