The Kennedy Center

Anton Bruckner


Anton Bruckner was born in Ansfelden, Austria on September 4, 1824. His parents, devout Catholics, had eleven children. Only five survived. Bruckner received his earliest musical training at home from his parents. His mother was a singer in the parish church and his father played the organ there. Following his father's death in 1837, Bruckner's mother succeeded in having him become a choir boy at the nearby St. Florian monastery.

While there, he obtained a well-rounded education. Once his voice changed, he moved on to positions as an organist—first at St. Florian (for ten years) and later at the Linz Cathedral (for 13 years). From Linz he moved on to Vienna, where he remained for the rest of his life.

Although he taught to support himself, Bruckner's primary area of professional endeavor was composing. In Vienna he came to know Wagner (both personally and through his music). While he was definitely influenced by Wagner, he was not a Wagnerian. His symphonies differed in spirit from Wagner's work and reflected Bruckner's deep piety and religious upbringing. In essence, they were akin to religious dwellings amenable to listeners in search of the sublime. He wrote nine symphonies (with the last one remaining uncompleted at his death). In contrast to the ready acceptance of his religious works, his secular works received harsh criticism. The Vienna Philharmonic refused to perform several of his early symphonies, declaring them to be without form and unplayable.

Bruckner's confidence was adversely affected by the public reaction to his work. He even allowed others to rewrite portions of his early works, in an effort to make them more palatable to the public. However, in the 1880s audiences began to appreciate his work and recognized its distsinctiveness. His seventh symphony enjoyed much success. Thanks to it, Bruckner's works were heard increasingly in concert halls across Germany and the rest of Europe.

While working on his ninth symphony, Bruckner died quietly at home on October 11, 1896.
Anton Bruckner


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