Westarp, Alfred: Anton Bruckner: Fifth Symphony

Westarp, Alfred: Anton Bruckner: Fifth Symphony
Brian Lamb in the Netherlands has sent to me an interesting old concert program. The title of the booklet is simply "Anton Bruckner Fuenfte Symphonie." The author is given as Alfred Westarp. It contains about 40 pages of excerpts of the Fifth Symphony with explanation notes. The booklet was to accompany a concert given in Munich in 1907.

The inside cover of the booklet is signed by Victor Egon Frensdorf on October 15, 1907.

From a clipping pasted to the inside cover, it appears that the concert was not well received.

Further research (my thanks to Benjamin Korstvedt) indicates that Frensdorf was the actual author of this booklet and conductor of the concert. Alfred Westarp was a pseudonym that he used for this and other publications.

Mr. Korstvedt continues by stating that, "A couple of years ago I came across a report in the Musikalischen Wochenblatt about a 'really nasty' ('recht böse') Bruckner concert in Munich in late 1907 in which the Kaim Orchester performed Bruckner's Symphony No. 5 under the direction of Alfred Westarp, who is identified as the author of a 'peculiar interpretative essay that puts down in black and white a "conception" of this mighty work that so entirely losses the spirit of the music that one should hardly waste any words on it.' In conjunction with the concert, Westarp apparently denounced Loewe and Schalk for 'falsifying' Bruckner's manuscript version of the score. Yet in his performance he 'turned everything on its head' making fortissimi into pianissimi, etc. in a 'downright unbelievable' way. The reporter, Paul Ehlers, described it as a 'perverse presentation'--which evidently placed the Trio before the Scherzo (!), as is suggested in the booklet--that did more damage to Bruckner than anything Hanslick or Dömpke ever wrote.

The music examples in the brochure, which are based on the so-called Schalk version of the symphony but with extensive changes dynamics, articulations, phrasing, and expression markings, give some idea of how aggressively Westarp monkeyed with the symphony. He willfully manipulated the character of many passages to fit his very idiosyncratic, fanciful idea of the symphony's meaning. It is perverse---if perhaps interesting as a historical curiosity."

A .pdf file of the first few pages of the acquisition is below as well as is a library scan of the entire brochure.

Download: westarp_brochure.pdf
Download: westarp_bruckner_acquisition.pdf