I beg your pardon, my dear little bunch of friendly readers, but I’m going to break the blog’s rules today. This post will be very long, very personal and will have nothing to do with the Western Mediterranean area of Europe traditionally covered by Covetotop.
I must confess something that in these ultramodern, hyperdigitalized, tetradownloaded, megalinked, supermerchandised, materialistic, relativistic, noisy and artistically death days may seem a crime: I love classical music.
Actually, my crime is even worse than that, as one of my favorite composers is Anton Bruckner (1824 –1896).
But taking into account that freedom rules the Internet, and that I’m the writer, the translator, the photographer, the lord and the king of this blog, I’ve decreed that today’s post will render homage to my beloved friend Anton Bruckner. Period.
My limited knowledge of the English language doesn’t allow me to express accurately my admiration, sympathy and profound gratitude towards this humble genius. I know it may sound strange, but since I was a kid, I have been a convinced Bruckner’s fan. For sure, my friends deemed a little insane that instead of listening to pop music, rock or any other kind of disturbing noise, I was spending my time, my ears and my soul listening to those long and intimidating symphonies of Mr. Bruckner (Beethoven et al. aside).
So, if you don’t like the issue, feel free to fly away to any other website or to do anything useful for the sake of humankind. But if you love classical music to such a weird point in which you know who Bruckner is, then stay with me and follow Covetotop’s pilgrimage to the Anton Bruckner’s holy realm: the Augustine Monastery of Saint Florian and its wonderful surroundings, in Upper Austria.
2.- Covetotop’s pilgrimage to the Saint Florian Monastery.
Assuming that you, my dear friend (if you didn’t fly away when you realized that this post was dedicated to Anton Bruckner, then you are a dear friend of mine) have some knowledge about Bruckner and his music or, if you don’t, assuming that you can get tons of info about the Master in the Internet (or better still: you can buy some cds and listen to his awesome music), I’ll go straight ahead.
This is the “Augustiner Chorherrenstift Sankt Florian”:
The Saint Florian Monastery was the Bruckner’s spiritual and artistic home. He was a choirboy and later organist here, and is buried beneath the organ inside the monastic church.
Saying Saint Florian Monastery is saying Anton Bruckner. So, Covetotop went on pilgrimage to Saint Florian. It was some time ago. I got this little room in the monastery for a few days:
Certainly it was a humble room by modern standards (single bed, no tv, no radio, no telephone, no room service nor any other kind of vulgarity), but an outstanding room by spiritual standards … I was the happiest man on Earth in this little room.
Here below it is my room’s window; you can see the monastic church’s towers, but cannot listen to the vigorous, dynamic, emphatic, resounding bells announcing the new day, every day, very early in the morning:
Wandering completely alone through the long corridors of this Baroque masterpiece was a divine experience …
Having breakfast each morning at the monks’ dinning room was a divine experience too:
The monastery’s patio is breathtaking …
Saint Florian Monastery is also the home of one of the best boys’ choir of the world (St. Florianer Sängerknaben). Once upon a time, one of those kids was Anton Bruckner. This excellent choir was founded almost 1,000 years ago, in 1071.
One day, wandering through the monastery’s corridors, I heard a sweet, weak and very beautiful music apparently coming from other world. Was I dreaming? No. I wasn’t dreaming. I opened a big door and came across this …
It was a rehearsal of the St. Florianer Sängerknaben. I tried to take a picture of such a privileged moment with my camera, but I couldn’t hold it steady, as I was in a state of shock. They were singing Mozart as only angels can do. Blurred picture. Sorry.
3.- Brucknerian surroundings.
Once you decide to leave the monastery to take a walk (which is a hard decision), the first thing you’ll find at the other side of the main door is a paradise called Austria. What a wonderful country.
Being a Bruckner’s fan, my first target was Ansfelden. This little village is not far away from Saint Florian. The yellow house (right) below the Ansfelden’s church is Bruckner’s house. Anton Bruckner was born here on the 4th of September, 1824:
A kind lady opened the door and Covetotop levitated through the Bruckner’s house:
A very nice way connects Ansfelden with Saint Florian:
As you’ve guessed, it’s dedicated to the Bruckner’s symphonies. The way is divided in ten “Stationen” (stops) where you can hear (in your mind) the Bruckner’s symphonies and learn some facts about them:
Beyond Saint Florian and Ansfelden it’s the city of Linz:
Bruckner’s traces are spread everywhere in Linz:
Steyr is another wonderful Austrian city:
Bruckner was here too and you’ll notice it:
Nature in Austria is almost as beautiful as its musical heritage. Its villages, mountains and lakes are simply unforgettable:
Oh my! I’m about to break another blog’s rule today: here below you’ll find a self-portrait of Covetotop. In order to take self-portraits like this one, you only need an Austrian lake, a mountain, a tree (to hang the camera with the auto-timer on) and being able to run faster than Usain Bolt:
That place was magic. I didn’t need my ipod to listen to some Bruckner. His music was in the air.
Not very far away from Saint Florian, and overlooking the river Danube, it’s the Benedictine Melk Abbey (Stift Melk), which is one of the world’s most famous monastic sites. It is another masterpiece of Baroque architecture, but in Covetotop’s humble opinion, visiting Saint Florian was a much more rewarding experience because:
A) Being such a famous place, Melk was crowded by the usually daffy and noisy touristic hordes (including Covetotop). In Saint Florian there was just one daffy and silent tourist: Covetotop.
B) Mozart WAS in Melk. I love Mozart, but he no longer IS in Melk. On the contrary, Bruckner IS in Saint Florian.
Anton Bruckner was in Vienna:
Covetotop was in Vienna too:
And Covetotop ate in Vienna a lot of Austrian specialties, like Wiener Schnitzel …
Sacher Torte or Apfelstrudel? Both of them! And one coffee, please! ….
In 1895 the emperor Franz Josef offered Anton Bruckner free quarters in the Belvedere Palace (Vienna). There, after a morning spent working on the Ninth Symphony (the finale was almost incomplete; click here and see this video for more info), Bruckner died on October 11, 1896.
Bruckner’s funeral took place in St. Charles’s Church (Karlskirche):
4.- Bruckner’s friends.
Anton Bruckner had (and still has) some detractors. Their opinions are not allowed in this blog, as all of them were (and are) assholes.
Anton Bruckner had (and increasingly has) quite a few friends.
One of them was the maestro Sergiu Celibidache. This great (greatest) conductor died in 1996. There has always been a special relationship between Celibidache and Bruckner, the former being said to have understood the latter like nobody else.
Some quotes about Bruckner, said by Sergiu Celibidache:
“For me, the fact of Bruckner’s existence is God’s greatest gift”
“We’re singing in St. Florian! There can be no greater honor”
“And along comes this “peasant” Bruckner with completely new solutions …”
“To him, time is different than it is to other composers. To a normal man, time is what comes after the beginning. To Bruckner, time is what comes after the end. All his apotheotical finals, the hope for another world, the hope of being saved, of being again baptized in light, it exists nowhere else in the same manner”
Previously in this post, I included a link to an interesting video about the recently rediscovered finale of the Bruckner’s 9th Symphony. In that video, the current conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, Sir Simon Ratle (another Bruckner’s friend), talks about Bruckner with passion and admiration.
Sir Simon Rattle also have said: “All these great transition passages in Bruckner’s symphonies lead to some extraordinary vista, some wonderful moment which leads you out of this world”.
Perhaps the very best Bruckner’s living friend is another conductor. Or to better say it, another conductor and pianist and pacifier and great man and hyper-genius: Daniel Barenboim.
The humble Covetotop is a Bruckner’s friend too …
It’s time to return to Saint Florian:
It’s time to visit once more time the Anton Bruckner’s room in the monastery:
It’s time to visit the beautiful monastic church:
It’s time to stay in awe before the Master’s organ; the very same organ that he played and the place where he got a good deal of his divine inspiration:
It’s time for Covetotop to post the picture you can see here below. It’s Covetotop standing between the Bruckner’s organ and his grave (my face appears totally blurred because of the deep emotions I was experiencing at that very moment). Bruckner is buried just beneath the organ, in the church’s crypt.
It’s time to say good-bye to the Master:
And, perhaps, it’s time for you to listen to Bruckner.