Bruckner, Anton

Bruckner, Anton
   One of late 19th-century Austria’s most noted composers, and a prodigiously gifted organist, Anton Bruckner was born in Upper Austria. While teaching school in 1848, Bruckner became the organist at the monastery of St. Florian, where he is buried under the instrument. From 1855 to 1868, he held the same position in the cathedral of Linz, the provincial capital. At the same time he studied composition and music theory in Vienna. In 1868, he became professor of music theory at the Vienna Conservatory and the imperial chapel organist. From 1875 to 1892, he lectured regularly on harmony and counterpoint at the University of Vienna, the first person to hold such an appointment.
   A deeply devout Catholic who interrupted his classes to observe the angelus, Bruckner ranks with Franz Liszt as a composer of important choral works for the church. It is, however, his massive symphonies, nine in all, that are most widely performed today. Several of these he rewrote obsessively. An admirer of the work of Richard Wagner, he worked in dense and repeated blocks of sound, which have a powerful cumulative impact upon a listener. The Fourth is perhaps the best example. Considerable melodic inspiration and richly inventive orchestration, a by-product of long years spent at the organ, enabled Bruckner to avoid the tedium always lurking in his larger musical strategy.
   Bruckner and Wagner were targets of relentless criticism from the influential Viennese music critic Eduard Hanslick, who championed the classical structure in the music of yet another contemporary in Vienna, Johannes Brahms (1893–1897).

Historical dictionary of Austria. . 2014.

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