Bernhard, Thomas: Old Masters
In this exuberantly satirical novel, the tutor Atzbacher has been summoned by his friend Max Reger to meet him in a Viennese museum. While Reger gazes at a Tintoretto portrait, Atzbacher-who fears Reger's plans to kill himself-gives us a portrait of the musicologist: his wisdom, his devotion to his wife, and his love-hate relationship with art. With characteristically acerbic wit, Bernhard exposes the pretensions and aspirations of humanity in a novel at once pessimistic and strangely exhilarating.
Dr. Lee Lovallo observes, "Bruckner figures prominently in it, where he and many other artists come in for extremely caustic criticism by the main character, a critic called Reger. It's half dark humor, half cynicism but actually comical in its exaggerated effect, rather like Slonimsky's Lexicon of Musical Invective."
The following is an excerpt from the book:
Things are much the same with Anton Bruckner. Reger said; with his perverse fear of God and his obsession with Catholicism he left Upper Austria for Vienna and totally surrendered himself to the emperor and to God. Bruckner was no genius either. His music is confused and just as unclear and bungled as Stifter's prose. But whereas Stifter's today, strictly speaking, is only the dead paper of German literary scholars, Bruckner is moving everyone to tears.