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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars shades of a composer, 9 Oct. 2009
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Dr. Robert A. Josey "mystery lover" (Scottish Highlands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Cambridge Companion to Bruckner (Cambridge Companions to Music) (Paperback)
I listen to Bruckner much more than Mahler these days. I find a different type of profundity in Bruckner's symphonies and choral works. A deeper peace, I suppose. A spiritual bridge. And the older I get the more I feel Bruckner's music as a part of me.

I shied away from acquiring any sort of 'text book' on Bruckner - knowing all the controversies around his music, it's hijacking by the 3rd Reich propaganda machine and so on. (My favourite book on Bruckner so far is that by Derek Watson in 'The Master Musician' series.)

But I am curious about the man - his life and his art and his eccentricities. So, inevitably/eventually I read books on the subject.

'The Cambridge Companion to Bruckner' is a collection of academic essays, of course. Some straight-forward and historically invaluable. Some annoyingly politically correct - but posing valid questions. The last two essays on Bruckner's enshrinement by the Nazi's are disturbing and leave a bitter taste - but they also affirm that Bruckner was not in any way part of the genesis of such a murderous ideology. He was a devout Catholic and he loved his religion. (Perhaps to his detriment? There are marked signs of the stamp of psychological repression throughout his life.) But his music is as spiritual as any of the highest ranked composers of 'holy' music.

I read these essays individually, not wanting to absorb the book as a complete overwhelming entity. And it was better that way. (Though I wanted to know more about Bruckner's actual 'psyche' - there isn't too much of that here.) Also the 'Companion' isn't really a set-in-stone tome of reference - it is a snapshot of the current academic thinking around Anton Bruckner and his work, and could very well be overhauled in a new edition down the line.

But all the words, analyses, technical diagrams in a volume like this - fine and meticulously researched/produced as it is - are only pointers and indicators to the actual music. And that is where Bruckner lives.
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The Cambridge Companion to Bruckner (Cambridge Companions to Music)
The Cambridge Companion to Bruckner (Cambridge Companions to Music) by John Williamson (Paperback - 15 July 2004)
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