Anton Bruckner, Rustic Genius

Anton Bruckner, Rustic Genius

Anton Bruckner, Rustic Genius

Anton Bruckner, Rustic Genius

Excerpt

I saw him -- face to face.

It was in the early 1890's that our parents told us the famous composer Anton Bruckner was coming to have dinner with us. They warned us to be on our good behavior. We did not pay an unusual amount of attention to their admonition, for we fortunate children had seen such celebrities as Tschaikowsky, Brahms, Saint-Saëns, and Anton Rubinstein in our home. Although they did not in the least resemble one another physically, they all had something in common in attitude and behavior which we young ones recognized as characteristic of celebrities. It was the cosmopolitan manner of the "grand seigneur."

Then the day came and Anton Bruckner really entered our living room. Although we had seen pictures of him, we were surprised, even startled. There was something peculiar in his appearance. It was not that his head seemed rather small (I had Brahms' powerful skull still in mind); it was not the length of his eyelids, either. It was something less personal and therefore more striking to childish eyes. It was his clothes. Certainly musicians at that time were no models of elegance; they rather distinguished themselves from their lay brothers by nonchalance in attire. This man, however, was so very different from the musicians we had seen in our house that we were perplexed. His short black jacket and his voluminous baggy trousers reminded me of the countrymen I had seen on our annual trips to the Alps. He did not say much until my little sister entered the room. Then he fell on his knees and addressed her in his Upper Austrian patois: "Jessas, das gnaedige Fraeulein" (Jeez, the little lady!) The poor child was scared out of her wits and fell to weeping. But that was only the beginning of our embarrassment. At dinner Bruckner picked up the fish with his fingers and broke . . .

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