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Julius Bittner's Symphony No.1 from Toccata


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Author Topic: Julius Bittner's Symphony No.1 from Toccata  (Read 185 times)
Dundonnell
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« on: May 10, 2019, 10:50:15 pm »

Although the Austrian composer Julius Bittner (1874-1939) was totally unknown to me and although the review of the new disc containing the Symphony No.1 and the Symphonic Poem "Vaterland" was mixed in its evaluation of the music I was encouraged enough by the mention of Bruckner in the review to buy the disc.

It is sometims asserted that "neglected composers" are neglected because their music is mostly modest in quality. As a generalisation this is, of course, nonsense. There are all manner of different reasons why composers may be neglected and many neglected composers wrote some superb music.

Sadly, I am not convinced that Bittner was amongst those who deserve to be brought out of the shadows. The Symphony No.1 was written in 1923 and although perfectly pleasant is certainly not-to my ears-particularly Brucknerian. It sounds like watered-down early Franz Schmidt but without anything memorable to hang onto. "Vaterland" is empty, nationalistic bombast but without the required grandiosity to make it in any real sense gripping.

Heaven knows, I love to discover powerful music written by composers who have fallen by the wayside and disappointed when their music does not strike me as really worth reviving but in this case........ Sad
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Gauk
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« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2019, 10:19:38 am »

I just listened to the Bittner symphony, and I can't say I agree with you. It's certainly not Brucknerian, and I think that may have been another example of Adriano's complaint about trying to pigeon-hole works by saying "it's like X". And equally, I would not be in a hurry to compare it to Franz Schmidt. Bittner seems to have an individual voice, and though on first hearing I felt there was a spot towards the end of the slow movement where his imagination was struggling, overall I enjoyed it and am happy to be able to hear it. I will listen to it again.

I gather there is a 2nd symphony as well.
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Grandenorm
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« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2019, 10:13:09 am »

There is a second symphony, but it was not published and the MS is lost. Alas!
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Dundonnell
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« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2019, 02:13:50 pm »

I shall give Bittner another opportunity to impress me Smiley
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