Friday, June 26, 2015

"Bruckner's Last Finale" is a stage play

The play “Bruckner’s Last Finale”, by Dick Reichman, depicts the issues around the composer Anton Bruckner’s work, was performed early in Alaska in 2012.  There’s an early audio review here , and a notation here,

The entire play can be viewed on YouTube. Peter Porco plays Bruckner.  (2016/10: Video was removed by user.)

The stage play, shot in black and white, supposedly on a stage at the St. Florian in Linz, Austria, comprises a lot of short skits, not in sequence, showing major turning points in Bruckner’s life. At the beginning, he is 67 years old, has sea legs balding and filled with fluid from heart disease and probably diabetes.  Yet, he is self-confident to come on to young women. (Although he wants them to follow his rules and convert back to Catholicism.)  He likes to count things, like someone with Asperger’s.
Various other personalities, like Hugo Wolf and Richard Wagner appear.  Wagner and Bruckner have an interesting exchange about Bruckner’s using some Wagner motives in the Third Symphony (or Dominion). 
When working as a church organist, he asks another musician to teach him composition (already age 40) because he has a commission.
At one point, Bruckner says that all music already exists and is copied from God.  As for the Finale of the Ninth, he’s just the editor. “People don’t usually finish things…. You’re done.”  We find out the young female managing his commission really is an angel.

"They're giving my notes away." 

But at another time, he admits he is a “bad composer”.  That is, “it takes a long time to become a good composer.”  For a "good composer", his work lives forever, even if not all written down. 

Toward the end, various people after his death comment on the politicization of music, as Nazism approaches. “You have to take sides to keep your job.”
At the end, Bruckner deals with his difficulties in finishing the Finale for Symphony #9, the most colossal orchestral finale of all time.  (Or, “the greatest of all time.”)  He would work on revising earlier works (especially #1), sort of like my blogging when I should be finishing my own Sonata (and it’s my own Finale that causes so much trouble.)

The play concludes with the closing pages of the 2008 Samale-reconstruction of the coda of the Finale for Number 9 (but Samale has simplified it in a 2012 version).  
You really can’t “fire” composers, can you?

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