Herren Anton und Gustav

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dulcinea
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Herren Anton und Gustav

Post by dulcinea » Thu Jun 21, 2012 6:50 pm

My first acquaintance with Bruckner and Mahler was through their biographies in the 1964 WBE. Those articles were respectful, but gave no hint of the tremendous popularity these two Late Romantics would enjoy nowadays.
What is in your opinion the reasons why the Swans of Ansfelden and Kalischt-Kaliste enjoy the worldwide superstar status they did not yet have in 1964?
Let every thing that has breath praise the Lord! Alleluya!

John F
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Re: Herren Anton und Gustav

Post by John F » Thu Jun 21, 2012 8:06 pm

Changing tastes and the advocacy of some popular performers.
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Re: Herren Anton und Gustav

Post by jbuck919 » Thu Jun 21, 2012 8:51 pm

John F wrote:Changing tastes and the advocacy of some popular performers.
Maybe, but I wonder what the current edition of the World Book Encyclopedia has to say about those composers; I would not be surprised if the articles on Mahler and Bruckner are the same ones as in 1964 (they were already dead by then, don't you know). That compendium is written at the literate high-school level with that market in mind, and would never have given much space to the broad range of artists of any type.

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John F
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Re: Herren Anton und Gustav

Post by John F » Thu Jun 21, 2012 9:50 pm

Strange to find any mention of the World Book nowadays - it's so 1940s. My school's library had a copy but I never used it; the Britannica was also on the shelves and our librarian advised us which was the serious encyclopedia and which wasn't. I was in high school by then, and maybe he recommended the World Book to younger students.

According to Wikipedia, World Book "claims to be the most up-to-date commercial encyclopedia, with thirty-three percent of its pages revised each year." Maybe you're right that revising the articles on Bruckner and Mahler is low priority, but since World Book is meant to be a resource for students writing their school assignments, I wouldn't think it's that low a priority. After all, 1964 is nearly a half century ago.
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Re: Herren Anton und Gustav

Post by jbuck919 » Thu Jun 21, 2012 10:06 pm

John F wrote:According to Wikipedia, World Book "claims to be the most up-to-date commercial encyclopedia, with thirty-three percent of its pages revised each year."
Yeah, but maybe they're the same pages every time. :)

I'm afraid the school year just ended, or I could research this in an instant by going to the library of some school where I substitute and comparing the article with the 1966 (sorry it is not 1964) edition that is still hanging around here. This is like those cliffhanger two-part episodes of Start Trek: The Next Generation. We're all just going to have to wait until September to find out, unless one of the local public libraries where I might drop in happens to have a very recent edition (I know that Stony Creek does not).

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

John F
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Re: Herren Anton und Gustav

Post by John F » Thu Jun 21, 2012 10:29 pm

If I were a librarian, I wouldn't spend a nickel on replacing the World Book with the latest print edition. There's an online edition now, however, and for the price of a subscription you can satisfy your curiosity before next September. :)
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Re: Herren Anton und Gustav

Post by jbuck919 » Thu Jun 21, 2012 10:38 pm

John F wrote:If I were a librarian, I wouldn't spend a nickel on replacing the World Book with the latest print edition. There's an online edition now, however, and for the price of a subscription you can satisfy your curiosity before next September. :)
I was aware of that. I imagine I will have to ask a school librarian to look this up (the one in Corinth is particularly sweet on me). But just in case, I am accepting donations toward a subscription from all CMG members who share curiosity on this matter. :mrgreen:

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

dulcinea
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Re: Herren Anton und Gustav

Post by dulcinea » Fri Jun 22, 2012 9:35 am

jbuck919 wrote:
John F wrote:According to Wikipedia, World Book "claims to be the most up-to-date commercial encyclopedia, with thirty-three percent of its pages revised each year."
Yeah, but maybe they're the same pages every time. :)
The VIVALDI article of 1964 was strictly perfunctory; 'twas obvious that its author did not appreciate what Jack the B saw in the Prete Rosso. The article of 1984 was a total reversal; its author was clearly an unabashed enthusiast of the violin master of the Ospedale della Pieta.
Let every thing that has breath praise the Lord! Alleluya!

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Re: Herren Anton und Gustav

Post by diegobueno » Fri Jun 22, 2012 10:07 am

jbuck919 wrote:
John F wrote:According to Wikipedia, World Book "claims to be the most up-to-date commercial encyclopedia, with thirty-three percent of its pages revised each year."
Yeah, but maybe they're the same pages every time. :)

I'm afraid the school year just ended, or I could research this in an instant by going to the library of some school where I substitute and comparing the article with the 1966 (sorry it is not 1964) edition that is still hanging around here. This is like those cliffhanger two-part episodes of Start Trek: The Next Generation. We're all just going to have to wait until September to find out, unless one of the local public libraries where I might drop in happens to have a very recent edition (I know that Stony Creek does not).
The fact that these libraries haven't sprung for a new edition of World Book since 1966 could in itself be telling you something.

I think when they say they revise 33% of the pages every year, they're talking about illustrations and formatting, sidebars and other graphical devices to grab the increasingly limited attention span of their targeted user group.

jbuck919
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Re: Herren Anton und Gustav

Post by jbuck919 » Fri Jun 22, 2012 10:18 am

diegobueno wrote:The fact that these libraries haven't sprung for a new edition of World Book since 1966 could in itself be telling you something.
Since 2006, maybe. I was referring to the edition my family bought when I was a child, which my mother kept and which is still hanging around here. :) I looked at the article on Mahler but lack the ambition to key it. It is a fine two-paragraph summary of his career, as far as it goes, written by one Homer Ulrich.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Herren Anton und Gustav

Post by diegobueno » Tue Jun 26, 2012 5:52 pm

Here's a nice performance of Mahler's 4th, a really beautiful and inventive score. You really have to play it before you realize just how delicately, how precisely, how perfectly he writes for the orchestra. It's like chamber music writ large. Melodies are tossed from instrument to instrument. One instrument may only get a couple measures of it before the next one takes over. You have to count carefully, you have to listen carefully. Every moment brings another opportunity to make a stupid mistake, and playing mp when it's marked p counts as a stupid mistake.

This is Valery Gergiev and an orchestra called the World Orchestra for Peace.

I see Larry Combs (recently retired from the Chicago Symphony) is playing 2nd clarinet.


Heck148
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Re: Herren Anton und Gustav

Post by Heck148 » Tue Jun 26, 2012 9:33 pm

diegobueno wrote:Here's a nice performance of Mahler's 4th, a really beautiful and inventive score. You really have to play it before you realize just how delicately, how precisely, how perfectly he writes for the orchestra. It's like chamber music writ large.


Yes, indeed - I refer to it as Mahler's "Concerto for WW 5tet and Orchestra"!! :D

really, tho - the orchestration is exquisite, great WW parts throughout....difficult, too...

bricon
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Re: Herren Anton und Gustav

Post by bricon » Fri Jun 29, 2012 8:05 pm

[quote="Heck148"]
Last edited by bricon on Sat Jun 30, 2012 7:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

Tarantella
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Re: Herren Anton und Gustav

Post by Tarantella » Sat Jun 30, 2012 12:14 am

Another Sydney-ite!! I'm going to be a heretic again. I don't like Anton or Gustav, thinking them both musical "windbags" (I speak exclusively about the symphonic works here) and I've copped flak for this in the past. Last night I was listening to Rachmaninov Symphony No. 1 and I guess his would fall into the category of 'windbag'' too, were it not for a tightly structured whole with magnificent melodies which give the piece shape, some bathos notwithstanding. I respect the fact that others like Anton and Gustav, but I put the current interest down to a 360 degree shift in tastes, various orchestras in Europe 'celebrating' anniversaries in the last 2 or 3 years, and audience over-familiarity with the familiar which causes a re-think of previously neglected works. Isn't this what happened in the 19th century when Mendelssohn championed Bach after so long a period of silence? Also, we live in a period of monumental excess - whether consumerism or entertainment - so I would suggest that both Anton and Gustav's symphonies represent the Zeitgeist. Symphony of a Thousand!! Bitte.

Less is more.

bricon
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Re: Herren Anton und Gustav

Post by bricon » Sat Jun 30, 2012 12:35 am

Tarantella wrote:I put the current interest down to a 360 degree shift in tastes
That's the most accurate statement within your post! :wink:

Tarantella
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Re: Herren Anton und Gustav

Post by Tarantella » Sat Jun 30, 2012 12:53 am

It gives me hope that because there's a "most accurate" comment, the rest might be 'reasonably accurate'? One has to ask why it has taken such a long time for Anton and Gustav when even modern composers don't have to wait that long for their 'day in the sun'. Berg, Webern and company ahead of Anton and Gustav? Afraid so. As I said, Zeitgeist.

John F
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Re: Herren Anton und Gustav

Post by John F » Sat Jun 30, 2012 3:19 am

I don't think that's quite right. Bruckner's symphonies were widely performed in Germany and Austria within a decade of his death, and Mahler's more practicable symphonies had many performances in the German-speaking countries even during his lifetime, not just with him as conductor. Indeed, the Bruckner 7th and Mahler 2nd symphonies were recorded complete in the early 1920s on many, many 78 rpm sides by the precursor of Deutsche Grammophon, even though the recording technology of the time was quite inadequate to capture their sound.



The international popularity of Mahler's works, and to a lesser extent Bruckner's, dates much further back than the 2 or 3 years you speak of. Most attribute the Mahler boom in America and Britain to the efforts of Leonard Bernstein, whose first cycle of the symphonies was recorded in the 1960s - half a century ago. If you're speaking of Australian attitudes only, I defer to you on that, but in the rest of the world it's a different story.

In contrast, not one of Webern's mature works has yet entered the standard orchestral, chamber, or vocal repertoire, more than a century after many of them were composed, and it's surely unlikely that they ever will. Berg is the one composer of that school some of whose mature music has been accepted, but very selectively, and even "Wozzeck," a big success at its Berlin premiere in 1925, waited nearly 35 years for an Austrian-born general manager, Rudolf Bing, finally to give its Metropolitan Opera premiere. The only other works of Berg that get reasonably frequent performances are the violin concerto and the 7 Early Songs, and "Lulu" gets some play as well. But that's about it, slim pickings from a major composer who's been dead some 75 years now.

You're certainly entitled to your tastes and your opinion, but if we're talking about music history, that's another matter.
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Tarantella
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Re: Herren Anton und Gustav

Post by Tarantella » Sat Jun 30, 2012 3:26 am

Thank you for reply and I certainly defer to your obvious knowledge in these matters. Things are not any different in Australia, excerpt for our dearth of great orchestras, chamber ensembles and regional musicians. If you link the resurgence of Anton and Gustav to that quite ostentatious conductor, Bernstein, then part of what I've suggested is correct - it's the Zeitgeist thing again. I remember Bernstein losing the plot with his lugubrious later performances of Tchaikovsky, especially the 6th symphony. It was an embarrassment. He was obviously wanting to inflate the symphonic experience. In that respect it's quite understandable why he would be drawn to the aforesaid Austrian composers. No matter what scholars say, there's no question that a connection exists between cultural context and musical tastes. I still think we live in the era of excess which serves this over-blown symphonic repertoire very well. Remember the 3rd Reich at the height of its powers and how that became synonymous with Wagnerian opera and all its excess. And when we remember the courts of the Gonzagas and Roy Soleil, just as two examples, we get hyper-extravagant productions of operas and intermedii. Affluence creates expectations about what is possible - large numbers of singers, huge orchestras, and a wall of sound. And now we get it through television, instantly, so the audience itself has changed. Look at the execrable Andre Rieu and his 'shows'. People have an appetite for BIG nowadays: cars, houses, sound systems, holidays, megaplexes, movies. Shall I go on? Last year I was at the Musikverein for a recital of duo-pianists playing little known Liszt. It was held in the small Brahms Saal and there was a maximum of 300 there. Contrast this with the Grosse Saal and Bruckner and Mahler - the world turned up and it wanted something big. This isn't the era of small or intimate - not if you want to make money.

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Re: Herren Anton und Gustav

Post by John F » Sat Jun 30, 2012 4:07 am

Tarantella wrote:If you link the resurgence of Anton and Gustav to that quite ostentatious conductor, Bernstein, then part of what I've suggested is correct - it's the Zeitgeist thing again. I remember Bernstein losing the plot with his lugubrious later performances of Tchaikovsky, especially the 6th symphony.
If you want to dismiss Leonard Bernstein, the most popular and influential conductor of his generation and not just in America (the Viennese loved him too), no one can stop you. But Bernstein's last performances and recordings are not typical of him, certainly not of his recordings of the '60s, when his interpretations were anything but lugubrious.

(Well, just maybe Herbert von Karajan was up there with Bernstein in popularity and influence, though he had almost no American career. But you get the idea.)

Incidentally, Bernstein did not introduce the Mahler repertoire to America. The New York Philharmonic gave outstanding performances of the symphonies and "Das Lied von der Erde" under Willem Mengelberg, Bruno Walter, Leopold Stokowski, and Dimitri Mitropoulos, and other American orchestras did likewise. Mahler himself conducted them in his first and second symphonies. But it needed Bernstein's undeniable charisma to carry the day for Mahler. He was far less interested in Bruckner, by the way, and it's other conductors, most of them German, Austrian, or Dutch, who built the international audience for Bruckner's symphonies.
Tarentella wrote:No matter what scholars say, there's no question that a connection exists between cultural context and musical tastes.
Who would disagree? Scholars certainly don't. But this is an extremely complicated subject that needs a firmer factual and analytical basis than personal impressions. I enjoy a good polemical rant as much as anybody else, :) but it's no substitute for scholarship.
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Tarantella
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Re: Herren Anton und Gustav

Post by Tarantella » Sat Jun 30, 2012 5:52 am

No substitute for scholarship you say? Not considerable life experience, being well read, travelled, qualified and intelligent? Better to rely on some ivory-towered academic? These give us the tools to enable us to analyse ourselves!!

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Re: Herren Anton und Gustav

Post by absinthe » Sun Jul 01, 2012 9:41 am

John F wrote:The international popularity of Mahler's works, and to a lesser extent Bruckner's, dates much further back than the 2 or 3 years you speak of. Most attribute the Mahler boom in America and Britain to the efforts of Leonard Bernstein, whose first cycle of the symphonies was recorded in the 1960s - half a century ago. If you're speaking of Australian attitudes only, I defer to you on that, but in the rest of the world it's a different story.
The trigger for Mahler's off-taking in the UK is reckoned to be Horenstein's performance of the 8th in the Albert Hall, 1958. The BBC recording, one of its first in stereo, recently appeared on BBC Legends. It seems to go in and out of the catalogue - currently out and expensive but valued all the same. Recordings of other symphonies were available in the UK at that time but he wasn't much of a talking point.

More amazing is how the organisers managed to fit the personnel in the Albert Hall along with an audience.

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Re: Herren Anton und Gustav

Post by John F » Sun Jul 01, 2012 10:20 am

Tarantella wrote:No substitute for scholarship you say? Not considerable life experience, being well read, travelled, qualified and intelligent? Better to rely on some ivory-towered academic? These give us the tools to enable us to analyse ourselves!!
Life experience, being well read, travelled, qualified, and intelligent, are important, but they are no guarantee of being right, and can be no substitute for the systematic research and reasoned argument that is scholarship. I set my mild comment against your rant in the previous post, which is full of unsupported assertions some of which are downright incorrect (as I've shown), while others are highly doubtful.

For example, you lead off saying, "I still think we live in the era of excess which serves this over-blown symphonic repertoire very well." But the era we live in is marked, among other things, by an ever-shortening attention span in much of the public, for which there is evidence of many kinds. How can this square with the increased popularity of symphonies nearly two hours long, whose movements can last a half hour and more?

And then: "Affluence creates expectations about what is possible - large numbers of singers, huge orchestras, and a wall of sound. And now we get it through television, instantly, so the audience itself has changed. Look at the execrable Andre Rieu and his 'shows'." Huge orchestras? A little scholarship - OK, looking around the Web - would have told you that Rieu's Johann Strauss Orchestra is a chamber orchestra, with 26 strings and enough woodwinds and brass to play, well, Johann Strauss. The Vienna Philharmonic's New Years Day concerts of the very same repertoire are played by an orchestra that's maybe twice as large.

Big orchestras in large halls are not a modern invention. Haydn wrote his Paris symphonies for an orchestra that included 40 violins and ten double basses. Even Wagner and Mahler didn't ask for that many. Mozart was enthusiastic when one of his symphonies was played by a similarly large orchestra, this one in Vienna in 1781. Writing home to his father, he said, "I forgot to tell you the other day that at the concert the symphony went magnifique, and had the greatest success. There were forty violins, the wind instruments were all doubled, there were ten violas, ten double basses, eight cellos, and five bassoons." Haydn and Mozart liked big orchestras when they could get them, which wasn't often because of the economics and social context of 18th century public performance. It's even less often today. Have you ever seen such a huge ensemble? I certainly haven't.

I'm only saying all this - and I could say more - because you challenged me. Scholarship - such as the little bit that I did to write this message - is a corrective for the false beliefs, assumptions, and conclusions that we're all subject to, regardless of our life experience etc., if we don't bother to actually find things out from trustworthy sources.
John Francis

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Re: Herren Anton und Gustav

Post by absinthe » Sun Jul 01, 2012 11:33 am

Tarantella wrote:No substitute for scholarship you say? Not considerable life experience, being well read, travelled, qualified and intelligent? Better to rely on some ivory-towered academic? These give us the tools to enable us to analyse ourselves!!
Quite. Scholarship has its place and does keep academics off the benefits queue. But in matters of creativity it can only dissect (or whatever) history. Relating culture to musical taste (or even actual music being composed) would be a vast undertaking entailing big work on musical semiotics which sadly is a Holy Grail. What little progress the semioticists make is almost immediately undone by relational shifts in many factors included in their "models".

Scholars, musicologists need music to keep their jobs but conclusions largely elude them when it comes to "why?" My interest in a certain German composer led me to read around the context in which he worked. Writing on him, his work and reception (requiring several forests worth of paper to print, no doubt) shows that the focus of musical scholarship depends on many factors beyond music, sometimes perplexing. One faces anecdotal stuff, speculation, amateur head-shrinking, political and religious forces aside from the (useful) scholarly stuff of trying to read manuscripts to get them into a legible, "error-free" editions, and making other pronouncements that might be factual, might not, all considered "scholarly" in one way or another.

Does this help in appreciating the music? It might if you like that sort of thing. And the "professional musical consensus" (a phrase used here occasionally though I haven't a clue what it means other than a gang of musical groupies agreeing a party line) will decide what we should officially be fed. I'm not known for toeing that party line. As they say, the revolutionary is nearer the jail than the professor's chair, um, not that I'm posing as a revolutionary, of course! Jeez...

You're right, we live in an age of abundance but it's almost over. For reasons that take us well beyond music, what the industrial revolution brought us is spent. It's still about expectations, but as John F says, a lowering attention span is insidiously upon us; also a demand for instant gratification by slapping a piece of plastic on a counter to have what we want now. What has caused this narrowing of attention span is debatable and could possibly be related to consumerism and the clamour of competing, seductive market voices. It could also be the constant interruption in the shape of peripheral stimuli. It's why, for instance, I never look at Youtube clips. I have the "flash player" switched off, unable to stand those flashing pulsating banner ads that blast off at me every time I call up an internet site.

It could also be that in spite of attention killers, many crave opportunities to become involved, perhaps project their consciousness into something away from that madding business. Some take long walks, others listen to 90 minute symphonies. Just my hypothesis. We in the UK are lucky in that our national broadcasting corporation is publicly funded and does give us the chance to engage in performances (such as that Mahler 8 broadcast) without the blight of interruption, should we be unable to attend the concert hall/theatre. I would not like to listen to a Beethoven symphony with blasted commercials between movements or a quiet voice-over during a quiet passage to inform me of what's coming next.

It is a big subject as John F says. Is it worth trying to resolve it in a lifetime when the sand is forever shifting under our feet? Not for me. Abundance is ending and it remains to be seen how long philanthropists will continue to preserve our artistic institutions. The days of live 90 minute symphonies may be numbered. Consider how many orchestras worldwide are being disbanded.... Not nice but the age increasingly reckons success in terms of profit.

Crikey, I've gone on a bit... Sorry.
I'd better get this lot on the clipboard just in case!

:)

Edit: correcting spelling.
Last edited by absinthe on Sun Jul 01, 2012 2:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

John F
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Re: Herren Anton und Gustav

Post by John F » Sun Jul 01, 2012 11:57 am

When you use the word "scholarship," I believe you're really talking about scholarship in the narrow sense of an academic pursuit, and maybe just textual scholarship at that. What I mean by the word is doing serious, systematic research to discover and verify actual facts, then drawing reasoned and defensible conclusions from the facts. Which is the opposite of what Tarantella and you have been doing. I don't want to spoil your fun, but if you try to put down scholarship, you've a battle on your hands. :)
John Francis

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Re: Herren Anton und Gustav

Post by absinthe » Sun Jul 01, 2012 3:10 pm

No battle but I would have considered your definition as forensic or (hard) scientific investigation. I doubt what I described is actually opposite. (I can't speak for Tarantella, obviously.) In fact there isn't so much of a difference except where the unearthing of facts is known to be unlikely/impossible at the outset - but still the preserve of some scholarly work, e.g. attempting to complete Elgar's 3rd Symphony. By hard science I mean investigation where investigators do not themselves significantly affect the outcome.

Dulcinea's original post solicits opinion involving much supposition that even so has raised debate that, inter alia, helps us all converge.

:)

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