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
Key C minor
Catalogue WAB 101
  • 1865 (1865)–1866 (1866): (Linz version)
  • 1890 (1890)–1891 (1891): (Vienna version)
Dedication University of Vienna
Performed 9 May 1868 (1868-05-09): Linz
Published 1893
Recorded Volkmar Andreae, Austria State Symphony Orchestra, 1950
Movements 4

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 Vienna national library. Chronologically, it comes after the Study Symphony in F minor and before Symphony in D minor ("No. 0"). The first version of the Symphony No. 2 in C minor was completed after the Symphony in D minor.

The Symphony No. 1 was premiered under Bruckner in 1868. It was dedicated to the University of Vienna, after Bruckner was granted an honorary doctorate in 1891.

Bruckner gave it the nickname "das kecke Beserl", roughly translated as "saucy maid".


The symphony has four movements.

  1. Allegro (C minor)
  2. Adagio (A-flat major)
  3. Scherzo: Lebhaft (lively)—G minor – Trio: Langsam (slowly)—G major
  4. Finale: Bewegt und feurig (with motion and pep)—C minor

The choice of keys for the first two movements mirrors Beethoven's choice for his Fifth Symphony, but Bruckner has the timpani retune to A flat and E flat.


Early draft (1865/1866)[edit]

Prior to the completion of the 1866 version, Bruckner composed earlier forms of the Adagio and the Scherzo. These earlier Adagio and Scherzo were edited in 1995 by Wolfgang Grandjean.

The Adagio was first conceived in classical sonata form with development, but Bruckner finally decided in favour of a three-part structure with an elaborately composed middle section. This early Adagio is partially orchestrated (no trumpets or trombones). The recapitulation of the second subject is only sketched by the woodwinds, and five bars are missing before the—on the contrary—fully orchestrated close of the movement. For performance purposes, Grandjean has filled–in the missing bars using the corresponding musical material from the Linz version.[1]

In the leaflet of his recording of the 1866 Version Tintner mentions: "[T]he earlier very short Scherzo, which Bruckner discarded before 1866 (because of its brevity?) with chromatic syncopation, is perhaps more interesting [than the final one]". The early Scherzo is also not fully orchestrated (no trumpets or trombones). For the Linz version Bruckner wrote a completely new Scherzo, but kept the Trio unchanged.[1]

1866 version[edit]

The first version of the symphony was written by Bruckner in Linz and first performed under his baton in 1868.

This Linzer Urfassung (Linz original version) has first been published by William Carragan, and recorded by Georg Tintner in 1998.[2]

A new edition of the 1866 version, which is issued by Thomas Röder in the in-progress, new version of the Gesamtausgabe,[3] has been premiered by Cornelius Meister with the RSO of Vienna during the Salzburger Festspiele on 9 August 2014.

1877/1884 version[edit]

Although often also called the Linzer Fassung (Linz version), this version was in fact made in Vienna. It is available in editions by Robert Haas (published 1935) and Leopold Nowak (published 1953). The vast majority of recordings, including the famous one featuring Eugen Jochum conducting the Dresden Staatskapelle, are of one of these two editions.

1891 version[edit]

Known as the "Vienna" version, this version is considerably different from the 1866 and 1877 versions. It is available in an edition by Günther Brosche, published in 1980. It has been recorded by Riccardo Chailly, Gennadi Rozhdestvensky and Günter Wand.

1893 first published edition[edit]

Edited by Doblinger under the supervision of Cyrill Hynais, this has very few differences from the 1891 version. It has been recorded by F. Charles Adler, Volkmar Andreae and Fritz Zaun (scherzo only).


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.

Selected discography[edit]

The first commercial recording was by Fritz Zaun with the Berlin State Opera Orchestra in 1934. It included only the scherzo, in the 1893 first published version.

The first commercial recording of the entire symphony was by Volkmar Andreae with the Lower Austrian Tonkünstler Orchestra in 1950, also using the first published version.

Early draft of 1865/1866[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)

Version of 1866 (Linzer)[edit]

Version of 1877/1884 (Linzer revised)[edit]

Version of 1891 (Wiener)[edit]


  • 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]