To recap, it is the TV music station (channel 1848 on Verizon) which gives me non-stop serious music with no announcers. And pleases me immensely despite and because of its propensity for delivering works of composers I’ve never heard of.
Its extensive (endless, actually) repertory does deliver some composers who bore me. But the only composer who produces in me a visceral loathing is Bruckner. I hate him. I can struggle to explain, although putting sensations about music into words is an unsatisfactory business. But with Bruckner, I have to try.
It’s entirely personal, this. I have no evidence for my impression but the overweening one is…Nazi. I think of his music as fascist, I think of him as a prototype Hitler composer. I don’t know how to explain this, but whenever Music Choice plays him, I turn it off before I explode.
Bruckner’s life spanned Wagner’s life. With certain caveats, I love Wagner’s work. But I hate Bruckner. My opinion here: his work sounds grandiose, pompous, bombastic. Cold, icy cold. Huge musical sounds that do not in my ears flow into any kind of rational development (“where are you going with this??”). He does not touch my innards — and I’m going to stop here because I don’t think I’m doing an adequate job.
Bruckner. You can’t hum him.
One fact. Bruckner’s work goes on and on and on and on. He seems never to know how to edit, how to stop. True tidbit: one day when Music Choice broadcast a Bruckner symphony, I decided it was time to go out shopping. So I did. I had a lot of shopping to do, for almost two hours. I came home. Bruckner hadn’t finished his symphony. Maybe I screeched. Probably.
Today, just a short while ago, Bruckner. I wasn’t really listening but at some point long after the beginning, I tried to clarify for myself why I hated him. That’s when I got to the “cold” description. Bruckner’s work does not seem to emerge from anything like a human soul. (Rumor has it he was a necrophiliac.)
Then my mind escaped to Mahler, whom I’ve come to love over the past few decades. Mahler’s work, like Bruckner’s, is famously BIG (one of my intense pleasures is hearing him live so I can watch the gigantic orchestra, especially in the back where the percussion cohort resides, and watch the dazzling array of instruments they hit and bang during a performance). But, also famously, Mahler somehow managed to pour out, express and analyze his own psyche during his compositions, so there’s passion, grief, angst, humor, playfulness, neurosis, joy. Some mock him for this. Of course, Mahler was Jewish.
The Bruckner was taking its usual couple of hours; every ten minutes or so, it sounded like he was finishing up…but no! On we go, more. Finally, there was an indication of a sort of musical weariness, a sense that maybe he was winding down here. In fact, I told him, “Enough. You can wrap this up now.”
There was a pause, which could have indicated we’re heading into another movement or one of Music Choice’s often too brief silences between works. Then came some orchestral notes and within two seconds I burst out laughing.
It was Mahler’s Fourth.
That was devilish, Music Choice but I forgive you.