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Emily Hogstad

I Hate Bruckner, Part I

April 21, 2012 at 4:01 PM

(Here is Part II, and here is Part III.)

I hate Anton Bruckner.

For the last two years, whenever I’ve had any spare time, I’ve been drifting through Grout’s History of Western Music and taking notes at the end of each chapter. I then listen to Youtube videos of the mentioned works and follow along with scores on IMSLP. Even though Grout succeeded in sucking nearly every human element out of his narrative, I’ve uncovered a lot of great pieces this way and put them into historical context. I’m a nerd and I’ve enjoyed the project. Always.

But this week…

Bruckner.

Bruckner. For some reason, I hate this guy.

I don’t remember when I first heard his music. But I do remember the impression it left: what the heck?

It’s entirely possible I read about him before I heard any of his music. He was an insecure country bumpkin. His heroes were Wagner, Beethoven, tremolo, this rhythmic pattern, and Christ. He came to a Beethoven exhumation without permission and cradled the skull. And he was obsessed with teenage girls, even when he was old enough to be the girls’ grandfather, going so far as to keep a list of who he found physically desirable. I can deal with one or two creepy traits in an artist…because let’s face it, most of the great composers were creeps in one way or another…but Bruckner. He just takes the creepiness to a whole new level. For some reason literally nothing endears him to me. He seems like the great composer version of the lonely old guy who hangs around gas stations, mumbling things to himself and asking female clerks easily answerable questions. You know he’s probably harmless – maybe he’s even nice – but you have no desire to get any closer to find out.

I listened through the eighth symphony the other day while reading through the IMSLP score. I was twitching throughout the entire thing. The music repelled me - repelled me in a way no other music ever had. And I couldn’t explain why, which made me even twitchier. I GUESS MAYBE BECAUSE EVERYTHING FELT AS IF IT WAS IN CAPITAL LETTERS! EVERYTHING WAS LIFE OR DEATH OR BRASS OR TREMOLO FOR NINETY MINUTES STRAIGHT! AND JUST WHEN I THOUGHT IT WAS ALMOST OVER I LOOKED AT THE CLOCK AND SAW THERE WAS STILL AN HOUR LEFT TO GO OH MY GOD SOMEONE GET ME OUT OF HERE!

I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Fauré is my favorite composer, and the two couldn’t be more different. Bruckner is sun, Fauré is moon. Fauré is the wistful urban sophisticate who sums up delicate, ephemeral emotions in emotionally ambiguous nocturnes. Bruckner is the one who apparently can’t say anything worthwhile without a hundred-piece brass section blowing away for over an hour.

(A totally scientific comparison of what goes through my mind when I listen to Fauré versus what goes through my mind when I listen to Bruckner)

But I’ve been thinking about it, and realizing I’m not giving Bruckner a fair shake. Since I learned his biography before I had a chance to really dig into his music, I know I was biased against it from the start. Should what a composer did in his life influence what we think of his work? I don’t know that it should – so why does it? Personal life aside, why is his work so repellent to me? (Because I’m pretty sure I’d still hate it even if I thought he was a super amazing guy…) What exactly about his work is repellent to me? Orchestration? Harmony? Tempo? Lack of contrast? Everything? How can one person cry at one passage’s strength and beauty while I start cackling at its absurdity? Will I someday hear a Bruckner interpretation that I enjoy? How much of my hatred is the fault of conductors and performers? How much of my hatred is my fault? What exactly causes certain people to love certain styles of music, and others to loathe others? Could I ever – gasp – love Bruckner, if I invested the time and energy and resisted the ever-present urge to make fun of him?

Stop making me think, Bruckner! It was so much easier when I could just point and laugh at you.

So. This might be masochistic but I’m putting myself through the wringer again, re-listening to Bruckner 8 and live-blogging it, trying to answer some of those questions. I may even – and this is blasphemy – cut out the parts I don’t like, thereby adding my own wrinkle to the Bruckner Problem. I’m perversely curious as to what such a symphony would sound like. If in the future I use this project as evidence that I knew nothing at the age of twenty-two, so be it.

Do you love Bruckner? Why? Please convince me I’m a mean sixth-grade girl bullying a naive nerd, because there’s a part of me that wants to love Bruckner. Really. Honestly.

Do you hate Bruckner? Why? Help me understand this strange reaction I’ve never had before. Because, in case you didn’t hear yet, I hate Bruckner.

Do you have no opinion about him? That seems to me to be the most shocking position of all. How can an hour of this possibly evoke a “meh”?


From Michael Pijoan
Posted on April 21, 2012 at 8:45 PM
I remember reading about him in music history class and thinking he sounded like a major creep. However, I think his music is glorious and majestic so I try not to focus on the guy too much and just enjoy what he created.


From Corwin Slack
Posted on April 21, 2012 at 9:13 PM
Don't really know anything about his personal habits. Brahms doesn't withstand much scrutiny but I do agree that Bruckner's music is awful. Pompous and overblown would be putting it mildly. I consider him to be on the path of a degenerate musical tradition that started with Schubert and continued on to composers that are considered so sacred here that to add their names would probably start a flame war.
From Allan Lewis
Posted on April 21, 2012 at 9:44 PM
I hate Bruckner too.
I have never read anything about him. What you wrote strengthens my opinion.
Just turn it off as soon as you can. Don't knowingly go to concerts that include Bruckner. If you are caught, just fold your hands at the end.
There is plenty of wonderful music written before WWI. WWI is the cut off line for composition of music for me. Maybe I am just shallow.
ABL
From Tom Holzman
Posted on April 21, 2012 at 10:10 PM
I hate him too. The fact that he was Hitler's favorite (or one of the favorites) composer clinches the deal.
From Emily Hogstad
Posted on April 21, 2012 at 10:02 PM
"I consider him to be on the path of a degenerate musical tradition that started with Schubert..."

Dude, that's some strong stuff. Then again I disagree with about three-quarters of what you ever say, so... I personally can't take refuge in this argument because a lot of my favorite pieces are modern.

"Just turn it off as soon as you can. Don't knowingly go to concerts that include Bruckner. If you are caught, just fold your hands at the end."

Butttt. Then we get into the issue of, what riches will you miss out on if you give up on something on the first couple listens? And another interesting point...I personally would be applauding like crazy, if only for the musicians that have to slog through that. Their poor sweet shoulders. Also I love the idea of "not willingly" going to Bruckner concerts - it implies that I might be kidnapped at some point and forced to sit through Bruckner 8 lol.

Tom - definitely. But Beethoven was, too. When talking about Bruckner, people often mention the Nazi connection; but it hardly ever comes up in conversations about Beethoven. What's the difference between them?

Does anyone think it's safe to say that Bruckner might be the most divisive composer of his era? I wonder what the ratio of people-who-love-him to people-who-hate-him is.

From LUIS CLAUDIO MANFIO
Posted on April 21, 2012 at 10:22 PM
I hate Bruckner too!!!

From Benedict Gomez
Posted on April 21, 2012 at 10:22 PM
#sillymusicpeoplesproblems
From Emily Hogstad
Posted on April 21, 2012 at 10:35 PM
@Benedict: exactly. That's how we roll!
From Corwin Slack
Posted on April 21, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Sorry that you don't care for my opinions Emily. I do like yours-- always articulate, erudite, scintillating, well-informed and timely. And you are clearly an attractive and talented person as well. Some people have it all.

I don't think all 20th century music is bad but there is a historic and notable link between Bruckner and certain composers in successive generations that produced more Bruckner-ish crap.

My 20th century favorites include Prokofieff, Bartok, Stravinsky, Britten, Kodaly etc. Of course I like the retro composers of the 20th century like Strauss, Rachmaninoff, Barber, Vaughan Williams, Copland and many others as well. I think that Berg is a shrieking genius.

But a discerning reader like you will detect some notable omissions who are fully in the Bruckner tradition of bombast and bathos.

From Emily Hogstad
Posted on April 21, 2012 at 11:15 PM
You certainly know how to flatter, Corwin. ;) I mean no personal disrespect - I'm great friends with people I disagree with quite a bit.

Eric, I love that idea, but...how does it apply to music?

From Brian Hong
Posted on April 21, 2012 at 11:18 PM
I like Bruckner. In the same way that I like the Star Wars Imperial March.

(I love the Imperial March).

From Emily Hogstad
Posted on April 21, 2012 at 11:37 PM
But ninety minutes of the Imperial March? lol
From Simon Streuff
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 12:10 AM
His music is epic and very fine composed as far as i can judge. Why should I care for his personal interests, I care for his art. Micheal jackson liked little boys, doesn't make him a worse artist...
From Christian Lesniak
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 12:15 AM
I went to Mahler's 5th symphony without ever having heard any of his music, and I won't be kicking myself if I never get around to giving him a second chance (I've never been so angry at music before). Bruckner doesn't seem like he would be my cup of tea (since Faure is my favorite composer as well), but I'll give him a chance at some point I'm sure.
From Tim Maynard
Posted on April 21, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Have you considered that maybe you're listening to the wrong piece? I mean, he wrote more than just the one. His 8th is a work that the Viennese critic called "repellant" after all. I will admit that I didn't give Bruckner a chance when I was younger, and i would give anyone a chance... Cage, Riley, Bartok, Stravinsky (not just the ballets either), Crumb, etc. Poor neglected Bruckner was cast aside, voted off the island. Earlier this year I saw his 9th (what there is of it) performed and it was one of those rare experiences we music lovers remember for years to come.
His attraction to young girls is troubling, but he's hardly the only man to have had this affliction. Read literature from his time, and it is filled with stories of women, still in their teens being married off to much older men. What about him learning composition by correspondence? And for six years following his teachers instructions to do no outside composing during this time. He apparently devoted so much time to working out harmony exercises that people became worried about the effect this would have on his health.
From Congwen Wang
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 12:14 AM
As someone who only started to appreciate Romantic music after 7 years of classical music listening, I would say give yourself some time. You don't have to like everything all at once. Keep an open mind, and come back to it later.
From Lawrence Franko
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 12:32 AM
Speaking of repellant, I have never seen anything like this appalling series of ad hominem blasts against a great composer. What a nasty, viscious attack! Some of us out here happen to think that Bruckner was among the greatest. Perhaps his Christian Sprituality repels you? Perhaps that is YOUR problem. I have played the violin solos in his Te Deum, which is one of the greatest choral pieces in the entire literature. I have also played the Dohnanyi First Concerto, whose scherzo has been described as the scherzo Bruckner might have written had he composed a violin concerto. Fabulously great music. What on earth are people doing here, tearing down their own house???
From Corwin Slack
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 12:47 AM
Tim, which other one is there? Bruckner only wrote one symphony--nine or ten times but who is counting? Oh yes there is the Te Deum but that is just the choral version.
From Lawrence Franko
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 1:01 AM
Thank you for posting the Von Karajan performance among all your slime. For me, that is God and all his Angels proclaiming the salvation of your miserable, envious souls. Why is it so hard to accept the joy of His message (and, yes, that it what modest Anton, the church organist was trying to proclaim)?
From Lawrence Franko
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 1:10 AM
PS I am also finding all this garbage about Hitler liking Bruckner, with the implication that Bruckner was some sort of a Nazi, and Bruckner finding teenage girls attractive, etc. EXTREMELY offensive. Bruckner was hardly responsible for Hitler. And if you have any proof that Bruckner violated teenage girls, please cite specifics. Otherwise, Please Stop. Laurie, you are the editor. Are there no standards here?
From Corwin Slack
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 1:34 AM
Criticizing Bruckner is sacrilege? Who knew!? I don't think God needs any help from Bruckner.
From Tim Maynard
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 1:34 AM
Corwin,
Since I am a percussionist, I was able to play a rim shot for you, but I've been using that joke since the Baroque period... Vivaldi anyone? Maybe I'm still bitter about him sending four concertos against a much more worthy one by Mozart last month.

Lawrence,
I don't believe I read anything anti-Christian in her post. The complaint was about his music being overblown, and matters pertaining to his biography. I would say that these are indeed fair game for a composer who has been dead for more than a century. Making personal attacks on young musicians who haven't grown to love his music yet is more troubling to me. There is after all something to be said for growing older and wiser. It would be easy to despise most composers for one reason or another. Beethoven driving his newphew to the point of attempting suicide with a pistol. Brahms and Schumann both for breaking off engagements and leaving women broken hearted. Wagner for being Wagner, but that won't stop me from listening and being awestruck by their music.

From Emily Hogstad
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 2:23 AM
Lawrence, I'd answer your posts here, but I think an in-depth discussion would be better served in an email for a variety of reasons. If you're not too upset, I'm totally open to continuing this discussion privately, so feel free to private message me if you want.

Keep two things in mind. First, these are the opinions (just. opinions.) of an unschooled 22-year-old amateur violinist who cheerfully acknowledges she is better than absolutely no one, written in a casual medium in a flippant tone, meant partially to entertain, partially to provoke. (And it has certainly done the latter...wow. Thank you everyone for taking the time to share your thoughts on this admittedly touchy subject. I've gotten so much out of it already, and I can't thank you enough. I mean that.) Second, I am not suggesting that anyone agree with me. In fact, I'd be delighted if they didn't. I am merely setting forth my own very possibly irrational thoughts and biases and being totally honest in doing so. The genesis of the entry was actually frustration that I can't hear the beauty you hear, and I want to know why. What will it take for me to hear it? - or am I destined never to? In the course of attempting to explain why I dislike him, some of my unflattering opinions were necessarily stated. (Hence the sentence - "Convince me I'm a sixth-grade bully." Unfortunately, I'm not convinced by an insinuation that if I don't hear the beauty, I have a soul in need of salvation...)

Otherwise, we (and anyone else who wants to, I guess!) can continue the discussion in PM. I might not get back to you for a while, but I will eventually. And if you choose not to write, sorry we weren't able to communicate and, if anything, come to an agreement to disagree. I sincerely mean that.

From Corwin Slack
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 2:52 AM
This is touchy!? I left off the names of composers I detest because I have seen criticism of them provoke the most intense flame wars imaginable. Bruckner has his partisans but some of the other composers have their troops, tanks and cannons.
From Laurie Niles
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 3:47 AM
Hi Laurence, I indeed have high standards. Great blog, Emily.
From Emily Hogstad
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 3:57 AM
Corwin, I meant discussions of not liking certain canonical composers in general is a touchy subject.

Thanks, Laurie...

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 4:15 AM
I don't hate Bruckner, but I am familiar with exactly one of his pieces, the Mass No. 1 in D minor. I played it last year and blogged about it:
http://www.violinist.com/blog/ravena/20115/12276/

I was not that excited about this piece the first time through, but it grew on me as we rehearsed it, especially with the chorale. Since I joined an orchestra that plays with a full 80+-member chorale on occasion, I've started to appreciate choral music more than I did previously.

All the voices together, give me chills.

I would also add, that this particular Mass is tonal and dramatic and doesn't have bizarre harmonies or dynamics.

I like this particular piece, but I've decided to remain agnostic about the rest of Bruckner. I'm pretty sure if I delved too deeply (i.e. as deeply as you have) into the biography I would start hating him too, and that would seep over into my feelings about the music. And I don't want that.

From Marty Dalton
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 7:09 AM
All I can say is I feel really sorry for people who don't understand Bruckner. I also feel sorry for anyone who "hates" someone's music. Very sad.
From Michael Pijoan
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 9:44 AM
I had not anticipated that I'd be in such a narrow minority with my appreciation of Bruckner's music. I think my fondness comes from the fact that it is really fun to play. When you're in an orchestra that's playing it and the whole thing is charging ahead at full tilt it's pretty exciting.
From Simon Streuff
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 10:35 AM
Try this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EiEeANBq1Q
From tammuz kolenyo
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 12:11 PM
some condone him for composing Te Deum and some condemn him for composing Tedium...sorry, couldn't help it :op
From tammuz kolenyo
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 12:20 PM
to jump to another discipline, there is equally a criticism of architecture associated to nazism and facism for fetishizing the pathologically grandiose scale and dehumanizing forcefulness. sometimes this is true as an intention and design but sometimes its also a stigma that overrides other aspects of the work. fascist era art, for instance, is very interesting. anyway, i'm listening to some bruckner music now to educate myself. there is an almost turgid and expansive solidity to a lot of it and making sense of it probably is like kneading a very dense material. its also probably difficult to fall in love with that msuic but it might be interesting to understand how to mould it.
on the other hand, i now come across the 4th symphony...listen to the opening, its beautiful, i don't know why it puts me in the mind of tchaikovsky, the melody is winsome and wistful ... of course in many parts, its brass heavy
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Michael Pijoan, I think that's where my response comes from as well. It is very exciting to play with full orchestra (and chorale, if there is one). But listening in the audience or on the iPod or whatever doesn't give you the experience.
From Corwin Slack
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 1:17 PM
The Karajan performance of the Bruckner that Emily posted has a Leni Riefenstahl quality to it that evokes power, control and discipline. Karajan was huge on the visual impact of these recorded performances. I have heard that the actual performance was frequently prerecorded and that they played the visual performance to no microphones. The facts of Karajan's background are indisputable. It's easy to see the associations to monolithic architecture, triumphal cinema etc.
From marjory lange
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 2:59 PM
I like some Bruckner's music quite a bit and am impressed by more of it (unless I'm playing one of the symphonies with endless tremolo--then it impresses itself on me...). Himself, I don't know, don't worry about. Sort of like Homer's epics. We don't even know if there was a real 'Honer,' but the poetry is fantastic.

The word 'hate' in relation to any artistic judgment is a concern. When a writer as sophisticated and sensitive to language as the op uses 'hate' in the context of her personal taste, it seems out of place--wrong kind of energy, wrong level of involvement. Hatred should be saved (if used at all) for life-and-death issues, not preferences in sounds. And, having shot her bolt so thoroughly in this blog, what can possibly be coming in "part 2"?

From Paul Deck
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 3:58 PM
"I’ve been drifting through Grout’s History of Western Music and taking notes at the end of each chapter. I then listen to Youtube videos of the mentioned works and follow along with scores on IMSLP."

Wow, I'm impressed, that is such a scholarly approach. That is "lifelong learning" in the hear and now (sorry!).

You said that "Grout succeeded in sucking nearly every human element out of his narrative..."

Is there a similar history that is equally comprehensive and highly regarded that also captures the human element?

@Tim, "Maybe I'm still bitter about [Vivaldi] sending four concertos against a much more worthy one by Mozart last month."

I believe it was Mike and the Mechanics who sang, "It's the bitterness that lasts."

From Emily Hogstad
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 3:41 PM
About the usage of the word hate...

The word has vastly different connotations to different people. It certainly has had different meanings in different parts of my life. When I went to a small private conservative elementary and middle school, we were forbidden to use the word. It was as dirty as the f-bomb. But what happened was that we all still said "hate"...we just used code for it. "I strongly strongly strongly dislike algebra," we said; we could get away with that. After I graduated, I realized how *stupid* that had been. Making us say "strongly dislike" didn't make us love algebra (on the contrary, not being allowed to express the depth of our antipathy made us, I think, hate it even more). It didn't do a darn thing about anything - what had been the point? I started viewing using the word as being honest.

Nowadays the usage of the word between me and my friends has evolved even further. We use it constantly for things as diverse on the hate scale as "I hate that so many people live in poverty and can't get a decent education" to "I hate when a Justin Bieber song comes on the radio." Would I feel comfortable using "hate" in an academic context? Heck, no! Would I feel comfortable using it in a relaxed low-key medium like a blog? Well, obviously. To me blogs are places where we should strive to act the closest that we can to how we act in real life. Blogs are us, unvarnished, in all our raw unedited contradictions. We can't take that attitude in academic writing, and for good reason. So if I'm going to write about music in a blog, I want readers to feel they've just heard from me, and alas for better and for worse, that's who I am and how I talk at this point in my life. And actually at my age in my world with my friends, "hate" is a pretty mild word.

Also...would this blog have gotten half of this scintillating discussion if I'd opened with "Pardon me, but I personally have a mild dislike of the music of Anton Burckner"? ;)

Part 2 was going to be the liveblog but...I'm thinking a synthesis of the jist of all these replies would be vastly, vastly more interesting. Thanks all. I've read all the comments and appreciate each and every one, I'm sorry I don't have time to reply to each one individually...

From Emily Hogstad
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 4:07 PM
@ Paul

"Is there a similar history that is equally comprehensive and highly regarded that also captures the human element?"

I haven't heard of one but I'd love to know. I'll probably stick with Grout till the end since I've only got maybe five chapters left, but I'd love to start the process all over again with another book and compare and contrast how the history and repertoire was presented.

From Ian Stewart
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 4:18 PM
No one has to like anything but listening to a huge orchestral composition on low resolution Youtube means you are almost certainly going to dislike it. Maybe you should go to a concert or second best, get a CD recording and play it back on a good system.
Regarding his bizarre social behaviour it is now generally believed that he was autistic and also had OCD.

I have no views on Bruckner, don't know any of his music and find the Hitler comment irrelevant. The fact that Charles Manson was obsessed with The Beatles doesn't mean I am going to throw their CDs away.

From Corwin Slack
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 4:31 PM
The word hate is a perfectly acceptable word. I hate being told by a PC scold to quit using this evocative and powerful word. I hate mediocrity, I hate evil, I hate trash and I hate germs. I hate kitschy art etc. etc. -- perfectly good uses of a word. I don't hate the scold, Bruckner, artists who make kitschy art and so on.
From Emily Hogstad
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 5:16 PM
"No one has to like anything but listening to a huge orchestral composition on low resolution Youtube means you are almost certainly going to dislike it. Maybe you should go to a concert or second best, get a CD recording and play it back on a good system."

But I've listened to a lot of other pieces on Youtube and not hated them. In fact, I get ninety-nine percent of my music through crappy laptop speakers (not by choice, but laptop speakers are better than nothing), and I love way more pieces than I don't like. Still, you're definitely onto something... There may be something to the power of the live sound that one doesn't get at all in a recording.

From Rupert Kirby
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 6:27 PM
My goodness what controversy!!
I would agree that hate is a word that shouldn't be used. It's just lazy and self-destructive. Please don't do that to yourself again!!

However... I love the Bruckner Marian Anthems. Short choral anthems we sung in the Chapel Choir. And I know my Father loved the Bruckner Symphonies. Maybe it's time I had a second listen too!

From Delmar Williams
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 7:19 PM
Out of curiousity, if you were a violist would you feel the same way? He did give the violas some great melodies.
From Tom Holzman
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 8:40 PM
Emily - Hitler had a special affinity for Bruckner. If I recall correctly, after he committed suicide, the Nazi radio played some Bruckner piece in his memory.

Eric - Bruckner probably hated you.

From Johnny Fang
Posted on April 22, 2012 at 11:42 PM
Emily: Faure is one of my favorite composers too! I would love to hear your thoughts about what you love about Faure. - Johnny
From Mendy Smith
Posted on April 23, 2012 at 1:39 AM
OK, I like Bruckner. But then again, I also like Viola Zombies. Does that make me one of those 'weird viola' types? ;)
From Lawrence Franko
Posted on April 23, 2012 at 2:24 AM
Emily, You could have used the word 'hate' a bit less often. Such emphatic emotion is not conducive to a constructive discussion. Guilt by association is also not an argument. I believe that Hitler and Stalin liked Beethoven, too. Does that make Beethoven creepy? BTW Saint Saens was much creepier. Is that a reason to hate his music? Perhaps you just don't like Brucker's long lead ups to huge climaxes followed by...cosmic silence? Or Brass Choirs? Or violas? Or The Christian Mass? If you want to have a discussion about Bruckner's music, perhaps bringing up some specific issues would be more constructive than the ad hominems.
From Lawrence Franko
Posted on April 23, 2012 at 2:32 AM
Another point: Why is it a sign of creepieness to have Wagner, Beethoven, and Christ as heros? Tim, This last reference, plus the fact that much/most of Bruckner's inspiration was quite explicity Christian, was the reason for my earlier comment. In case no one in the modern PC world has noticed, the history of Christianity and Classical Music are rather closely connected. I know that some want to reject that (my dear atheist father did, but he still wanted the St. Matthew Passion played at his funeral, go figure..). Oh. And Bruckner liked to look at pretty girls? The Horror! I just finished Blair Tindall's Mozart in the Jungle (which ought to be required reading for anyone interested in classical music). Seems lots more goes on in musical circles these days than in the time of Bruckner (and, yes, I experienced some of it, some quite unpleasant, in my early professional youth). So unless there are specifics, could we skip the innuendo, please?
From Corwin Slack
Posted on April 23, 2012 at 11:36 AM
I hear the voice of God speaking in many works, such as Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus and Requiem, Bach's Passions and the B minor Mass, the Faure Requiem and Brahm's German Requiem. But whatever Bruckner's intentions his symphonies come across as vain oblations, pompous, overblown works of conspicuous piety.
From Emily Hogstad
Posted on April 23, 2012 at 2:55 PM
Lawrence, I invited you to message me to continue the discussion, but I guess if you want, I can do a small portion of it here...

"Emily, You could have used the word 'hate' a bit less often."

I wrote above in the comment section why I used the word hate. In this medium at my age in my particular circle of friends, hate is a chameleon of a word, capable of expressing a vast range of emotion, and personally I don't feel it's a bad or unproductive word. I don't regret using it. Maybe later in life I will. But permit me my blunt honesty now - and give me something to push back on in my thirties and forties. This is a time of life when I should be brash and bold - because from here on out I'll only get older and wiser, and no doubt quieter. ;)

"Guilt by association is also not an argument. I believe that Hitler and Stalin liked Beethoven, too. Does that make Beethoven creepy?"

I agree about the guilt by association when it comes to politicians co-opting music for their own purposes. Read up above, I actually defended Bruckner against the Nazi charge and wondered why Beethoven isn't slapped with it more often. The central portion of Alex Ross's book The Rest is Noise is quite interesting in this regard; he traces how music was used throughout the twentieth century to support totalitarianism and fascism. I am sure he will go even deeper into the subject in his new book on Wagner.

"BTW Saint Saens was much creepier. Is that a reason to hate his music?"

But I like Saint-Saens' music, independent of his biography. I understand it and appreciate it. Look...in this blog I'm trying to understand the relationship I have between composers' biographies and their music - trying to discern a pattern in my thoughts. Right now it seems if I like their music, it doesn't much bother me what they did in their life - if I don't like their music, I'm often enlightened by learning about their life (Shostakovich comes to mind). But Bruckner is the only one whose music I don't like AND whose biography makes me uneasy. And those two things feed into each other for some reason. I'm not saying this thought process is logical, at all. It isn't. But it's there. And I'm trying to understand why. Hence the blog.

"Perhaps you just don't like Brucker's long lead ups to huge climaxes followed by...cosmic silence? Or Brass Choirs? Or violas? Or The Christian Mass?"

Yeah, don't much care for brass choirs, unless they're sprinkled few and far between (although I found the multiple brass passages in Greenstein's Acadia, which I wrote about earlier this month, incredibly moving, so...). I'm a violist myself so I'd be self-hating if I didn't like them (then again, I'm a violist, and isn't self-hatred what we specialize in?). I don't mind masses... I'm on record as saying that as if I have the luxury of choosing the music I'm going to listen to as I die, I'm going to pick the Faure Requiem.

"If you want to have a discussion about Bruckner's music, perhaps bringing up some specific issues would be more constructive than the ad hominems."

I did. I set forth as possibilities why I don't like his music the brass, the bombast, the tremolo, the orchestration, the harmony, and the tempo, among other things.

"Why is it a sign of creepieness to have Wagner, Beethoven, and Christ as heros?"

It's not; that was my broad overview of his biography before I zeroed in to the specifics I thought were creepy. If being a country bumpkin is creepy, then I'd be calling myself creepy, too, as I've used that label to describe myself multiple times.

"In case no one in the modern PC world has noticed, the history of Christianity and Classical Music are rather closely connected."

I don't know that anyone is disputing that...least of all me.

"And Bruckner liked to look at pretty girls? The Horror! I just finished Blair Tindall's Mozart in the Jungle (which ought to be required reading for anyone interested in classical music). Seems lots more goes on in musical circles these days than in the time of Bruckner (and, yes, I experienced some of it, some quite unpleasant, in my early professional youth). So unless there are specifics, could we skip the innuendo, please?"

What I personally find disturbing (and of course your mileage may vary) was the fact he didn't just like to look at them, he *kept lists of them.* Granted, this is the Victorian era, things were different, women married younger, oftentimes to older men, etc etc etc, but it seems that he gained a reputation for unnerving women and possibly their families; Wikipedia says that he was investigated for impropriety, and although he was exonerated, he decided to focus on teaching boys to avoid future issues. (I'd like to hear the source and full story behind that but I have no Bruckner biography at hand.) Personally I would have been terrified if I'd found out my teacher - my *teacher,* someone I put into a position of trust and power, who I make myself vulnerable for intellectually and often emotionally and physically - was keeping a list of girls he found attractive. I'd be even more terrified if I'd known I was on it. It's the list in and of itself, not any inappropriate contact, and we know for certain about the lists; they're not innuendo. Maybe this is a male/female divide in perspective. Think back to your teenage years. Would you have felt totally fine if, say, hypothetically, Bruckner had preferred boys and you had been on the list? I'm guessing you would feel uneasy, uncomfortable, vulnerable, victimized...creeped out. Then multiply those feelings because of the power difference between a Victorian professor and his teenage female student. The comparison's imperfect, but maybe that will help you understand a bit where I'm coming from.

From Laurie Niles
Posted on April 23, 2012 at 5:36 PM
lol, Lawrence , what are you saying, "He was a predator pedophile, so what?" Hmmm.

As Emily noted, "he was obsessed with teenage girls, even when he was old enough to be the girls’ grandfather, going so far as to keep a list of who he found physically desirable. "

If you don't understand the creepiness of that kind of obsession, we can't really help you.

From Lawrence Franko
Posted on April 23, 2012 at 8:34 PM
Emily, I respect your response. I may politely comment further in the future. I sincerely think that you are missing something in Bruckner's music. In any case, perhaps one person's 'bombast' is anothers' Amazing Grace...and tastes may vary over a lifetime. Laurie, I am very disappointed that you have personalized this. I completely agree with you the predatory pedophiles are quite beyond the pale, especially since I was attacked back when -- events to which I alluded, and which Blair's book suggests are all too current. But is there not a big difference between 'keeping lists' (most men do, at least mentally, in case you didn't know...) and actually drugging someone and... or requiring a quid pro quo for hiring of the kind Blair encountered?." Also, is that a sufficient reason to Hate a composer's music?? Whence my comment about Saint Saens, and one I could make about several others....
From Lawrence Franko
Posted on April 23, 2012 at 8:54 PM
Another thought. I don't know how far anyone wants to go on the real topic we seem to be discussing, i.e. sexuality and music. But I do not think that it is an original thought that one reason there are so many 'nerdy' male composers is that they thought that their artistic and emotional outpourings might make them more attractive...to one or the other, or the other sex. (Maybe there are more than three, but it's been a long day and I forget...) To some that may seem 'creepy.' To others it might seem a primordial drive (see Peacocks in the Encyclopedias). Of course, women would NEVER do anything to attract male attention....
From Laurie Niles
Posted on April 23, 2012 at 9:40 PM
Lawrence, you made it rather personal when you asked me if there are any standards and implied that I ought to take down Emily's perfectly well-reasoned, fair-minded blog, just because you don't agree with her opinion. You can love Bruckner all you want. You can also hold to your opinion that creepy predator pedophile behavior does not make a person a creepy predator pedophile. I disagree.
From Laurie Niles
Posted on April 23, 2012 at 9:43 PM
I also don't know any nerdy composers, they're all pretty cool, IMO.
From Lawrence Franko
Posted on April 23, 2012 at 9:30 PM
LOL. Ah yes, Mahler vs. Bruckner. If I were going to get into immitating our original author, there is a good piece to be written about "Why I Hate Mahler." (Actually, I don't.) Is Mahler's obsession with Death so much more praiseworthy than Bruckner's (alleged) obsession with pretty girls? Every played the solo violin part in the scherzo of Mahler's fourth? Now that is REALLY Creepy. Not to mention Kindertotenlieder, especially if one has had a personal loss. And he was married to one of the most promiscuous alcoholics of the twentieth century, who probably became that way because Mahler was a Male Chauvinist Pig who peremptorily aborted her composing career. So we should hate Mahler, too? Actually, I don't....though I do generally find Bruckner's music more upllfiting, and I sometimes find Mahler to be "music to feel sorry for oneself by" --indeed sometimes enjoying the emotion. Hey, why not? Isn't music supposed to be a consolation? On the other hand, there is the last movement of the fourth symphony... but that is so...Bruckneresque....
From Emily Hogstad
Posted on April 23, 2012 at 9:40 PM
"Emily, I respect your response. I may politely comment further in the future."

Yeah, please, go ahead! I'm so happy we can part on civil terms (I think?). :)

"I sincerely think that you are missing something in Bruckner's music."

I totally agree.

"In any case, perhaps one person's 'bombast' is anothers' Amazing Grace...and tastes may vary over a lifetime."

Absolutely.

"Also, is that a sufficient reason to Hate a composer's music??"

No, I don't think it is, but it doesn't help when you don't like his music to begin with.

"I don't know how far anyone wants to go on the real topic we seem to be discussing, i.e. sexuality and music."

Which is actually probably the single most interesting topic I know of.

"But I do not think that it is an original thought that one reason there are so many 'nerdy' male composers is that they thought that their artistic and emotional outpourings might make them more attractive...to one or the other, or the other sex. (Maybe there are more than three, but it's been a long day and I forget...) To some that may seem 'creepy.' To others it might seem a primordial drive (see Peacocks in the Encyclopedias)."

It doesn't matter to me. If I wouldn't want to be on that list, I find it to be creepy behavior and the man who indulged in it creepy. Period. It's a subjective thing, but it's where I draw the line personally.

"Of course, women would NEVER do anything to attract male attention...."

No, never...

From Royce Faina
Posted on April 23, 2012 at 11:22 PM
Well... love or hate him... he made it in history as a composer... none of us have or perhaps ever will. Maybe the original poster, she sounds like one who would make her name as a composer or artist. I hate Mick Jagger and Steven Tyler!!! whoopee...
From Peter Charles
Posted on April 24, 2012 at 12:12 AM
Come to think of it Emily, you are on my list of desirable women ... (wink)

Don't tell my wife though.

When I was a bit younger than you (probably 15 or so) I sort of hated (or rather disliked) Webern. Maybe I thought he was a bit of a joke. He was a bit of a Nazi too, I understand.

However, many years later I do now admire him very highly as a composer.

I'm not a great Bruckner fan either, although I have heard some music that I quite like. Yes, the fourth symphony is OK.

He did sometimes lack talent in the counterpoint department. But I never hear God in his music. But then I never hear God in any music. Can one hear something that does not exist?

I've a bucket a water ready to throw on the new flame war!!

From Lawrence Franko
Posted on April 24, 2012 at 12:35 AM
Laurie, I did not imply or suggest that you 'take down' Emily's blog. I do think that it would be useful to suggest to people that HateFests are perhaps not what people generally are looking for when coming to violinist.com Or at least I hope that v.com is not joining other sites in just trying to boost 'hits' by stirring up emotions. I also think that people have a responsibility to offer real evidence when making very serious accusations. Slander is cheap and unbecoming. And no, there is no moral equivalence in 'keeping lists' vs. actual sexual abuse. You are blessed if you have never had to experience the difference.
From Thomas Cooper
Posted on April 24, 2012 at 2:39 AM
I love Bruckner, and so do all my friends. I guess you can't please everyone though...

I believe YPO did Bruckner a little while ago. With a good teacher, one can be brought to like any respected piece of music, as YPO eventually did. Though I think its perfectly fine to "hate" someones music. Honestly, if anyone disagrees, they can get themselves a cookie.

Peter Charles: Ignoring the fact that I believe in God, I do hear God in music. Bach said all music should give glory to God, and I'm pretty sure Mahler 2 does so well. Your 'bucket of water' is pretty useless if you make comments like that.

From Yixi Zhang
Posted on April 24, 2012 at 4:08 AM
I love Bruckner. The first time I heard his No 8 conducted by Giulini brought me tears. Listen to the 3rd mvm't again with eyes closed and heart open, feel the warmth and see the landscape.

As a feedback, I too feel the word "hate" in this context weakens your message, as it seems to be used just to provoke. In fact this is the only reason why I passed the whole blog without reading it for so long until I saw all the responses and thought there might be something worth reading. Again, just a frequent visitor's little feedback for a wonderful writer.

From Sam Choi
Posted on April 24, 2012 at 5:12 AM
Emily,

you are a naive sixth-grade girl bullying an extra-ordinary musical giant.

Sam

From Peter Bartlett-Ruiz
Posted on April 24, 2012 at 7:55 AM
Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin orchestra have recently performed a series of Bruckner's last three symphonies at the Royal Festival hall, London. A full house at the concert I attended and the audience wouldn't allow Barenboim off the stage at the end of it. The whole auditorium was on its feet. The musical impact, sound and emotion was enormous, especially with a 70+ size orchestra of that quality. In my view, the only real way to understand Bruckner is to experience it 'live' with a maestro conductor and orchestra. So, if you ever have the opportunity....
From Bart Meijer
Posted on April 24, 2012 at 10:57 AM
I'm looking forward to Part II.
From stephen kelley
Posted on April 24, 2012 at 2:43 PM
WOW, what intense responses!
I came to Bruckner hearing the Carl Schurict 9th, a very moving old recording. I prefer Jochum for his greater ryhtmic energy, since few treat Bruckner with enough freedom. Bruckner's Adagios dwarf most others, and that's where the greatest conductors rise to their best ( Furtwangler, Klemperer, Cellibidache etc.). Brahms went to Bruckner's funeral (arriving too late)which I take as grudging, but real, respect.
From Emily Hogstad
Posted on April 24, 2012 at 3:20 PM
"you are a naive sixth-grade girl bullying an extra-ordinary musical giant."

I didn't say "call" me a sixth-grade girl; I said to "convince" me I'm one. There's a big difference. I remain unconvinced. Because actually I've been told I'm a very sweet girl. :)

Once again - I read all the comments - and I appreciate all of them - even though I am (shockingly) doing things besides monitoring them, so I only have time to respond to a choice few. Part II is in the works but I need for the flow of comments to stop before I can actually start serious work on that portion. Which isn't to say don't keep commenting; by all means go ahead and do, if you want. But Part II won't be up until they stop. Because I want as big a sample size as possible... Thanks all for taking the time to engage with me!

From Hartmut Lindemann
Posted on April 24, 2012 at 5:54 PM
I am glad to notice Lawrence Franco's strong voice in support of Bruckner and his music. Incidentally, a recording of Bruckner's 8th Symphony was the very last time I performed as an orchestral musician and it was my free choice to fill in for a colleague at the time and I loved every moment of it.
The reason why people have problems with Bruckner's music is simply that some music doesn't travel well, just like some wines don't taste when they are removed from their locality. Bruckner was the archetype of an Austrian composer, with that specific local flair. One only has to think of Bernard Shaw's miss judgement of Schubert's music. Schubert falls into the same category as Bruckner and even shares the tendency to compose 'himmlische Längen.'(heavenly length)

As far as Bruckner the man is concerned: He must have been a tormented human being, tormented until he reached the divine moments in his music, and yes, sometimes you'll have to be a bit patient and wait for the next one for quite a while, until the conclusive pattern leads into it. Bruckner had all the time in the world and didn't feel pressured by the possible impatience of his listeners.
Furtwängler, who was a great Bruckner expert, said when comparing Bruckner to Mahler: 'Mahler only has questions, but Bruckner has the answers.'

All that is written on this blog to make Anton Bruckner look like a pedophile is irrelevant nonsense, and it shouldn't detract from his great value as a composer. There have been great composers, who were brothel frequenting syphilitic's and homosexuals in their private lives and nobody cares about it. This is the way it should be when a person has more to live for than his sexual activities.
Since Bruckner was striving for beauty in his art, he wouldn't have been unaware of beauty in young women. As far as I am informed, he only made one unsuccessful attempt to marry a young orphan, presenting her with a copy of a Schubert song a heartfelt gift. He was rejected by her and felt deeply hurt. In contrast to Wagner, it would have been morally unacceptable for Bruckner as a devout catholic to live wit a women out of wedlock. As a matter of fact, he died a virgin and suffered through out his life from his suppressed sexuality.

Bruckner was quite clumsy in his manners (completely untalented for small talk I'd imagine) and thus unable to attract women and he was also afflicted with another vexing disorder. Witnesses noticed, that he had a compulsive need to count all the leaves of a tree. I would imagine, this 'mad thoroughness' might have been the very reason, why he wrote out some "compulsive" lists of attractive young girls. (today men take shots on their mobile phones instead. Is this more acceptable? I think it is far worse)
Every other middle aged man who lived in the 19th century, would have been permitted, even expected to take a very young wife and Bruckner was no exception to this. What made him different to other mature men, was the circumstance that he didn't experience fulfillment in love in his younger years, and therefore kept pursuing the ideals of his youth.
Only look at the wonderful Lippi Madonna in Florence, and you'll find yourself touched by a beautiful young women seen through the eyes of an aging man, a painter. I hear moments of 'musical virgin worship' in Bruckner's music and these are the moments that move me the most. Personally I have no problems with Bruckner's conduct towards women. I only acknowledge, that it might not suit the climate of our age of 'bourgois correctness'
Please don't make the mistake and picture him as a Josef Fritzl like existance (that is the Austrain guy, who kept his daughter as a sex slave for 20 year in the his cellar)
I find that disrespectful.
Bruckner was reported to have an innocent childlike character and was notoriously shy and polite. Once he stood in front of the orchestra to conduct one of his own Symphonies. He smiled at the members for a moment and said:"Gentlemen, after you'

From Bret M
Posted on April 24, 2012 at 8:23 PM
I absolutely adore Bruckner! Discovered him just over a year ago and can't get enough, be it CDs (complete sets, individual performances etc), biographies, musical analyses, I even have a bust of him sitting on my dresser. I prefer to see him for the amazing masterpieces he created rather than the numerous anecdotes that have been passed along. He was a devout Catholic who up until the day he died kept a daily prayer book detailing the number of times he recited Lord's prayer, Hail Mary, etc. Not saying that made him a great person (not a religious person myself) but his belief and faith in God is unquestioned. And this is what shines through in his music. He was a writer of sacred music but his greatest contribution to mankind was the symphony. People who love Bruckner (Brucknerites, Brucknerds...) find in his symphonies awe-inspiring images of nature, landscape, cathedrals and are transported to a world of beauty and peace where there is no hate.
From Emily Hogstad
Posted on April 24, 2012 at 8:20 PM
I feel I need to state once again that 1) I don't have any evidence Bruckner laid a hand on a girl or a woman, and 2) I never meant to imply such a thing in the blog. I'll say that again because I feel like there's some confusion: 1) I don't have any evidence Bruckner laid a hand on a girl or a woman, and 2) I never meant to imply such a thing in the blog.

I addressed this subject in more detail up above; my problem is with the lists, not any lascivious actions Bruckner took (actually, almost certainly didn't take). I also urge guys who haven't yet thought about it in this way to imagine that you're 17 and that you have an elderly teacher. You find out he's kept lists of the boys he finds sexually attractive. You're on this list. Multiply whatever you're feeling due to the difference in power between the genders in the Victorian era. Is it still a beautiful dynamic? If it is, cool; we just have different perspectives. If not, you have a taste of how a female might feel in the same position. I think we all have different definitions of creepy. Mine is more liberal than others'.

From Lawrence Franko
Posted on April 24, 2012 at 9:39 PM
Thank you Harmut and Bret!! You have expressed my thoughts much more elegantly than I ever could have done! Hartmut, Thank you also for the Furtwangler quote. My sentiments exactly. Emily, I only wish famous pianist EW had just kept me on a list, rather than drugging me (thankfully, I got away). Just as a grandfatherly thought, you might broaden your interest in the private lives of composers and, for that matter, anyone who has been truly creative. More often than not, you are likely to find people (usually men, but sometimes an Alma Mahler), who are moved to use music as a way to cope with a difficult life. (Mahler & Schoenberg: Jews in a Catholic society who desperately want to succeed...and protest at the same time; Shostakovich and Prokoviev who, had they used words instead of music, would have been shot in the back of the neck at the Lubianka; Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Bruckner, Britten, Brahms... Beethoven!!! who were working out personal sexual problems or perceived inadequacies, etc. etc. etc. ). Perhaps spending a little time learning before bursting forth in print might be a good idea. Laurie, I have mellowed a bit since my original horror at this blog, and this has been, I hope, a learning experience for all. But I do hope that we will not have too many more " I hate X" blogs, especially when the target is far more innocent than many, many other composers and musicians. There is that pesky Commandment: Thou shalt not bear false witness...
From Emily Hogstad
Posted on April 24, 2012 at 10:17 PM
I am terribly sorry that you have suffered. But the fact that worse things occur does not lessen the impact of the less creepy act. To create an imperfect analogy (NOT meant to apply to Bruckner), say there are two people, one who hurts people, and one who merely keeps a list of names of people he wants to hurt. The first action is obviously much worse. But the existence of the first action doesn't diminish the feeling that the latter action is also inappropriate.

I spend quite a bit of time reading about composer's personal lives. I'm no expert but I am familiar with the personal lives of all the musicians you cite. I often get to tell stories to professional musicians that they haven't heard before. Hence my observation that all great artists are creeps in one way or another. That being said, it still doesn't keep me from feeling uncomfortable about what Bruckner did by keeping lists of his students. I may understand the impulse intellectually (i.e., "all men are like that", "he was sexually frustrated", "he worshiped virgins"), but emotionally I will always feel uneasy about it.

Thanks to this blog and these comments, I've learned some about how I personally engage with history, especially when it's negative. It's been a comfort to finally be able to articulate certain ideas. I'll be discussing this point further in Part II.

I see no indication that "I Hate X" blogs are going to become commonplace. I certainly am not going to make a habit of them; I never intended to. I actually think if you read my past work you'll find my criticism to be, if anything, too subtle and too tentative.

From Lawrence Franko
Posted on April 24, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Oy vey. Emily, I was going to move on, but I can't get over your comment saying that Bruckner was keeping a list "of people he wanted to hurt." How do you know that? What evidence do you have that 'hurt' was his motive? Maybe he wanted to love them, or be loved by them (which seems much more likely). You are giving us males the impression that you do not like men very much, and that you particularly don't like older men. Sorry if I am now older. I was once young and handsome (at least handsome enough to attract... well never mind). I do wish that you would stop making accusations without any substantiation for them. Perhaps you could channel your negative feelings into composing music, the way Bruckner did his...just a thought.
From Corwin Slack
Posted on April 25, 2012 at 12:13 AM
Lawrence, you are certainly stretching to say that Emily said that of Bruckner. It was a hypothetical 'compare and contrast'. It is particularly wrong to put quotes around the phrase "wanted to hurt" making it appear to be exactly her words. She has been more than gracious in her responses to you. You owe her as much.


From Sam Choi
Posted on April 25, 2012 at 2:45 AM
Emily,

I knew you were not a sixth grader. But somehow it sounded right in this case. Musical appreciation comes in all different time and manners. I have listened to classical music for over 50 years and I can tell you that some music didn't come easily to me. I know & love quite a bit, still there are tons I don't know and maybe don't want to know. But somehow the music I care now did come. So maybe forcing is not a good way I think. Wait for their turns to grab your attention and to steal your heart while enjoying what you already know and love.

Sam

From John Cadd
Posted on April 25, 2012 at 2:05 PM
Emily . If I said to you "I hate your shoes", you might not be too pleased . If I said "Your shoes are so last year Darling". That would be really offensive. So we have put all that in perspective. The Religious aspect here is a bit creepy. If you feel inspired by religious music and "Hear God ", that is a fine and noble feeling. But don`t get the idea that you Own God and have to start a Crusade. Keep it in proportion. God can look after himself without any of us giving him our seal of approval . Hitler popped up again too. I asked my Mum-in- law once about the German marching songs. I said the tunes were far better than ours. "Much more musical." She agreed with me and that`s in spite of serving in the RAF during the war. Her husband built and tested Spitfires . No problem there . Making lists as Bruckner did seems to indicate a syndrome . Psychologists would tell you about that .I think it`s Asperger`s . There is a long list of famous people who were classed as probably Aspergers including Einstein , Bruckner , Bill Gates , Woody Allen and last but not least Hitler . He gets in everywhere. The lists are a parrallel to what happens secretly in other`s minds. Something we shall never know about. What do women ask men ? "What are you thinking about ?" You must have heard that one . Always the suspicious uneasiness . There was a Millionaire mentioned on the radio once who was so keen on the start of one Bruckner Symphony that he paid to be taught conducting just to stand on the podium and experience the power of a conductor. You pays your money--.
I have heard very little Bruckner music but I don`t expect anyone else to approve of whatever I like. One tip for Emily is to hear the music first and then read about the composer afterwards . The music will be exactly what he wrote . Later opinions may be true of false . Torquemada would never have accepted such an idea . By the way Torquemada used Water Boarding in his Inquisitions . Only 8 litres of water allowed in each session. That sounds fair . For Torquemada --do not read Emily .(Just in case ). World Peace . It starts here .
From Emily Hogstad
Posted on April 25, 2012 at 3:23 PM
Oh, Lawrence, no. At no point was I even remotely intending to suggest it was Bruckner's intention to hurt. Hence my words "NOT meant to apply to Bruckner." It was a complete and total hypothetical meant merely to try to shed some light on why I still feel uncomfortable with his actions, even when people have gone through much much worse. (Especially since a lot of people don't seem to be particularly uncomfortable with Bruckner's actions.) This is a complicated subject not served well by online discussion; at this point and at this level of detail I think it could be done much better in person. So I'm sorry about the misunderstanding. But please trust me, I didn't mean to imply that Bruckner wished to hurt others. I really really really don't think he did.

You'd be surprised, I think. Of living artists, 90% of my idols are men. On the whole, I get along very very well with older men - of the people I feel the closest to, the majority of them are older men. I actually get teased by my friends for my propensity to form unlikely bonds and friendships with older men. (They're all entirely platonic, you understand.) That being said, I do think you might be picking up a part of my own identity that I'm still coming to terms with. I don't feel comfortable discussing that here and I feel it would add only minimally to the discussion in any case. But do keep in mind what you see as man-hating may be something else entirely. That is all I will say on the topic.

I hear you, Sam. Thanks for the clarification. I look forward to the wisdom age will bring. Actually I look forward to being able to write a scathing critique of this very blog. That's my dream. Everyone needs something ridiculous from their youth to push back on. But right now, it's honest and it's real.

This will probably be the last time I comment on the blog unless something really egregious comes up. I feel I've clarified whatever I can to the best of my abilities. From here we get into some really thorny, touchy, deeply personal issues that have less to do with Bruckner and aesthetics and more to do with Victorian culture and human sexuality. Which are very worthy topics, just not appropriate for this blog. So if you comment after this and I don't write back, it doesn't mean I don't appreciate it - or that I'm not reading it - just that I personally feel the discussion has run its course, and I have nothing more to add. I need to clear my mind of the topic; I've been thinking about it too hard for too long, and I don't want to overthink things too badly and say things in public that I'll regret shortly. Thanks all for being patient with me - it means the world - you're all so kind and thoughtful - I hope the discussion has been half as profitable to you as it has been to me. Keep an eye out for a two (or three; haven't decided yet) part follow-up essay if you're so inclined.

And if anyone wants to continue the discussion via private message, be my guest.

From Thomas Cooper
Posted on April 26, 2012 at 2:38 AM
I would say that Godwin's Law doesn't really exist on violinist.com, but I was wrong. Godwin's Law really is universal.
From Laurie Niles
Posted on April 26, 2012 at 4:51 AM
Oh Thomas, it's certainly not the first time! But Emily just stated a fact, that Hitler liked Bruckner's music. And I can say, there are a number of musical pieces that one can't even play because of their association with Hitler. (A certain Haydn quartet, for example.) It's not wholly unprecedented to feel uneasy about a composer based on Hitler's embrace of that music.
From John Cadd
Posted on April 26, 2012 at 8:32 AM
I know the quartet you mean Laurie. The Amadeus Quartet played it in Chester Cathedral a short few months before they disbanded. Norbert Brainin was a prominent Jewish figure who led the quartet. Don`t feel bad about the music.
From John Cadd
Posted on April 27, 2012 at 12:04 PM
I wanted to tilt the balance of this blog back in favour of Lawrence as his words have been so cruelly misinterpreted. Laurie shocked me with a sudden jump to an unfounded assumption of Lawrences attitudes by throwing in the P -- word. . That was a bit rough on Lawrence . He was right to try to restore the balance of musical attitudes . He has listened to the Bruckner music and is entitled to his opinion about that .The idea of Physically Attractive has to be read in the context of a society that wore clothes up to the neck and down to the floor. That was the style then. We don`t need to be fundamentalist and cover up our faces too to avoid all visual contact. Frank Skinner did a comedy sketch about middle aged men watching Girl Olympic Gymnasts in the leotards and he teased the idea about --Why do they need to dress like that ? Just wear a low cut dress and then glare in rage at any male that happens to notice. It`s all part of the Human Comedy. I`m sure Shakespeare covered the subject at some time. Look up Aspergers Syndrome and List Making . That`s much more relevant . Only creepy when you misunderstand . Mostly Aspergers will follow the social rules because following rules is what they do most , almost obsessively . In Torquemada`s system you could accuse a person of being Jewish if no smoke came out of their chimney on a Saturday. Lighting fires was seen as work. That was enough for the torture to begin . Oh , I forgot . Water boarding is not classed as torture now. Sorry Lawrence --Torquemada was a Catholic Cardinal . What a tricky topic this is . Peace and a free ice cream with a flake in it .
This topic is archived at 84 but the note below still invites us to make a comment .
From Laurie Niles
Posted on April 27, 2012 at 5:02 PM
I still wouldn't play that quartet. It upsets people tremendously, and that is justifiable. The music has a life of its own. Sadly, the music has some really sinister meaning now, even though the composer had nothing to do with it, and that has to be considered.

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