Bruckner, (Josef) Anton

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Bruckner, (Josef) Anton

Bruckner, (Josef) Anton, great Austrian composer; b. Ansfelden, Sept. 4, 1824; d. Vienna, Oct. 11, 1896. He studied music with his father, a village schoolmaster and church organist; also took music lessons at Hörsching with his cousin Johann Baptist Weiss. After his father’s death in 1837, Bruckner enrolled as a chorister at St. Florian, where he attended classes in organ, piano, violin, and theory. In 1840-11 he attended the special school for educational training in Linz, where he received instruction from J.N.A. Dürrnberger; he also studied music theory with Leopold Edler von Zenetti in Enns. While in his early youth, Bruckner held teaching positions in elementary public schools in Windhaag (1841–43) and Kronstorf (1843–45); later he occupied a responsible position as a schoolteacher at St. Florian (1845–55); also served as provisional organist there (1848–51). Despite his professional advance, he felt a lack of basic techniques in musical composition, and at the age of 31 went to Vienna to study harmony and counterpoint with Simon Sechter. He continued his studies with him off and on until 1861. In 1856 he became cathedral organist in Linz, having successfully competed for this position against several applicants. Determined to acquire still more technical knowledge, he sought further instruction and began taking lessons in orchestration with Otto Kitzler, first cellist of the Linz municipal theater (1861–63). In the meantime, he undertook an assiduous study of the Italian polyphonic school, and of masters of German polyphony, especially Bach. These tasks preoccupied him so completely that he did not engage in free composition until he was nearly 40 years old. Then he fell under the powerful influence of Wagner’s music, an infatuation that diverted him from his study of classical polyphony. In 1865 he attended the premiere of Tristan und Isolde in Munich, and met Wagner. He also made the acquaintance of Liszt in Pest, and of Berlioz during his visit in Vienna. His adulation of Wagner was extreme; the dedication of his Third Sym. to Wagner reads: “To the eminent Excellency Richard Wagner the Unattainable, World- Famous, and Exalted Master of Poetry and Music, in Deepest Reverence Dedicated by Anton Bruckner.” Strangely enough, in his own music Bruckner never embraced the tenets and practices of Wagner, but followed the sanctified tradition of German polyphony. Whereas Wagner strove toward the ideal union of drama, text, and music in a new type of operatic production, Bruckner kept away from the musical theater, confining himself to symphonic and choral music. Even in his harmonic techniques, Bruckner seldom followed Wagner’s chromatic style of writing, and he never tried to emulate the passionate rise and fall of Wagnerian “endless” melodies depicting the characters of his operatic creations. To Bruckner, music was an apotheosis of symmetry; his syms. were cathedrals of Gothic grandeur; he never hesitated to repeat a musical phrase several times in succession so as to establish the thematic foundation of a work. The personal differences between Wagner and Bruckner could not be more striking: Wagner was a man of the world who devoted his whole life to the promotion of his artistic and human affairs, while Bruckner was unsure of his abilities and desperately sought recognition. Devoid of social graces, being a person of humble peasant origin, Bruckner was unable to secure the position of respect and honor that he craved. A signal testimony to this lack of selfconfidence was Bruckner’s willingness to revise his works repeatedly, not always to their betterment, taking advice from conductors and ostensible well- wishers. He suffered from periodic attacks of depression; his entire life seems to have been a study of unhappiness, most particularly in his numerous attempts to find a woman who would become his life companion.

A commanding trait of Bruckner’s personality was his devout religiosity. To him the faith and the sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church were not mere rituals but profound psychological experiences. Following the practice of Haydn, he signed most of his works with the words Omnia ad majorem Dei gloriarti’, indeed, he must have felt that every piece of music he composed redounded to the greater glory of God. His original dedication of his Te Deum was actually inscribed “an dem lieben Gott.” From reports of his friends and contemporaries, it appears that he regarded each happy event of his life as a gift of God, and each disaster as an act of divine wrath. His yearning for secular honors was none the less acute for that. He was tremendously gratified upon receiving an honorary doctorate from the Univ. of Vienna in 1891; he was the first musician to be so honored there. He unsuccessfully solicited similar degrees from the univs. of Cambridge, Philadelphia, and even Cincinnati. He eagerly sought approval in the public press. When Emperor Franz Josef presented him with a snuffbox as a sign of Imperial favor, it is said that Bruckner pathetically begged the Emperor to order Hanslick to stop attacking him. Indeed, Hanslick was the nemesis of the so-called New German School of composition exemplified by Wagner and Liszt, and to a lesser extent, also by Bruckner. Wagner could respond to Hanslick’s hostility by caricaturing him in the role of Beckmesser (whom he had originally intended to name Hanslich), and Liszt, immensely successful as a virtuoso pianist, was largely immune to critical attacks. But Bruckner was highly vulnerable. It was not until the end of his unhappy life that, thanks to a group of devoted friends among conductors, Bruckner finally achieved a full recognition of his greatness.

Bruckner himself was an inadequate conductor, but he was a master organist. In 1869 he appeared in organ recitals in France, and in 1871 he visited England, giving performances in the Royal Albert Hall and the Crystal Palace in London. He was also esteemed as a pedagogue. In 1868 he succeeded Sechter as prof, of harmony, counterpoint, and organ at the Vienna Cons.; also in 1868 he was named provisional court organist, an appointment formally confirmed in 1878. Concurrently he taught piano, organ, and theory at St. Anna Coll. in Vienna (1870–74). In 1875 he was appointed lecturer in harmony and counterpoint at the Univ. of Vienna. In failing health, Bruckner retired from the Vienna Cons, in 1891 and a year later relinquished his post as court organist; in 1894 he resigned his lecturer’s position at the Univ. of Vienna. The remaining years of his life he devoted to the composition of his Ninth Sym., which, however, remained unfinished at his death.

Bruckner’s syms. constitute a monumental achievement; they are characterized by a striking display of originality and a profound spiritual quality. His sacred works are similarly expressive of his latent genius. Bruckner is usually paired with Mahler, who was a generation younger, but whose music embodied qualities of grandeur akin to those that permeated the symphonic and choral works of Bruckner. Accordingly, Bruckner and Mahler societies sprouted in several countries, with the express purpose of elucidating, analyzing, and promoting their music.

The textual problems concerning Bruckner’s works are numerous and complex. He made many revisions of his scores, and dejectedly acquiesced in alterations suggested by conductors who expressed interest in his music. As a result, conflicting versions of his syms. appeared in circulation. With the founding of the International Bruckner Soc, a movement was begun to publ, the original versions of his MSS, the majority of which he bequeathed to the Hofbibliothek in Vienna. A complete ed. of Bruckner’s works, under the supervision of Robert Haas and Alfred Orel, began to appear in 1930; in 1945 Leopold Nowak was named its editor in chief. For a complete catalogue of his works, see R. Grasberger, ed., Werkverzeichnis A. B.(Tutzing, 1977).


Bruckner rejected his first sym. as a student work; it is in F minor and is known as his Schul-Symphonie or Studien-Symphonie (Study Sym.; 1863; movements 1, 2, and 4 first perf. under Moissl, Klosterneuburg, March 18, 1924; movement 3 first perf. under Moissl, Klosterneuburg, Oct. 12, 1924). Another sym. in D minor apparently held some interest for him, as he marked it No. 0, “Die Nullte” (1869; movements 3 and 4 first perf. under Moissl, Klosterneuburg, May 17, 1924; first complete perf. under Moissl, Klosterneuburg, Oct. 12, 1924). The following list of his 9 syms. is the standard canon: No. 1, in C minor (Version I, “Linz,” 1865-66; first perf., with minor additions and alterations, under Bruckner, Linz, May 9, 1868; Version II, “Vienna,” 1890-91, a thorough revision; first perf. under Richter, Vienna, Dec. 13, 1891); No. 2, in C minor (Version I, 1871-72; first perf., with minor revisions, under Bruckner, Vienna, Oct. 26, 1873; Version II, 1876-77, with cuts and alterations); No. 3, in D minor, the “Wagner” Sym. (Version I, 1873; first perf. in the Nowak ed. under Schonzeler, Adelaide, March 19, 1978; Version II, 1876-77, a thorough revision; first perf. under Bruckner, Vienna, Dec. 16, 1877; Version III, 1888-89, a thorough revision; first perf. under Richter, Vienna, Dec. 21, 1890; a 2nd Adagio [1876] was first perf. under C. Abbado, Vienna, May 24, 1980); No. 4, in E-flat major, the “Romantic” Sym. (Version I, 1874; first perf. in the Nowak ed. under K. Woss, Linz, Sept. 20, 1975; Version II, 1877-78, with Finale of 1880, a thorough revision with a new Scherzo; first perf. under Richter, Vienna, Feb. 20, 1881; Version III, 1887-88, a major revision by Löwe, including a new Finale; first perf. under Richter, Vienna, Jan. 22, 1888); No. 5, in B-flat major (1875-76; minor revisions, 1876-78; first perf. in a recomposed version by F. Schalk, under his direction, Graz, April 8, 1894; first perf. in the Haas ed. under Hausegger, Munich, Oct. 20, 1935); No. 6, in A major (1879-81; Adagio and Scherzo under Jahn, Vienna, Feb. 11, 1883; with major cuts, under Mahler, Vienna, Feb. 26, 1899; first complete perf. under Pohlig, Stuttgart, March 14, 1901); No. 7, in E major (1881-83; first perf. under Nikisch, Leipzig, Dec. 30, 1884); No. 8, in C minor (Version I, 1884-87; first perf. in the Nowak ed. under Schonzeler, BBC, London, Sept. 2, 1973; Version II, 1889-90, a thorough revision; first perf. under Richter, Vienna, Dec. 18, 1892; first perf. in the Haas ed. [a composite version of I and II] under Furrwangler, Hamburg, July 5, 1939); No. 9, in D minor (movements 1-3, 1887-94; Finale [unfinished], 1894-96; first perf. in a recomposed version by Löwe, under his direction, Vienna, Feb. 11, 1903, with Bruckner’s Te Deum substituted for the Finale; first perf. in the Haas ed. under Hausegger, Munich, April 2, 1932). Other major works are 3 masses: D minor (1864; Linz, Nov. 20, 1864; rev. 1876 and 1881); E minor (1866; Linz, Sept. 29, 1869; rev. 1869, 1876, and 1882); F minor (1867-68; Vienna, June 16, 1872; many revisions); String Quintet in F major (1878–79); Te Deum (1881; rev. 1883-84; first perf. with orch. under Richter, Vienna, Jan. 10, 1886); Psalm 150 (1892; Vienna, Nov. 13, 1892). Selected minor works are a Mass in C major (1842?); Requiem in D minor (1848-49; St. Florian, March 13, 1849);Missa Solemnis in B-flat minor (1854; St. Florian, Sept. 14, 1854); Apollomarsch for Military Band (1862; authenticity not established); March in D minor for Orch. (1862); 3 orch. pieces in E-flat major, E minor, and F major (1862); String Quartet in C minor (1862); Overture in G minor (1862-63; Klosterneuburg, Sept. 8, 1921); Germanenzug for Men’s Chorus and Brass Instruments (1863); March in E-flat major for Military Band (1865); Abendzauber for Men’s Chorus and 4 Horns (1878); Intermezzo for String Quintet (1879); Helgoland for Men’s Chorus and Orch. (1893); other choral settings; motets; etc.


biographical: F. Brunner, Dr. A. B. (Linz, 1895); R. Louis, A. B.(Munich, 1905; 3rd ed., 1921); F. Gräflinger, A.B.: Bausteine zu seiner Lebensgeschichte (Munich, 1911; rev. ed., 1927); M. Morold, A.B.(Leipzig, 1912; 2nd ed., 1920); E. Decsey, A.B.: Versuch eines Lebens (Berlin, 1920; 3rd ed., 1930); F. Gräflinger, A.B.: Sein Leben und seine Werke (Regensburg, 1921); A. Göllerich and M. Auer, A.B.: Ein Lebens- und Schaffensbild (4 vols., Regensburg, 1922-37; 2nd ed., 1938); K. Grunsky, A.B. (Stuttgart, 1922); H. Tessmer, A.B.(Regensburg, 1922); R. Wetz, A.B.: Sein Leben und Schaffen (Leipzig, 1923); J. Daninger, A. B.(Vienna, 1924); G. Gräner, A.B.(Leipzig, 1924); E. Kurth, A.B.(2 vols., Berlin, 1925); A. Orel, A. B.: Ein Österreichischer Meister der Tonkunst (Altötting, 1926); F. Gräflinger, A. B.: Leben und Schaffen (Berlin, 1927); M. Auer, A.B.: Sein Leben und Werk (Vienna, 1931; 6th ed., 1966); G. Engel, The Life of A.B.(N.Y., 1931); R. Haas, A.B.(Potsdam, 1934); A. Orel, A.B., 1824-1896: Sein Leben in Bildern (Leipzig, 1936); W. Wiora, A.B.(Berlin, 1936; rev. ed., 1959); E. Schwanzara, B.s Stamm- und Urheimat (Berlin, 1937); K. Laux, A.B.: Leben und Werk (Leipzig, 1940; 2nded., 1947); W. Wolff, A.B.: Rustic Genius (N.Y., 1942); A. Machabey, La Vie et l’oeuvre d’A. B. (Paris, 1945); W. Reich, ed.,

A.B.: Ein Bild seiner Persönlichkeit (Basel, 1953); H. Redlich, B. and Mahler (London, 1955; rev. ed., 1963); P. Benary, A.B. (Leipzig, 1956); W. Abendroth, B.: Eine Bildbiographie (Munich, 1958); E. Doernberg, The Life and Symphonies of A.B.(London, 1960); L. Nowak, A.B.: Musik und Leben (Vienna, 1964); G. Wehle, A. B. im Spiegel seiner Zeitgenossen (Garmisch- Partenkirchen, 1964); J. Lassi, Das kleine Brucknerbuch (Salzburg, 1965; 2nd éd., 1972); H.-H. Schonzeler, B. (N.Y., 1970; rev. ed., 1978); J. Gallios, B. (Paris, 1971); L. Nowak, A.B.: Musik und Leben (Linz, 1973); H. Fischer, A.B.: Sein Leben (Salzburg, 1974); D. Watson, B. (London, 1975); P. Langevin, A.B., Apogée de la symphonie (Lausanne, 1977); M. Wagner, B.; Monographie (Mainz, 1983); M. Hansen, A.B. (Leipzig, 1987); S. Martinotti, A. B.(Pordenone, 1990); U. Harten, ed., B.-Ikonographie (Graz, 1990); E. Maier, A. B.: Stationen eines Lebens (Linz and Munich, 1996); H. Schaefer, A.B.: Ein Führer durch Leben und Werk (Berlin, 1996); F. Scheder, A. B. Chronologie (Tutzing, 1996); C. Howie, P. Hawkshaw, and T. Jackson, eds., Perspectives on B. (Brookfield, Vt., 2000). critical, analytical: A. Halm, Die Symphonie A. B.s (Munich, 1914; 2nd ed., 1923); A. Knapp, A.B.: Zum Verstandnis seiner Persönlichkeit und seiner Werke (Düsseldorf, 1921); A. Orel, Unbekannte Frühwerke A. B.s (Vienna, 1921); E. Schwebsch, A.B.: Ein Beitrag zur Erkenntnis von Entwicklungen in der Musik (Stuttgart, 1921; 2nd ed., 1923); K. Kobald, ed., In memoriam A.B.(Vienna, 1924); O. Lang, A.B.: Wesen und Bedeutung (Munich, 1924; 3rd ed., 1947); K. Singer, B.s Chormusik (Stuttgart, 1924); A. Orel, A.B.: Das Werk, der Kunstler, die Zeit (Vienna, 1925); R. Wickenhausen, A.B.s Symphonien: Ihr Werden und Wesen (Leipzig, 1926-27); M. Auer, A. B. als Kirchenmusiker (Regensburg, 1927); H. Grunsky, Das Formproblem in A.B.s Symphonien (Augsburg, 1929); F. Grūninger, A.B.: Der metaphysische Kern seiner Persönlichkeit und Werke (Augsburg, 1930); H. Grunsky, Formenwelt und Sinngefüge in den B.-Symphonien (2 vols., Augsburg, 1931); K. Grunsky, Fragen der B.-Auffassung (Stuttgart, 1936); A. Köberle, Bach, Beethoven, B.als Symbolgestalten des Glaubens (Berlin, 1936; 4th ed., 1941); F. Grüninger, Der Ehr-fürchtige: A.B.s Leben dem Volke erzählt (Freiburg im Breisgau, 1937); O.Loerke, A.B.: Ein Charakterbild (Berlin, 1938; 3rd ed., 1943); W. Abendroth, Die Symphonien A.B.s: Einfiihrungen (Berlin, 1940; 2nd ed., 1942); F. Wohlfahrt, A.B.s symphonisches Werk (Leipzig, 1943); P. Raabe, Wege zu B. (Regensburg, 1944); D. Newlin, B., Mahler, Schoenberg (N.Y., 1947; rev. ed., 1978); L. Nowak, Te Deum laudamus: Gedanken zur Musik A. B.s (Vienna, 1947); E. Refardt, Brahms, B., Wolf: Drei Wiener Meister des 19. Jahrhunderts (Basel, 1949); F. Griininger, Der Meister von Sankt Florian—Wege zu A. B.(Augsburg, 1950); E. Schenk, Um B.s Persönlichkeit (Vienna, 1951); G. Engel, The Symphonies of A. B.(N.Y., 1955); I. Krohn, A. B.s Symphonien: Eine Untersuchung über Formenbau und Stimmungsgehalt (3 vols., Helsinki, 1955-57); N. Tschulik, éd., A.B. im Spiegel seiner Zeit (Vienna, 1955); M. Dehnert, A.B.: Versuch einer Deutung (Leipzig, 1958); R. Simpson, B. and the Symphony (London, 1963); E Grasberger, ed., B.-Studien: Leopold Nowak zum 60. Geburtstag (Vienna, 1964); H. Winterberger, A. B. in seiner Zeit (Linz, 1964); R. Simpson, The Essence of B.: An Essay towards the Understanding of His Music (London, 1967; rev. ed., 1992); O. Wessely, ed., B.-Studien (Vienna, 1975); P. Barford, B. Symphonies (London, 1978); C. Röthig, Studien zur Systematik des Schafens von A.B. auf der Grundlage zeitgenössischer Berichte und autographer Entwürfe (Kassel, 1978); C. Floros, Brahms und B.: Studien zur musikalische Exegetik (Wiesbaden, 1980); W. Notter, Schematismus und Evolution in der Sinfonik A. B.s (Munich, 1983); T. Röder, Auf dem Weg zur B.- Symphonie: Untersuchungen zu den ersten beiden Fassungen von A. B.s dritter Symphonie (Wiesbaden, 1987); H.-H. Schòn-zeler, Zu B.s IX Symphonie: Die Krakauer Skizzen/B.s 9th Symphony: The Crakow Sketches (Vienna, 1987); C.-H. Mahling, ed., A.B. Studien zu Werk und Wirkung. Walter Wiora zum 30. Dezember 1986 (Tutzing, 1988); P. Gülke, Brahms, B.: Zwei Studien (Kassel, 1989); S. Lieberwirth, B. und Leipzig: Vom Werden und Wachsen einer Tradition (Leipzig, 1990); W. Steinbeck, A.B.: Neunte Symphonie D-Moll (Munich, 1993); E. Herhaus, Phänomen B.: Hörfragmente (Wetzlar, 1995); R. Boss, Gestalt und Funktion von Fuge und Fugato A.B.(Tutzing, 1997); T. Jackson and P. Hawkshaw, eds., B. Studies (N.Y., 1997); C. Brüstle, A.B. und die Nachwelt: Zur Rezeptionsgeschichte des Komponisten in der ersten Hǎlfte des 20. Jahrhunderts (Stuttgart, 1998). correspondence: F. Gràflinger, ed., A.B.: Gesammelte Briefe (Regens-burg, 1924); M. Auer, ed., A.B.: Gesammelte Briefe, new series (Regensburg, 1924); A. Orel, B.-Brevier: Briefe, Dokumente, Berichte (Vienna, 1953). periodicals:B. Blätter: Mitteilungen der Internationalen B.-Gesellschaft (1929-37; renamed Mitteilungen der Deutschen B.-Gesellschaft, 1939-40); Chord and Discord (1931-1; 1947 et seq.); Mitteilungsblatt der Internationalen B.-Gesellschaft (1971 et seq.); B.-Jahrbuch (1980 et seq.).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire