Bruch fascinates me for the same reason. Good artists who reach this level of real greatness only occasionally are not common at all. I sense with Bruch that, in addition to his expressed need to support his family by writing acceptable music, there was some kind of artistic block that often prevented him from being inspired when he needed to be, or from getting in touch with his inspiration. Brahms commented that getting melodic ideas was no problem for him, but corralling and shaping them into formal structures was a struggle. I think that perhaps Bruch often had trouble getting melodic ideas, although he was a great melodist on occasion.MaestroDJS wrote:...Max Bruch probably fascinates me because he was not a great composer, but he composed truly great music on occasion. Some composers like those above produced numerous masterpieces almost without exception. Near the other extreme are "one-hit wonders" who by some fluke produced a single masterpiece while the rest of their music is mediocre at best. Bruch is in the middle. He produced a solid body of good honest music, punctuated by a handful of masterpieces.
Unmentioned by MaestroDJS is a late work by Bruch that I have recommended before in this forum, where discussions of Bruch seem to break out in various unrelated threads regularly. This work is the Concerto for Clarinet and Viola. I was absolutely entranced by this concerto when I first heard it by chance on my cable TV provider's classical music channel. I ordered it immediately, and repeated hearings have confirmed for me that it's one of the greatest works by any composer that I've ever experienced. I think anyone who loves Bruch and has never heard this piece would be delighted and moved by it.