Saturday, December 17, 2005


Anton Bruckner

An imposing figure, for a time comparatively obscure, though early recognized as an organist of superlative ability, and almost suddenly, late in life, elevated to great prominence by enthusiastic admirers, was Anton Bruckner.

Bruckner was born September 4, 1824, in Upper Austria. Circumstances compelled him to study by himself, but so great was his talent, and his diligence, that he soon became an organist and contrapuntist of extraordinary ability. In 1855 he was appointed organist at Linz, prevailing over many rival applicants. In 1867 he became Court-organist in Vienna; in 1875, lecturer at the Vienna university, receiving from that institution the honorary degree of Doctor of Music in 1891. In 1869 he journeyed to France, and in 1871 to England, establishing his reputation as the greatest organist of his time. His First Symphony was composed in 1868; the Seventh, the first to engage the serious attention of the musical public, in 1884. His death occurred October 11, 1896, in Vienna.

There are certain points of contact between Bruckner and his close contemporary, Cesar Franck. Both were of a shy, gentle disposition, devoutly religious, with less sense of the realities of life than of poetic or spiritual visions; both were eminent organists and consummate contrapuntists. Both were assiduous and influential teachers: among the numerous pupils of Bruckner were Felix Mottl, Arthur Nikisch, Gustav Mahler and Emil Paur.

The strongest artistic prepossession of Bruckner was his overwhelming reverence for the personality and the music of Wagner; and despite the uncommon vigor of his own genius, he was unable to withstand Wagner's influence, and to avoid rather frequent obvious imitation of his style. Bruckner's conception was fitful, unsteady, not always subjected to proper control; in consequence, his Movements are almost all too long, and devoid of balance and essential contrast. But he was profoundly sincere and earnest, and his style manifests much genuine power, dignity, nobility, and times even grandeur.


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