Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony: A Cosmic Return Home

Gustav Mahler famously described Anton Bruckner (1824-1896), as “half simpleton, half God.” Indeed, Bruckner was an eccentric figure marked by contradictions. Although he spent the latter part of his life in cosmopolitan Vienna, he never shed his rural Upper Austrian roots. An eminent organist who was long employed at the Augustin monastery of St. Florian, Bruckner was devout and unshakable in his religious faith. At the same time, he suffered periods of …

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Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony, Reverent and Terrifying

Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7 in E major enters strangely mystical territory. The hushed intensity of its opening string tremolo seems to emerge out of silence. The first movement gradually begins to unfold from an expansive theme which, according to some accounts, came to Bruckner in a dream. It’s simultaneously serene and ghostly, reverent and terrifying. It hints at majestic, awe-inspiring, mysterious, and even frightening aspects of the sacred. In Bruckner’s music we sense …

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