Te Deum (Bruckner)

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Te Deum
by Anton Bruckner
Bruckner circa 1860.jpg
The composer, c. 1860
Key C major
Catalogue WAB 45
Form Te Deum
  • 1881 (1881) – Vienna (draft version)
  • 1883 (1883) – Vienna (final version)
Performed 2 May 1885 (1885-05-02) – Kleiner Musikvereinssaal, Vienna
Published 1885 (1885)
Movements 5
Vocal SATB choir and soloists
Instrumental Orchestra and organ ad lib.

The Te Deum in C major WAB 45 by Anton Bruckner is a setting of the early Christian Te Deum hymn text for chorus, soloists and orchestra, and organ ad libitum.


Bruckner started work on his Te Deum some time before May 1881, when is was finalising of his Symphony No. 6.[1] It was not until after finishing (or being close to finishing) his next Symphony No. 7 that Bruckner resumed work on his Te Deum,[1] finishing it on March 7, 1884.[2][3] A melody used for the words "non confundar" (in the final movement) is remarkably similar to the main theme of the second movement of Bruckner's Symphony No. 7.[4]

The composer dedicated the piece "to God in gratitude for having safely brought me through so much anguish in Vienna."[5]

The Te Deum was premiered in the small Musikvereinssaal in Vienna on May 2, 1885, with soloists Frau Ulrich-Linde, Emilie Zips, Richard Exleben, and Heinrich Gassner, with the choir of the Wiener Akademischer Richard Wagner Verein, and Robert Erben and Joseph Schalk substituting for the orchestra on two pianos.[5] Hans Richter conducted the first performance with full orchestra on January 10, 1886.[5] After that there were almost thirty more performances within Bruckner's lifetime;[6][7] the last performance Bruckner attended was conducted by Richard von Perger at the suggestion of Johannes Brahms.[8] On his copy of the score, Gustav Mahler crossed out "for chorus, solos, and orchestra, organ ad libitum" and wrote "for the tongues of angels, heaven-blest, chastened hearts, and souls purified in the fire!"[9]

The first performance in the United States was given at the Cincinnati May Festival on May 26, 1892. Theodore Thomas conducted the Chicago Orchestra and the soloists were Corinne Moore-Lawson, Marie Ritter-Goetze, Edward Lloyd, and George Ellsworth. The Festival Chorus was prepared by W.L. Blumenschein.

Versions and editions[edit]

  • Draft version of 1881 (Ed. Franz Scheder)
The draft version of 1881, the manuscript of which is stored in the archive of the Kremsmünster Abbey, includes the vocal scores and some basic orchestration. It is shorter than the final version (357 bars versus 513 bars). In particular, the Aeterna fac is different and much shorter, and the final fugue is not yet composed.[10]
  • Final version of 1884: Rättig (1885), Nowak (1962)
The Te Deum was first published in 1885 by Theodore Rättig, who paid Bruckner 50 gulden, "the only money he ever earned as a composer in the whole of his life."[1] Another important difference with Bruckner's other first publications is that there are few differences between it and the original manuscript. "The most important [difference] being the absence of the trombone and double-bass tuba chords at bars 275 and 283 of the "Salvum fac" section. At bar 26 the second clarinet has a different note, and in the first edition the clarinets are in B flat instead of in A as in the original manuscript."[1] with no recomposition from the Schalk brothers.


The chorus consists of sopranos, altos, tenors and basses, while the orchestra consists of 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets (in A), 2 bassoons, 4 horns in F, 3 trumpets in F, alto, tenor and bass trombones, contrabass tuba, timpani in C and G, and strings.

The setting is in five movements.

  1. "Te Deum laudamus" – Allegro, Feierlich, mit Kraft, C major
  2. "Te ergo quaesumus" – Moderato, F minor
  3. "Aeterna fac" – Allegro, Feierlich, mit Kraft, D minor
  4. "Salvum fac populum tuum" – Moderato, F minor
  5. "In Te, Domine speravi" – Mäßig bewegt, C major

Total duration: about 24 minutes[11]


In the 1890s Bruckner was aware that he might not live to finish his Symphony No. 9, and some commentators have suggested that the Te Deum could be used as a finale. However, Robert Simpson believed that not "even in the poor state of health and mind of his last few months of his life, [would Bruckner have] considered the use of the C major Te Deum as finale to a D minor symphony to be more than a makeshift solution," and that the link to the Te Deum was simply a matter of self-quotation more than anything else.[12]

Selected discography[edit]

Draft version of 1881[edit]

There is a single issue of this draft version:

  • Klaus Dieter Stolper, occasional choir with restored piano accompaniment by Annie Gicquel, Nürnberg, live 07-10-2003 - Private CD issue (with Symphony No. 7 by the Bayrisches Ärtzeorchester).

Final version of 1884[edit]

The first recording, was by Felix Gatz with the Bruckner-Chor & the Staatskapelle Berlin in 1927: 78 rpm disc Decca 25159 (only parts 1 & 2). This historic recording can be heard on John Berky's website.[13]

During the Nazi era, Bruckner's Te Deum and Psalm 150 were ignored, because their existence contradicted the Nazi myth that exposure to Richard Wagner's music had freed Bruckner from ties to the church.[14] It was not until after the war that Eugen Jochum brought attention to Bruckner's Te Deum and other sacred music, conducting several concerts and recordings. Herbert von Karajan and Bruno Walter soon followed suit.

Some of these postwar recordings:

  • Eugen Jochum, Chor und Sinfonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, 1950: 78 rpm disc Polydor 72020-1; transferred later to LP: DG 16002, and CD: Forgotten Records fr 227/8 (with Symphony No. 7)
  • Herbert von Karajan, Singverein der Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde Wien and Wiener Symphoniker, 1952: LP: Melodram DSM B01; transferred to CD: Arkadia CDGI 705.2 (mit Symphony No. 8)
  • Bruno Walter, Westminster Choir, New York Philharmonic Orchestra, 1953: LP: Columbia ML6EYE 4980; transferred later to CD: CD: Sony SMK 64 480

There are more than 100 recordings of Bruckner's Te Deum, mainly together with a symphony or another choral work. According to Hans Roelofs, Jochum's recording of 1965 still remains the reference.[15] Other excellent recordings, according to Hans Roelofs, are i.a. those by Rögner, Barenboim, Best and Rilling.

  • Eugen Jochum, Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin, Berliner Philharmoniker, 1965: LP: DG 139117/8 (with Symphony No. 9); transferred later to CD: DG 413 603.
  • Daniel Barenboim, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, 1981: LP: DG 2741 007 (with Symphony No. 8); transferred later to CD: DG 435 068 (with Symphony No. 1)
  • Heinz Rögner, Rundfunkchor Berlin and RSO East-Berlin, 1988: Ars Vivendi 2100 172 (with Mass No. 2)
  • Matthew Best, Corydon Singers and Orchestra, 1993: Hyperion CDA66650 (with Mass No. 1)
  • Helmuth Rilling, Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart and Bach-Collegium Stuttgart, 1996: CD: Hänssler 98.119 (with Mass No. 2 and Psalm 150)


  1. ^ a b c d Nowak, p. [iii]
  2. ^ Schönzeler, p. 80
  3. ^ Watson, p. 40
  4. ^ Simpson, p. 27
  5. ^ a b c Nowak, p. [iv]
  6. ^ Kinder, p. 126
  7. ^ Watson, p. 52
  8. ^ Kinder, p. 127
  9. ^ Alma Mahler-Werfel, Gustav Mahler. READ Books: 89, New York, 2006
  10. ^ van Zwol, pp. 694-695
  11. ^ Anton Bruckner - Critical Complete Edition
  12. ^ Simpson, p. 182
  13. ^ Felix Maria Gatz, Te Deum (excerpts), digitally transferred by John Berky
  14. ^ Gilliam, p. 82
  15. ^ Commented discography of the Te Deum by Hans Roelofs


  • Max Auer, Anton Bruckner als Kirchenmusiker, Gustav Bosse Verlag, Regensburg, 1927, pp. 167–185
  • Bryan Gilliam, "The annexation of Anton Bruckner", Bruckner Studies, edited by Timothy L. Jackson and Paul Hawkshaw, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1997
  • 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
  • Leopold Nowak, Preface to Anton Bruckner: Sämtliche Werke: Band 19: Te Deum: Studienpartitur, Musikwissenschaftlicher Verlag der Internationalen Bruckner-Gesellschaft, Richard Rickett (translator), Vienna, 1961
  • 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, 1975

External links[edit]