Anton Bruckner

Symphony No. 7

Explained using the 5-4-3-2-1 Method

Duration: Approx. 65 Minutes
Genre: Symphony
Time of Creation: 1881–1883
World Premiere: December 30, 1884 (Leipzig)

Table of Contents

Bruckner's 7th Symphony in 5 Sentences

Symphony No. 7 was a turning point in Bruckner’s life – finally, he was appreciated for his musical work. At that time, Bruckner was already 60 years old. Great influence on the fact that the Symphony No. 7 became a rapid world success had the premiere conductor Arthur Nikisch: he made the work palatable to the audience with introductions to the work (like me here, hehe 😉). It is curious that in Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7 two percussionists have to be engaged, each of whom has to play only a single note (and this at the same time).

Note: This work belongs to the Classical Music Top 100.

4 Highlights from Bruckner's 7th Symphony

Highlight 1: Infinite melody

Bruckner’s 7th Symphony begins with a loooong drawn-out cello melody dripping with romanticism. One can speak here of a so-called “infinite melody,” even though this term was originally used for the works of Richard Wagner:

Highlight 2: Funeral music

The second movement is often referred to, along with the Funeral March in Beethoven’s “Eroica”, as the most stirring funeral music of the 19th century. Here, Bruckner was dealing with the death of Richard Wagner (see also the quote below), which he probably anticipated:

Highlight 3: a bit of program music

There is a bit of program music in the third movement: on December 08, 1881, there had been a great fire catastrophe in Vienna. The Ringtheater had burned down, there were almost 400 dead. Bruckner had his apartment very close to the Ringtheater at that time. In the third movement of his 7th Symphony, he composes the haste with which he rushed to his apartment to save his compositions. We hear a brass signal particularly prominently, which was characteristic of communication between fire departments at the time:

Highlight 4: Multiple run-ups to the finale

The conclusion of Bruckner’s Seventh is tremendous. Several times the music seems to “start up” but find no breakthrough until at last the radiant ending is reached:

3 Questions and Answers about Bruckner's 7th Symphony

Question 1: How many symphonies did Bruckner write?

Bruckner wrote 9 symphonies, but worked on others that remained fragments.

Question 2: To whom did Anton Bruckner dedicate his Symphony No. 7?

Anton Bruckner dedicated his Symphony No. 7 to Ludwig II of Bavaria.

Question 3: Who premiered Bruckner's Symphony No. 7?

The first performance was given by the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under the baton of conductor Arthur Nikisch.

2 Recommended Recordings of Bruckner's 7th symphony

Recording 1: NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, Günter Wand (live, 1999)

Conductor Günter Wand’s Bruckner interpretations are absolute classics:

Recording 2: hr-Sinfonieorchester, Christoph Eschenbach (live, 2018)

A more recent recording is by the hr-Sinfonieorchester conducted by Christoph Eschenbach:

1 Quote about Bruckner's 7th Symphony

Once I came home and was quite sad; I thought to myself, the master cannot live much longer. Then I wrote the C-sharp minor Adagio.

Bruckner about the creation of the 2nd movement of his Symphony No. 7; with the "master" Richard Wagner is meant.

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