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Anton Bruckner

The Man and the Work

Constantin Floros

While unappreciated and controversial during most of his life, Anton Bruckner is today regarded as the greatest symphonist between Beethoven and Gustav Mahler – in terms of originality, boldness and monumentality of his music. The image of Bruckner the man, however, is still extreme instance of the tenacious power of prejudice. No less a figure than Gustav Mahler coined the aperçu about Bruckner being «a simpleton – half genius, half imbecile». The author is out to correct that misperception. His thesis in this study is that contrary to what has hitherto been asserted, there is an intimate relation between Bruckner’s sacred music and his symphonies from multiple perspectives: biographical data, sources and influences, the psychology of creation, musical structure, contemporary testimony and reception history. Additional chapters assess important Bruckner recordings and interpreters and the progressiveness of his music.
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Works by Anton Bruckner


The Anton Bruckner Complete Edition has the merit of presenting the works of the master cleansed of all foreign additions and edited, in a philologially impeccable form, in the sound-shape intended by the composer. But one has to distinguish between the “Old” and the “New” Gesamtausgabe. The Old edition, under the direction of Robert Haas, presented Bruckner’s larger works between 1930 and 1944. The New, critical Edition, supervised for decades by Leopold Nowak and published in 1951 by the Musikwissenschaftliche Verlag in Vienna, differs from the Old not only by its degree of completeness but also in that the individual versions of the symphonies are edited separately. Today, Bruckner’s music is generally played the world over in accordance with the New Complete Edition (“Blue Series”).

The first register of the works of Anton Bruckner (WAB), edited by Renate Grasberger and published in Tutzing in 1977, orders and numbers Bruckner’s compositions by genre: sacred vocal (choral) music (WAB 1-54), secular vocal music (WAB 55-95), orchestral works (WAB 96-109), chamber music (WAB 220-223), wind ensembles (WAB 114-116) and organ compositions (WAB 125-131). A second, more complete edition of the register is in preparation.

The following lists only those works of Bruckner’s that have been discussed in detail here. Unless otherwise noted, references to the Gesamtausgabe are always to the New Edition.

Sacred Music

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