Bruckner’s Mass No. 3 in F Minor: Entering Symphonic Dimensions

Anton Bruckner’s mighty Mass No. 3 in F minor emerged at a pivotal moment in the composer’s life. In a way similar to the music which Beethoven composed following the Heiligenstadt Testament, it can be heard as a majestic expression of faith and gratitude. Beethoven’s contemplation and ultimate triumphant rejection of suicide in the face of progressive hearing loss is well known. A nervous breakdown in the spring of 1867 led to …

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Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony: An Awe-Inspiring Contrapuntal Edifice

“Music is liquid architecture; architecture is frozen music,” said the eighteenth century German writer, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major may be the most architectural symphony ever written. Constructed with monumental building blocks which are assembled according to principles of balance, proportion, and repetition, its four movements add up to a majestic and soaring musical structure. It takes us on a gradual, time-altering procession which requires that …

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1963 Telecast: Hindemith Leads the CSO in Music of Hindemith, Bruckner, Brahms

In 1963, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra was in transition. The French conductor, Jean Martinon, was beginning his five-year tenure as music director following the death of the legendary Fritz Reiner. Over the preceding ten years, the fierce and autocratic Reiner had turned the CSO into what Igor Stravinsky called, “the most precise and flexible orchestra in the world.” We hear the ensemble Reiner built in all of its glory in this April 7, …

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Three Bruckner Motets: “Virga Jesse,” “Tota pulchra es,” “Ave Maria,”

The symphonies of Anton Bruckner are monumental musical edifices which revel in the mystery of the divine. As the musicologist Deryck Cooke noted, Bruckner’s symphonies are “elemental and metaphysical.” Their “majesty and grandeur” is revealed gradually, in a way similar to the experience of walking around a medieval cathedral and observing the same mighty structure from different vantage points. Bruckner’s sacred motets offer a microcosm of this experience. They occupy the timeless, ethereal sound …

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Remembering Bernard Haitink

Bernard Haitink, the renowned Dutch conductor and violinist, has passed away. He was 92. Haitink served as chief conductor of Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra from 1961 to 1988. Additionally, he was principal conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra (1967-1979), music director of the Glyndebourne Opera (1978-1988), music director of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden from (1987-2002), chief conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden (2002-2004), principal guest conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (1995-2004), …

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Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony: Nature and the Call of the Horn

The Fourth is the only symphony to which Anton Bruckner added a subtitle, “Romantic.” The word might bring to mind the mythical operas of Wagner and the triumph of the individual in a world filled with struggle and pathos. Yet, Bruckner’s “Romantic” Symphony inhabits territory which is more cosmic and elemental. It is the world of nature, punctuated by the mystical call of the horn, with its ancient hunting connotations. Many years after …

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Bruckner’s Te Deum: A Hymn of Praise

Each of Anton Bruckner’s nine symphonies can be heard as a reflection of the divine. Bruckner seems to have approached composition with the tireless discipline, devotion, and humility that he brought to his steadfast Catholic faith. Each of his symphonies sets out on the same expansive and meditative journey, reveling in awesome, cosmic Powers, haunting mystery, and an ultimate sense of serene majesty. The Te Deum, completed in 1884, compliments Bruckner’s symphonic output …

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