String Quintet (Bruckner)

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String quintet
by Anton Bruckner
Bruckner circa 1860.jpg
The composer, c. 1860
Key F major
Catalogue WAB 112
Form Viola quintet
Composed 1879 (1879) – Vienna
Dedication Duke Max Emanuel of Bavaria
Performed 17 November 1881 (1881-11-17) – Vienna (movements 1-3)
Published 1884 (1884)
Recorded 29 December 1937 (1937-12-29)
Movements 4

Anton Bruckner's String Quintet in F major, WAB 112 was written in 1878/79 at the request of Joseph Hellmesberger, Sr. and dedicated to Duke Max Emanuel of Bavaria. Like Mozart's six string quintets, Bruckner's is scored for two violins, two violas and a cello.


When looking at the score, Hellmesberger found the scherzo too challenging for the group to perform. In response, Bruckner wrote an eight-minute Intermezzo.[1]

The first three movements were premiered by Winkler Quartet with Josef Schalk joining on second viola[2] on November 17, 1881 in Vienna.[3] It was not until 1885 that the Hellmesberger Quartet played the Quintet with the original scherzo,[1] Max Mustermann joining on second viola.[3] Duke Emanuel was pleased by the composition and gave Bruckner a diamond pin.[3] In all, there were 23 performances of the Quintet in Bruckner's lifetime.[4]


The String Quintet is in four movements:

  1. Gemäßigt, F major, 3/4
  2. Scherzo: Schnell, D minor, Trio: Langsamer, E-flat major, both 3/4
  3. Adagio, G-flat major, common time
  4. Finale: Lebhaft bewegt, F minor to F major, common time

Duration: about 43 minutes.[5] At first the Scherzo was third rather than second, as in most of Bruckner's symphonies.

Bruckner biographer Derek Watson finds the work "by no means a 'symphony for five strings' and it never stretches the quintet medium beyond its capabilities, save perhaps for the last seventeen bars of the finale, where [Bruckner] is thinking too much in orchestral terms."[6] Robert Simpson, in the revised, 1992 edition of The Essence of Bruckner, withdrew the reservations he had expressed about this work in the first two editions of that work and declared it "one of the most idiosyncratic but deepest chamber works since Beethoven."[7]

Versions and editions[edit]

  • Gutmann (1884): The first edition of 1884 by Albert Gutmann included metronome markings that did not come from Bruckner, namely: Gemäßigt quarter note = 72; Schnell quarter note = 138; Adagio quarter note = 56; Lebhaft bewegt quarter note = 144.[3] After publication, Bruckner made some small adjustments to the piece, mainly in the coda of the finale.[8]
  • Woess Universal Edition (1922), re-edition including Bruckner's adjustments
  • Nowak (1963): critical edition based on Bruckner's manuscript
  • Gerold W. Gruber, critical new edition (2007), adding in the first two movements a few optional passages, which were removed in the Nowak edition

Selected discography[edit]

There are about 60 recordings of the String Quintet. The first recording was by the Prisca-Quartett in 1937.

Excellent recordings, according to Hans Roelofs, are i.a. those by the Koeckert Quartett, the Amadeus Quartet, the Quintett der Wiener Philharmoniker (Vienna Philharmonia Quintet), the Melos Quartet, the Raphael Quartett, L'Archibudelli, the Vienna String Quintet, the Leipzig String Quartet and the Fine Arts Quartet.[9]

  • Koeckert Quartett, Georg Schmid (second viola). Anton Bruckner - String Quintet, F major. LP: DG LPM 18042, 1952; transferred to CD: Forgotten Records (France) fr 225
  • Amadeus Quartet, Cecil Aronowitz (second viola). Bruckner - Streichquintett F-Dur. LP: DG LPM 18963, 1964; transferred to CD: DG (Japan), DG 477 573 9
  • Vienna Philharmonia Quintet. Bruckner - String Quintet in F major, Intermezzo in D minor for string quintet. LP: Decca STS 15400, 1974; transferred to CD: Decca 430 296-2 (without the Intermezzo)
  • Melos Quartet, Enrique Santiago (second viola). Bruckner - Streichquintett F-Dur. CD: Harmonia Mundi HMC 901421, 1992
  • Raphael Quartett, Prunella Pacey (second viola). Bruckner: String Quintet; Rondo; Intermezzo. CD: Globe 5078, 1992
  • L'Archibudelli. Anton Bruckner: String Quintet. Intermezzo. Rondo. String Quartet. CD: Sony Classical Vivarte SK 66 251, 1994 - on historical instruments
  • Vienna String Quintet, Bruckner: String Quintet in F, Intermezzo in D. CD: Camerata 30CM-399, 1994
  • Leipzig String Quartet, Hartmut Rohde (second viola). Bruckner: String Quintet F major / String Quartet C minor. CD: MDG 307 1362-2, 2005.
  • Fine Arts Quartet, Gil Sharon. Bruckner: String Quintet in F Major / String Quartet in C Minor. CD: Naxos 8.570788, 2007
  • Fitzwilliam Quartet, James Boyd (second viola). Anton Bruckner: String Quintet / String Quartet. CD: Linn LC 11615, 2011 - on historical instruments


  1. ^ a b C. van Zwol, pp. 683-684
  2. ^ Watson, p. 33
  3. ^ a b c d Nowak
  4. ^ Watson, p. 46
  5. ^ Anton Bruckner Critical Complete Edition - Chamber music
  6. ^ Watson, p. 74
  7. ^ Simpson, p. 149
  8. ^ Wellesz, p. 286
  9. ^ Commented discography of the String Quintet by Hans Roelofs


  • 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
  • Robert Simpson, The Essence of Bruckner: An essay towards the understanding of his music, Victor Gollancz Ltd, London, Revised Edition, 1992
  • Derek Watson, Bruckner, J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd, London, 1997
  • Egon Wellesz, "Anton Bruckner and the Process of Musical Creation", The Musical Quarterly 24 No. 3. Everett Helm (translator), 1938
  • Cornelis van Zwol, Anton Bruckner – Leven en Werken, Uit. Thot, Bussum, NL, 2012. ISBN 978-90-6868-590-9

External links[edit]