Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Bruckner

Music History Monday: A Rather Strange Fellow

Today we mark the 193rd anniversary of the birth of the Austrian composer and organist Anton Joseph Bruckner. When I was a graduate student back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, one of my classmates was a musicologist named Stephen Parkeny. He was a wonderful guy – sweet, smart, and very talented – whose life was cut all-too-short by multiple sclerosis. I remember him well and honor him still. Stephen was a Bruckner fanatic. He lived and breathed Bruckner’s music; he made his house of it; he dined on it with epicurean delight. When he discovered – early in our acquaintance – that I didn’t know much of Bruckner’s music and that what I knew I didn’t like, he took it upon himself to make of me a Brucknerite. He recommended recordings to me; he pressed books and articles on me; he regaled me with Bruckner stories and trivia and in doing so brought to bear his extraordinary enthusiasm for Bruckner. Alas, I came to like Stephen much more than Bruckner. But his efforts weren’t entirely in vain, as I developed an admiration for Bruckner’s Symphonies Nos. 4 and 8, and a grudging respect for a couple of others. […]

Continue Reading

On Birthdays

Among the top pick-up lines of my generation was the irksome “what’s your sign?”. I myself never used the line because one, I was too embarrassed to do so and two, I never gave much credence to the whole astrology trip, even as an ice-breaker. If you ask me (which you didn’t, but then you are reading this post), our actual birthdates are much less significant than the dates on which we were conceived. Now please, I am not venturing into the social/religious/emotional minefield of “when” life begins (although I would invoke the joke that has a priest declare that life begins at conception, a reverend assert that life begins at birth, and a rabbi proclaim that “life begins when the kids go to college and the dog is DEAD!”). Rather, I’m merely pointing out that if the heavens truly affect our spirits and reproductive urges and fluids, then conception (and the physical activity that leads to such) seems much more likely to be affected by unseen gravitational tides than the rather more straightforward, contraction-dominated acts of labor and birth. I will gladly acknowledge the advantages of celebrating “birthdays” rather than “days of conception”. First (and we’re all adults here, […]

Continue Reading