Member Blogs > Pistil BlogAnton Bruckner: Wagnerian Toady or Symphonic Genius?

  • Wed, 27 Jan 2016 04:39:00    Permalink
    The jury on Anton Brucker's originality is still presumably out, although it is probably safe to say that those who find Wagner's music too grandiose for their taste will be equally impatient with Bruckner.

    Bruckner was everything that Wagner was not: devoutly Catholic, personally unambitious, and professionally obscure for most of his life.  But he was as great a champion of the new musical world opened up by Wagner as anyone.  This earned him the opprobrium of the conservative symphonic school in Vienna, headed by Johannes Brahms. 

    To get technical, Bruckner took the chromatic tonal language of Wagner, with its frequent enharmonic modulations, as the basic for a series of 9 symphonies that stretched the temporal framework of the form as far as it had ever gone until Gustav Mahler (another Wagner disciple) appeared on the scene.

    Derek Watson's book in the Master Musician Series (J. M. Dent & Sons, London, 1975) gives special attention to the many extant versions of Bruckner's works.  Bruckner was sensitive to criticism and frequently revised his music; the critical consensus is that his revisions were not always in the best interest of his art.


    Another biography is The Life and Symphonies of Anton Bruckner, by Erwin Doernberg (Barrie and Rockliff, London, 1960.  This was the first British book devoted to Bruckner, directed "at the general musical reader who may be impatient with too much detail in the dissection of the music."



    A reading knowledge of musical notation is nevertheless recommended for the enjoyment of both these volumes, as each includes musical examples.

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