Anton Bruckner   WAB 103

Symphony no. 3 in d "Wagner symphony"

Symphony in D minor. 1873. Time: 56'00.

Revised in 1874 and 1877

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"Symphony No. 3 in D minor"
Bruckner circa 1860.jpg
Dedication Richard Wagner
Composed 1872 - 1873
1876 - 1877
1888 - 1889
Premiere Bruckner conducting, 16 December 1877, Vienna
First published 1890
Other editions ed. Fritz Oeser, 1950
ed. Leopold Nowak, 1959 (1889 version)
ed. Leopold Nowak, 1977 (1873 version)
ed. Leopold Nowak, 1981 (1877 version)
First recording "Gerd Rubahn", "Berlin Symphony Orchestra", 1952

Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 3 in D minor (WAB 103) was dedicated to Richard Wagner and is sometimes known as his "Wagner Symphony".[1] It was written in 1873, revised in 1877 and again in 1891.

In 1873, Bruckner sent both his Second and Third symphonies to Wagner, asking him to pick one he preferred. The next day, Bruckner visited Wagner to ask him his choice, but the two drank so much beer together that upon arriving home Bruckner realized that he had forgotten which one Wagner had chosen. He wrote a letter back to Wagner saying "Symphony in D minor, where the trumpet begins the theme?". Wagner scribbled back "Yes! Best wishes! Richard Wagner." Ever since then, Wagner referred to Bruckner as "Bruckner the trumpet" and the two became firm friends. In the dedication, Bruckner referred to Wagner as "the unreachable world-famous noble master of poetry and music".

The premiere of this Symphony was given in Vienna in 1877, with Bruckner himself conducting. The concert was a complete disaster: although a decent choral conductor, Bruckner was a barely competent orchestral director: the Viennese audience, which was not sympathetic to his work to begin with, gradually left the hall as the music played.[2] Even the orchestra fled at the end, leaving Bruckner alone with a few supporters, including Gustav Mahler, who with Rudolf Krzyzanowski prepared a piano duet version of the work.

Stunned by this debacle, Bruckner made several revisions of his work, leaving out significant amounts of music. The original 1873 score was not published until 1977.

Despite being very critical of this Symphony, Robert Simpson quoted a passage from the first movement, rehearsal letter F, in his own Symphony No. 9. Simpson later modified his critical view (expressed in the 1966 edition of his The Essence of Bruckner) after encountering the 1873 version, which he described in a programme note for the Royal Philharmonic Society in 1987 as '...a great work - not perfect by any means but possessing a majestic momentum the later revisions altogether destroyed.'

Symphony No. 3 was a favorite of conductor Hans Knappertsbusch.



The symphony has four movements:

  1. Gemäßigt, mehr bewegt, misterioso (also Sehr langsam, misterioso) D minor.
  2. Adagio. Bewegt, quasi Andante E-flat major
  3. Scherzo. Ziemlich schnell (also Sehr schnell) D minor.
  4. Finale. Allegro (also Ziemlich schnell) D minor


The symphony requires an instrumentation of one pair each flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, with four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, timpani and strings.


The 1873 version was the version that Bruckner sent to Wagner for his approval. It is available in an edition by Leopold Nowak (published 1977), which is based on Wagner's fair copy. It was first performed by Hans-Hubert Schönzeler at the Adelaide Festival of Arts in Australia in 1978.[3]

The 1876 Adagio is available in an edition by Nowak which was published in 1980. The next year Nowak published the 1877 version.

Currently, the 1878 version is only available in an edition by Oeser published in 1950.

The 1889 version was published by Nowak back in 1959.

The first published version of 1890, edited by Rättig, remains controversial because it hasn't been ascertained how much it reflected Bruckner's wishes, and how much it was influenced by Josef and Franz Schalk.


The first commercial recording of part of this symphony was made by Anton Konrath with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra in 1928. It featured only the scherzo and trio.

The oldest complete performance preserved on disc is by Eugen Jochum with the Hamburg State Theatre Orchestra from 1944.

The first commercial recording of the complete symphony was made in 1953. The recording, from a live concert, was issued by the Allegro-Royale label giving the conductor the pseudonym "Gerd Rubahn".[1] It used the newly-published 1878/Oeser edition.

The 1890 Rättig edition is generally used by the older conductors of the LP era, such as Hans Knappertsbusch conducting the Bavarian State Opera Orchestra and Carl Schuricht conducting the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

With the dawn of the CD era, the 1878 and 1889 versions, as edited by Nowak, were more commonly used, by conductors such as Bernard Haitink and Karl Böhm.

Eliahu Inbal conducting the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra for Warner Classics was in 1983 the first to record the 1873 version. Georg Tintner conducting the Royal Scottish National Orchestra followed 15 years later on the Naxos label.

To facilitate comparison of the different versions, Johannes Wildner conducting the New Philharmonic Orchestra of Westphalia, in a studio recording (SonArte/Naxos) offers multi-disc sets. Naxos includes both the 1877 and 1889 versions while SonArte includes all three of the 1873, 1877 and 1889 versions.


  1. ^ Ethan Mordden, A Guide to Orchestral Music: The Handbook for Non-Musicians. New York: Oxford University Press (1980): 211. "Bruckner himself called his Third the "Wagner" Symphony because he was hoping for Wagner's support in some small way, such as being permitted to dedicate the score to him."
  2. ^ Korstvedt, Benjamin M. (2000). Bruckner: Symphony No. 8. Cambridge University Press, p. 65 - 66
  3. ^ The Independent

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Symphony_No._3_(Bruckner)". Allthough most Wikipedia articles provide accurate information accuracy can not be guaranteed.

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