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Luke Coppen's Catholic Herald Blog

The Catholic genius of Bruckner

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David B Hart makes the case:

A great part of Bruckner’s difficulty with many of his contemporaries, of course, was the notorious absurdity of the figure he cut. It was all too easy for his early critics to caricature him as an oaf and a peon—because, as it happens, it wasn’t entirely a caricature. He was not a deeply cultured man; he was not a man of the city; he knew little about art or philosophy or literature. He was simply a musical genius, and nothing more. His manners, moreover, were untutored, to say the least, and if he possessed any sense of style he never let it show.

The anecdotes are legion: His habit of wearing trousers with ridiculously short legs so as to leave his feet free for pedal-work at the organ. His infatuation with various beautiful young women and his bizarre belief that it could possibly be reciprocated. The tip he gave the rather patrician conductor Hans Richter to express his delight after the latter’s rousing rehearsal of the fourth symphony (which Richter, kind man that he was, took with good grace and kept as a memento on his watch-chain). And then, of course, there was Bruckner’s deep, ardent, very Catholic piety, which in the artistic milieu of the late nineteenth century seemed to many the very essence of rustic buffoonishness.

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Written by Luke Coppen

October 5, 2009 at 12:28 pm

Posted in culture

Tagged with ,

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