Psalm 150 (Bruckner)

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Psalm 150
by Anton Bruckner
Bruckner circa 1860.jpg
The composer, c. 1860
Key C major
Catalogue WAB 38
Form Psalm setting from the Luther Bible
Occasion Opening of the Internationale Ausstellung für Musik und Theatherwesen
Text Psalms 150
Language German
Performed 13 November 1892 (1892-11-13) – Musikvereinsaal, Vienna
Recorded c. 1950 (c. 1950)
Vocal SATB choir and soprano soloist
Instrumental Orchestra

Anton Bruckner's Psalm 150, WAB 38, is a setting of Psalm 150 for mixed chorus, soprano soloist and orchestra written in 1892.

Richard Heuberger asked Bruckner for a festive hymn to celebrate the opening of the exposition Internationale Ausstellung für Musik und Theatherwesen, but Bruckner did not deliver the piece in time for Heuberger's purpose.[1] The setting was premiered on 13 November 1892, conducted by Wilhelm Gericke.[2] The concert also included "a Schubert overture and Liszt's Piano Concerto in E-flat, followed by Richard Strauss' Wanderers Sturmlied and Mendelssohn's Loreley."[3]


The choir has sopranos, altos, tenors, basses, while the orchestra consists of 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones (alto, tenor and bass), contrabass tuba, timpani, strings.[4]

Unlike the other psalm settings composed some 40 years earlier, for which he used a German-language Bible approved by the Catholic Church,[5] Bruckner used this time the German-language Martin Luther Bible for the text.

The piece starts out in C major, alla breve, with a tempo marking of "Mehr langsam! Feierlich, kräftig" (More slowly! Festive, strong) as the choir sings "Hallelujah" several times before moving on to the second line of the psalm. At rehearsal letter E, marked "Bewegter" (more moving), begins the listing of instruments with which to praise God. At J, "Langsamer" (More slowly) follows "Alles, Alles lobe den Herrn" At K, with a return to the initial tempo, Bruckner repeats the opening Hallelujahs, but at L follows with "a complex fugue"[6] starting with the words "Alles, was Odem hat" once again "Langsam" (Slowly). Another return to the initial tempo at R marks the beginning of the coda with the words "Alles, alles lobe den Herrn". The theme of the fugue is related to that of the fugue of Bruckner's fifth symphony and that of the Adagio of his ninth symphony.

The last time Bruckner improvised at the organ, he used melodies from this psalm setting.[7] Psalm 150 "shares both the key and the triumphant mood of rapturous exaltation of the Te Deum."[8] In 1893, Heinrich Schenker published a critique of Bruckner's setting in the Musikalisches Wochenblatt,[9] quoting the flute in m. 43–44 and the soprano in m. 125–126 as examples of "badly constructed lines."[10]


  1. Halleluja. Lobet den Herrn in seinem Heiligthum; lobet ihn in der Feste seiner Macht;
  2. Lobet ihn in seinen Thaten; lobet ihn in seiner großen Herrlichkeit.
  3. Lobet ihn mit Posaunen; lobet ihn mit Psalter und Harfe;
  4. Lobet ihn mit Pauken und Reigen; lobet ihn mit Saiten und Pfeifen;
  5. Lobet ihn mit hellen Cymbeln; lobet ihn mit wohlklingenden Cymbeln.
  6. Alles, was Odem hat, lobe den Herrn, Halleluja.[11]

Bruckner also set Psalms 22, 112, 114 and 146 to music.


The first recording (c. 1950) was by Henry Swoboda with the Wiener Akademie-Kammerchor and the Wiener Symphoniker, LP: Westminster WAL 201 (with Symphony No. 6 and Psalm 112)

Among the ten other recordings, Hans Roelofs selects the following four recordings:


  1. ^ Grasberger
  2. ^ Grasberger
  3. ^ Grasberger
  4. ^ Anton Bruckner Critical Complete Edition – Psalms and Magnificat
  5. ^ Die Heilige Schrift des alten und neuen Testamentes, Dritter Band (mit Approbation des apostolischen Stuhles), 4. Auflage, Landshut, 1839
  6. ^ Watson, p. 96
  7. ^ Meier, p. 50
  8. ^ Watson, p. 96
  9. ^ Rast, p. 123
  10. ^ Larry Laskowski, Heinrich Schenker: an annotated index to his analyses of musical works, Pendragon Press, New York, 1978, p. 80
  11. ^ Die Bibel, oder die ganze Heilige Schrift des alten und neuen Testaments, nach der deutsche Übersetzung D. Martin Luthers, abgedruckt nach der Hallischen Ausgabe, 1839, p. 683


  • Max Auer, Anton Bruckner als Kirchenmusiker, Gustav Bosse Verlag, Regensburg, 1927, pp. 187–200
  • Franz Grasberger, Foreword to Anton Bruckner: Sämtliche Werke: Band 20 Teil 6: Psalm 150: Studienpartitur, Musikwissenschaftlicher Verlag der Internationalen Bruckner-Gesellschaft, Richard Rickett (translator), Vienna, 1964
  • Paul Hawkshaw, "Bruckner's large sacred compositions" The Cambridge Companion to Bruckner edited by John Williamson, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2004
  • Keith William Kinder, The Wind and Wind-Chorus Music of Anton Bruckner, Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut, 2000
  • Timothy Jackson, "Bruckner's 'Oktaven'", Music & Letters, 78, No. 3, 1997
  • Lee T. Lovallo, "Mass no. 3 in f minor" – Anton Bruckner: a Discography, Rowman & Littlefield, New York, 1991
  • Elisabeth Meier, "An "inner" biography of Bruckner" Bruckner Studies edited by Timothy L. Jackson and Paul Hawkshaw, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1997
  • Leopold Nowak, Preface to Anton Bruckner: Sämtliche Werke: Band 18: Messe F-Moll: Studienpartitur Musikwissenschaftlicher Verlag der Internationalen Bruckner-Gesellschaft, Christl Schönfeldt (translator), Vienna, 1960
  • Nicholas Rast, "A checklist of Essays and Reviews by Heinrich Schenker", Music Analysis, 7 No. 2, Blackwell Publishing, 1988
  • Hans Ferdinand Redlich, Preface to Mass in F minor (revision of 1881), Ernst Eulenburg Ltd, London, 1967
  • Hans-Hubert Schönzeler, Bruckner, Marion Boyars, London, 1978.
  • Robert Simpson, The Essence of Bruckner: An essay towards the understanding of his music, Victor Gollancz Ltd, London, 1967
  • Derek Watson, Bruckner, J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd, London, 1975

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