Most composers have at some time revised their works to some extent, although few have done so as fastidiously as Bruckner.
An embrace of clarity and comfort
Most composers have at some time revised their works to some extent, although few have done so as fastidiously as Bruckner. This has even resulted in the coining of the term The Bruckner Problem to describe the difficulty in understanding his true intentions. His Symphony No. 4 is among his most revised works, as well as being one of his most beloved.
Anton Bruckner was born in a village outside the Austrian city of Linz in 1824. He demonstrated a facility for the organ in childhood and made his living as an organist and teacher for many years. In 1868, he accepted a position teaching music theory at the Vienna Conservatory, later moving to Vienna University.
While in Vienna, he found himself drawn into the bitter and pointless feud between proponents of Brahms and admirers of Wagner, with choleric critics and music lovers dramatically and loudly construing opposition between the two composers and their music in order to enhance their own influence and positions. This naturally had ramifications for the art and artists, given that the critics had the ear of the public and their patrons.
Bruckner and Wagner shared a mutual admiration, both personally and musically, and their friendship left Bruckner open to reprisals and ridicule from influential critics. This was a difficult climate for Bruckner, by nature a modest and insecure man, but somehow he managed to persevere. Although this antagonism against Bruckner eased with his Symphony No. 4 and its premiere in February 1881 proved to be his breakthrough, he was by then already 57 years of age.
The Symphony begins tentatively with a distant horn and strings proclaiming the dawning of a new day. The second theme consists of a descending melody, arranged in what has come to be called the Bruckner rhythm: two crotches plus three triplets, or 1-2 1-2-3, 1-2 1-2-3, etc. This rhythm is repeated throughout much of the first movement and also occurs in many of Bruckner’s other works, Symphonies 2, 6 and 8 among them. This repetition is hypnotic, etching the melody into the listener’s brain.
The second movement is low-key and internalised as if in prayer or meditation. Like the first movement, the third begins with a horn, although with an entirely different temperament much more akin to riding or hunting.
In the final movement, the music moves powerfully, rolling in swelling phrases. After an extended diminuendo, the finale commences with horns and woodwind accompanied by the drone of underlying strings, with a steady rhythmic pulse in the triplets. The music slowly climbs in pitch, intensity and strength until finally and exquisitely enveloping the audience in love, comfort and clarity.
If one compares this revised ending to the one written by Bruckner in early 1874, it is easy to be filled with gratitude for the composer’s endless tinkering with his score. That is not to say that the original is in any way substandard, but it is a terrifying thought that the world might never have experienced the magic conjured in those final minutes
Malmö SymfoniOrkester (MSO) grundades 1925 och består av ca 90 heltidsanställda yrkesmusiker från nästan 20 länder. Orkestern är stolt bärare av den traditionella symfoniska repertoaren, men strävar också efter att föra den symfoniska musiken framåt genom samarbeten med nutida tonsättare och utveckling av nya konsertkoncept.
Flera inspelningar med Malmö SymfoniOrkester har under åren blivit internationellt uppmärksammade med första pris i tävlingar som Cannes Classical Awards och Diapason d’Or. I augusti 2013 inledde orkestern tillsammans med chefsdirigent Marc Soustrot det omfattande arbetet att spela in all symfonisk musik av Camille Saint-Saëns, allt som allt åtta CDs, på skivbolaget Naxos.
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Bertrand de Billy dirigent
Med sin imponerande musikaliska bredd har Parisfödde Bertrand de Billy blivit ett aktat namn i dirigentvärlden. Han har samarbetat med alla de stora operahusen som Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House Covent Garden i London samt Staatsoper i Wien, Berlin, Hamburg och München. Men trots denna toppnivå som operadirigent har de Billy åren 2002–2010 även varit chefsdirigent för ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien, förste gästdirigent för Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne och han är nu förste gästdirigent för Dresdner Philharmonie. Repertoaren sträcker sig över de stora operaverken till orkesterverk från många epoker, inte minst nutida musik. De Billy har även en lång CD- och DVD-lista.
Last updated 2019-12-17
DURATION: approax. 1 hour 10 minutes
Bruckner Symphony No 4
Malmö Symohony Orchestra
Bertrand de Billy, conductor
Concert introduction at the Canal stage 6pm with Adam Wozniak (In english)
ORGANIZER: Malmö Live Konserthus