Reviewing Immerseel’s Recording of Berlioz’s ‘Symphonie Fantastique’

Berlioz’s ‘Symphonie Fantastique’ tells the tale of an artist’s opium fuelled hallucinations through the use of a rich and varied musical canvas unified by a returning idée fixe. This recording works because it invokes a world of fantasy, and is not just pleasant background music. Care is taken to conjure the hallucination which Berlioz’s imaginative scoring insinuates; from the fragile oboe and cor anglais duet opening Scène aux Champs to the vociferous tutti passages ending the Marche au Supplice, the orchestra demonstrates exactly why the composer has orchestrated in the way that he has.

Period instruments are chosen for an authentic sound, a decision that echoes Jos Van Immerseel’s assessment of the forces required; the recording uses a relatively small string section favouring Berlioz’s ideal of accuracy over spectacle alone. The strings are at their most expressive in the second movement, with sympathetic phrasing and delicacy over their articulation. The dynamic contrast, which is particularly evident in the crescendo near the opening of Marche au Supplice supplied fitting intensity, and helped carry the fantasy without becoming vulgar and excessive.  The only real problem with the recording is the sloppiness of the col legno squeaks in Songe d’une nuit du Sabbat, which sounds neither musical, nor evocative of a bubbling cauldron. However, other than that this is an excellent recording of Berlioz’s magnum opus.

Star Review: 4 Stars

This CD is available on Amazon via the following link:


Whom I Wish to Destroy Shall Be Destroyed!

Eduard Hanslick (1825-1904) is perhaps best know today for his attitudes about the music of his time, particularly his veneration of the more conservative music of Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) and conversely his vilification of the more progressive music of Richard Wagner (1813-1883). While these two composers exemplify Hanslick’s musical views, particularly throughout his own writings, it is his relationship with the composer Anton Bruckner (1824-1896) where he served the most impact. This essay will focus on the later work by Bruckner and the relationship between Hanslick and Bruckner around this period.
Before looking at Hanslick’s writings about Bruckner, it is important to contextualize both Hanslick’s opinions in general, as well as to look at other contemporary sources to explore the general attitude to Bruckner’s music. His contemporaries considered Hanslick primarily a critic, although he also held an important academic post in Vienna, as well as being an influential aesthetician. As mentioned earlier, Hanslick had a well-documented strained relationship with Wagner. This was originally caused by Wagner’s use of music as a dramatic tool, which lowered the value of music, which Hanslick decries in his Vom Musikalisch-Schönen (Hanslick, ein Beitrag zur Revision der Aesthetik der Tonkunst, 1858, pp. 35-36). Because of this professed love of absolute music, Hanslick decries the music of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) who uses program as a tool in many of his works. Despite Bruckner’s absolute musical approach, Hanslick’s views about Bruckner were influenced by the composer’s affinity for Wagner, demonstrated by the dedication of his third symphony to Wagner. Some critics of the time also struggled to appreciate the gargantuan proportions of Bruckner’s symphonies, and the consequent structural difficulties within Bruckner’s music, caused by the constant revisions required of him in order to obtain performances. This was because of the progressive attitude Bruckner had, which was also shared by very different figures like Franz Liszt (1811-1886) whom Hanslick also had a low opinion of at the time (Hanslick, ein Beitrag zur Revision der Aesthetik der Tonkunst, 1858, p. IX). It is important to remember Bruckner was neither the sole recipient, nor the worst affected by Hanslick’s scathing remarks. Of Wagner’s Prelude to Tristian and Isolde Hanslick is famously quoted as saying “[it] reminds one of the old Italian painting of a martyr whose intestines are slowly unwound from his body on a reel” (Tristan und Isolde) which demonstrates Hanslick’s ability to articulate cruel derisive comments. As Derek Watson states, it is hard to empathize with Hanslick, in part because of his formidable tongue, but also his position of power within Vienna(Watson, 1996, p. 50). Hanslick was in such a position of power he was able make such outlandish statements as “Whom I wish to be destroyed shall be destroyed!” (Harrandt, 2004, p. 32)
Bruckner received a mixed reception in Vienna. Part of the reason for the divide in opinion is down to the split opinion over music that is more conservative and more progressive, both categories that could envelop Bruckner’s output, as Bruckner was attached to more conservative practices of music and studied composition techniques extensively with Simon Sechter (1788-1867). The notable critic Hugo Wolf (1860-1903) said of him, “one single cymbal clash by Bruckner is worth all four symphonies of Brahms with the serenades thrown in”
“Das publicum geigte freilich nicht viel ‘resistance’ es fluchtete sum theile schon nach dem gweiten das dieser symphonischen riesenschlange, fluchtete in hellen haufen nach dem dritten, so das nur ein Neiner Rest der horerschaft im Genuffe des Finales verblich. Diese muthige Bruckner legion applaudirte und jubelte aber mit der wucht von Tausenden” (Hanslick, Neue Freie Presse, 1886)
This quote from Hanslick’s review of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7 in E major shows Hanslick’s negative view about Bruckner’s music, combined with insight into the reception of the piece by the Viennese public at the time of the premiere. Hanslick uses the word ‘riesenschlange’ or snake to describe the unusual musical structure as well carrying sinister connotations and condemning the composition. This quote also concedes that no matter what Hanslick’s personal view of the music is, the audience applauded and cheered loudly after the performance. It is also important to note that Hanslick uses the same level of linguistic ingenuity when constructing praise for the work, and that despite his dislike for Bruckner; both the music and the man at this point; Hanslick is making an effort to remain impartial. Hanslick goes on to say “aber Bruckner ist Armeebefehl geworden und der gweite Beethoven im Glaubensartifel der Richard Wagner,”(Hanslick, Neue Freie Presse, 1886) which proclaims Bruckner to be the next Beethoven. If it were not for the political situation at the time, this might be seen as a compliment but is instead intended to attach the progressive nature of the composition. This is peculiar, as Hanslick had also proclaimed Brahms, a dear ally to be successor of Beethoven also, which could therefore be interpreted as praise for Bruckner.
“Ich bekenne unumwunden, das ich uber Bruckner’s Symphonie kaum ganz gerecht urtheilen konnte, so antipathisch beruhrt mich diese musik, so unaturlich aufgeblasen, frankhaft und verderblich erscheint sie mir. Wie jedes grobere werk Bruckner’s, enthalt auch die E-dur symphonie geniale einfalle, interessante, ja schone stellen – hier sechs, dort acht Tacte – gwischen diesen blitzen dehnt fich aber unabsehbares Dunfel, bleierne Langerweile und fieberhafte Ueberreizung.” (Hanslick, Neue Freie Presse, 1870)
This quote from the same review demonstrates Hanslick’s using bitter sarcasm to attack the work. The opening clause roughly translates as ‘we have no wish to hurt this composer for whom we entertain a high regard both as a man and artist’ which I would interpret to be written with mocking insincerity rather than genuine encouragement, and which is supported by the rest of the sentence ‘whose musical aims are sincere, albeit their treatment is strange’ which reflects Hanslick’s disapproval and sarcastic undertones. This also could be interpreted as showing Hanslick conceding there are elements of strong music within the composition. As Bruckner heavily revised his symphonies until his death, combined with the well-documented cuts he made to the performing versions of his scores, it is possible that the structure may have indeed been substandard for this performance and Hanslick’s comments therefore justified. It is likely that without the low confidence caused by Hanslick that Bruckner would have produced far fewer versions of his symphonies. What could be considered a patronizing tone in the opening statement is continued throughout this extract with Hanslick commenting ‘here six, there eight bars’ which uses positive criticism ironically to ridicule the piece. Hanslick also reveals here that he has trouble coping with the length of the symphony, ‘there are interminable stretches of darkness, somber boredom and feverish over-excitement’. This is important as there is some debate about how the large scope of Bruckner’s work was viewed by his contemporaries, and this statement reflects that the duration was an issue for some listeners. It is also important to note that there were many supporters for the extended scope of Bruckner’s music.
“In spite of his renown, Hanslick was far from universally revered. As a critic, he spoke solely for his time and class”(Sams). This statement demonstrates the kind of audience Hanslick was writing for, in addition to demonstrating the view that his contemporaries did not always value Hanslick’s opinions, however, this view is not further echoed in any of the other work I have come across. This is, however reflected in some the way he entered the music journalist profession; originally trained as a lawyer, Hanslick began his career writing articles for his local papers and the music journal Wiener Musik-Zeitung before he secured his position as a critic at the Neue Freie Presse, where he would eventually rise through the ranks to become chief music critic for the paper, and one of the most influential musical powers in Vienna. He had limited training in music theory, but actively read music history, however, despite this, his views as expressed throughout Vom Musikalisch-Schönen demonstrate reverence for what he called ancient music – included in this are composers such as Bach (Hanslick, ein Beitrag zur Revision der Aesthetik der Tonkunst, 1858). Modern insight into the general view of Hanslick’s criticism can be found in the statement “He was the typical cultured and eloquent journalist fashionable in Europe towards the end of the last centaury” (Doernberg, 1960, p. 74).
While Hanslick was not always highly admired for his writings, he was nevertheless extremely influential, and his prominence in the Viennese music world has been noted by several academics as seen in the following statement “Without Hanslick – nothing happens in Vienna” (Harrandt, 2004, p. 34). Like most critics, Hanslick’s views changed over time; and he praised both Bruckner and even Wagner when he first met them, although his views quickly soured over time. Conversely, his initial lack respect for Liszt began to change as Hanslick aged. “For Brahms, Hanslick was of some practical use; for Wagner he was an irritating nuisance. It was in connection with Bruckner that he gained in stature; here, he figures as the Adversary and doubtless enjoyed the distinction”(Doernberg, 1960, p. 75). As this statement reflects, Hanslick however is often shown to be a powerful figure, whereas Bruckner is often caricatured as a timid, almost cowardly figure. Because of the relative power of Hanslick, Bruckner was by far the most heavily effected by Hanslick’s often-harsh criticism. While Hanslick often criticizes Bruckner’s compositions, causing Bruckner stress and hurt, it is important to remember that Hanslick was on amicable terms with Bruckner. It is also important remember that while Bruckner’s compositions fell under harsh criticism Hanslick respected Bruckner’s musicality, which can be seen in the following review;
“In the professor of the local Conservatory, Anton Bruckner, we possess one of the most outstanding organ virtuosos, who at the last music festival in Nancy, then in Paris… performed on the famous organs of St Epvre, St Sulpice, and Notre-Dame with such success that he defeated the most renowned Belgian and French organists in formal competition. Only in Vienna is it impossible to hear Bruckner, for until now he, the Imperial Court Organist, has not been allowed to use the organ for a recital or even only for private practice.” (Hanslick, Neue Freie Fresse, 1870)
This review is unusual because Hanslick’s writing style focuses heavily on the composer, while generally spending little time commenting on the quality of the performance. This is true of Hanslick’s criticism in general, not just limited to Bruckner; Hanslick himself was strongly against the idea of a heroic singer or virtuoso performer. It is also important to remember that a large majority of the music that was performed in this period would be new music. It is because he had such high regard for Bruckner’s musicality that he made this variation to his customary writing style.
Hanslick said of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 in C minor;
“The Philharmonic Orchestra devoted its entire concert to a new symphony by Bruckner. It is the eighth in the series and similar to its predecessors in form and mood. I found this newest one, as I have found the other Bruckner symphonies, interesting in detail but strange as a whole and even repugnant. The nature of the work consists – to put it briefly – in applying Wagner’s dramatic style to the symphony.” (Hanslick, Music Criticisms 1846-99, 1963, pp. 288-290)
While this statement is clearly derogatory in nature, it is mainly just reiterating fact. Because of this, with only the clause “strange as a whole and even repugnant” used by Hanslick to express opinion on the concert, there is an inferred sense of credibility to the negative comments. Here Hanslick once again reiterates his failure to understand Bruckner’s work in its large scope, instead praising its details.
“Also characteristic of Bruckner’s newest symphony is the immediate juxtaposition of dry schoolroom counterpoint with unbounded exaltation. Thus, tossed about between intoxication and desolation, we arrive at no definite impression and enjoy no artistic pleasure. Everything flows, without clarity and without order, willy-nilly into dismal long-windedness. In each of the four movements, and most frequently in the first and third, there are interesting passages and flashes of genius – if only all the rest were not there! It is not out of the question that the future belongs to this muddled hangover style – which is no reason to regard the future with envy. For the time being, however, one would prefer that symphonic and chamber music remain undefiled by a style only relatively justified as an illustrative device for certain dramatic situations.” (Hanslick, Music Criticisms 1846-99, 1963, pp. 288-290)
This is an interesting and insightful paragraph. Hanslick reveals an acknowledgement that more progressive works may be more relevant to future generations than the more conservative music he cherished. Hanslick also makes positive comments in this paragraph, noting that there are moments in the music that he regards as genius, before continuing by again condemning the length of a Bruckner work. Structure is again commented on, as before. This may have been influenced by changes made to a performing score. While Hanslick notes some of the academic merit of the contrapuntal techniques, he continues by criticizing the artistic value of the work. This type of statement is typical of Hanslick; he makes a positive comment before later going on to criticize the work. This could be viewed as Hanslick attempting to give a rounded review of the work.
Derek Watson stipulates that the criticism, which Bruckner received heavily, deeply affected the composer. He became highly self critical as a result of criticism, and was nervous about performing or publishing his work. His letters show this insight into the composer’s feelings. The criticism of these later works are consistent with the criticism Hanslick made of Bruckner’s earlier works.
Throughout Hanslick’s criticism of Bruckner, he maintains a consistent stance on some aspects of Bruckner’s music. Most noticeably are Hanslick’s regular comments about the length of the concerts and consequently the large-scale structures used. This can be seen as a matter of opinion and not as a general consensus of how the public found Bruckner’s music. Another regular point of criticism is the dramatic nature of the music, often accompanied with references to Wagner. The points are interesting because both feature in Brahms’s music of which Hanslick approved of, and are surplus in his Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor. Like many of the critics that succeed him, Hanslick avoids using technical language wherever possible to ensure the maximum number of readers can access his judgments. Because Hanslick was such an early critic, some conventional practices were not commonplace with Hanslick and his contemporaries; Hanslick uses first person in many of his critiques. Hanslick was extremely articulate (much to the misfortune of Bruckner!) and would use his charismatic and witty writing style to engage readers. This sort of style is particularly evident with the earlier reference to ‘riesenschlange’.
While Hanslick attacks Bruckner’s compositions, particularly for their length and proclaimed Wagnerian influence, he does make attempts to remain impartial. He also developed an interesting and varied writing style, which is displayed in his writings about Bruckner. Despite Bruckner’s low self-esteem, caused in part due to Hanslick’s writings, with far fewer revisions and desperation for approval, Bruckner would ultimately have been very a different composer without his arch nemesis Eduard Hanslick.

Doernberg, E. (1960). The life and symphonies of Anton Bruckner. London: Barrie and Rockliff.
Hanslick, E. (1870, January 11). Neue Freie Fresse (1928), p. 2.
Hanslick, E. (1870, January 11). Neue Freie Presse (1928), p. 2.
Hanslick, E. (1886, March 30). Neue Freie Presse (7755), p. 2.
Hanslick, E. (1963). Music Criticisms 1846-99. (H. Pleasants, Ed., & H. Pleasants, Trans.) London: Penquin Books.
Hanslick, E. (1858). Vom Musikalisch-Schönen. Leipzig: P. Reclam.
Harrandt, A. (2004). The Cambridge Companion to Bruckner. (J. Williamson, Ed.) Cambridge: University Press.
Sams, E. (n.d.). Eduard Hanslick. Retrieved 4 6, 2010, from Centro Studi Eric Sams:
Tristan und Isolde. (n.d.). Retrieved 4 21, 2010, from Wikipeadia:
Watson, D. (1996). Master Musicians Bruckner. (S. Sadie, Ed.) Oxford: University Press.
Worb, H. (2001). Bruckner, Anton. In S. Sadie (Ed.), The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (Second Edition ed., Vol. 4, pp. 458-487). London: Macmillan.

Art or Craft?

Before weighing the significance of art against that of craft it is important to discriminate between these two terms, difficult to isolate the meaning of one term from another. One method is to look at the definitions of the words themselves. According to the Oxford dictionary, art is defined as:

  1. 1) The expression or application of creative skill and imagination, especially through a visual medium such as painting or sculpture.
  2. 2) The various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance.
  3. 3) Subjects of study primarily concerned with human culture (as contrasted with scientific or technical subjects).
  4. 4) A skill in a specified thing. (Soanes and Stevenson, 2006 p.73)

Whereas craft is defined as:

  1. 1) An activity involving skill in making things by hand.
  2. 2) Skill in carrying out one’s work. (Soanes and Stevenson, 2006 p.333)

These definitions demonstrate a vague resemblance between the terms, which in itself also highlights the historic link between the two. Art itself is generally ill defined, and introduces the problem of what to define as art? In addition to this, Batteux argues that craft has itself been presented as a constituent of art (1746 p.IX). This does not help discriminate one term from another, so for the purpose of this essay the distinction between arts and craft will be that art utilizes a concept, whereas craft is the abstract application of technique. Now that these terms have been separated their importance relative to one another can be argued.

Concept in art has changed dramatically since the start of the twentieth century, and has increasingly become an integral part of art, to the extent that in contemporary art the terms are practically synonymous. Subsequently most of the key works that influence contemporary art most strongly, are conceptual pieces. An iconic work in the development of conceptual art is Duchamp’s (1887-1968) Fountain (1917). Naumann and Kuenzli argues that the idea of a concept has been a part of art since the Renaissance, and that conceptual art like Fountain is merely a natural extension of this (1989 p.32).  However, while a conceptual icon, Fountain can also be argued to employ craft to create the required aesthetic; although the visual image of the toilet could be considered visually interesting, it is the idea behind putting it there that it the most striking characteristic of the work. The development of concept within art is not a new idea, and has maintained a symbiotic relationship with art throughout history, with many pieces utilizing concepts to illustrate ideas and messages. The difference here is that the concept is hidden within the art, and used to supplement the aesthetic; while in conceptual art, the concept is the art.

According to Kant, aesthetic interest does not come about through functional and practical concern, and therefore art does not need to serve a purpose (1781 p.83). This view is exemplified in readymade art. Kant also states beauty is not an attribute belonging to a piece of art or the beautiful aspects of nature; but is instead an awareness of the pleasure which attends the ‘free play’ of the imagination and the understanding (1781 p.83). This statement demonstrates the subjective qualities of art, which present the problem with varying opinion, and the problems with appreciation of subjective views, which cause difficulties as it implies dominance of certain views without requiring fact for justification. This is important to the discussion of art versus craft because is highlights the problem of judging one against the other using only speculation, and opinion as basis for merit. Some works of art, such as Robert Rauschenberg’s (1925) Portrait of Galerie Iris Clert (1961) demonstrates an artistic concept of wholly removing craft from the art. This work developed conceptual art, as it is a work defined by the creator, not the observer; thus, shifting the values placed upon an artist in relation to a consumer.

Because artistic value is held within an idea, it can be argued that conceptual art can be mass-produced on a large scale without losing artistic value. While examples of mass production can be found with both concept and technique based art, mass production is more evident in conceptual art because the time spent by the artist is taken up with creating ideas; once an idea is formed, it can be reproduced quickly with little extra artistic input. However, with craft based art, the time spent by the artist applying refined techniques will need to be repeated for each subsequent reproduction. Examples of such mass produced conceptual art can be seen with Damien Hirst’s (b.1965) Spot Paintings, which employed staff to implement Hirst’s ideas, without any further impetus from the artist. This is practice is supported the quote “the artist is seen like a producer of commodities, like a factory that turns out refrigerators” (Lewitt, 1977).

Conceptual art’s relationship with the public is unusual, with a noticeable divide in popular opinion, with strong feelings both for and against it. An example of the negative view can be seen in the flippant statement “For many, art galleries are places where stains, largely rectangular, hang on walls.” (Lyas, 1997 p.5) which uses the word stain to reference paintings derogatorily, indicating a dissatisfaction with contemporary art, and in particular is sociological environment.  This highlights the negative feelings some art viewers may hold about contemporary art.

The use of concept is not restricted to a high art culture; the increasing popularism and value found with graffiti artists, which often utilize both aesthetic and concept in works. An example of this is the popularity of graffiti artist Bansky (1974), which often focuses upon ideas, messages and the ironic use of existing material rather than relying on aesthetic alone to create interest.

While concept is important, it does not diminish the enjoyment people get from art that employs craft alone. Examples of such art can include music from both commercial pop and dance. People congregate to listen to such music in great numbers; “their ears are constantly stimulated by music; they dance with astonishing rhythm and dynamism; they are saturated with the narrative drama of the screen” (Lyas, 1997 p.4) which demonstrates enjoyment of craft as perceived in popular culture.  Some contemporary art heavily utilizing craft can be seen as a historic link to antiquated customs, continuing traditional practices without attempting to improve upon them.

The necessity for craft to present images has been diminished in modern times because of improvements in technology. An early use of art was to capture time, whether actual such as portraits, or fictitious like imaginary incidents. With new equipment like the camera, it became possible to capture and store moments in time, rendering the function of this type of craftsman obsolete. This produced the new art forms; photography and film. This development questions the need for the archaic craft of painting to contemporary society, as many of its uses have been superseded by other art forms. As such this also questions the relevance of craft for craft’s sake.

One reaction to the widespread acceptance of conceptual art, and its promotion by institutions like the Turner Prize was the Stuckist Art Movement. This group was formed from a group of people who shared contempt for the values held by many of the leading conceptual artists of the time; they criticize conceptual art, as well as post modernity in general.

“Punk, especially in its more extreme, non-commercial varieties, has a reputation for being bad music par excellence: a music that seems to go out of its way to be terrible, offensive, unlistenable” (Rodel, 2004 p.235) This type of music emphasizes the utilization of both craft and artistic concept, as the crafted aesthetic of a harsh and callous soundworld comes about from an artistic decision to create a musical response to their opinions on society as a whole. There are many examples where such a soundworld has been imitated in new work, and used out of context as reference to the original concept. Likewise, this soundworld has been used superficially because of its striking sound and used purely for its aural appeal without any significant attachment to concept. While such artistic concept requires application of specific techniques (or inherent lack of) to implement, it is the philosophical rebellion that is most characteristic of this type of music and as such would emphasize the importance of art over that of craft.

One problem with utilizing craft by itself is that without new ideas, existing forms can be oversaturated and art becomes merely a restatement of existing art. The statement “Bad music is everywhere! Just hit the scan button on your radio while driving down any highway in any state and listen to the constant regurgitating drone of the same formulaic pop song,” (Washburne and Derno, 2004 p.1) demonstrates this problem of the application of craft alone, and highlights the lack of ingenuity present when ideas are removed from the compositional process.  The application of craft in isolation as seen in such instances, often shows the restatement of a single aesthetic in excess until all musical potential has been extracted from the music and the music stripped. This oversaturation of similar music could be considered ironic when contrasted to the way in which some craft based music is presented; pop music is continually diminishing in length to prevent boredom, requiring little concentration in order to fully appreciate.

Salvador Dali’s (1904-1989) The Persistence of Memory (1931) is a good example of craft based art being used to convey a concept; this piece demonstrates the relative concept of the passing of time, which is represented by objects without the ability to track the passing of time. This view is shared by Blesser and Salter (2007), who state that here it is an idea that constitutes the art, and the concept is important, and less of the focus is placed upon the craft involved with the painting of the work and the technical ability Dali employed. From a visual perspective, the phrase “The pleasure buttons are the content of the illusions” (Pinker, 1997 p.526) is used to describe how it is the subject of visual art that evokes emotion, and not the medium in which the subject is portrayed that is most relevant. This observation on conventional art translates equally to conceptual art, for example; the skill involved in conceiving the geometry and design utilized many readyminade sculptures may promote visual interest, but less striking than the visual aesthetic is the use of concept; in this case the use of such found object.

As the previous statements imply, both art and craft are important, and each have their own characteristic merits. In general however, concept can be seen as more relevant to contemporary art than craft. While historically craft can be seen as the governing artistic power, the advancement of technology has surpassed the need for craft in some of the traditional arts; which has facilitated a shift in values advantaging concept. The view that art is more important than craft can also be seen in the major artistic bodies, with significant institutions like the Turner Prize demonstrating the value of art. While this is shown primarily through financial caché, the money is intrinsically linked to the artistic merits of art, as the use of money to evaluate the worth of art in these circumstances is merely intermediary. While there are some art groups like the Stuckists who argue the merits of craft; the importance of concept throughout the twentieth century is clearly evident, and it has influenced much of the produced art since. Indeed, the very fact that the Stuckists exist demonstrates the widespread acceptance of the relative importance of concept against that of craft; and places conceptual art in a position of authority over craft based art within modern society. This ultimately means that to today’s artistic community, concept is more important than craft.


Batteux, C. (1746) Les Beaux Arts, Paris: Durand.

Birchler, C., Burkholder, J. and Giger, A. (2003) Musical Borrowing, 4June, [Online], Available: [3 January 2010].

Blesser, B. and Salter, L. (2007) Spaces speak, are you listening?, Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Kant, I. (n.d) Critique of Pure Reason.

Keats, J. (1818) Endymion, London: Taylor and Hessey.

Lyas, C. (1997) Aesthetics, London: University College London Press.

Naumann, F. and Kuenzli, R. (1989) Marcel Duchamp, Mitchegan: MIT Press.

Pinker, S. (1997) How the Mind Works, New York: Norton.

Rodel, A. (2004) ‘Extreme Noise Terror’, Bad Music.

Soanes, C. and Stevenson, A. (ed.) (2006) Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 11th edition, Oxford: University Press.

Washburne, C. and Derno, M. (2004) Bad Music, New York: Routledge.

Record Revolution?

Has the invention of recording completely revolutionized music? Reproducing recorded sound is a recent invention, dating from 1877 with Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) and the invention of the phonograph (Chew, 1967 p.2). The idea of listening to recorded music would probably be inconceivable to people from earlier cultures. Recording has changed the way people consume music, whether through buying a CD, a digital download or through the radio; and this change has itself affected the way composers create music.

Recording separated a sound from its original place in both time and space; and sounds became isolated from the mechanisms that made them. Because recording separated sound from visual stimulus, a huge change occurred in the customs surrounding the consummation of music. This also consequentially reduces the importance of the physicality and visual appeal of performers. Musicians with a strong sense of character and stage presence have to sacrifice these aspects of their performance when recordings are made, and the visual drama created in music is lost in recordings. Some musicians took this as a liberating starting point, and invented acousmatic music. While the separation of visual from audio is very evident in recordings, it is not something new; music played on church organ usually hides the organist from the view of an audience.

Because recording allowed music to migrate from the place of the initial recording, music was freely available in a much larger range of environments. This leads to a re-contextualization for music not originally intended for recordings.  Re-contextualization changes the purpose for a piece of music, for example an aria intended for listening within an opera might be removed from this context and performed as a football chant. This is a developed form of the separation a score could provide from initial purpose, which can be seen with Henry Purcell’s (1659-1959) Funeral Music for Queen Mary, which was intended for performance at a specific point in time, but has been subsequently performed in other contexts, such as concerts. This is exaggerated in contemporary society, where many people listen to music, using personal music players like mp3 players, listening to music in cars with CD players common place. Many shopping complexes use recordings simply to create an atmosphere; music is no longer restricted to the domain of the concert hall. As such the values held in concert halls are consequently less important within an equivalent contemporary listening environment. Allan Moore echoes this view:

“The physical response called up by some Mozart will depend far more on its performance situation, and is thus a reaction to the performers rather than the music. The applause given it in a concert hall would normally be out of place when listening at home to the recording” (Moore, 2000 p.163).

The change in performance customs also mark a change in the way we approach music; in a western concert environment the audience are encouraged to remain silent throughout a performance, while when listening to music at home, listeners regularly talk over recordings. Music can be skipped and ignored using media, but not in a concert situation:

“Radio, gramophone, and film have made available a) boundless surfeit of music. Here, perhaps the frightful expression “consumption of music” really does apply after all. For perhaps this continuous tinkle, regardless of whether anyone wants to here it or not, whether anyone can take it in, whether anyone can use it, will lead to a state where all music has been consumed, worn out.” (Schoenberg, 1975 p147)

The widespread reliance on recordings could be interpreted as causing a decline in the number of amateur musicians. Before recording, the main way for music to be heard was live performance, which required either hired musicians or amateur players to perform at the venue.

“It wasn’t until the invention of the player piano and, more importantly, the gramophone in the late nineteenth century that production, storage, and portability were once again greatly altered” (Taylor, 2001 p.1).

Recording has since removed this need. The social environment surrounding amateur music making has consequently been changed, musicians are not a necessity for hearing music.

Because a recording has an inherent facility to be duplicated, the access available through a recording is greater than that through a concert. And because a recording is abstracted from a fixed point in time, and inherently can be stored and recalled later as more recordings are made the total number of recordings in the world is growing exponentially, leading to an abundance of music and a plethora of choice. Recordings facilitate a re-listening of music unavailable to people before its invention. This re-listening allows a listener to become intimately acquainted with a recording, and pick up specific nuances that could go unnoticed with a single listening.  Because every performance is intrinsically unique, this can have negative impacts for performers; as no single performance can be perfect, mistakes and misjudgments made on the recording are documented within the audio; on the other hand recording allows music that is performed well only once, through fortuity, to be stored, implying mastery of the techniques involved, and that the performer is more capable than they actually are. Re-listening has also changed the way people approach learning music. Many jazz musicians, brought up with recordings, would slow down records to learn notes and to better analyze the technique of the top performers (Lines, 2009, Lecture). Recording provides these musicians a better transcription of the music than a score would give, and provides a better ground for learning new compositional ideas and performance techniques. This view can also be seen in Eisenberg, “Live music and paper-composed music would now mimic records” (Eisenberg, 2000 p.199).

The development of records into salable items further transitioned music as a commodity into new depths. In a commercial environment, music is grouped into genres to help consumers identify and select appropriate recordings to buy without first requiring the consumer to listen to them; because the consumers can have expectations of the musical content of a recording based on the genres it is labeled with. Because of the increasing quantity of music available, a greater distinction is made to help better classify the stylistic variations between music, which leads to the creation of a wide variety of genres. The application of genres is a relativistic concept; music is labeled by the music it is contrasting, a recording might be labeled simply pop if contrasted with a classical piece like a Mozart aria, but then labeled bubblegum if contrasted with a piece of sophisti-pop. This has significantly influenced western culture, as many people associate their musical tastes with their personality and lifestyle as a whole:

“Not only is rock music an integral part of the life of many people, but it is also a cultural initiator: to like rock, to like a certain kind of rock rather than another, is also a way of life, a manor of reacting; it is a whole set of tastes and attitudes” (Boulez & Foucault, 2000 p.164)

Recordings limit the spontaneity of music. This is particularly evident in jazz where solos that were originally improvised have been recorded and now become fixed objects.  Many jazz performers used well-known standards to improvise on; recording provides the best way of archiving the spontaneous changes within the music, which would go unrecorded in notated scores; Improvisers “knew what to put between the written notes” (Eisenberg, 2000 p.200).

The increased quantity of music correlates with the reduction of cost and space required for storing recordings. This trend is helped by the continual improvement of recording technology, which is itself indicative of the importance of recordings within society. The amount of time spent listening to music has changed dramatically since the invention of recording. Since the invention of recording music has become increasingly accessible. To hear a piece of music requires less of an investment in time and money, and the abstraction of a recording from its original point in time also means it can be heard whenever and wherever.

This has implications on the way we as a society listen to music; today people carry around large catalogues of music on mp3 players and in general people listen to music for a longer period of time than before the invention of recording. At the time of writing the market leading mp3 player; the Apple iPod Classic holds 40,000 songs (Apple Inc. Online). Another cultural implication of this is the emergence of the concept of an artist; with larger numbers of recordings of the same music, preferred aspects of a performance contribute to the value of the music.

“Broadcasting, the BBC argued, was the final step in the ‘true democratization of music’ – the means through which ‘the shepherd on the downs, or the lonely crofter in the farthest Hebrides and, what is equally important the [laborer] in his squalid tenement in our but too familiar slums, or the lonely invalid on her monotonous couch, may all, in spirit, sit side by side with the patron of the stalls and hear some of the best performances in the world’” (Scannell, 2000 p.193).

While this statement was originally made in reference to radio; it holds equally well with recorded music, as recording has made it increasingly possible for those away from thee best performance venues to consume music performed to high standards.

Live performances were constrained by a number of limiting factors, which are alleviated by the widespread introduction of recording. These include the logistics of getting musicians together, capable of performing to an acceptable standard of playing at the same time and place as the audience, the cost of paying performers for every performance, cost of venue hire and maintenance, the singularity of that performance; a good performance on one occasion does not necessarily mean that a subsequent performance will be good, and vice versa.

“In 1927 the BBC took over responsibility for sponsoring and financially guaranteeing the Promenade Concerts” (Scannell, 2000 p.195).

It is no coincidence that arguably one of the most accessible series of concerts in Britain is run by a broadcasting company; indeed a large number of the orchestras in the country have ties with broadcasters and recording companies. It is also important to emphasize that the majority of people will listen to a recording of a piece of music before they see that music performed live.

“The decreasing cost of technology to the average consumer has resulted in the last decade in entirely new kinds of musics that rely heavily on personal computers, synthesizers, drum machines, and other electronic gear. These new musics can be performed “live,” in public but they are just as frequently never heard live at all, the musician sitting alone in his (it is usually a he) studio cranking out tunes.” (Taylor, 2001 p.139)

“Music as social activity is becoming a thing of the past for most musicians” (Taylor, 2001 p.139). While this broad statement is generally true, indeed most people consume music as an event isolated from the production of music, people to congregate socially to listen to recordings. This statement is supported by contemporary ideology;

“Some of the changes in contemporary America: public spaces are increasingly thought to be uninhabitable, intolerant and intolerable, even monstrous; being in public is like being in prison, or in a police state” (Taylor, 2001 p.136).

A counter to this statement is the development of dance culture; with events drawing in large numbers of customers for what is a largely musical experience. Modern audio equipment means loud, hall-filling sounds can be produced without taking up a large volume of space, which would previously require a large number of musicians. “Everything about a dance club is designed to alter your senses and focus them on the music and dancing” (Taylor, 2001 p.171). The music commonly played at such venues is possible through technological advances that stem from the invention of recording, including changes to the audio in a post-recording stage. Post-recording editing has influenced our music, with new sounds and possibilities created, music can be played back at different speeds to that at which it was recorded, resulting in timbral changes as well as providing a way to perform impossibly fast music. It has facilitated the creation of multi-tracking, which enables new sound worlds, and the creation of music with textures previously unavailable by small groups of performers. This technique was explored in detail in the early twentieth century with music concrète. These are only a few examples of the changes to music that have occurred as a result of recording. Recording has influenced music itself to the point that it is impossible to chronicle in this essay.

The record industry can be seen as either a competitor or a development of the earlier music publishing business. The shift in the listening environment of most consumers, from live venues to recorded media has changed the power of those working in the music industry. Records threatened the all aspects off the traditional music industry, including:

“piano-makers and retailers, music teachers, sheet music publishers, music hall and vaudeville artists, proprietors and so on”. (Martin, 2000 p.209)

The financial power of concert planners and scored music publishers has declined since the record industry emerged. This has changed the financial pressure upon musicians, as recording provides the medium for most financial capital. Media’s dominance in the distribution and access to music is highlighted:

“the economy is there to remind us, in case we get lost in this bland utopia: there are musics which bring in money and exist for commercial profit: there are musics that cost something, whose very concept has nothing to do with profit. No liberalism will erase this distinction.” (Boulez & Foucault, 2000 p.165)

This view is echoed in the film ‘Before the Music Dies’,

“Never have so few companies controlled so much of the music played on the radio and for sale at retail stores. At the same time, there are more bands and more ways to discover their music than ever. Music seems to have split in two – the homogenous corporate product that is spoon-fed to consumers and the diverse independent music that finds devoted fans online and at clubs across the country.” (Rasmussen & Shapter, 2006)

The film throughout demonstrates an uneven balance of power due to the clout held by the biggest commercial record companies.

“What is put at the disposition of the public is what the public hears. And what the public finds itself actually listening to, because it’s offered up, reinforces a certain taste, underlines the limits of a well-defined listening capacity, defines more and more exclusively a schema for listening.” (Boulez & Foucault, 2000 p.165)

The record industry has power over the general publics choice in music, as it controls the distribution of music. The record industry is an industry and as such its inevitable goal is profit. This places value on sales and as such the most salable music is the most valuable. This is no different to the music publishing business.

(International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, Online)

Music videos are a later example of technology helping to define an ideology. Of the technology available to consumers, particularly the shift in economic power within middle class teenagers during the 80s: “in this social group television also plays a dominant role in involvement with music” (Wicke, 2000 p.205).

The modern music business today is the synonymous with the record industry. The modern music industry originated in the early twentieth century, reflecting technological advances in the late nineteenth century.

“The music business began to assume its modern form as an unanticipated consequence of the development of recording in the 1880” (Martin, 2000, p256)

Overall recording has changed not just the way music is consumed, but provided the facilities to change how we perceive as music. It has contributed to the development of both new types off music and scenarios for the appreciation of music. Music has changed since the introduction of recording and has given music greater cache within society; recording has revolutionized both music and the sociological environment it influences.


Apple Inc. (n.d.). Apple – iPod Classic – Features. Retrieved November 13, 2009, from Apple Inc.:

Boulez, P., & Foucault, M. (2000). On Music and its Reception. In D. Scott (Ed.), Music, Culture and Society (p. 164). Oxford: University Press.

Chew, V. (1967). Talking machines, 1877-1914. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.

Eisenberg, E. (2000). On Phonography. In D. Scott, & D. Scott (Ed.), Music, Culture, and Society. Oxford: University Press.

International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. (n.d.). The Broader Music Industry. Retrieved November 13, 2009, from International Federation of the Phonographic Industry:

Lines, T. (2009). Beyond the Moment. BMus 3 – Music in Society.

Martin, P. (2000). On Changing Technology. In D. Scott (Ed.), Music, Culture and Society (p. 209). Oxford: University Press.

Moore, A. (2000). On the Pop-Classical Split. In D. Scott (Ed.), Music, Culture and Society (p. 163). Oxford: University Press.

McNulty, B., Rasmussen, J. (Producers), Rasmussen, J., Shapter, A. (Writers), & Shapter, A. (Director). (2006). Before the Music Dies [Motion Picture]. BSide Entertainment.

Scannell, P. (2000). On Music and its Dissemination. In D. Scott, & D. Scott (Ed.), Music, Culture, and Society. Oxford: University Press.

Schoenberg, A. (1975). Style and Idea. (L. Stein, Ed., & L. Black, Trans.) New York: St Martins.

Taylor, T. (2001). Strange Sounds. New York: Routledge.

Wicke, P. (2000). On the Economics of Popular Music. In D. Scott, & D. Scott (Ed.), Music, Culture and Society. Oxford: University Press.

Writing for the Bassoon and Contra Bassoon


  • Is in the key of C
  • Written in both the Bass and Tenor Clef
  • It has a small dynamic range
  • (It’s not too loud, but can go quite quietly)
  • F# is a loud note
  • They do use mutes occasionally, but prefer not to.
  • Bb is the lowest note in its range
  • Top E is the highest note in its range
  • If you do use the top notes, you have to slur towards them, you cannot just play high notes. Occasionally you can change crook to make the upper register clearer.
  • Bassoonists like well-shaped phrases
  • When playing the top notes, work your way up to them, and start low
  • The sound of the bassoon is very rich at low range
  • It is important to specify which fingering system you are writing for if you use fingerings or multiphonics. The most common system is the Heckle system.
  • French fingering is different
  • Overblowing produces harmonics in the lower register
  • In the middle register use lots of staccato
  • Bassoonists can double tongue – this is a bit like tremolo for strings, but is very difficult and lots of bassoonists don’t know how to do it. Don’t go to quick, the middle register is the only time this works.
  • Flutter tonguing can be done in the middle register, but is difficult. It is important to leave time before and after flutter tonguing for the bassoonist to change their embouchure.
  • Bassoonists can’t sing and play at the same time
  • Can bend notes in the middle and higher registers. They can bend up to quartertones. Bends should go downwards, not upwards.
  • Trills can be written in as normal
  • Enharmonic trills (same note trills) can be played (but not to quickly)
  • Multiphonics can be used
  • Other instruments have to be very quite in bassoon solo passages
  • Bassoons and flutes go very well together
  • The sound in the upper register is thin


  • Is in the key of C
  • Notes sound an octave lower than written
  • Is the lowest sounding instrument in the orchestra
  • Lower than double bass or tuba
  • No Glissando’s
  • No multiphonics
  • Lowest note is Bb
  • Can play notes quietly
  • Requires more time to breathe
  • Prefer to use the lower register
  • Can produce loud notes, but not sustain them
  • The middle register is quite bright in tone
  • The higher register (notes written above middle C) is where the instrument sounds worst
  • It can’t play loudly in the upper register
  • Double tonguing doesn’t work
  • Harmonics can’t be produced
  • Good for legato and staccato
  • There is no high note crook
  • Do not write circular breathing passages – at all. This is very dangerous for the performer.
  • When playing lower notes you have to breathe more often
  • Chromatic slurs can go quite fast in the lower register

Anton Bruckner and the Development of the Symphony

Anton Bruckner (1824-1896) significantly developed the Symphony, and it is in this genre that Bruckner’s work is generally most acknowledged. His symphonies are accessible on their fist listening, but provide further depth for those who seek it. It is important when analyzing Bruckner’s contribution to the genre to take note of his extremely well rounded academic studies, of which he pursued all of his life. It is his dedication to conservative practices of counterpoint and structure paired with his contemporary Richard Wagner  (1813-1883) influenced harmony and orchestral forces that made Bruckner’s music unique, but perhaps most importantly Bruckner’s symphonies more than any others brought a new sense of breadth to the symphony.

At the time Bruckner began to compose his symphonies the more adventurous composers (such as the Wagnerians) had virtually abandoned the genre, instead more interested in creating music combined with other art forms like theatre, dance and prose; the symphony was the domain of the more conservative composers like Johannes Brahms (1833-1879). Bruckner was unique in borrowing distinct elements from both groups. This fusion was applied with a deep understanding and appreciation of the genre; Bruckner was a well-read scholar and had studied comprehensively many aspects of music before contemplating writing a symphony. As a result of this Bruckner was 39 before he finished his first symphony, symphony No.00 – the Study Symphony in F Minor (1863) and still was an active scholar into his 40’s. Furthermore Bruckner was not generally well known after he was 60.

Bruckner’s inventive orchestration was influenced not only by Wagner, but also by the organ; Bruckner was an organ virtuoso who held the position of cathedral organist at Linz. Bruckner obtained this position by accident, characteristically unable to decide whether to apply, Bruckner procrastinated and eventually decided to not apply, luckily he went to watch the auditions and improvised a strict fugue on a theme the other applicants found too difficult. As an organ virtuoso Bruckner enjoyed triumph in St. Epvre at Nancy (1869), which led to well as successful tour in London (1871), later in life Bruckner would reminisce about his tour of London, and regretted not accepting invitations to tour again. It was as the organist in Linz that Bruckner befriended the opera conductor Otto Kitzler (1832-1915) who as Bruckner’s last composition tutor introduced Bruckner to the scores of both Beethoven and Wagner, and would later play a significant role in getting Bruckner’s work performed.

It is of some significance that Bruckner was generally accepted as a disciple of Wagner, whom Bruckner thought of as a master; an attribute which both attained Bruckner an increased criticism from the press, particularly from leading Vienna music critic Eduard Hanslick (1825-1904), and effectively giving a number of well wishing Wagnerians permission to adjust Bruckner’s music to better fulfill Wagnerite intentions. Also produced was a collection of performing editions, made by sympathetic conductors and even Bruckner himself to better allow his ambitious music to be performed, normally inducing significant cuts which effect symphonies overall structure. Disregarding these external editions the original autograph manuscripts Bruckner produced were subject to an ongoing purification process that already resulted in multiple original scores, with Bruckner showing no signs of preference towards any particular version. As a result many Bruckner approved versions of the same music exist. While Bruckner his usually associated with Wagner and Beethoven, it is important to compare Bruckner with Franz Schubert (1797-1928), both composers use Austrian folk music undisguised through meter, often enough for them both to be described as national composers, and while nothing in either composers scores hints any common ground towards other, some of Schubert’s music sounds like Bruckner’s and vice versa. However Bruckner’s music contains many newer innovations in harmony and scoring.

Bruckner’s influence changed the way later composers consider the length, structural development and general grandeur the symphony has to offer. All the symphonies are in four movements, for the opening movements Bruckner incorporates a personalized sonata form. The middle movements are a slow movement followed by a ¾ scherzo, though with symphonies eight and nine the middle movements are reversed. The modification of sonata form is derived from the requirements of the increasingly chromatic 20th Centaury, he studied sonata form with the renowned tutor Simon Sechter (1788-1867) by postal tuition, although extended the sonata form to allow for enharmonic changes, a feature which Sechter strongly disapproved of. An example of extending sonata form can be seen as early as symphony no.1 in C Minor (1866 revised; 1877, 1891). Here Bruckner introduces a third theme in the exposition, as a consequence the codetta is removed. Bruckner usually adapts sonata form through the use of key relationships; Bruckner often begins symphonies in an alien key before working the music through to the tonic (see example 1). At the time Bruckner was composing the development section of sonatas had gone completely. The structure of Bruckner’s symphonies was very important as most of his symphonies last for around an hour, an uncommonly long duration at the time. The symphony no.2 in C minor (1873 revised; 1876, 1877, 1892) incorporates interconnected ideas appearing throughout movements, particularly the first movement and the finale.

Example 1: Bruckner, Symphony No.6, “Finale. Bewegt, doch nicht zu schnell” movement IV bb. 1-4. The music opens in A minor and E Phrygian before arriving at the Symphonies key of A Major.

Bruckner’s model for the symphonic form was derived directly from Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), in particular his symphony no.9 in D minor Op. 125 chorale (1824). Bruckner was one of the earliest composers to acknowledge this work fully. Bruckner drew a sense of grandeur from this symphony, which he incorporated into his own works. This can be seen in Bruckner’s Symphony No. 3 in D minor (WAB 103) Wagner symphony (1873 revised; 1877, 1891):

the texture and gestural character of the opening passage, bars 1 to 46, resembles that of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in its trajectory from pianissimo tremolando string texture to fortissimo unison tutti theme (Horton, J. page 176).

However, unlike Beethoven’s symphonies Bruckner did not try to set a new atmosphere with each symphony. As a general trend, after Beethoven the number of composers writing symphonies gradually declined, consequently by the time Bruckner was composing the number of composers writing orchestral music in traditional symphonic forms has declined, and as a result the importance of sonata form had also deteriorated, with composers preferring improvisation and fantasia as forms for their works. The sonata form became increasingly undisciplined which helped Bruckner modify the form to suit his harmonic needs. Similarly to Schubert, Bruckner would use unusual and unconventional modulations. From the 4 years Bruckner studies with Sechter, Bruckner learned about root progressions, which Bruckner then applied to form his modulations. From Bruckner’s organ background we see various pedal points appear in Bruckners work.

Throughout his symphonies, Bruckner takes thematic development to greater levels of depth, and in ways that appeared alien to numerous contemporaries. Bruckner often developed material through the use and combination of inversion, retrograde, augmentation, diminution and fragmentation. It is because of the highly manipulated themes that Bruckner’s developments often showed little resemblance to the main theme, and as a result his music was misunderstood to be a stream of unrelated ideas within a single work. Here Bruckner can again be likened to Schubert, as both composers would continue to develop a motif until they could fully exploit its potential. These tools are used to enhance the music and to add to the listener’s enjoyment of the music, not solely to demonstrate his theoretical knowledge, however Bruckners music was written intellectually which contrasts other romantic composers.  As a consequence of his lifelong academic studies, Bruckner often struggled to follow basic music theory rules in a time when the rules were being threatened more readily than ever before. Bruckner would refine his works thoroughly, checking for parallel octaves and unison (in melodic lines, not scoring). When Friedrich Klose (1862-1942) asked Bruckner why he searched for parallel octaves in his work, while Richard Wagner ignores their importance, Bruckner replied “Wagner, the Master, was permitted such things, but not Bruckner, the schoolmaster” (Doernberg, E. page 14).  Bruckner also a very romantic composer; examples of romanticism are present throughout many of his works. Unprepared dissonances, wide intervals in the melody and complex tonal relationships over a basic root progression are all features of Bruckners work. At the time Bruckner was writing composers tended to use the melodic shape of the main theme and add elaborations, which listeners of the time would recognize as the main theme more easily than Bruckners distorted fragmented quotations. Bruckner’s music can be said to use motivic ideas, an influence from Wagner. The idea of thematic music was not limited to pitch. Bruckner’s symphonies benefit from rhythms providing coherence. It is from Bruckner’s symphonies that the Bruckner rhythm arrives; the duplet-triplet combination (see example 2&3). The rhythm originates from the third symphony. Another rhythmic feature found throughout Bruckner’s symphonies is the double dotted rhythm (see example 4).

Example 2: ‘the Bruckner rhythm’

Example 3: Bruckner, Symphony No.3, “Maessig Bewegt” movement I bb. 101-102. First use of the Bruckner rhythm in a theme.

Example 4: Bruckner, Symphony No.7, “Trio” movement IIIb bb. 1-4. Use of double dotting.

Bruckner also contributed to the orchestration used in symphonies. It was only upon seeing the score to Wagner’s opera Tannhaeuser und der Sängerkrieg auf der Watburg (1845), introduced to him by his teacher Otto Kitzier that Bruckner began to write truly great music. The score inspired Bruckner demonstrated large scale forces that would give new options to the composer. It is important to note that it was Wagner’s orchestra, not Wagner’s orchestration that Bruckner would use most heavily in his work. Wagner used many instruments such as anvils purely for the creation of certain sound effects within his operas; Bruckner omits these instruments from his scores, however in his last three symphonies Bruckner even uses Wagner horns. Typically Bruckner symphonies use paired woodwind, four horns, two or three trumpets, three trombones, one tuba, timpani and strings although some of the later symphonies slightly extend this.

It is characteristic in Bruckner’s symphonies to see frequent unison passages (see example 5) as well as large-scale orchestral tutti. Bruckner adopted this style of writing in part because of his history with the organ. These help contribute to the originality of Bruckner’s work. Within some Bruckner score unusual terms appear, such as “’Misterioso, breit und feierlich’ (noble and solemn), ‘sehr ruhigund feierlich’ (very calm and solemn)” (Doernberg, E. page 4). Bruckner’s music appropriately “has been labelled with the word ‘mysticism’” (Doernberg, E. page 4). Bruckner’s symphonies all start softly, however they all have subtle differences.

While Bruckner clearly brought his own individuality to his work; only Bruckner could have written his latter symphonies, and Bruckner did introduce structural, stylistic and majesty to the genre, which would later influence composers like Gustav Mahler (1860-1911), one does feel that disregarding form and the aesthetic value of his music his music is mostly strengthened by his assimilation of other composer’s ideas (particularly Wagner’s) into the symphony. However one sympathizes with Bruckner who’s music was often presented to listeners of his time in an abridged form, altering Bruckners structure and thematic developments, in that his original manuscripts written for the future contain mixtures of ideas diverse enough to make his music some of the most distinctive around; and he, one of the most contemporary symphony composers of his time.

Example 5: Bruckner, Symphony No.7, “Finale. Bewegt, doch nicht schnell” movement IV bb. 93-96. Use of unison and orchestral tutti.


Bruckner, A (1869) Symphony No. 0. London: Eulenburg

Bruckner, A (1954) Symphony No. 7. London: Eulenburg

Cohrs, B-G. (2006) ‘Anton Bruckner Symphony No. IX D-Minor, Finale’ available from [Accessed 13/12/07]

Doernberg, E. (1960) the life and symphonies of Anton Bruckner. London: Barrie and Rockliff

Engel, G. (1940) ‘The Life of Anton Bruckner’ in Chord and discord a journal of modern musical progress, 2/1. Available from [Accessed 8/12/07]

Horton, J. (2004) Bruckner’s Symphonies analysis, reception and cultural politics. Cambridge: University Press

Worb, H. (2001) ‘Bruckner, Anton’ in S. Sadie (ed.) The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians: Second Edition. London: Macmillan, Vol. 4, 458-487.

—– (n.d.) ‘Anton Bruckner’. Available from [Accessed 13/12/07]


Bruckner, A (1881) Symphony No. 6. Radio-Sinfonie-Orchester Frakfurt, conducted by Eliahu Inbal. Teldec,

Bruckner, A (1896) Symphony No. 9 in D minor. BBC Philharmonic, conducted by Bernhard Klee. BBC,

An Analysis of Mendelssohn, Op.19, No.6.

While I do not believe this piece to fall strictly into an existing structure, it bears strongest resemblance with rounded binary form. The basic form of a rounded binary piece is shown below.

A Ba or AB(a)

As with simple binary form, rounded binary form is monothematic and harmonically closed. The main difference between rounded and simple binary is the “a” section returning at the end. This is in the tonic key, concise and abridged from the original “A” section, which helps differentiate the structure to ternary form. The material will usually be modified, to prevent modulation away from the tonic (which is what we would expect to get in the “A” section) or to add significant closure to the piece.

As with the Beethoven, a table briefly outlining the structure is in the appendices at the end of the document.

We begin the music with an accompaniment pattern, which I have labeled motif A forming an introductory 2 bar phrase. It is shown below. This motif is used predominantly in the left hand throughout the piece. The initial use of the tonic chord establishes the key of G minor. The first theme arrives in bar 3 and is shown below. This 3 bar theme is used as a four bar phrase because of the harmony provided by an adapted motif A. The music remains in the tonic G minor throughout this phrase (indicated by inclusion of F#s as the only accidentals), and we end the phrase with a strong cadential progression, ic V7 i.

Motif A:

Theme A:

In bar 7 we begin the next phrase, and in the process introduce motif B. Beginning in the upbeat to bar 9 we get motif Bi which is repeated in sequence, with the thirds in bar 9 becoming sixths becoming motif Bii. Bar 10 uses a short melodic fragment, which appears only once in the piece, it is used in thirds, which helps relate it to motif Bi. The harmony here is simple using only chords i, iv and V. The phrase can be interpreted as being either 4 bars long or 6 bars long, because the D in the right hand of bar 11-12 resolves the phrase, but a 4 bar phrase works better within the overall context of the work (the music in this section is made up of 4 bar phrases. The 4 bar phrase is stronger because this allows the next phrase to begin at bar 11, which is a repeat of the preceding change with the final bar leading towards the dominant instead of the tonic. We return to motif B in the upbeat to bar 12. This is sequenced as before, but the final note of the sequence (beat 1½ of bar 13) is shortened to allow the new material to be introduced. This new material is motif C. At bar 15 we end the use of motif C with a downward arpeggio of D minor. Bar 16 sees a repeat of motif C, now hinting at motif Bi by harmonizing in thirds, hinting at D minor, and leading towards the end of the phrase in bar 17.

Motif Bi: Motif Bii:

Theme B:

Melodic fragment:

Motif C:

In bar 17 we imitate motif C, without the harmonization in thirds. We also establish a new key, G major. The G pedal in the bass begins to feel like a dominant, helping to modulate to the subdominant, C minor. We begin to see a new right hand pattern in bar 19, which can be seen as either an original motif, or an inversion of motif A. Because of the limited range of material in this piece, I think it most likely to be a new motif, hereafter referred to as motif D.

Motif D:

Inverted Motif A

Deriving Motif D from Motif A:

Motif A is inverted The components Motif D

of motif A are transposed

At bar 25 we get an interesting linking phrase, which occurs only once. The repeated D implies a dominant chord leading into the G Minor of the next section. This can be interpreted as a bridge section between the “A” section and “B” section. We once again see motif D, this time more homophonic, because of the added chords. The way motif D is notated at this point supports derivment from motif A. The texture is noticeably different from bar 18-24 because of the sparser left hand, now only providing accompanying “stabs” juxtaposing the earlier fluidity provided by motif A. This is however only an accompaniment to the new theme that has appeared in voice one of the right hand, beginning in bar 26.

Theme C:

While the first three bars of this theme use an original rhythmic cell, the fourth bar uses the rhythmic cell from motif B. The second bar is an exact repeat of the first bar of the theme.

Theme C is repeated in bar 30. This begins the same as before, but the second bar of the theme, bar 31 uses a different register for the G’s in the accompaniment, after that theme changes, the first difference is the use of B§’s in bar 31 to end with a G7 chord. From here, the material changes, leading bar 34, where we reintroduce motif A and motif B as well as arriving back in G minor. Bar 36 breaks theme B; what we would expect to follow motif Bi is motif Bii, however the rhythmic cell is used but the pitches are altered to produce a G minor chord (the tonic chord) which I shall name motif E, which is then followed by Bii in bar 37, and motif E twice in bar 38 and 39. This 5 bar phrase features a lot of diminution in the dynamics that helps add closure to the piece.

An imitation of theme A is heard again in bar 40, with the first note of the theme omitted. The right hand is similar to the opening and helps draw the listener to a cadence like idea beginning in bar 44. This is the “a” section from the overall structure. The repeat of the left hand from bar 44 in bar 45 helps add closure to the piece and the final ring of D in 45 beat 1½ feels like a dominant, which is resolved with the G in bar 46, with the extension of the tessitura in the low register.

Motif E:

This piece differs from rounded binary form in a number of ways. Firstly there is little internal repetition within the piece, in a strict rounded binary form composition we would expect repeat marks as follows:

|: A 😐 |: B(a) 😐

The second major difference with rounded binary form is the structural modulation, or the inherent lack of it. We would expect the “B” section to arrive in a new, but related key. Since the tonic key is minor, we would expect to move to the relative major. We remain in the tonic throughout the majority of the B section, which is not what we would expect. We would also expect a number of internal modulations within the “B” section, however tonality is static throughout the section.

In general, the structural model comes through, ABa, but the specifics of the model contrast to what Mendelssohn chooses to do.