Virga Jesse (Bruckner)

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Virga Jesse
Motet by Anton Bruckner
Wintershouse StGeorges 15.JPG
Immaculate Conception (Wintershouse)
Key E minor
Catalogue WAB 52
Form Gradual
Text Virga Jesse floruit
Language Latin
Dedication 100th anniversary of the Linz diocese
Performed 8 December 1885 (1885-12-08): Vienna
Published 1896 (1896): Vienna
Vocal SATB choir

Virga Jesse (The branch from Jesse), WAB 52, is a motet by the Austrian composer Anton Bruckner. It sets the gradual Virga Jesse floruit for unaccompanied mixed choir.


The work was completed on 3 September 1885 and may have been intended for the celebration of the one-hundredth anniversary of the Linz diocese; however, like the Ecce sacerdos magnus that Bruckner composed A.M.D.G. for that event, it was not performed there.[1][2] It was performed on 8 December 1885 in the Wiener Hofmusikkapelle for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.[1]

The original manuscript is lost, but transcriptions of it are archived at the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, the Hofmusikkapelle and the Abbey of Kremsmünster.[3] The motet was edited together with three other graduals (Locus iste WAB 23, Christus factus est WAB 11, and Os justi WAB 30), by Theodor Rättig, Vienna in 1886.[1] The motet is put in Band XXI/34 of the Gesamtausgabe.[4]


This 91-bar gradual in E minor is for mixed choir a cappella. In the first part on the verse Virga jesse floruit (bars 1-20) Bruckner used twice the Dresdner Amen on the word floruit (bars 7-9 and 17-19).[1] The last part (bars 63-91) consists, as in the earlier Inveni David WAB 19, of an Alleluja, for which Bruckner drew his inspiration from the Hallelujah of Händel's Messiah, on which he often improvised on organ.[5] The motet ends in pianissimo by the tenor voice on a pedal point.[6]

Max Auer regards it as the most accomplished and magnificent a cappella motet of the composer.[6] The Bruckner biographer Howie also calls this work "one of Bruckner's finest motets".[2]

Selected discography[edit]

The first recording of Bruckner's Vexilla regis occurred in 1931:

  • Ferdinand Habel with the Choir of the St. Stephans-Dom, Vienna (78 rpm: Christschall 129)

A selection among the about 80 recordings:

  • John Alldis, John Alldis Choir, Bruckner, Messiaen, Debussy, Schönberg – LP: Argo ZRG 523, 1967
  • Norbert Balatsch, Wiener Staatsopernchor, 50 Jahre Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor – LP: Preiser SPR3278, 1976
  • Matthew Best, Corydon Singers, Bruckner: Motets – CD: Hyperion CDA66062, 1982
  • Frieder Bernius, Kammerchor Stuttgart, Bruckner: Mass in E minor; Ave Maria; Christus factus est; Locus iste; Virga Jesse – CD: Sony CL SK 48037, 1991
  • Joseph Pancik, Prager Kammerchor, Anton Bruckner: Motetten / Choral-Messe – CD: Orfeo C 327 951 A, 1993
  • Uwe Gronostay, Netherlands Chamber Choir, Bruckner/Reger – CD: Globe GLO 5160, 1995
  • Peter Dijkstra, Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Machet die Tore weit – CD: Oehms Classics OC 535, 2005
  • Marcus Creed, SWR Symphony Orchestra and Stuttgart-Radio Vocal Ensemble, Mass in E minor and Motets – CD: Hänssler Classic SACD 93.199, 2007
  • Stephen Layton, Polyphony Choir, Bruckner: Mass in E minor & Motets – CD: Hyperion CDA 67629, 2007
  • Erwin Ortner, Arnold Schoenberg Chor, Anton Bruckner: Tantum ergo – CD: ASC Edition 3, issue of the choir, 2008


  1. ^ a b c d van Zwol, Cornelis (2012). Anton Bruckner – Leven en Werken. Thot. p. 708. ISBN 90-686-8590-2. 
  2. ^ a b Howie, A. Crawford (2004). "Bruckner and the Motet". In Williamson, John. The Cambridge companion to Bruckner. Cambridge Companions to Music. Cambridge University Press. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-521-00878-5. 
  3. ^ U. Harten, p. 467
  4. ^ Gesamtausgabe – Kleine Kirchenmusikwerke
  5. ^ van Zwol, Cornelis (2012). Anton Bruckner – Leven en Werken. Thot. p. 705. ISBN 90-686-8590-2. 
  6. ^ a b M. Auer, pp. 73-77


  • Max Auer, Anton Bruckner als Kirchenmusiker, G. Bosse, Regensburg, 1927
  • Anton Bruckner – Sämtliche Werke, Band XXI: Kleine Kirchenmusikwerke, Musikwissenschaftlicher Verlag der Internationalen Bruckner-Gesellschaft, Hans Bauernfeind and Leopold Nowak (Editor), Vienna, 1984/2001
  • Cornelis van Zwol, Anton Bruckner 1824–1896 – Leven en werken, uitg. Thoth, Bussum, Netherlands, 2012. ISBN 978-90-6868-590-9
  • Uwe Harten, Anton Bruckner. Ein Handbuch. Residenz Verlag, Salzburg, 1996. ISBN 3-7017-1030-9

External links[edit]