Bruckner and Mahler

Bruckner and Mahler

Bruckner and Mahler

Bruckner and Mahler

Excerpt

A book bracketing Bruckner and Mahler may well come in for some criticism from continental scholars who have spent much time and effort on the discussion of the divergences of temperament, character and style in these two composers. For the benefit of the English reader, however, the approach to the two great Austrians is determined by somewhat different considerations. For him the similarities of nationality, creed and creative bent in them all but outweigh the indisputable differences of human type and intellectual training; for him the basic fact that both composers are Austrian symphonists of the nineteenth century and in the royal line of descent from Beethoven and Schubert still holds validity. Moreover, the bond linking Bruckner and Mahler is more intimate than that implied by their sharing of a niche in the musical Valhalla of their country. They were, in fact, attached to each other by mutual friendship and high esteem, despite the disparity in their ages. Mahler as a conductor remained to the end a staunch partisan of Bruckner's masses and symphonies, while as a composer he reveals, even in the Adagio of his unfinished tenth Symphony, the deep imprint of the older man's style. Both composers, although born in remote provinces of imperial Austria, lived in Vienna during the years of their maturity. The works by which they will be remembered first and foremost were written, planned or completed in the Austrian capital. Both were deeply imbued with the spiritual heritage of the Roman Church. Their music is permeated by folkloristic elements of old Austria in a manner sometimes reminiscent of Schubert, although it is difficult (as in Schubert's case) to identify actual folk-tunes in their musical subject-matter. Finally, both composers lived and died during the long reign of Francis Joseph I, who bestowed on them notable signs of appreciation.

I have written this book in England, my adopted country, and in English, my second language from the days of early childhood. Still . . .

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