Explore the works of

A preview of our collection of performances featuring the works of Josef Anton Bruckner, whose rich, layered, and, oftentimes, lengthy symphonies have grown synonymous with the final stage of Austro-German Romanticism.

About Bruckner

Over a century after his death, the fact Austrian composer and organist Josef Anton Bruckner’s (1824 - 1896) work continues to move audiences all over the world is a testament to his undying musical sensibilities. One could argue, however, that Bruckner would have preferred to not be described as a genius; unlike other musical radicals such as Richard Wagner and Hugo Wolf, Bruckner genuflected before his peers - particularly Wagner - and was rather critical of his own works, which he tweaked continuously. Hans von Bülow described him as ‘half genius, half simpleton’, and his life-long predisposition to humility would probably lead Bruckner to agree.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Bruckner was a notably late bloomer, having only composed his major works after turning 39. Still, he was interested in music from an early age; born in Ansfelden, Upper Austria, he was brought up playing violin and organ with his father, the village schoolmaster. When Bruckner was 13, his father died, and he became a young chorister at the monastery-school of St Florian. With no prospects of becoming a musician due to his family’s poverty, Bruckner trained to be a school teacher, which led him to work in Windhaag, Kronstorf, and St Florian once again.

1855 went on to be a pivotal year for Bruckner’s life and career, as it was then, as organist at Linz Cathedral, that the newly-minted musician embarked on a five-year course in harmony and counterpoint with the Viennese pedagogue Simon Sechter. He would later study orchestration under Otto Kitzler who, in 1863, introduced Bruckner to Wagner’s work for the first time. An enormous inspiration was then unlocked - and music history was made.

Shortly after, Bruckner started calling Vienna his home - he later taught at the university there, too. The next three decades saw him grow to be an extremely prolific composer, despite the constant struggle to get his orchestral work performed - particularly after the so-called ‘disastrous’ 1877 premiere of the Third Symphony. It took until his seventh for Bruckner to finally get his flowers, in the work's Leipzig premiere in 1884. And, even, then, ever the perfectionist, Bruckner would continue to tirelessly revise and rework his compositions until his death from heart failure on 11 October 1896. He is buried in the crypt of St Florian, which is, arguably, where he also spawned as a hopeful composer.

Bruckner's work, and his symphonies in particular, remain unmatched in the romantic repertoire world. Musicologist Deryck Cooke perhaps put it best when he said; 'Bruckner's symphonies offer a sense of the awe-inspiring, born of the naked wonder, fear and delight of elemental humanity, confronted by the mysterious beauty and power of nature and the vast riddle of the cosmos'. Clearly, despite his mounting insecurities, Bruckner (who went on the be the influence he sought out for millions, including a certain Gustav Mahler) was and continues to be one of the most significant voices in music of the nineteenth century and beyond.

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