This is a rhetorical question because I don’t really know! I love the works of many composers, I really do but, to me, the symphonies of Anton Bruckner are sublime and I love them much more than the works of any other. To me, they have an immediacy, a closeness, an intimacy that passes the rest. I even dig out some old scores, now and again, of the latter of his symphonies and struggle to follow them. Even written down, they have, at least to me, a kind of magical quality. The beauty of the moderato theme in the slow movement of the seventh is somehow magnified when I see it written down. It has a strange asymmetry that is quite beguiling! Don’t get me wrong: I don’t read music: I don’t play an instrument but I do like the mental exercise of attempting to follow a score, just occasionally.
Nor do I listen to Bruckner very often. At the moment, I’m listening to a lot of Sibelius. This is because some friends of mine and I are going to Finland in September to celebrate Sibelius’s one hundred and fiftieth anniversary! And I admire Sibelius immensely. I also love Mahler, Schubert, Shostakovich, Brahms, Dvorak and more. But I always end up at those symphonies of Bruckner!
I have to ask why. Is it the size of the works? The 8th must be the longest symphony written by the time of its first performance -something like 75 minutes. These are works that you can lose yourself in. No, it’s not just the size. Is it the complexity? They are certainly complex works of art and many have condemned them for that but they each have a unerring continuity, what some may call the argument. They are coherent. I wonder, is it their majesty? There are many majestic parts to each of them but it’s not that either. The best answer I can come up with is their resonance with me as a listener. They sympathise with my musical needs. It could be as simple as that! But I don’t know and if anyone can tell me, I’d be immensely grateful!