'... the orchestral accompaniment transcends the accepted harmonic idiom, interspersed with Elizabeth Whitehouse's serene arias ...'
Should we allow biased opinions to sway musical judgement? -
with BILL NEWMAN
Quite frequently I ask myself why a composer's reputation lies
with a select number of works performed with a degree of frequency following
their demise. Max Bruch, born Cologne, 1838, died Friedenau, 1920, is a
case in point and I was intrigued that German musicologist Hugo Riemann
'always maintained that Bruch would be remembered after his death because
of his choral works.' Public opinion has reversed that verdict, for the
name of Bruch today immediately conjures up thoughts of the G minor Violin
Concerto, Kol Nidrei and the Scottish Fantasy.
Bruch's choral music is occasionally performed in Germany, but
the source of my argument here necessitates going back to the year 1907
when Arthur M Abell, American friend of Bruch, talked with him about other
composers' psychic experiences which inspired them to write fine music.
Readers will probably know that I am referring to Abell's Talks
with Great Composers, namely Richard Strauss, Brahms, Puccini, Humperdinck,
Grieg, as well as Bruch, an invaluable book, published by G E Schroeder
in 1964, 3rd Edition, which tells us more about their inner musical personalities
than many a full-length biography where you have to scan indexes and many
pages of text for the real truth.
I read Abell's staggering statement (remember this is still 1907!)
to Bruch. 'What do you think will be your status as a composer fifty years
from now as compared with Brahms? Today you have a much greater vogue than
he has', and Bruch's prophetic reply: 'I predict ... that as time
goes on, he will be more and more appreciated while most of my works will
be more and more neglected.'
Copyright © 15 October 2000
Bill Newman, Edgware, UK
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