Monday, August 15, 2011

Bruckner on the Beach

After my ramble a few weeks ago over Bruckner as a montane composer I thought it might be interesting to size him up as an oceanic composer, especially as we went to Cape Cod last week and spent a good deal of time contemplating the mighty surf of the Wellfleet beaches. One day the sea wsa very rough and the waves were gigantic--no one , not even the most intrepid surfers, ventured into the water. Walking along the shore I found the scherzi of some of the symphonies quite well matched, but it was on another day, when the rolling breakers had more regular and rhythmic movement, that I found the Adagio of the 7th Symphony most compelling.

I wondered how old Anton would have liked walking along at the waters edge, barefoot, hearing his mighty creation in his ear buds--wait, that wouldn't have happened! Among his many eccentricities was an obsession with counting and apparently, given a beach, he was fond of counting grains of sand. I suppose it was sort of a meditation. I don't think he'd have made much progress.

The Brucknerian gradual build-up of minor climaxes that finally accumulate in something big and smashing, is certainly analogous to the way waves come in to shore. But in essence, I think Bruckner is more at home in the mountains than in the maritime environment.

Of course the ocean has its own sounds and doesn't need any sound track added to it, yet...there's a great temptation. I think the Brucknerian ocean analogue has to do with the peaks and valleys of the waves, those crests and troughs which are reflected in Bruckner's wonderful analogues of light and dark, loud (really loud!) and soft. His climaxes do so often work up to a glorious "breaking" just like a wave's behaviour.
Today, walking in the East Rock woods, there were so many boletes about that I made little progress, stopping so often to check then out and admire them (the red and yellow "Boletus bi-color" was particularly vivid and tasty too)---like Bruckner counting his grains of sand.

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