THE MAN-THE ORGANIST-THE TEACHER
BRUCKNER must have cut a strange figure: ambling along, as in a day-dream, on the populous boulevard-like pavements of the elegant, new-built Ringstrasse with his brand-new Parisian opera-house of 1868, both the visual symbols of Vienna's irrepressible gaiety, frivolity and sensuousness, even after the recent defeat of Sadowa. . . . A stockily built figure, carrying an imperious head on broad peasant's shoulders; a profile whose aquiline nose recalled a Roman emperor rather than a provincial organist from the backwoods of Upper Austria; clad in garments of strangely old-fashioned cut, black, with short, baggy trousers of grotesque width(apt trouser-legs for one contending with organ pedals); with a broad-brimmed slouch-hat (instead of the customary topper) and with a huge red, tobaccostained handkerchief flapping from one of the bulging coat-pockets; in his hand the inevitable snuff-box (in place of customary elongated ' Virginia' cigar); close-shaven (save for a ridiculously small suggestion of a moustache right under the nose) and the hair closely cropped (instead of the flowing locks and picturesque beard worn by artists and intellectuals); the mighty profile with the Roman nose and the deep-seated eyes expressing at once childish surprise and, as it were, a permanent silent quest. . . .
In the sparkling turbulence of the Vienna of Johann Strauss waltzes and decorative boulevards built in mock-Renaissance style, the appearance of Anton Bruckner must have struck the casual observer as a picture of typically provincial maladjustment. In fact Bruckner's appearance, so ill matched with its surroundings, was but the external side of his character's stubborn conservatism. Born of peasant stock, if not actually of peasants, he remained rustic at heart and in social behaviour. He clung to the usages and manners of his youth, and never overcame the servility of his early days. Yielding to intellectual pupils and fashionable conductors in practical details,