My rejoinder to Mr. Goldman’s response below:
Aficionados of music who do not know much about music, but know what moves them, are at the mercy of the professionals, who know how to move them. “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain” at peril to your soul: even beautiful music can be used for evil as well as good. The problem, of course, is just what Sir Thomas Beecham observed: “People don’t like music. They just like the way it sounds.” I am the first to admit that Bruckner’s music sounds glorious. But just how is it put together?
The greatest analyst of tonal music (and the one whose theory quite properly dominates the university curriculum in the US) was Heinrich Schenker (1868-1935), a Bruckner student who respected the man but found grave flaws in the music. His evaluation (republished in Heinrich Schenker als Essayist und Kritiker. Gesammelte Aufsatze, Rezensionen und Kleinere Berichte aus den Jahren 1891-1901, ed. Hellmut Federhofer, Studien und Materialien zur Musikwissenschaft, 5 [Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1990], 197-205), finds that the music really doesn’t hold together: his musical phrases lack necessary connections to identify beginnings, middles, and endings. Brahms’ contempt for Bruckner’s music is well known (and this had nothing to do with professional jealousy: Brahms had signed Joachim’s manifesto against the “New German Music” long before Bruckner came on the scene).
— David P. Goldman
In all humility, while I admit to being out of my league from the standpoint of professional musicological debate, I believe, as an architect and philosopher, there is something highly elitist, if not Gnostic, about the view that only professionals have the ability to perceive the beauty or ascertain the truth of things, when it is often the professionals who are responsible for creating the academic dichotomy between head and heart that posits a schizophrenic split between experience and reality: their heads so often in the clouds they cannot see the truth or beauty directly in front of their nose, or in this case ears. Continue reading