Theater Brings 19th Century Composer Bruckner's Life to the Stage
"Bruckner's Last Finale" plays at Cyrano's
ANCHORAGE - He’s being referred to as the fourth 'b' of classical music -- Anton Buckner, a 19th-century Austrian composer who some put on the same level as Bach, Beethoven and Brahms.
"Bruckner's Last Finale," a new play about the neurotic man and his bold music is being performed at Cyrano’s Playhouse.
In the play, Bruckner says, "I have nothing to teach. I am a bad composer. Nobody plays my music. They laugh at it."
Bruckner was as humble personally as his music was bold -- a contrast that intrigues Anchorage playwright Dick Reichman.
"I became so interested in his music I began to wonder, you know, where did this come from. It seems to be very out of this world. It seems to come from a level of consciousness that just isn't part of daily life."
Telling Bruckner's story in a semi-documentary fashion, Reichman shows the composer's numerous personal problems, including an obsession with counting and a habit of proposing marriage to young women he has just met.
For actor Peter Porco, it has been a grand opportunity. "Oh, are you kidding? I’ve never done anything like this in my life."
Porco as Bruckner, explaining his theory of music: "There is only one composer. And his work is finished. We just steal it. Therefore, composing is a crime."
"He's a strangely conflicted individual,” Porco said. “He’s really a poor guy suffering all kinds of neurotic ailments and compulsive disorders -- obsessive, compulsive disorders. He doesn't believe in himself at all. He writes this amazingly fantastic music, and he doesn't believe it even comes from him. It all comes from the deity. And then he talks to angels, and he has a counting disorder."
Bob Pond, who stepped in as director when Reichman accepted a role in another play, says Reichman has achieved an unusual synthesis of drama and music.
"Dick has done it, where the music in this play is an equal actor, has just as much a role as any of the live-wired actors. So it's been a different kind of thing. Music is not just a supportive element; it's an equal partner."
Reichman concludes: "Nothing ever happened to the guy. And he was a very modest, quiet, obsequious fellow. And he wrote the boldest music ever imaginable."
Music that transcends Bruckner’s life.
The play is at 7 Friday night at Cyrano’s. Saturday night, the action shifts to the Center for Performing Arts for a performance of Bruckner’s seventh symphony by the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, including a scene from the play.
The following performance of the play is at 3 p.m. Sunday.
To see interviews with the director, playwright, and lead actor, click here.