Brahms Fan Attends Bruckner Concert - "Almost Dies" ;-)
Vienna, Austria– On Wednesday night, Sally McBrahmsFan made the traumatic mistake of attending a concert that featured a symphony by Anton Bruckner. “I was somewhat ambivalent about staying for the second half,” she recalls, “especially after Legendary Violinist gave a great reading of Obscure 20th-Century Piece That No One Else Wanted to Hear. But I had heard that the Famous Conductor is a Bruckner specialist, so I thought maybe he could make it listenable.”
But McBrahmsFan was wrong. “Basically I had forgotten how bad Bruckner is,” she explains, sipping a comforting cup of tea in her apartment. “Even in that historic hall with a great symphony orchestra, there was no saving the music from itself. I’d say Bruckner is a lot of ‘sound and fury signifying nothing,’ but that is too poetic a phrase for its sprawling expanse of Wagnerian brass clichés and proto-minimalistic repetitions of diatonic tetrachords. I almost died.”
McBrahmsFan considers herself a student of late 19th-century music history. “I can understand how some politically radical anti-Brahms people allowed Bruckner to gain a foothold in 1880s Vienna—but why is Bruckner still a thing?”
“At one point I caught myself thinking, ‘How did this man ever write four-part motets? He can’t even write basic soprano-bass counterpoint.’ The one time the bass did anything it was that tired descending line borrowed from Meistersinger, which created only a momentary interest of passing dissonance. And that trite scherzo – I spent the whole time wishing Mahler had written it.”
Amidst the long repetitive passages with no significant melodic or voice-leading content, McBrahmsFan found herself looking around the hall. “What were the white-haired Viennese concert-goers having orgasmic epiphanies about? It’s not even like Wagner, who at least has the whole operatic-mythological apparatus for you to contemplate.”
“Did I mention I had a standing-room ticket? I almost died.”
Asked if Famous Conductor had done anything for Bruckner’s music, McBrahmsFan frowned. “The piece should have ended about five times before it did. Why would you even want to conduct that in the first place? I just—sorry, I need to lie down.”
Maybe I should invite her to a Brucknerathon. Then we would be rid of her!
My thanks to Lionel Tacchini for sharing this posting.