WITH the approach of the last decade of his life, Bruckner was working on his Eighth Symphony. Auer called this period "Years of Mastership and the End," in the index of his Bruckner biography. When Bruckner was sixty years old, he was given the title "Master" by one of the most ardent followers and students of his life and works. Auer certainly had no intention of implying, by this statement, that Bruckner's earlier works bore the stamp of immaturity or imperfection. Rather, he was pointing out how slow Bruckner's development was, as we indeed have had occasion to remark. Late in life he finished his studies, and late he started his series of symphonies. He was an old man when he finally began to win the recognition due his genius.
One observer made the perspicacious comment that, generally speaking, we always think of Bruckner as the "old" master. This is as strange as it is true. We know the portraits of Verdi, Wagner, Brahms, and Liszt drawn at the climax of their careers, when they were in the full bloom of their creative years. But the young or middle-aged Bruckner never seems to arouse a real interest. This, again, is peculiar to Bruckner. The Bruckner in his sixties and seventies is the one who impressed the world and is so remembered.
If we want to catch a perfect glimpse of him, we should halt temporarily in our description of his life and watch him in his daily habits and his ways of working -- at home, at the Conservatory, and in the University.
Although he was living in a metropolis, he remained aloof and lonesome, for he was a stranger by origin, habits, and spirit. He had come to the capital when he was too old to acclimatize himself to a new environment. Vienna, for her part, felt he was a newcomer with peculiar provincial habits rather than a citizen of her own. He won a popularity of a special kind. His private life, his activities at the Conservatory, his