Anton Bruckner

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Bruckner, who struggled for recognition his whole life, arrives in heaven. Liszt and Wagner rush to greet him, followed by Schubert, Schumann and Weber. Mozart explains to Beethoven the significance, with Gluck and Haydn. Handel stands at the top with arms open while Bach plays the organ. Silhouette by Otto Böhler.

Joseph Anton Bruckner (1824-1896) was an Austrian composer. He is mostly known for his symphonies, masses, and motets. By all accounts, Bruckner was brilliant and gifted pipe organist.

Bruckner wrote 9 symphonies, many of which exist in revised versions, some by himself and some by his students, or later students of orchestration. Bruckner died before being able to complete his 9th symphony, leaving behind a nearly completed sketch. For the next 100 years students of orchestration have attempted to complete it, the most recent being in 2017.

Bruckner's work lends itself well to students of orchestration, in that Bruckner himself was never completely satisfied and students have attempted to fix some of the problems that exist. Nevertheless, Bruckner's symphony's are noted for astounding augmented brass chorals and magnificent codas and finales.

Bruckner is perhaps the only composer who is noted for having written a Symphony 0 and a Symphony 00, two early attempts at symphonic writing discovered long after his death.

Gustav Mahler was a student of Bruckner. Bruno Walter has described Bruckner as a stepping stone to Mahler.


Anton Bruckner lived his entire life in the monastery of St. Florian in Austria, never married, and gave his life to music serving as the monastery's organist. Bruckner's hero was Beethoven, studied him constantly, and at the age of 40 tried his hand at symphonic writing, adapting Wagnerian harmonic and orchestral innovations of the mid and late Romantic era.

Audiences were sometimes not very receptive to Bruckner's early works, laughing and walking out. But reviews were mixed. After a performance of his 5th Symphony, an excited young man once approached Bruckner and told him it was the greatest thing he ever heard since Beethoven. Bruckner was such a simple man, he reached in his pocket and gave the young man a silver coin, saying "I've waited my whole life to hear someone say that."

Bruckner actually did enjoy some public success in later life after meeting with and dedicating a symphony to Richard Wagner. Wagner, who was critical of many of his contemporaries - including Johannes Brahms for not adapting Wagner's ideas and using the old symphonic form - said if he (Wagner) ever had time to write symphonies, they would be something like Bruckner's. Brahms called Bruckner "a drunkard" and composer of "symphonic boa-constrictors."

The second movement of Bruckner's 7th Symphony premiered at Wagner's funeral.

Although Wagner is often equated with the development of cinema and film soundtracks, direct quotes from Bruckner actually were used more often immediately following the end of the silent film era, the 1939 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame being one of the more famous.