In the past, "the" Bruckner problem had to do with producing editions that reflected his intentions, insofar as these could be determined from extant autograph materials. Since then, musicologists have singled out other Bruckner problems. Thus many scholars see the need to create a more believable image of the composer than that of the pious naf who appears in much of the traditional literature. As the scope of Bruckner scholarship widened in the past three decades, the opposition between Catholic liturgical music and Wagner's operas, both crucial in Bruckner's development as a composer, inspired semantic interpretations of his symphonies that have been subjected to increasingly close and critical scrutiny. In sum, much recent research focuses on creating a firmer factual basis for understanding his life and works. Yet musicologists have also recognized the significance of the cliches of Bruckner reception, which can be attributed in part to the volkisch worldview shared by many of his earliest supporters. Contemporary Viennese politics is an important topic because of questions not only of reception but also intent. Bruckner greatly enhanced the demagogic and cultic appeal of the Beethovenian symphony; scholars have accordingly focused on how he altered the type, as well as on how it was perceived. Recent treatments of the Eighth Symphony suggest the analytical potential of the metrical numbers Bruckner wrote in his scores while also showing that "the" Bruckner problem persists. Many distinguished conductors continue to choose the "wrong" version of the symphony (prepared by Robert Haas in 1939) over the first and second versions of the symphony as edited by Leopold Nowak after World War II. Rigorous and at the same time imaginative approaches are needed for the problems Bruckner scholarship poses.
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Margaret Notley; Bruckner Problems, in Perpetuity. 19th-Century Music 1 July 2006; 30 (1): 081–093. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/ncm.2006.30.1.081
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