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Bruckner, (Joseph) Anton

Bruckner, (Joseph) Anton (b Ansfelden, Linz, 1824; d Vienna, 1896). Austrian composer and organist. Son of village schoolmaster, showed precocious mus. talent but had no expert teaching until aged 11. Was choirboy at St Florian's monastery, 1837–40, and in 1840 began training in Linz as a schoolmaster, mus. remaining an absorbing sideline. Persisted with org. studies and became a virtuoso of the instr., especially in art of improvisation. In 1845 returned to St Florian as ass. teacher, but continued his mus. studies. In 1848 became ‘provisional’ organist. For some years had been composing org. and choral mus., but 1849 saw the first recognizably Brucknerian work, the Requiem in D minor. In 1851 became official organist of St Florian and in 1855 was appointed organist of Linz Cath. Also in 1855 decided to study harmony and counterpoint with Simon Sechter in Vienna, lessons which continued until 1861. In 1862 studied orchestration in Linz with Otto Kitzler, cellist and cond., who also introduced him to Wagner's mus. From this period, 1863–9, came 3 Masses and 3 syms. In 1868 moved to Vienna, where he was to live for the next 28 years, to succeed Sechter as prof. of harmony and counterpoint at the Cons.

Continued in demand as an improviser on the org., visiting Paris in 1869 to play in Notre Dame and London in 1871 to play at the new Royal Albert Hall. In 1865 first met Wagner in Munich at the première of Tristan and their friendship grew. The 3rd sym. of 1873 was ded. to Wagner. Though this was a matter of personal delight to Bruckner, it made him the butt of Viennese mus. politics at the period of great hostility between the supporters of Brahms and of Wagner and ensured him the critical hostility of Hanslick. In 1875 became lecturer in harmony and counterpoint at Vienna Univ. During 1871–6 wrote syms. Nos. 2–5, following this with a 3-year spell of rev. F.p. of 3rd sym. in 1877 was fiasco. From 1879 to 1887 worked on syms. Nos. 6–8 and Te Deum. F.p. of No.4 in 1881 was first considerable success with Viennese public. In 1883, while working on the Adagio of sym. No.7, heard of Wagner's death: he referred to the coda of that movement as ‘funeral music for the Master’. Success of the first 2 perfs. of No.7 under Nikisch (1884) and Levi (1885) launched int. recognition, but Bruckner received severe blow in 1887 when Levi rejected score of No.8 with several bitter criticisms. Began another period of rev. with the advice of friends, and the 8th sym. was not played until 1892 when, under Richter, it had a triumphant reception.

In the last 5 years of his life Bruckner enjoyed greater financial reward than before and received several state and university honours. But his health deteriorated and he worked on his 9th (actually 11th) sym. from 1891 until the day he died (11 Oct. 1896), leaving the finale in a more complete form than was at first realized.

Bruckner's personal character has for too long been misrepresented as boorish and simple-minded. He did have a child-like religious faith, which lies at the root of all his mus., and a becoming modesty. But the composer of those superbly organized and complex syms., most of them over an hour in duration, was no simpleton. He was a late starter as a composer because of his determination to master his technique, and recognition only came late in his lifetime. The ‘Wagnerian’ tag on his syms. led to their being regarded as elephantine monsters, but they are now widely recognized as being in the Austrian tradition of Schubert's last sym. and are admired for their combination of contrapuntal splendour with intense melodic beauty and grandeur (but not extravagance) of orchestration. His Masses, also on a symphonic scale, are equally splendid, and in all his mature church mus. there is the radiance of a devout believer and the technical dexterity of a composer whose mastery of vocal polyphony stemmed from intimate study of Palestrina and his sch.

A peculiarly complex problem exists over the various versions of Bruckner's syms. caused by his proclivity for revisions, often at the behest of well-meaning friends who urged him to cut and reorchestrate works in order to have them perf. and pubd. Since 1934, first under the editorship of Robert Haas and later of Leopold Nowak, the Int. Bruckner Soc. has pubd. the ‘original’ edns. of the syms. Even here confusion arises because there are discrepancies in some of the syms. ed. by both Haas and Nowak. The general tendency today is to return to Bruckner's first thoughts. For this reason the list of the syms. is in some detail:SYMPHONIES: sym. in F minor. Comp. 1863.Symphony in D minor (designated by Bruckner as ‘No.0’). Comp. 1863–4, rev. 1869 (some authorities insist ‘comp. 1869’). F.p. Klosterneuburg, 12 Oct. 1924. Publication: Ed. Nowak 1968.No.1 in C minor. Comp. 1865–6, rev. 1868, 1877, 1884 (foregoing known as ‘Linz Version’). Major rev. (‘Vienna version’) 1890–1. F.p. 9 May 1868 Linz, cond. Bruckner; 13 Dec. 1891 Vienna, cond. Richter. Publication: 1893 (Eberle); Linz and Vienna versions ed. Haas 1934, Linz version ed. Nowak 1953. (Nowak ed. mainly corrects misprints.)No.2 in C minor. Comp. 1871–2, rev. 1873; 1876–7 version 2 (cuts and alteration). F.p. 26 Oct. 1873, Vienna, cond. Bruckner; version 2, 20 Feb. 1876, Vienna, cond. Bruckner. Publication: 1892 (Eberle), ed. Haas 1938, version 2 ed. Nowak 1965. Haas ed. restores many of Bruckner's 1876–7 cuts.No.3 in D minor. Comp. 1873, rev. 1874; thorough rev. (excising several Wagner quotations) 1876–7 (version 2). Another thorough rev. (version 3) 1888–9. F.p. 16 Dec. 1877 (version 2) Vienna, cond. Bruckner; 21 Dec. 1890 (version 3) Vienna, cond. Richter. F.ps. of 1873 version, 1 and 2 Dec. 1946, Dresden, cond. Keilberth. Publication: 1878 (Rättig, version 2), 1890 (Rättig, version 3); ed. Nowak (version 3) 1959.No.4 in E♭ major (‘Romantic’). Comp. 1874 (version 1). Major rev. (new scherzo) 1878, new finale 1879–80, minor rev. 1881, 1886 (version 2); major cuts and alterations by F. Löwe 1887–8 (version 3). F.p. 20 Feb. 1881, Vienna, cond. Richter (version 2); 22 Jan. 1888, Vienna, cond. Richter (version 3); f.p. version 1: 20 Sept. 1975, Linz, cond. Wöss (but scherzo alone was perf. 12 Dec. 1909, Linz, cond. A. Göllerich). Publication: 1896 (Doblinger); ed. Haas (version 2) 1936 and 1944; ed. Nowak (version 2) 1953.No.5 in B♭ major. Comp. 1875–6, minor rev. 1877–8. F.p. 8 April 1894, Graz, cond. F. Schalk (spurious version by Schalk); orig. version 20 Oct. 1935, Munich, cond. Hausegger. Publication: 1899 (Doblinger); ed. Haas 1936, ed. Nowak 1951 (little discrepancy).No.6 in A major. Comp. 1879–81. F.p. 11 Feb. 1883, Vienna, cond. Jahn (2nd and 3rd movements only); 26 Feb. 1899, Vienna, cond. Mahler (with severe cuts); 14 March 1901, Stuttgart, cond. Pohlig (complete). Publication: 1899 (Doblinger); ed. Haas 1936, ed. Nowak 1952 (minor discrepancies).No.7 in E major. Comp. 1881–3. F.p. 30 Dec. 1884, Leipzig, cond. Nikisch. Publication: 1885 (Gutmann); ed. Haas 1944, ed. Nowak 1954. (Discrepancies affect dynamic and tempo markings, deleted by Haas, restored as ‘authentic’ by Nowak.)No.8 in C minor. Comp. 1884–7 (version 1). Thorough revision, inc. rev. coda of 1st movement, new trio, major cuts and changes of scoring, 1889–90 (version 2). F.p. 18 Dec. 1892, Vienna, cond. Richter (version 2). F.p. (version 1) 2 Sept. 1973 (BBC broadcast), Bournemouth SO, cond. Schönzeler. Publication: 1892 (Lienau, version 2); ed. Haas 1935 (version 2), ed. Nowak 1955 (version 2). (Haas restores several cuts.)No.9 in D minor. First 3 movements comp. 1891–4 (sketches date from 1887), sketches for finale 1894–6. F.p. 11 Feb. 1903, Vienna, cond. Löwe (in spurious Löwe version), 2 April 1932, Munich, cond. Hausegger (orig.). Publication: 1903 (Universal); ed. Orel 1934, ed. Nowak 1951 (almost identical). Completion of finale in version prepared (1979–83) by William Carragan, prof. of physics at Hudson Valley Community Coll., Troy, NY, perf. by American SO cond. Moshe Atzmon, 8 Jan. 1984. (In 1979 Carragan, assisted by Paul Nudelman, made pf. score of finale based on Orel's unreliable edn. of sketches but with coda added. This was perf. in NY 1979.)OTHER ORCH. WORKS: Overture in G minor (1863); 4 Orchestral Pieces (1862).CHORAL: Masses, No.1 in D minor (1864, rev. 1876, 1881–2); No.2 in E minor (wind band acc.) (1866, rev. 1869, 1876, 1882); No.3 in F minor (1867–8, rev. 1876–7, 1881, 1890–3); Te Deum (ch. and orch.) (1881–4); Mass in F (1844); Requiem in D minor (1849); Missa solemnis in B♭ (1854); Ave Maria, ch., org. (1856); Ave Maria, unacc. ch. (1861); Pange lingua (1868); Abendzauber (1878); Os justi (1879); Ave Maria, mez., org. (1882); Vexilla Regis (1892); Germanenzug, male ch., brass band (1863); Helgoland, male ch., orch. (1893).CHAMBER: str. quintet in F major (1879); Intermezzo, str. quintet (1879).KEYBOARD: Prelude and Fugue in C minor, org. (1847); 3 Pieces, pf. duet (1852–4); Klavierstuck in E♭, pf. (c.1856); Erinnerung, pf. (1868); Fantasy in G major, pf. (1868); Prelude in C, org. (1884).

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Joseph Anton Bruckner

Joseph Anton Bruckner

The Austrian composer Joseph Anton Bruckner (1824-1896) is best known for his nine monumental symphonies and his religious compositions.

Anton Bruckner was born on Sept. 4, 1824, at Ansfelden in Upper Austria. He was the first of 11 children of the village schoolmaster. At an early age Anton had his first music lessons from his father and began to help him with his teaching duties. When he was 11, he began to study with his cousin, and his earliest compositions date from this time. Two years later, at the death of his father, Anton was transferred to the monastery of St. Florian, where he remained as a chorister until 1840. St. Florian was always to be a spiritual refuge for him; at his own request, he was buried under the great organ there.

After preparatory courses at Linz, Bruckner was certified as an assistant teacher for elementary schools. He taught in a small village near Steyr, where he continued his organ studies. In 1845 he became a teacher and assistant organist at St. Florian and was finally appointed first organist in 1855. During the years at St. Florian, Bruckner composed many liturgical works. Typical of the larger-scale compositions are the Requiem (1849) and the Missa solemnis (1854), both first performed at St. Florian.

In 1856 Bruckner became principal organist at Linz Cathedral. He studied with the Viennese theorist and organist Simon Sechter, traveling to Vienna every year for 6 weeks of concentrated study. During his 5 years of strict contrapuntal studies, he did not compose. Bruckner completed his course with Sechter in 1861 and began to study orchestration and form with the conductor Otto Kitzler. Through him, Bruckner came to know Wagner's music. Stimulated by this new experience, he began to write instrumental works: an overture, two unnumbered symphonies, and a string quartet.

Bruckner's first mature work was the Mass in D Minor (1864); it was followed by the Mass in E Minor and the First Symphony (1866). Partly because of overwork, the composer suffered a severe nervous breakdown in 1867. A sojourn at Bad Kreuzen brought him relief, and grateful for his recovery, he began his third, and last, great Mass, in F Minor, which he completed the following year.

Bruckner became professor of thorough bass, counterpoint, and organ at the Vienna Conservatory in 1868, a position he retained till 1891. He held other important posts in Vienna: organist of the Imperial Court Chapel (1868-1892) and lecturer in harmony and counterpoint at the University of Vienna (1875-1894). He also found time to write his huge symphonies, which are pervaded by a deep religious feeling. At first, they were not successful. His partisanship of Wagner brought him the enmity of Eduard Hanslick and other influential critics in Vienna, who preferred the music of Brahms. However, Bruckner's work gradually won recognition, especially outside Austria.

Bruckner's last eight symphonies were composed in Vienna beginning in 1871. He frequently revised his work; for example, there are three versions of the Second, Third, and Eighth Symphonies and four of the Fourth (Romantic) Symphony. Since other revisions were also made, with or without his authorization, by his disciples, it has been extremely hard to establish the accurate text of his symphonies. The International Bruckner Society has published critical editions.

Bruckner's health failed during his last years. In 1895 the emperor Franz Josef offered him free quarters in the Belvedere Palace. There, after a morning spent working on the Ninth Symphony (the finale is incomplete), Bruckner died on Oct. 11, 1896.

Further Reading

Two enthusiastic and sentimental biographies of Bruckner are Gabriel Engel, The Life of Anton Bruckner (1931), and Werner Wolff, Anton Bruckner: Rustic Genius (1942). Hans F. Redlich, Bruckner and Mahler (1955), is a well-balanced presentation of the two composers. Erwin Doernberg, The Life and Symphonies of Anton Bruckner (1960), is more opinionated. Robert Simpson, The Essence of Bruckner (1968), gives impressionistic analyses of the nine symphonies. Dika Newlin, Bruckner, Mahler, Schoenberg (1947), presents Bruckner in his cultural environment and includes analyses of his major works. □

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Bruckner, Anton

Anton Bruckner (än´tōn brŏŏk´nər), 1824–96, Austrian composer. He was appointed organist at the Linz cathedral in 1856 before becoming court organist in Vienna in 1868, where he later taught at the conservatory and university. He established a reputation as a virtuoso organist on trips to France in 1869 and to England in 1871, but as a composer he gained recognition slowly. Although he was influenced by the chromatic harmony and orchestral grandeur of Wagner's music, his work is marked by contrapuntal complexity and extended melodies, in the formal tradition of Beethoven and Schubert. His outstanding works are the Masses in D Minor (1864), in E Minor (1869), and F Minor (1872); a Te Deum (1886); and nine symphonies, of which the Fourth or Romantic (1881), the Eighth, or Apocalyptic (composed 1884–87), and the Ninth (composed 1891–96) are best known. He also wrote motets, cantatas, chamber music, piano and organ pieces, and pieces for male chorus.

See studies by H. F. Redlich (1955), E. Doernberg (1960, repr. 1968), and R. Simpson (Am. ed. 1968).

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Bruckner, Anton

Bruckner, Anton (1824–96) Austrian composer. An intensely pious man, he wrote a great deal of church music – cantatas, masses and a Te Deum (1881–84) – and nine symphonies. His symphonies are lengthy, monumental creations greatly influenced by Romanticism. His use of complex musical form infuses his work.

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