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Old 08-29-2017, 04:38 AM   #1
Enrique
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Brahms' opinion on Bruckner.

When asked what his opinion was about Bruckner, he just answered: that poor madman.
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Old 08-29-2017, 07:09 AM   #2
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It's true that Brahms had little sympathy for Bruckner's music but you have to put this into the context of the time with two bitterly opposing schools of thought, the New music and the Conservatives. Here are two examples from both camps that show just how bitter this feud was.

Hugo Wolf, Salonblatt, Vienna, March 23, 1884.
The second number was Brahms’ Piano Concerto in B-flat major, played by the composer himself. Whoever can swallow this concerto with appetite can calmly await a famine; it is to be assumed that he enjoys an enviable digestion, and in time of famine will be able to get along sp end idly on the nutritive equivalent of window glass, cork stoppers, stove pipes, and the like.

Gustav Dömke, Wiener Allgemeine Zeitung,March 22, 1886
We recoil in horror before this rotting odor, which rushes into out nostrils from the disharmonies of this putrefactive counterpoint. His imagination is so incurably sick and warped that anything like regularity in chord progressions and period structure simply do not exist for him. Bruckner composes like a drunkard!

Brahms was caught up in the middle of this and he actually bore no personal ill will towards Bruckner as he attended his funeral.
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Old 08-29-2017, 08:08 AM   #3
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Jan Swafford’s excellent “Johannes Brahms; A Biography” says this, quoted in a letter to a man named Lisl:

“You have sat through the roaring of Bruckner’s symphony once, and now, when people talk about it, you are afraid to trust the recollection of your own senses. Well, you may safely do that. Your delightful letter expresses most lucidly all that can be said...He is a poor crazy person whom the priests of St. Florian have on their consciences (he is hinting of sexual abuse). You will not mind when I tell you that Hanslick shares your opinion, and read your letter with pious joy!
With supreme ill-humour, deepest respect and kindest regards, yours J. Br.”

Swafford goes on to write, “At concerts in the Musikverein Brahms sat in the Gesellschaft director’s box while Bruckner could only afford standing room in the back, with his students. When the two passed in the halls of the Musikverein, Bruckner bowed and scraped as Doktor Brahms swept past with a curt nod”(p.499). And:

“As always, Brahms could have forgiven a rival if he had been able to find any admiration for the music. He owned and studied some of Bruckner’s scores, but they only confirmed his enmity. To Brahms, Hanslick and most of their circle the scope and ambition of those symphonies were unwarranted, the occasional worthwhile ideas lost in a meandering maze....At one point Brahms expressed his objections in these terms, ‘Everything is affectation with him, nothing natural. But this thrashing around is disgusting to me; completely repugnant. He has no conception of a musical logic, no idea of an orderly musical structure’. If Wagner strung his operas together in loose quasi-symphonic form, that approach at least was relegated to the dramatic stage and its traditions. Bruckner appeared to bring the same cavalier approach to the genre of the symphony, intoxicating the public with brassy perorations and soaring themes without making any demands on their intelligence, their understanding of formal conventions. In other words, to Brahms and his followers Bruckner pandered to a public in some degree corrupted by Wagner, who wanted only to plunge into a voluptuous bath of sound and emotion”(p500).

And the final vicious salvo from Brahms, “Bruckner? That’s a swindle that will be forgotten a year or two after my death. Take it as you will, Bruckner owes his fame entirely to me, and but for me nobody would have cared a brass farthing for him”(501).

‘Hansi’ also hated the music of Liszt, despite that composers kindness towards both Brahms and Clara Schumann. But I agree entirely with what Brahms says about Bruckner’s symphonies!!!
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Old 08-29-2017, 09:25 AM   #4
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‘Hansi’ also hated the music of Liszt, despite that composers kindness towards both Brahms and Clara Schumann. But I agree entirely with what Brahms says about Bruckner’s symphonies!!!
That's a personal choice of course but it is possible to admire both composers as I do, though in the 19th century few did openly, you had to be in one camp or the other. Few Romantic composers were complimentary about each other - here's Tchaikovsky writing to Nadezhda von Meck in 1878:

"Brahms is a celebrity; I'm a nobody. And yet, without false modesty, I tell you that I consider myself superior to Brahms. So what would I say to him? If I'm an honest and truthful person, then I would have to tell him this: 'Herr Brahms! I consider you to be a very untalented person, full of pretensions but utterly devoid of creative inspiration. I rate you very poorly and indeed I simply look down upon you. But I need your services, and that's why I've come to you.' If, on the other hand, I'm dishonest and mendacious, then I would tell him quite the opposite. I can do neither the one nor the other."
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Old 08-29-2017, 09:57 AM   #5
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History is on the side of Brahms, much the superior of both composers IMO. He was across all the genres (except opera) and he didn't wear his heart on his sleeve as Tchaikovksy did. And Brahms contained his symphonic ideas in a tight structure much as Shakespeare did with his words in rigorous 14 line sonnets. When I listen to Brahms' symphonies I feel that he is controlling a volcano which, at any moment, is due to erupt.

As you say, "personal choice".
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Old 08-29-2017, 12:17 PM   #6
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And Brahms contained his symphonic ideas in a tight structure much as Shakespeare did with his words in rigorous 14 line sonnets.
I think that is the secret of his immortality. For me music is, before everything else, form. And after Beethoven's death, form did not imperate in music for a long time, with the exception of Brahms.
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Old 08-29-2017, 12:22 PM   #7
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Carlos Kleiber felt the same way about Brahms as I do, as demonstrated particularly from 7:55 in this clip from 1991 with the Vienna Philharmonic:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHmkl7GM_es

I love form and structure and adore this music: a tiny little musical lithium battery full of extraordinary energy and power which packs a delicate wallop:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oU0Ubs2KYUI

Last edited by Humoresque; 08-29-2017 at 12:36 PM. Reason: Haydn
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Old 08-29-2017, 02:32 PM   #8
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History is on the side of Brahms, much the superior of both composers IMO. He was across all the genres (except opera) and he didn't wear his heart on his sleeve as Tchaikovksy did. And Brahms contained his symphonic ideas in a tight structure much as Shakespeare did with his words in rigorous 14 line sonnets. When I listen to Brahms' symphonies I feel that he is controlling a volcano which, at any moment, is due to erupt.

As you say, "personal choice".
Interestingly enough, it seems to me that the camp of Liszt/Wagner/Bruckner was the inspiration from which the music of Debussy, Schoenberg, and others sprung from.

Also, in a formal sense, Bruckner is much closer to Brahms than Liszt or Wagner.
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Old 08-29-2017, 02:49 PM   #9
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Interestingly enough, it seems to me that the camp of Liszt/Wagner/Bruckner was the inspiration from which the music of Debussy, Schoenberg, and others sprung from.

Also, in a formal sense, Bruckner is much closer to Brahms than Liszt or Wagner.
Schoenberg was an admirer of Brahms and wrote a very interesting essay on this.
https://friedfoo.wordpress.com/music...e-progressive/
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Old 08-29-2017, 03:18 PM   #10
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This essay may be of interest with respect to Schoenberg's "Brahms the Progressive". Its author is a composer who lives in the Netherlands:

http://johnborstlap.com/brahms-the-progressive/
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Old 08-30-2017, 10:14 PM   #11
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When asked what his opinion was about Bruckner, he just answered: that poor madman.
A lot of people think that, even today!!
It's always interesting (and usually amusing) to read what composers think of their confrères (consider what Boulez thought about Shostakovich: "Well, Shostakovich plays with clichés most of the time, I find. It's like olive oil, when you have a second and even third pressing, and I think of Shostakovich as the second, or even third, pressing of Mahler.")
A propos Boulez, he seems to have had a fairly high regard for Bruckner and Mahler, though I can't remember him being a Brahms fan.
Personally, I'm very fond of both Bruckner and Brahms.

Last edited by Quijote; 08-30-2017 at 10:14 PM. Reason: Layout of the text
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Old 08-30-2017, 10:30 PM   #12
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As to Brahms "not wearing his heart on his sleeve", consider his Double Concerto for Violin and Cello, where the opening passage strikes me as an outpouring (a veritable flood) of repressed angst as the soloists strain and struggle with late Romantic string figurations. Pass me my hankerchief...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMurNzAAcLA

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Old 08-31-2017, 07:04 AM   #13
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As to Brahms "not wearing his heart on his sleeve", consider his Double Concerto for Violin and Cello, where the opening passage strikes me as an outpouring (a veritable flood) of repressed angst as the soloists strain and struggle with late Romantic string figurations. Pass me my hankerchief...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMurNzAAcLA
One of my favourite Brahms works!
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Old 09-04-2017, 09:48 PM   #14
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One of my favourite Brahms works!
Para gustos hay colores !!
Enrique will give us a suitable translation...
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Old 09-20-2017, 08:40 PM   #15
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Here's a quote from Boulez concerning Brahms, by way of Schumann, Chopin and Wagner:
[ . . . ] Schumann, by comparison, shows little invention, and even little skill, especially in the longer works. His Scenes from Faust spring to mind, in which one sometimes wishes for greater color. Put simply, there are composers who possess this gift of instrumental invention and others who, more or less, lack it. Chopin was not interested in the orchestra; Brahms was much more astute in this respect than Schumann. Yet, if you compare the symphonies of Brahms to the operas of Wagner solely from the viewpoint of instrumentation, it is clear that Brahms followed Classical models very precisely and very well in a way that corresponds to his musical thoughts - but one is not bowled over by his instrumental imagination per se.
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Old 09-20-2017, 08:49 PM   #16
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I still don't understand all this "Bruckner bashing", seems rather pointless to me.
Give this a go:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6fAT3iGRWc
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Old 09-21-2017, 07:13 AM   #17
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I still don't understand all this "Bruckner bashing", seems rather pointless to me.
Give this a go:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6fAT3iGRWc
Very nice - I agree with you.
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Old 09-21-2017, 02:35 PM   #18
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I still don't understand all this "Bruckner bashing", seems rather pointless to me.
Give this a go:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6fAT3iGRWc
The E Minor Mass is another fine example of Bruckner's choral writing. I think the instrumentation is well done, also.
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Old 09-21-2017, 02:38 PM   #19
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Here's a quote from Boulez concerning Brahms, by way of Schumann, Chopin and Wagner:
[ . . . ] Schumann, by comparison, shows little invention, and even little skill, especially in the longer works. His Scenes from Faust spring to mind, in which one sometimes wishes for greater color. Put simply, there are composers who possess this gift of instrumental invention and others who, more or less, lack it. Chopin was not interested in the orchestra; Brahms was much more astute in this respect than Schumann. Yet, if you compare the symphonies of Brahms to the operas of Wagner solely from the viewpoint of instrumentation, it is clear that Brahms followed Classical models very precisely and very well in a way that corresponds to his musical thoughts - but one is not bowled over by his instrumental imagination per se.
Mahler didn't think much of Schumann's orchestration abilities, either, having re-orchestrated at least two of the symphonies. Personally, I prefer them in their original format, notwithstanding the perceived weaknesses.
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Old 09-22-2017, 08:31 PM   #20
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Very nice - I agree with you.
I know. Strange, isn't it, that Bruckner even today creates such division. Beyond me, but there you go.
Isn't there a story of Sibelius having a punch up with an anti-Bruckner brigade after a concert of one of his symphonies? Good on him!!
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Old 09-22-2017, 08:37 PM   #21
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The E Minor Mass is another fine example of Bruckner's choral writing. I think the instrumentation is well done, also.
His choral writing is superb, as it would be given his upbringing! As regards his instrumental imagination, 'cellists dread him, hah !!! But there is far more subtlety there than meets the eye.
He writes splendidly for the brass, that's as sure as mustard is hot. I think we should give him a posthumous Doctorate in brass band writing. He may have been Austrian, but Yorkshire miners would have embraced him !!

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Old 09-22-2017, 08:43 PM   #22
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Mahler didn't think much of Schumann's orchestration abilities, either, having re-orchestrated at least two of the symphonies. Personally, I prefer them in their original format, notwithstanding the perceived weaknesses.
And Mahler even dabbled a bit re-orchestrating Beethoven's 9th!
I agree with you, let Schumann be, faults and all...
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Old 09-22-2017, 09:08 PM   #23
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About Schumann, his 'cello concerto should put to rest any doubts as to his orchestral abilities -such a beautiful work that holds its own even against the later Dvorak effort.
Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVFn7Hvxxos
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Old 09-22-2017, 09:09 PM   #24
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Certainly beats the muddy and cloying Brahms Double Concerto...
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Old 09-23-2017, 06:59 AM   #25
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I know. Strange, isn't it, that Bruckner even today creates such division. Beyond me, but there you go.
Isn't there a story of Sibelius having a punch up with an anti-Bruckner brigade after a concert of one of his symphonies? Good on him!!
Haven't heard that one but possible I suppose in his frequently inebriated state!
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Old 09-23-2017, 07:04 AM   #26
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His choral writing is superb, as it would be given his upbringing! As regards his instrumental imagination, 'cellists dread him, hah !!! But there is far more subtlety there than meets the eye.
He writes splendidly for the brass, that's as sure as mustard is hot. I think we should give him a posthumous Doctorate in brass band writing. He may have been Austrian, but Yorkshire miners would have embraced him !!
And what about the lovely adagio from the string quintet (for those who prefer Bruckner without the tubas!!) - I love the orchestral version.

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Old 09-23-2017, 07:05 AM   #27
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Mahler didn't think much of Schumann's orchestration abilities, either, having re-orchestrated at least two of the symphonies. Personally, I prefer them in their original format, notwithstanding the perceived weaknesses.
He also tinkered with Beethoven 9!
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Old 09-25-2017, 02:33 PM   #28
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His choral writing is superb, as it would be given his upbringing! As regards his instrumental imagination, 'cellists dread him, hah !!! But there is far more subtlety there than meets the eye.
He writes splendidly for the brass, that's as sure as mustard is hot. I think we should give him a posthumous Doctorate in brass band writing. He may have been Austrian, but Yorkshire miners would have embraced him !!
I could not agree more. And speaking of mustard, you reminded me of the Irish garlic brats I had over the weekend.
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Old 09-25-2017, 02:34 PM   #29
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About Schumann, his 'cello concerto should put to rest any doubts as to his orchestral abilities -such a beautiful work that holds its own even against the later Dvorak effort.
Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVFn7Hvxxos
I am not familiar with this work, sad to say, but I will give it a listen,.
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Old 09-25-2017, 02:37 PM   #30
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He also tinkered with Beethoven 9!
I was going to ask about that, too, as I couldn't remember if it was Mahler that did the tinkering. I wonder how Beethoven might have reacted with something like that.
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