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Anton Bruckner

1824 - 1896

Anton Bruckner (4 September 1824 – 11 October 1896) was an Austrian composer known for his symphoniesmasses, and motets. The first are considered emblematic of the final stage of Austro-German Romanticism because of their rich harmonic language, strongly polyphonic character, and considerable length. Bruckner's compositions helped to define contemporary musical radicalism, owing to their dissonances, unprepared modulations, and roving harmonies.

Unlike other musical radicals such as Richard Wagner and Hugo Wolf who fit the enfant terrible mould, Bruckner showed extreme humility before other musicians, Wagner in particular. This apparent dichotomy between Bruckner the man and Bruckner the composer hampers efforts to describe his life in a way that gives a straightforward context for his music.

(b. Ansfelden, September 4, 1824; d. Vienna, October 11, 1896)

Austrian composer. As the first Romantic composer to take up what Deryck Cooke called the “metaphysical challenge” of Beethoven’s Ninth, Bruckner renewed the symphony as an expression of transcendent emotion and a confession of personal faith. He received early instruction on the violin and organ from his father, a village schoolmaster and church organist; after his father’s death in 1837 he entered the school at the Augustinian monastery of St. Florian as a chorister, studying organ, piano violin, and theory. In 1845 he returned to St. Florian as an assistant teacher; he remained there for the next ten years, playing the organ and piano, studying the music of Bach, and composing a Requiem and a Missa solemnis, his first significant works.

Feeling that he needed further instruction in theory, he went to Vienna in 1855 to study with Simon Sechter (1788-1867); later that year he auditioned for, and easily won, the job of cathedral organist in Linz, where he remained for 13 years. He continued his study with Sechter by correspondence until 1861, at which point he took an examination at the Vienna Conservatory so that he would be qualified to teach harmony and counterpoint. After hearing him improvise at the organ, Johann Herbeck (1831-77), one of the examiners, exclaimed: “He should have examined us!” In 1862, he sought instruction in orchestration and symphonic form from Otto Kitzler (1834-1915), conductor at the municipal theater in Linz. As part of his work with Kitzler he studied the music of Richard Wagner for the first time; inspired by its revolutionary and sublime effects, he set off in pursuit of symphonic grandeur. He quickly found his own voice, already apparent in his Symphony No. 1 in C minor (1865-66) and the Masses in E minor (1866) andF minor (1867-68).

In 1868, at the age of 44, Bruckner went to Vienna to succeed Sechter as professor of theory at the conservatory; he would reside in the Austrian capital for the rest of his life. Despite notable triumphs, including the premieres of his Symphonies Nos. 4 and 7 (in 1881 and 1884 respectively), Bruckner’s doubts about his abilities fed his habit of revising his work: Hermann Levi’s unfavorable opinion of his monumental Symphony No. 8, which he completed in 1887, caused him to spend three years revising. He then set about revising several of his earlier works, including Symphonies Nos. 1, 2, and 3. He began work on his Symphony No. 9 in 1891, completing the first three movements by 1894 but leaving the finale unfinished at the time of his death.

Bruckner was a devout Catholic whose innermost thoughts and feelings centered on his religious beliefs—faith in God and in the mysteries of the Church permeated his life and his work as a musician. He was also one of music’s greatest late bloomers: All of his mature works date from after his 40th year. On the outside, he appeared to be a humble musician from the provinces whose awkwardness and self-doubt led many to dismiss him as a country bumpkin. On the inside, he was a powerful, visionary musical thinker whose symphonies were among the supreme accomplishments of the late 19th century. The expansive formal structures he erected, especially in Symphonies Nos. 5, 7, 8, and 9, together with the innovative rhythmic, motivic, and harmonic procedures he devised to achieve narrative continuity across vast spans of time, contributed powerfully to the advancement of symphonic language and opened the door to some of the greatest works of the 20th century, not least the symphonies of Mahler and Sibelius. With his Symphony No. 7, Bruckner succeeded in combining visionary expression with a broad yet cogent development of his material. The radiant opening subject of its first movement is one of the most beautiful ideas he would ever conceive. The mystical tranquillity and paroxysmal ecstasy he expressed in the slow movement of this symphony, and with even greater fervor in the slow movement of No.8, remain unique in the symphonic canon, as does the desolate, mysterious beauty of the Ninth.

Key Works

Symphony No. 4 "Romantic"

I. Bewegt, nicht zu schnell (0:09)
II. Andante, quasi allegretto (15:25)
III. Scherzo. Bewegt - Trio: Nicht zu schnell (29:05)
IV. Finale: Bewegt, doch nicht zu schnell (40:00)

Symphony No 5 in B Major

1. Adagio - Allegro
2. Adagio, sehr langsam
3. Scherzo - Molto vivace
4. Finale: Adagio - Allegro moderato

Symphony No. 7 in E

  1. Allegro moderato.

  2. Adagio.

  3. Scherzo. Sehr schnell. A scherzo in A minor, with a trio in F major.

  4. Finale.

 Symphony No. 8 in C minor

1. Allegro moderato
2. Scherzo. Allegro moderato - Trio, langsam
3. Adagio. Feierlich langsam, doch nicht schleppend
4. Finale. Fierlich, nicht schnell

 Symphony No 9 in D Minor

String Quintet in F Major

Te Deum in C Major

1.Te Deum laudamus 0:00
2.Te ergo 6:52
3.Aeterna fac 9:40
4.Salvum fac 11:28
In Te Domine speravi 18:28


Mass No 1 in D minor WAB 26

1. Kyrie - Alla breve - mehr langsam (D minor)
2. Gloria - Allegro (D major)
3. Credo - Moderato (D major)
4. Sanctus - Moderato (D major)
5. Benedictus - Moderato (G major) — Osanna - Allegro moderato (D major)
6. Agnus Dei - Andante quasi Allegretto (G minor) — Dona nobis - Allegro moderato (D major)

Mass No. 2 in E minor WAB 27

1. Kyrie – Ruhig Sostenuto, E minor
2. Gloria – Allegro, C major
3. Credo – Allegro, C major
4. Sanctus – Andante, G major
5. Benedictus – Moderato, C major
6. Agnus Dei – Andante, E minor veering to E major

Mass No 3 in F minor "Grosse Messe"

Mass N° 3 in F minor/f-moll/en fa mineur
1. I Kyrie 00:00 
2. II Gloria 10:23
3. III Credo 20:25 
4. IV Sanctus 37:55 
5. V Benedictus 40:10
6. VI Agnus Dei 48:28

Symphonies by Anton Bruckner
Symphony in F minor completed in 1863. 

Symphony No. 1 in C minor completed in 1866, but the original manuscript of this symphony was not reconstructed until 1998. Instead, it is commonly known in two versions, the so-called Linz Version – based mainly on rhythmical revisions made in Vienna in 1877 – and the completely revised Vienna Version of 1891.

Symphony in D minor of 1869, the so-called "Symphony No. 0" ("Die Nullte").

Symphony in B-flat major
Bruckner's next attempt was a sketch of the first movement to a Symphony in B-flat major, but he did no further work on it afterwards.

Symphony No. 2 in C minor of 1872 was revised in 1873, 1876, 1877 and 1892. 

Symphony No. 3 in D minor composed in 1873. 

Symphony No. 4 in E-flat major
Bruckner's Symphony No. 4 in E-flat major was his first great success. It is more commonly known as the Romantic Symphony, the only epithet applied to a symphony by the composer himself. The 1874 version has been seldom played; success came in 1878 but only after major revisions, including a completely new scherzo and finale, and again in 1880–1, once again with a completely rewritten finale. This version was premiered in 1881 (under the conductor Hans Richter). Bruckner made more minor revisions of this symphony in 1886–8.

Symphony No. 5 in B-flat major
Bruckner's Symphony No. 5 in B-flat major crowns his most productive era of symphony-writing, finished at the beginning of 1876. Until recently we knew only the thoroughly revised version of 1878.

Symphony No. 6 in A major written in 1879 to 1881

Symphony No. 7 in E major written 1881–1883 and revised in 1885. 

Symphony No. 8 in C minor composition in 1884. In 1887 Bruckner sent the work to Hermann Levi, the conductor who had led his Seventh to great success. 

Symphony No. 9 in D minor
The final accomplishment of Bruckner's life was to be his Symphony No. 9 in D minor, which he started in August 1887, and which he dedicated "To God the Beloved." 

6 Famous Choir Works

1. Ave Maria 
2. Afferentur regi 3:36
3. Pange lingua 5:10
4. Locus iste 9:56
5. O justi 13:08
6. Christus factus est 17:23

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