Bright takes the “O” out of Anton

January 10, 2009

This past week, composer, Bright Sheng was in residence at UCLA. He was indefatigable: he went from 10 to 7 with barely a break, going from master class, to lecture, to conducting his work for orchestra.

Afterwards, Paul Chihara tooks us out for a Japanese dinner in West LA. Bright sat across from me during dinner, so we were able to have a whole range of discussions, with a bottle of sake between us.

One topic of discussion was Anton Bruckner. I related my memories of my teacher, Leon Kirchner’s obsession with Bruckner; Bright shared Lenny’s late love of Bruckner. He then told me a remarkable story about this rather difficult-to-love composer.

It turns out that neither of Mr Bruckner testicles ever descended. He supposedly had a very high squeaky voice, and — now how would anyone really ever know this? — allegedly never had an orgasm. I had an “a ha” moment, realizing the correspondence between Bruckner’s sense of form, and his physical inability to have orgasms. Does his music ever have an orgasm? To be honest, I’ve never really asked myself that question — the answer is YES.

Anton Bruckner

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Brad Wood January 10, 2009 at 10:55 pm

Fortunately one of my second partner’s testicles did descend, and I can attest, the Naked Gun joke notwithstanding, that he did indeed have orgasms.

My favorite Bruckner anecdote, here perhaps for the first time in cyberspace, was the story Mark C., Charlie S., and I heard from a partygoer at the old Devonshire address.

Of relatively modest musical sophistication but nonetheless reasonably open-minded, he had had a friend recommend Bruckner, of whose music at that moment he had no acquaintance whatsoever. The friend supplied a cassette tape of one of the symphonies, and he listened to it with some interest and considerable patience, but admitted to us that he found it unfolding a bit slowly.

He later was informed that he had been playing it back at half-speed.

I think Mark and I became almost apoplectic on hearing this.

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