Wednesday, March 11, 2009

When the Great Seems Like the Enemy of the Good

You have to feel for Max Bruch. I found this excerpt from a letter he wrote to Simrock quoted in Christopher Fifield's biography, Max Bruch: His Life and Works
"The Scottish Fantasy, which even gives pleasure to people like Brahms and Joachim, is torn apart everywhere by the mob of critics. One can bear all this for many years, but there comes a time when disgust and bitterness overpowers a creator, and one says to oneself, 'how much longer do I cast pearls before swine?' I shall withdraw into myself, my house, my loved ones, and my daily duty, and only now and then will dream that there was once a time when I fought with Good and Evil in the dust of the arena. This is more than a passing mood, I have for a long time had no other desire than to withdraw from this miserable commotion. since I now love and am loved, and have a last found the simplest and deepest happiness, it has lost the last of its charm for me."

"I saw the latest published works of Brahms with my usual interest. As far as Dvorak is concerned, I tell you this as a well-meaning friend: be a bit choosy, in spite of Joachim and Brahms. He is a talented man, but is quite overrated in certain quarters."

Max Bruch December 1880
Thank goodness it wasn't any more than a "passing mood." He continued writing for another 40 years. Still, most people only know him for his G-minor Violin Concerto, his Scottish Fantasy, and his Kol Nidre. Violists know him for his Romance and for his pieces with clarinet (a double concerto and a set of pieces for clarinet, viola, and piano), some of the only pieces of his that have remained in print. Thanks to the International Score Library Project, some of Bruch's out-of-print music is available to download for free.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bruch should also get greater attention and praise for his gorgeous symphonies, Elaine - the Second, especially.