Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony: A Listener-Guided Analysis

Author: Greene, David B
The book develops four strategies for doing listener-guided analysis. Each strategy is used to describe one of the movements in Bruckner’s Eighth. Each analysis has two goals: to clarify the mechanics of a particular strategy for carrying out listener-guided analysis, and to demonstrate that new kinds of insights can be gained when the strategy opens a way to describe Bruckner’s music by describing its hearers’ relations to it.


"This is a guide to a Bruckner symphony like no other guide the music lover is likely to come across, and will be a provocative addition to Bruckner scholarship, and a valuable addition to the Edwin Mellen Press catalogue.
Rather than adopt a narrowly focused approach on the basis of an “authoritative” quasi-objective stance, Professor Greene analyzes a variety of subjective listener approaches to the music, presenting a series of possible micro and macro narratives. The first movement is dissected, elucidated and reconstructed in conjunction with the comparable structure of verbal narratives; metaphorical approaches to the Scherzo see futility redeemed; the Adagio replicates the process of a self coming into being; and the Finale juggles linearity and discontinuity. Not merely are these presented as ways of listening, but extended to the profoundest of thoughts about how we think about our lives. Hence the "oddness" of Bruckner is not dissolved, nor discarded as a weakness or idiosyncrasy, but thoroughly analyzed as a strength."
The book is prefaced and sustained throughout by philosophical discussion, aesthetic and metaphysical, which some mere music lovers will find challenging, and some of the narratives suggested have an oddness that some listeners might find hard to locate within their own experience, but the generous inclusiveness of Professor Greene’s scholarship, and the thorough reach of his musical analysis cannot fail to cast new and unexpected light on how we might listen and respond to this incomparable symphonic masterpiece.
-Ken Ward,
Editor - The Bruckner Journal

“David Greene’s careful, close, and imaginative description of Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 in C minor makes for a rich examination of subjectivity in the musical experience of the individual listener… Like much music of the late nineteenth century, Bruckner’s Eighth offers an experience of extremes… Greene, in this study, models four ways of using pre-gained knowledge and experience – musical and otherwise – to penetrate and analyze listeners’ relation to each of the symphony’s four movements…His strategies of analysis are both powerful and original.”
-Dr. Jonathan C. Kramer,
Visiting Professor of Music
Duke University

Table of Contents

Preface by Professor Jonathan Kramer
CHAPTER ONE: Some Kind Words for Subjectivity
1. Sounds-in-Relation and the Listening Subject
i. Sounding Relations
ii. The Listening Subject: Relating to Sounds-in-Relations
iii.Strategies for Describing Listeners’ Relation to Sounds-in-Relation
2. Describing Bruckner’s Eight Symphony/Describing the Symphony’s Listeners
i. The First Movement
ii. The Scherzo
iii.The Adagio
iv.The Finale
CHAPTER TWO: The First Movement. Torn Narrative Threads Mending One Another
1. The First Narrative
2. The Second Narrative
3. The Third Narrative
4. The Fourth Narrative
5. The Fifth Narrative
6. The Sixth Narrative
7. The Seventh Narrative
8. The Eighth Narrative
9. The Ninth Narrative
10. The Narrative of the Movement as a Whole
i.The Suffusion of Tearing and Mending throughout the Movement
ii.The Suffusion of Disruption and Wholeness in The Temple
iii.Suffusion and Intimations of the Divine
CHAPTER THREE: The Scherzo. Transmuting Futility
1. Scherzo: A Section
2. Scherzo: B Section
3. Scherzo: Reprise of A
4. Trio
5. The Movement as a Whole: Scherzo – Trio- Scherzo
CHAPTER FOUR: The Adagio. Becoming a Subject
1. Processes
i.Apt Succession and Culmination
ii.Apt Succession, Culmination, and Becoming a Subject
2. Becoming a Musical Passage / Becoming a Subject
i.A: The First Event
ii.A’B: The Second Event
iii.A”B’A”: The Third Event
iii.The Question of the Unity of the Movement
CHAPTER FIVE: The Finale. Along the Line of Non-Linearity
1. Linear and Non-Linear Elements in the Finale
2. Ways of Relating to the Co-presence of Linearity and Non-Linearity
3. Non-Problematic Co-Presence of Linear and Non-Linear Processes
CHAPTER SIX: The Eight Symphony. Some Kind Words for Being Both Here and There