Some great composers have been pioneers and musical radicals, and some have been fundamentally conservative. Max Bruch was a conservative to his bones, and it served him well. He established his musical principles early and stuck to them his whole life, regardless of whatever fads, fashions, or new developments were swirling around him.
For Bruch, it was melody that was the supreme means of emotional expression in music-- and the original source of beauty in melody was the folk song. Bruch said that he never would have amounted to anything if he hadn’t studied folk songs from all around the world, and he once wrote, “As a rule a good folk tune is more valuable than 200 created works of art…There is nothing to compare with the feeling, power, originality, and beauty of the folk song… This is the route one should now take—here is the salvation of our unmelodic times.” Max Bruch, born on this date, January 6, in 1838.