Friday, February 11, 2011

A Reaction to Bruckner

As reactions to Bruckner's music go, there are two main camps: those that love him and those that hate him. I am in a third camp.

Bruckner was a troubled man. He struggled with life in general and relationships in particular. Those with his fellow human beings and those with God. And it shows—his music consists of seemingly unrelated sections: a listener will be subject to an almost John Adams-like series of chord professions that don't seem to go anywhere or serve any purpose other than to progress chords, just to have that halted, somewhat abruptly. What often follows is a gorgeous, Mahler-like section of beautiful heart-felt melodies, just to return to the wondering music of almost minimalist qualities.

The second, slow movement of the Sixth Symphony, which we are playing with Maestro Juanjo Mena tonight and Sunday at the Meyerhoff as well as Friday in Wye Mills, is particularly bursting with gorgeous melodies. But the last couple of minutes of the Symphony are, again, searching chord progressions that, well, don't seem to end in any tangible result of that search. It doesn't seem that he ever answers many of the questions he poses in his music. Come and join us, and see if you can find the answers for him.

-Ivan Stefanovic


  1. On Thursday at Strathmore, the BSO made Bruckner soar under Maestro Mena's baton. Transcending the inescapable stream of semi-consciousness so well described here by Mr. Stefanovic, the orchestra showed clear command of the music and able response to the reading and direction, which gave it as much purpose and direction as it can be given. The brass section shone, providing much needed fanfaric relief to those aimless wanderings of harmonic progression. The main cello lines were rapturous. For those who left after Yuja Wang, you missed the real treat of the evening.

  2. Franca, thanks for your kind words. Hope to see you at many more of BSO's concerts!