|by Anton Bruckner|
The composer, c. 1890/1895
|Dedication||Men's Choir of Vienna|
|Performed||8 October 1893 Hofburg Palace, Vienna:|
|Published||1893(vocal and piano score)|
|Recorded||1977Wyn Morris, Ambrosian Male Voice Chorus and Symphonica of London–|
Helgoland, WAB 71, is a secular, patriotic cantata for male choir and orchestra, composed by Anton Bruckner in 1893. Since Bruckner did not complete the 9th symphony, Helgoland is his last complete work.
Helgoland was composed in April 1893 for the Men's Choir of Vienna to celebrate its 50th birthday. The text was written by August Silberstein, who had already provided poems, which Bruckner set to music (Germanenzug in 1864, and Vaterlandslied in 1866).
The setting was a case of interest, as the Frisian island of Heligoland had just been given to Germany in 1890 by Great Britain (in exchange for Zanzibar). Helgoland was conducted on 8 October 1893 by the Men's Choir of Vienna and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under Eduard Kremser's baton in the Winterreitschule of the Hofburg Palace.
Bruckner legated the manuscript to the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek. The work was first published as vocal and piano reduction score by Cyrill Hynais in 1893. The vocal and orchestral score was posthumously issued by Doblinger, Vienna in 1899. It is put in Band XXII/2 No. 8 of the Gesamtausgabe.
Hoch auf der Nordsee, am fernesten Rand
On the North Sea's most distant horizon
The 317-bar long composition in G minor, scored for TTBB male choir and orchestra (2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, contrabass tuba, timpani, cymbal and strings), is set as a three-part sonata form with coda.
The piece is full of strength and enthusiasm, and carries the mark of Wagner's influence. The orchestral introduction depicts already the atmosphere of storm and fate, which hangs over the text. The first part (first three strophes) depicts the approach of the enemies and the announcement of the prayer, the mid-part (next two strophes) depicts the invocation of the deity, and the third part (reprise with development) depicts the storm and the sinking of the enemies. The coda on the last verse "O Herrgott, dich preiset frei Helgoland!, with a cymbal crash near the end (bar 309), is a hymn to the deity.
Duration: about 13 minutes.
Helgoland is seldom played for such a mature work, presumably because of the text, a poem with German patriotic content, but also the high requirements, i.e., a large symphonic orchestra and a professional men's choir.
Many noted Brucknerian conductors have neglected to record the work, although Daniel Barenboim has done it twice, at the time of his playing the symphonies of Bruckner with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
There are four commercial recordings of the work:
- Wyn Morris, Symphonica of London and Ambrosian Chorus – LP: Symphonica SYM 11 (with Wagner's "Das Liebesmahl der Apostel"), 1977; transferred to CD: IMP PCD 1042, 1993; CD: Klassic Haus KHCD-2012-043, 2012 (with Symphony No. 6 by Heinz Bongartz)
- Daniel Barenboim, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chicago Symphony Chorus – LP: DG 2707 116, 1979 (with Symphony "No. 0" and Psalm 150); transferred to DGG CDs: 6 October 6 1992 and 1 May 1995.
- Daniel Barenboim, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Berlin Radio Choir and Ernst Senff Choir – CD: Teldec 0630 16646-2, 1992 (with Symphony No. 1); reissued on CD: Elektra/Wea/Teldec, June 16, 1998; in a CD-box of Barenboim's Berlin cycle by Warner Classics, 10 January 2006.
- Alberto Hold-Garrido, Choruses for Male Voices and Orchestra, Lund University Student Singers and Malmö Opera Orchestra – CD: Naxos 8572871, 2012
- Called the Vienna Male Singing Society (Wiener Männergesangvereins) in Volume XXII/2 No. 8 of the Bruckner Complete Edition
- C. van Zwol, pp. 714-715
- U. Harten, p. 193
- Gesamtausgabe – Kantaten und Chorwerke mit Orchester
- Helgoland text
- Patrick C Waller review for Barenboim's BPO Bruckner cycle
- Discography of Helgoland by Hans Roelofs
- Anton Bruckner – Sämtliche Werke, Band XXII/2: Kantaten und Chorwerke II (1862–1893), Musikwissenschaftlicher Verlag der Internationalen Bruckner-Gesellschaft, Franz Burkhart, Rudolf H. Führer and Leopold Nowak (Editor), Vienna, 1987
- Uwe Harten, Anton Bruckner. Ein Handbuch. Residenz Verlag, Salzburg, 1996. ISBN 3-7017-1030-9.
- Cornelis van Zwol, Anton Bruckner - Leven en Werken, Thot, Bussum (Netherlands), 2012. ISBN 90-686-8590-2
- Helgoland, WAB 71: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)
- Helgoland g-Moll, WAB 71 Critical discography by Hans Roelofs (in German)
- A not-issued recording by Takashi Asahina can be heard on John Berky's website: Helgoland by T. Asahina with the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra (1987)