The Requiem in D minor WAB 39 by Anton Bruckner is a setting of the Missa pro defunctis for mixed choir, vocal soloists, three trombones, one horn, strings and organ with figured bass, written to memorialize Franz Sailer, the notary of the St. Florian monastery, who bequeathed Bruckner a Bösendorfer piano. The Requiem was premiered on September 15, 1849, a year after Sailer's death.
- Introit: Requiem - Andante, D minor
- Sequence: Dies irae - Allegro, D minor
- Sanctus - Andante, D minor
- Benedictus - Andante, B-flat major - a solo horn replaces one of the trombones
- Agnus Dei and Communion
Total duration: about 37 minutes
The Requiem is most likely Bruckner's "first truly large-scale composition and probably his first significant work." "[It] is amazing what he achieved, especially if we look at the great double fugue of the Quam olim Abrahae, written at least six years before he even commenced his thorough contrapuntal studies with Simon Sechter!" "The Requiem was Bruckner's first larger-scale composition and also his first work with orchestra. As a highly self-critical seventy-year-old, Bruckner passed judgement on the work as follows: ‘It is not bad!’."
There is clear influence of Mozart throughout the work. "[There] are many passages reminiscent of what was even then, in 1848/49, a past age (the very opening points irresistibly to Mozart's Requiem in the same key), and though the very inclusion of a figured bass for organ continuo strikes one as backward looking, there are already several flashes of the later, great Bruckner to come." "[Despite it] is by no means a perfect masterpiece, … [it] can be said to be the first full demonstration that the young man was a composer of inestimable promise."
"[The] expressively reticent opening of the opening of the Requiem, with his softly shifting syncopations in the strings … already faintly anticipates one or two of his own symphonic passages in the two earlier D minor symphonies, for instance Nos. ‘0’ and 3. … [We] cannot escape the solemn beauty of this music, which already has the authentic atmosphere of natural genius."
"During the years following the composition of the Requiem, Bruckner wrote a number of small choral works as well as two works on a larger canvas: a Magnificat (1852) and the Missa solemnis in B-flat minor (1854). Strangely enough these do not quite measure up to the qualities inherent in the earlier Requiem."
Unlike the later Masses, Bruckner never revised this setting. Still, there are three different editions in the Gesamtausgabe: the first, by Robert Haas in 1930, added a lot of dynamics markings but ignored some of Bruckner's hairpins; the second, by Leopold Nowak in 1966, corrected these oversights but retained antique clefs for the vocal parts, (that is, different C-clefs for soprano, alto and tenor); the third edition, by Rüdiger Bornhöft in 1998, modernised the clefs (treble for all but bass) and corrected minor errors.
The Requiem remains still somewhat in the background of other Bruckner's works. Most of the about 20 recordings of it are live performances, which were not brought to the commercial market.
The LP-recording by Schönzeler in 1970 was a pioneer and remained for years the best recording.
Best’s excellent CD-recording in 1988 has supplanted Schönzeler’s one and is still, according to Hans Roelofs, currently the reference.
The recording of Farnberger of 1997 with the Instrumentalensemble St. Florian and the St. Florianer Sängerknaben provides the work with some special touch of authenticity.
Out of the more recent recordings, Roelofs picks out Janssens' recording of 2006 with the Laudantes Consort.
The recently re-issued recording of Beuerle with the Laubacher Kantorei (1972) agrees with the romantic tradition.
The recently issued recording by Jürgen Jürgens with the Monteverdi Choir (1984) is an excellent performance, which radiates warm kindheartedness with contained mourning.
- Requiem & 4 Orchestral Pieces, Hans-Hubert Schönzeler conducting the Alexandra Choir and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Robert Munns (Organ), LP: Unicorn UNS 210, 1970
- Requiem in D minor, Hans Michael Beuerle conducting the Laubacher Kantorei and the Instrumental-Ensemble Werner Keltsch, LP: Cantate 658 231, 1972.
This long out-of-print LP has recently been transferred to CD: Klassic Haus KHCD 2011-092 (with Psalm 146 by Wolfgang Riedelbauch).
- Anton Bruckner – Music of the St. Florian Period (Volume II), Jürgen Jürgens conducting the Monteverdi Choir and the Israel Chamber Orchestra, Werner Kaufmann (Organ), 1984; this historical, previously not issued performance has recently been transferred to CD: CD abruckner.com BSVD-0111, 2012
- Bruckner - Requiem, Matthew Best conducting the Corydon Singers and the English Chamber Orchestra, Thomas Trotter (organ), CD: Hyperion CDA66245, 1987 (with Psalm 112 and Psalm 114)
- Anton Bruckner in St. Florian – Requiem & Motetten, Franz Farnberger conducting the Instrumentalensemble St. Florian and the St. Florianer Sängerknaben, Andreas Etlinger (Organ) - CD Studio SM D2639 SM 44, 1997
- A history of the Requiem - Part III, Guy Janssens conducting the Laudantes Consort, Benoît Mernier (Organ) - CD: Cypres CYP 1654, 2006 (with Maurice Duruflé’s Requiem)
- Anton Bruckner - Critical Complete Edition: Requiem, Masses & Te Deum
- L. Nowak, 1966
- K.W. Kinder, p. 8, 2000
- Four Pieces and Requiem - LP liner notes by Hans-Hubert Schönzeler, 1970
- Leaflet of Best's recording by Robert Simpson
- L. Nowak, 1966
- R. Bornhöft, 1998
- Roelofs' commented discography of Bruckner's Requiem
- Transfer to CD of the historical LP-recording of Psalm 146 and of the Requiem
- Rüdiger Bornhöft, Note to the Preface to Anton Bruckner: Sämtliche Werke: Band 14: Requiem D-Moll: Studienpartitur, Musikwissenschaftlicher Verlag der Internationalen Bruckner-Gesellschaft, Richard Rickett (translator), Vienna, 1998
- Paul Hawkshaw, "An anatomy of change: Anton Bruckner's Revisions to the Mass in F minor" Bruckner Studies edited by Timothy L. Jackson and Paul Hawkshaw, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1997
- Timothy Jackson, "Bruckner's 'Oktaven'", Music & Letters Vol. 78, No. 3, 1997
- Keith William Kinder, The Wind and Wind-Chorus Music of Anton Bruckner, Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut, 2000
- Leopold Nowak, Preface to Anton Bruckner: Sämtliche Werke: Band 14: Requiem d-Moll: Studienpartitur, Musikwissenschaftlicher Verlag der Internationalen Bruckner-Gesellschaft, Richard Rickett (translator), Vienna, 1966
- 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
- Cornelis van Zwol, Anton Bruckner - Leven en Werken, Thot, Bussum (Netherlands), 2012 - ISBN 90-686-8590-2
- Derek Watson, Bruckner, J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd, London, 1996