Symphony No. 1 (Bruckner)

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Symphony No. 1
by Anton Bruckner
Bruckner circa 1860.jpg
A portrait of Anton Bruckner, c. 1860
KeyC minor
CatalogueWAB 101
  • 1865 (1865) – 1866 (1866): (Linz version)
  • 1890 (1890) – 1891 (1891): (Vienna version)
DedicationUniversity of Vienna
Performed9 May 1868 (1868-05-09): Linz
RecordedVolkmar Andreae, Austria State Symphony Orchestra, 1950

Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 1 in C minor, WAB 101, was the first symphony the composer thought worthy of performing, and bequeathing to the Austrian National Library. Chronologically it comes after the Study Symphony in F minor and before the "nullified" Symphony in D minor. (Symphony No. 2 in C minor was completed after the "nullified" Symphony in D minor.) The composer gave it the nickname "Das kecke Beserl", or "The Saucy Maid", and conducted its 1868 premiere. Much later, after Bruckner was granted an honorary University of Vienna doctorate in 1891, he dedicated the 1890 version of the work to that institution.


The symphony has four movements:

  1. Allegro (C minor)
    Orchesterwerke Romantik Themen.pdf
    Orchesterwerke Romantik Themen.pdf
  2. Adagio (A major)
    Orchesterwerke Romantik Themen.pdf
  3. Scherzo: Schnell (fast; G minor)—Trio: Langsamer (slower; G major)
    Orchesterwerke Romantik Themen.pdf
  4. Finale: Bewegt, feurig (moving, fiery; C minor, ending in C major)
    Orchesterwerke Romantik Themen.pdf

The choices of key for the first two movements mirror Beethoven’s for his Fifth Symphony, but Bruckner has the timpani retune to A and E.


Early drafts[edit]

Before completing the symphony in April 1866, Bruckner composed other forms of the Adagio and the Scherzo.

The Adagio was first conceived in classical sonata form, with development, not the ternary structure with elaborate middle section. It was partially orchestrated, without trumpets or trombones; the recapitulation of the second subject, which was sketched only by the second violins and the woodwinds, breaks off at bar 154. Thereafter, five bars were left unwritten before the — on the contrary — fully orchestrated close of the movement.

The originally conceived Scherzo was not fully orchestrated either, lacking trumpets and trombones, but its Trio was carried over unchanged in 1866.[1] The scherzo of this draft version exhibits many irregular phrase rhythms which Bruckner evened out in later versions.[2] In the leaflet for his recording of the symphony, Tintner says that "the earlier very short Scherzo, which Bruckner discarded before 1866 (because of its brevity?), with chromatic syncopation, is perhaps more interesting [than the final one]."

In 1995 Wolfgang Grandjean edited the earlier Adagio and Scherzo as a study score (I/1a-STP).[1] For performance purposes, Grandjean filled in the missing bars of the Adagio using the corresponding musical material in the 1866 score (Doblinger 74 014).[1]

A recording of these movements by Osmo Vänskä is in the Bruckner Archive,[3] and an electronic recreation of it by Joan Schukking can be heard and downloaded at John Berky’s website.[4]

Linz version, 1866–1868[edit]

The first version of the symphony was written in 1866 by Bruckner in Linz. It was published in 1998 by William Carragan and first recorded that same year by Georg Tintner in Glasgow.[5]

Bruckner made some slight adjustments to the score for the 1868 premiere. The premiere version has been issued by Thomas Röder in the new edition of the Bruckner Gesamtausgabe[6] and has been premiered by the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra under Cornelius Meister during the 2014 Salzburger Festspiele. The first American performance using Röder’s edition, played by the Sam Houston State University Orchestra in 2016 with Jacob Sustaita conducting, can be heard and downloaded at John Berky’s website.[7]

Revised Linz version, 1877/1884[edit]

Although routinely referred to as the “Linz version” and as having been made in 1866, this version, the most frequently performed version of the work, was prepared neither in Linz nor in that year. It was made in 1877 in Vienna and slightly revised there in 1884. It is available in editions by Robert Haas (published 1935) and Leopold Nowak (1953).

Vienna version, 1891[edit]

The Vienna version, which differs considerably from the earlier 1866 and 1877 versions,[8] is available in an edition by Günter Brosche [de],[9] published in 1980 as part of the Gesamtausgabe.


Doblinger, 1893[edit]

This was the first published edition. Edited by Doblinger under the supervision of Cyrill Hynais, it had few differences from the 1891 version. It has been recorded by F. Charles Adler, Volkmar Andreae and Fritz Zaun (scherzo only).

Haas, 1935[edit]

Of the (revised, 1877) "Linz version" and (1891) "Vienna version" in the earlier Gesamtausgabe.

Nowak, 1953[edit]

Of the (revised, 1877) "Linz version", again under Gesamtausgabe auspices.

Brosche, 1980[edit]

Of the (1891) "Vienna version", again as part of the Gesamtausgabe.

Röder, 2016[edit]

Of the 1868 version, as part of the new Bruckner Gesamtausgabe[6]


The score calls for a pair each of flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, timpani, and strings, with an extra flute in the Adagio.


The first recording of any part of the work was made in 1934 by Fritz Zaun and the Berlin State Opera Orchestra; it included only the Scherzo, in the 1893 first published edition. The first complete commercial recording of the symphony came in 1950, with Volkmar Andreae conducting the Lower Austrian Tonkünstler Orchestra, again using the first published edition.

Early drafts[edit]

There is a single commercially available recording of the early Adagio and Scherzo:

  • Ricardo Luna, Bruckner unknown, CD Preiser Records PR 91250, 2013 (transcription for chamber orchestra)

Linz version, 1866–1868[edit]

Revised Linz version, 1877/1884[edit]

Haas edition
Nowak edition

Vienna version, 1891[edit]

Doblinger edition
  • Volkmar Andreae conducting the Austria State Symphony Orchestra, Forgotten Records, 1950
  • F. Charles Adler conducting the Vienna Orchestra Society, Forgotten Records, 1955
  • Hun-Joung Lim conducting the Korean Symphony Orchestra], Decca, 2015
Brosche edition


  1. ^ a b c "Anton Bruckner – I. SYMPHONIE c-Moll".
  2. ^ J. Kraus, p. 279
  3. ^ "Bruckner Archive – Anton Bruckner".
  4. ^ "July, 2017: The Early Adagio and Scherzo to the Symphony No. 1 – Anton Bruckner".
  5. ^ "William Carragan – Time analysis versions 1866 and 1877" (PDF).
  6. ^ a b "BRIEFE von, an und über Anton Bruckner".
  7. ^ "October 2016: Symphony No. 1 / Jacob Sustaita / Sam Houston State University Orchestra / A US Premiere! – Anton Bruckner".
  8. ^ "Bruckner Symphony Versions".
  9. ^ "The Symphonies: Symphony No. 1 in C minor". Musikwissenchaftlicher Verlag. Retrieved 18 November 2020.


  • Anton Bruckner, Sämtliche Werke, Kritische Gesamtausgabe – Band 1: I. Symphonie c-Moll (Wiener und Linzer Fassung), Musikwissenschaftlicher Verlag der internationalen Bruckner-Gesellschaft, Robert Haas (Editor), Vienna, 1935
  • Anton Bruckner: Sämtliche Werke: Band I: I. Symphonie c-Moll, Musikwissenschaftlicher Verlag der Internationalen Bruckner-Gesellschaft, Vienna
    • I/1: Linzer Fassung (1866), Leopold Nowak (Editor), 1953
    • I/1A: Adagio ursprüngliche Fassung (1865/66), Fragment – Scherzo ältere Komposition (1865), Wolfgang Grandjean (Editor), 1995
    • I/2: Wiener Fassung (1890/91), Günter Brosche (Editor), 1980
  • Neue Anton Bruckner Gesamtausgabe: Band I/1: Fassung von 1868 „Linzer Fassung“, Thomas Röder (Editor), Vienna, 2016
  • Joseph C. Kraus, "Phrase rhythm in Bruckner's early orchestral scherzi", Bruckner Studies edited by Timothy L. Jackson and Paul Hawkshaw, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1997

External links[edit]