|Anton Bruckner WAB 104|
Symphony no. 4 in E flat "Romantic"Symphony in E flat major. 1874. Time: 51'30.
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Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 4 in E-flat major (WAB 104) is one of the composer's most popular works. It was written in 1874 and revised several times through 1888. It was dedicated to Prince Konstantin of Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst. It was premiered in 1881 by Hans Richter in Vienna with great success. (In a well-known and amusing story that illustrates Bruckner's good-natured naivety, the composer gave a coin to the aristocratic conductor after a successful rehearsal and told him to buy himself a beer.)
The symphony's nickname of Romantic was used by the composer himself (see "Program" section below): however it does not refer to the modern conception of romantic love but rather the medieval romance as depicted in the operas Lohengrin and Siegfried of Richard Wagner.
The symphony has four movements:
These tempo markings are from the 1880 version. The 1888 version, edited by Benjamin Korstvedt in the Gesamtausgabe (Band IV Teil 3) has slightly different tempo marking, plus metronome markings.
There exists much evidence that Bruckner had a program in mind for the Fourth Symphony. In a letter to conductor Hermann Levi of 8 December 1884, Bruckner wrote:
There is a similar passage in a letter from the composer to Paul Heyse of 22 December 1890:
The autograph of the Scherzo and Finale of the 1878 version of the symphony contains markings such as Jagdthema (hunting theme), Tanzweise während der Mahlzeit auf der Jagd (dance tune during the lunch break while hunting) and Volksfest (people's festival).
In addition to these clues that come directly from Bruckner, the musicologist Theodor Helm communicated a more detailed account reported via the composer's associate Bernhard Deubler:
There does not seem to be any clear hint of a program for the third version (1880) of the symphony's finale.
Since the 1930s Bruckner scholars have generally recognised three principal versions of the Fourth Symphony, but two of these exist in more than one form:
At least seven authentic versions of the Fourth Symphony can now be identified.
Bruckner's original version, published in an edition by Leopold Nowak in 1975, was composed between 2 January and 22 November 1874. This version of the symphony was never performed or published during the composer's lifetime, though the Scherzo was played in Linz on 12 December 1909. The first complete performance was also given in Linz, on 20 September 1975, more than one hundred years after the composition of the work. On that occasion it was performed by the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Kurt Wöss. The first commercial recording of the 1874 version was made in September 1982 by the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Eliahu Inbal (CD 2564 61371-2).
When he had completed the original version of the symphony, Bruckner turned to the composition of his Fifth Symphony. When he had completed that piece he resumed work on the Fourth, though it is possible that he made some revisions to the latter in 1876 or 1877. Between 18 January and 30 September 1878 he thoroughly revised the first two movements and replaced the original finale with a new movement entitled Volksfest ("Popular Festival"). This Volksfest finale was published as an appendix to Robert Haas's edition of 1936 and in a separate edition by Leopold Nowak in 1981.
In December 1878 Bruckner replaced the original Scherzo with a completely new movement, which is sometimes called the "Hunt" Scherzo (Jagd-Scherzo). In a letter to the music critic Wilhelm Tappert (October 1878), Bruckner describes the new movement thus: "[the Scherzo] represents the hunt, whereas the Trio is a dance melody which is played to the hunters during their repast". The original title of the Trio reads: Tanzweise während der Mahlzeit auf der Jagd ("Dance melody during the hunters' meal").
After the lapse of almost a year (during which he composed his String Quintet in F Major), Bruckner took up his Fourth Symphony once again. Between 19 November 1879 and 5 June 1880 he composed a new finale – the third, though it shares much of its thematic material with the first version – and discarded the Volksfest finale. Thus the 1880 version is the same as the 1878 version but with a new finale. This was the version performed at the work's premiere on 20 February 1881, which was the first premiere of a Bruckner symphony not to be conducted by Bruckner himself. This version is sometimes referred to as the 1878/80 version.
The 1881 version is the same as the 1880 version but includes some changes made after the first performance of the latter – notably a cut in the slow movement and a reworking of the finale. It is available in an edition by Robert Haas, which was published in 1936, based on Bruckner's manuscript in the Austrian National Library.
The 1886 version is the same as the 1881 version but includes a number of changes made by Bruckner while preparing a score of the symphony for Anton Seidl, who took it with him to New York. This version was published in an edition by Nowak in 1953, based on the original copyist's score, which was rediscovered in 1952 and is now in the collection of Columbia University. In the title of Nowak's publication, it was confusingly described as the "1878-1880 version". It was performed in New York by Seidl on 4 April 1888.
With the assistance of Ferdinand Löwe, and probably also Franz and Joseph Schalk, Bruckner thoroughly revised the symphony in 1887-88 with a view to having it published. Although Löwe and the Schalks made some changes to Bruckner's score, these are now thought to have been authorized by Bruckner. This version was first performed to great acclaim in Vienna on 20 January 1888 by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Hans Richter.
The only surviving manuscript which records the compositional process of this version is the Stichvorlage, or engraver's copy of the score, which was prepared for the symphony's publisher Alfred J. Gutmann of Vienna. The Stichvorlage was written down by three main copyists whose identities are unknown, though it is possible that they were none other than Löwe and Franz and Joseph Schalk. One of the copyists copied out the 1st and 4th movements, while the others each copied out one of the inner movements. Some tempi and expression marks were added in a fourth hand; these may have been inserted by Hans Richter during rehearsals for the premiere in January 1888, or even by Bruckner himself, who is known to have taken an interest in such matters. The Stichvorlage is now in an inaccessible private collection in Vienna; there is, however, a set of black-and-white photographs of the entire manuscript in the Wiener Stadtbibliothek (A-Wst M.H. 9098/c).
In February 1888, Bruckner made extensive revisions to all four movements after having heard the premiere of the 1887 version the previous month. These changes were entered in Bruckner's own hand into the Stichvorlage, which he then dated. The Stichvorlage was sent to the Viennese firm of Albert J. Gutmann sometime between 15 May and 20 June 1888. In September 1889 the score was published by Gutmann. This was the first edition of the symphony to be published in the composer's lifetime. In 1890 Gutmann issued a corrected text of this edition, which rectified a number of misprints.
The 1888 version is sometimes referred to by Bruckner scholars as the "revised version".
The following table summarises the details of the different versions.
Bruckner's Fourth Symphony and the Bruckner Problem
Any critical appraisal of Bruckner's Fourth Symphony must take into account the so-called Bruckner Problem – i.e. the controversy surrounding the degrees of authenticity and authorial status of the different versions of his symphonies. Between 1890 and 1935 there was no such controversy as far as the Fourth was concerned: Gutmann's print of the symphony, the 1888 version, reigned supreme. British musicologist Donald Francis Tovey's analysis of the symphony makes no mention of any other version; nor does the Swiss theorist Ernst Kurth; and Gutmann's version was the one performed by the leading conductors of the day: Mahler, Weingartner, Richter and Fischer.
This consensus was upset in 1936 when Robert Haas, editor of the Bruckner Kritische Gesamtausgabe (the critical edition of all of Bruckner's works), dismissed the version printed in 1889 as being without authenticity, saying that "the circumstances that accompanied its publication can no longer be verified" and dismissing it as "a murky source for the specialist". In Haas's opinion the 1880 version was the Fassung letzter Hand (i.e. the last version of the symphony to be transmitted in a manuscript in Bruckner's own hand). We now know that this is not entirely true, but when Haas denied authorial status to the 1889 version he was unaware of the existence of the Stichvorlage from which that print was taken. In fact, the Stichvorlage has extensive revisions in Bruckner's own hand, revisions which Bruckner made in February 1888 after the premiere of the 1887 version of the symphony. To account for the fact that Bruckner had nevertheless allowed the 1888 version to be printed, Haas created the now-popular image of Bruckner as a composer with so little confidence in his own orchestral technique that he was easily persuaded to accept the revisions of well-meaning meddlers like Löwe and the Schalks – revisions which had in fact no authorial status whatsoever.
Haas's 1936 edition contained the entire symphony based on Bruckner's 1881 autograph and included the Volksfest finale in an appendix: he described this edition as the "original version" (Originalfassung). He planned a second volume containing the earlier 1874 version of the symphony, but this was never completed.
In 1940 Alfred Orel announced the rediscovery of the Stichvorlage from which the 1888 version had been printed. He noted that Bruckner had emended it himself and in 1948 declared it the true Fassung letzter Hand. Even Haas appears to have had second thoughts on the matter when he learned of the existence of the Stichvorlage. In 1944 he announced his intention to restore the 1888 version to the Bruckner Gesamtausgabe; but before he could do this he was replaced as editor by Leopold Nowak, who was not yet convinced that the 1888 version was authentic. Nowak rejected the evidence of the Stichvorlage on the grounds that Bruckner had not signed it. He also repeated – and revised – some of the arguments Haas had invoked to cast doubt on Bruckner's involvement in the preparation of the 1887 version.
Throughout the second half of the twentieth century most commentators accepted Haas's and Nowak's arguments without taking the trouble to investigate the matter any further. The rediscovery of the copyist's score of the 1886 version was the only significant change to the Gesamtausgabe during Nowak's long editorship (1944-198?). Nowak issued critical editions of the original 1874 version (1975), the 1886 version (1953) and the Volksfest finale of the 1878 version (1981), as well as a new edition of the 1881 version (1981). Gutmann's print of the 1888 version, however, remained beyond the pale as far as Nowak was concerned.
Critical appreciation of the symphony took an interesting turn in 1954, when Eulenberg issued a new edition of the 1888 version by the German-born British musicologist Hans F. Redlich. According to Redlich, the publication of the revised version in 1889 did not mark the end of the Fourth Symphony's long process of composition and revision, as most commentators had assumed, for on 18 January 1890 Bruckner supposedly began to indite yet another version of the symphony:
Redlich buttressed this argument by questioning the authenticity of a number of emendations to the score which he considered alien to Bruckner's native style. Among these, the following may be noted: the introduction of piccolo and cymbals in the 76th measure of the finale; the use of pp cymbals in measure 473 of the finale; and the use of muted horns in measure 147 of the finale, the aperto command for which is omitted in measure 155.
In 1969 Deryck Cooke repeated these arguments in his influential series of articles The Bruckner Problem Simplified, going so far as to claim that Bruckner "withheld his ultimate sanction by refusing to sign the copy sent to the printer". Cooke, who referred to the 1888 version as the "completely spurious ... Löwe/Schalk score", concluded that the existence of the alleged manuscript of 1890 to which Redlich had first drawn attention effectively annulled all revisions made after 1881.
In 1996, however, critical opinion of the Fourth Symphony was turned on its head by the American musicologist Benjamin Korstvedt, who demonstrated that the manuscript referred to by Redlich and Cooke does not in fact exist:
Korstvedt has also refuted Haas's oft-repeated argument that Bruckner was a diffident composer who lacked faith in his own ability and was willing to make concessions that contravened his own artistic judgement. No evidence has ever been adduced in support of this assessment of the composer. On the contrary, there are first-hand accounts from Bruckner's own associates that it was impossible to persuade him to accept emendations against his own better judgement.
It is Korstvedt's contention that while the preparation of the 1888 version was indeed a collaborative effort between Bruckner, Löwe, and probably also Franz and Joseph Schalk, this in no way undermines its authorial status; it still represents Bruckner's final thoughts on his Fourth Symphony and should be regarded as the true Endfassung or Fassung letzter Hand. There is no evidence that Bruckner "refused" to sign the Stichvorlage. He may have omitted to do so, but this is also true of other Bruckner manuscripts whose authenticity is not doubted. Furthermore, there is no real evidence that Bruckner was forced to accept revisions in order to get the work published, as Haas claimed. The only condition that Gutmann made prior to publication was that he be paid 1,000 fl. in advance to cover his costs. Once this money was delivered to him, he would have been quite happy, presumably, to print whatever version of the symphony Bruckner sent him.
In 2004 Korstvedt issued the first modern edition of the 1888 version of the symphony for the Kritische Gesamtausgabe.
The following table summarizes the Fourth Symphony's complicated history of composition (or Wirkungsgeschichte, to use the critical term preferred by Bruckner scholars). The principal sources for these data are Korstvedt (1996) and Redlich (1954). (B = Bruckner; FS = Fourth Symphony; mvt = movement.)
The symphony requires an instrumentation of one pair each of flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, with four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, timpani and strings. From the 1878 revision onwards, a single bass tuba is also incorporated into the instrumentation. The published score of 1889 introduces a part for third flute (doubling on the piccolo) and a pair of cymbals.
The first commercial recording of part of the symphony was of the scherzo from the 1888 version, made by Clemens Krauss with the Vienna Philharmonic in 1929. The first commercial recording of the entire symphony was made by Karl Böhm with the Dresden Staatskapelle in 1936, in the Haas/1881 version.
The versions most often recorded are the Haas and Nowak editions of the 1880 score (referred to as the 1881 and 1886 versions in the list above). Any modern recording that does not specify this can be safely assumed to be one of these versions, while early LPs and CD remasterings of old recordings are usually of Ferdinand Löwe's 1888 edition (for example, those by Wilhelm Furtwängler and Hans Knappertsbusch).
Eliahu Inbal was the first to record the original 1874 version, edited by Leopold Nowak, with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra. The recording is available on Teldec LPs and CDs. Robert Haas's edition of the 1878 version has never been recorded as a whole, although the Volksfest finale has been recorded individually, for example by Georg Tintner.
1889/90 first edition
Haas edition (1936)
Nowak edition of 1953, based on the 1886 copy
Nowak edition of 1974, based on the 1876 manuscript
Nowak edition of the "Volksfest" finale, published 1981
Korstvedt edition (2004)
Published editions of the symphony
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Symphony_No._4_(Bruckner)". Allthough most Wikipedia articles provide accurate information accuracy can not be guaranteed.
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