String Quartet (Bruckner)

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String Quartet
by Anton Bruckner
Bruckner circa 1860.jpg
The composer, c. 1860
Catalogue WAB 111
Form String quartet
Composed 28 July 1862 (1862-07-28) – Linz
Performed 15 February 1951 (1951-02-15) – Berlin
Published 1955 (1955)
Recorded 1962 (1962)
Movements 4

Anton Bruckner's String Quartet in C minor WAB 111, was written in 1862[1] as a student exercise for Otto Kitzler,[2] a preliminary to exercises in orchestration.[3] The manuscript of the quartet, which was composed between 28 July and 7 August 1862, was found on pp. 165–196 of the Kitzler-Studienbuch.[4] In the spring of 1862, Bruckner had already composed a Scherzo for string quartet in G minor. This earlier exercise was found on pp. 70–74 of the Kitzler-Studienbuch.[5]


The String Quartet was edited by Nowak (band 13 of the Gesamtausgabe) in 1955.


The piece is a conventional string quartet in the usual four movements:

  1. Allegro moderato, C minor, common time
  2. Andante, A-flat major, 3/4, with Minore section in A-flat minor
  3. Scherzo, Presto G major, 3/4, Trio
  4. Rondo, Schnell, C minor, 2/4

Duration: 19 to 24 minutes.

Unlike his later works, Bruckner gave few indications as to phrasing, while dynamics appear only at a few key points. Rudolf Koeckert allowed Leopold Nowak to put his group's phrasing and dynamics into the Gesamtausgabe parts. However, the Gesamtausgabe score contains only those markings in Bruckner's hand.

The exposition of the first movement is marked for repeat; the only other Bruckner work with such a repeat is the Study Symphony.[6] The Andante mirrors Beethoven's choice of key for a slow movement after a C minor Allegro, but having the central section in the parallel minor is something Bruckner never does again. Biographer Derek Watson finds the Trio of the Scherzo "has a Schubertian, freshly bucolic charm."[7] The Rondo is in ABACABA form, with the B theme first appearing in E-flat major and later in C major, and the last turn of the A theme being highly ornamented.

A week after completing the composition (15 August 1862), Kitzler tasked Bruckner with writing a longer Rondo, which became his Rondo in C minor.[8] However, Bruckner never intended it as a replacement in performance,[1] since he intended neither piece for performance.

Bruckner did not bequeath the score as he did his later works, and so it wound up in Munich, where it was discovered there in 1950[9] by the Koeckert Quartet. The Quartet was premiered by the Koeckert Quartet in February 1951 in a Rundfunk im amerikanischen Sektor broadcast, and next month in a concert.[10]

Selected discography[edit]

There are about 10 recordings of the String Quartet. The first recording was by the Keller Quartett in 1962.

Excellent recordings are according to Hans Roelofs i.a. those by the Koeckert Quartett, L'Archibudelli, the Fine Arts Quartet and the Zehetmair Streichquartett.[11] Where the Koeckert Quartet actually disregarded the few dynamics markings Bruckner gave,[10] the Fine Arts Quartet obeys Bruckner's markings but mostly ignores Koeckert's.

  • Koeckert Quartett. Studio recording of 1974 put on compiling CD: Karna Musik Live KA-143M
  • L'Archibudelli. Anton Bruckner: String Quintet. Intermezzo. Rondo. String Quartet. CD: Sony Classical Vivarte SK 66 251, 1995
  • Fine Arts Quartet. BRUCKNER: String Quintet in F Major / String Quartet in C Minor. CD: Naxos 8.570788, 2008
  • Zehetmair Streichquartett. Beethoven, Bruckner, Hartmann, Holliger. CD: ECM 2195/96, 2010


  1. ^ a b Nowak (1985), p. [15]
  2. ^ Watson, p. 16
  3. ^ Hawkshaw, p. 348
  4. ^ van Zwol, p. 682
  5. ^ Harten, p. 385
  6. ^ Korstvedt, p. 176
  7. ^ Watson, p. 73
  8. ^ Bruckner's Critical Complete Edition – Early Orchestral and Instrumental Works
  9. ^ Fairfax, p. 382
  10. ^ a b Nowak (1955)
  11. ^ Commented discography of the String Quartet by Hans Roelofs


  • Paul Hawkshaw, "A Composer Learns His Craft: Anton Bruckner's Lessons in Form and Orchestration", 1861–63", The Musical Quarterly, 82 No. 2, 1998
  • Bryan Fairfax, "Unknown Bruckner", The Musical Times, 105, p. 1455, 1964
  • Uwe Harten, Anton Bruckner. Ein Handbuch, Residenz Verlag, Salzburg, 1996, ISBN 3-7017-1030-9
  • Benjamin Korstvedt, "Aspects of Bruckner's approach to symphonic form", The Cambridge Companion to Bruckner edited by John Williamson, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2004
  • Leopold Nowak, Foreword to Anton Bruckner: Sämtliche Werke: Band 13 Teil 1: Streichquartett C-Moll: Studienpartitur Musikwissenschaftlicher Verlag der Internationalen Bruckner-Gesellschaft, Christl Arnold-Schönfeldt (translator), Vienna, 1955
  • Leopold Nowak, Foreword to Anton Bruckner: Sämtliche Werke: Band 13 Teil 2: Streichquintett F-Dur / Intermezzo D-Moll: Studienpartitur Musikwissenschaftlicher Verlag der Internationalen Bruckner-Gesellschaft, Richard Rickett (translator), Vienna, 1963
  • Leopold Nowak, Foreword to Anton Bruckner: Sämtliche Werke: Band 12 Teil 1: Rondo C-Moll: Studienpartitur, Musikwissenschaftlicher Verlag der Internationalen Bruckner-Gesellschaft, Eugene Hartzell (translator), Vienna, 1985
  • 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, 1977
  • Cornelis van Zwol, Anton Bruckner – Leven en Werken, Thot, Bussum (Netherlands), 2012. ISBN 90-686-8590-2
  • Derek Watson, "Bruckner", Schirmer, New York, 1996
  • Egon Wellesz, "Anton Bruckner and the Process of Musical Creation", The Musical Quarterly, 24 No. 3 – Everett Helm (translator), 1938

External links[edit]