Symphony No. 5 (Bruckner)
The Symphony No. 5 in B flat major (WAB 105) of Anton Bruckner
Anton Bruckner
Anton Bruckner was an Austrian composer known for his symphonies, masses, and motets. The first are considered emblematic of the final stage of Austro-German Romanticism because of their rich harmonic language, complex polyphony, and considerable length...

 was written in 1875–1876, with a few minor changes over the next few years. It was first performed in public on two piano
The piano is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It is one of the most popular instruments in the world. Widely used in classical and jazz music for solo performances, ensemble use, chamber music and accompaniment, the piano is also very popular as an aid to composing and rehearsal...

s by Joseph Schalk
Joseph Schalk
Joseph Schalk was an Austrian conductor, musicologist and pianist. His name is often given as Josef Schalk....

 and Franz Zottmann on 20 April 1887 at the Bösendorfersaal in Vienna. The first orchestral performance was conducted by Franz Schalk
Franz Schalk
Franz Schalk was an Austrian conductor. From 1918 to 1929 he was director of the Vienna State Opera, a post he held jointly with Richard Strauss from 1919 to 1924. Later, Schalk was involved in the establishment of the Salzburg Festival.-Biography:Schalk was born in Vienna, Austria, where he later...

 in Graz
The more recent population figures do not give the whole picture as only people with principal residence status are counted and people with secondary residence status are not. Most of the people with secondary residence status in Graz are students...

 on 8 April 1894 (Bruckner was sick and unable to attend: he never heard this symphony performed by an orchestra). It was dedicated to Karl von Stremayr, minister of education in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The symphony is occasionally referred to as the "Tragic," "Church of Faith," or "Pizzicato" symphony.


The symphony was written at a time of much trouble and disillusionment during the composer's life, a court suit (from which he was exonerated), a reduction in salary. It is not outwardly a work of storm and stress, but it is a piece of "working out", one of his most contrapuntally
In music, counterpoint is the relationship between two or more voices that are independent in contour and rhythm and are harmonically interdependent . It has been most commonly identified in classical music, developing strongly during the Renaissance and in much of the common practice period,...

 intricate works.

It has four movements
Movement (music)
A movement is a self-contained part of a musical composition or musical form. While individual or selected movements from a composition are sometimes performed separately, a performance of the complete work requires all the movements to be performed in succession...

  1. Introduction (Adagio) — Allegro. B-flat major.
  2. Adagio. Sehr langsam. D minor
    D minor
    D minor is a minor scale based on D, consisting of the pitches D, E, F, G, A, B, and C. In the harmonic minor, the C is raised to C. Its key signature has one flat ....

  3. Scherzo
    A scherzo is a piece of music, often a movement from a larger piece such as a symphony or a sonata. The scherzo's precise definition has varied over the years, but it often refers to a movement which replaces the minuet as the third movement in a four-movement work, such as a symphony, sonata, or...

    . Molto vivace
    Vivace is Italian for "lively" and "vivid". It is pronounced in the International Phonetic Alphabet.Vivace is used as an Italian musical term indicating a movement that is in a lively mood ....

    D minor.
  4. Finale (Adagio) — Allegro moderato
    In musical terminology, tempo is the speed or pace of a given piece. Tempo is a crucial element of any musical composition, as it can affect the mood and difficulty of a piece.-Measuring tempo:...

    B-flat major.

Movements 1, 2 and 4 begin with pizzicato strings, hence the nickname Pizzicato. The pizzicato figures are symmetrical, in the sense that the outer movements share one figure while the second movement share a different figure.

The work begins with a majestic slow introduction, which progresses into a main movement in sonata form
Sonata form
Sonata form is a large-scale musical structure used widely since the middle of the 18th century . While it is typically used in the first movement of multi-movement pieces, it is sometimes used in subsequent movements as well—particularly the final movement...

 whose opening theme in B-flat hints also at G-flat. Like much of Bruckner's music the exposition of this movement has three main key regions instead of the usual two.

The main material of the slow movement and scherzo are very similar, heard of course at different tempo
In musical terminology, tempo is the speed or pace of a given piece. Tempo is a crucial element of any musical composition, as it can affect the mood and difficulty of a piece.-Measuring tempo:...

s and launching different developments.

The finale opens in the same way as the first movement, but veers off soon to gradually introduce new material which becomes the source of the themes of the Allegro moderato, another sonata form which contains in its course fugal
In music, a fugue is a compositional technique in two or more voices, built on a subject that is introduced at the beginning in imitation and recurs frequently in the course of the composition....

 and chorale
A chorale was originally a hymn sung by a Christian congregation. In certain modern usage, this term may also include classical settings of such hymns and works of a similar character....

 sections of elaborate counterpoint.

The symphony is the only one of Bruckner's nine that begins with a slow introduction. However, all the others except the Symphony No. 1
Symphony No. 1 (Bruckner)
Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 1 in C minor 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 No. 0 in D minor. The first version of the Symphony No. 2...

 begin with sections that are like introductions "in-tempo", easing into the main material like the opening of Beethoven's Ninth
Symphony No. 9 (Beethoven)
The Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, is the final complete symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven. Completed in 1824, the symphony is one of the best known works of the Western classical repertoire, and has been adapted for use as the European Anthem...


1876 version

This version is unpublished yet.

In 1997 a first attempt of reconstruction of the 1876 version, by including in the Finale music from the "1876 First Concept" (Ed. Carragan), has been recorded by Shunsaku Tsutsumi with the Shunyukai Symphony Orchestra.

In 2008 Takanobu Kawasaki was able to assemble the original concepts (1875–1877) of the symphony from manuscripts Mus.Hs.19.477 & Mus.Hs.3162 at the Austrian National Library. These original concepts have been recorded by Akira Naito with the Tokyo New City Orchestra. As commented by John F. Berky, "It is the best available CD to present some of Bruckner's earlier thoughts for this massive symphony." In its original concepts the symphony is scored without a bass tuba and more prominence is given to the string instruments. The tempo of the Adagio introduction of movements 1 and 4, and that of movement 2 are scored Alla breve
Alla breve
In music, alla breve Italian: at the breve] refers to a musical meter notated by the time signature symbol , which is the equivalent of 2/2. Alla breve is a "simple-duple meter with a half-note pulse"...

, i.e., noteworthy faster than in the 1878 version.

1878 version

This is the version normally performed. It exists in editions by Robert Haas
Robert Haas (musicologist)
Robert Maria Haas Austrian musicologist.At the beginning of his career with the Austrian national library, Haas was mostly interested in Baroque and Classical music...

 (published 1935) and Leopold Nowak
Leopold Nowak
Leopold Nowak was a musicologist chiefly known for editing the works by Anton Bruckner for the International Bruckner Society. He reconstructed the original form of some of those works, most of which had been revised and edited many times.Nowak was born in Vienna, Austria. He studied piano and...

 (published 1951) which are almost identical.

1896 first published version (Schalk)

The first published version (which was also the version heard at the work's premiere) was edited by Franz Schalk
Franz Schalk
Franz Schalk was an Austrian conductor. From 1918 to 1929 he was director of the Vienna State Opera, a post he held jointly with Richard Strauss from 1919 to 1924. Later, Schalk was involved in the establishment of the Salzburg Festival.-Biography:Schalk was born in Vienna, Austria, where he later...

. It is unclear exactly how much of the difference between the 1878 and 1896 versions was due to Bruckner and how much to Schalk, but it is generally agreed that most of the changes were unapproved by Bruckner and inauthentic. Schalk generally made Bruckner's music sound more Wagnerian, mainly by means of reorchestration. The most obvious differences occur in the coda of the Finale. In the last few pages, Schalk adds triangle
Triangle (instrument)
The triangle is an idiophone type of musical instrument in the percussion family. It is a bar of metal, usually steel but sometimes other metals like beryllium copper, bent into a triangle shape. The instrument is usually held by a loop of some form of thread or wire at the top curve...

 and cymbal
Cymbals are a common percussion instrument. Cymbals consist of thin, normally round plates of various alloys; see cymbal making for a discussion of their manufacture. The greater majority of cymbals are of indefinite pitch, although small disc-shaped cymbals based on ancient designs sound a...

s, and an offstage brass band. Schalk also made several cuts, mostly in the Finale.

The only recordings of this version are by Hans Knappertsbusch
Hans Knappertsbusch
Hans Knappertsbusch was a German conductor, best known for his performances of the music of Richard Wagner, Anton Bruckner and Richard Strauss....

, Leon Botstein
Leon Botstein
Leon Botstein is an American conductor and the President of Bard College . Botstein is the music director and principal conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra and conductor laureate of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, where he served as music director and principal conductor from 2003-2010...

 and Takeo Noguchi, together with the recording premiere of the scherzo by Dol Dauber (see Discography below).
All other recordings are of 1878 version in either the Haas or Nowak edition.


The symphony requires an instrumentation of one pair each flute
The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening...

s, oboe
The oboe is a double reed musical instrument of the woodwind family. In English, prior to 1770, the instrument was called "hautbois" , "hoboy", or "French hoboy". The spelling "oboe" was adopted into English ca...

s, clarinet
The clarinet is a musical instrument of woodwind type. The name derives from adding the suffix -et to the Italian word clarino , as the first clarinets had a strident tone similar to that of a trumpet. The instrument has an approximately cylindrical bore, and uses a single reed...

s, bassoon
The bassoon is a woodwind instrument in the double reed family that typically plays music written in the bass and tenor registers, and occasionally higher. Appearing in its modern form in the 19th century, the bassoon figures prominently in orchestral, concert band and chamber music literature...

s, with four horn
Horn (instrument)
The horn is a brass instrument consisting of about of tubing wrapped into a coil with a flared bell. A musician who plays the horn is called a horn player ....

s, three trumpet
The trumpet is the musical instrument with the highest register in the brass family. Trumpets are among the oldest musical instruments, dating back to at least 1500 BCE. They are played by blowing air through closed lips, producing a "buzzing" sound which starts a standing wave vibration in the air...

s, three trombone
The trombone is a musical instrument in the brass family. Like all brass instruments, sound is produced when the player’s vibrating lips cause the air column inside the instrument to vibrate...

s and one tuba
The tuba is the largest and lowest-pitched brass instrument. Sound is produced by vibrating or "buzzing" the lips into a large cupped mouthpiece. It is one of the most recent additions to the modern symphony orchestra, first appearing in the mid-19th century, when it largely replaced the...

 along with timpani
Timpani, or kettledrums, are musical instruments in the percussion family. A type of drum, they consist of a skin called a head stretched over a large bowl traditionally made of copper. They are played by striking the head with a specialized drum stick called a timpani stick or timpani mallet...

 and strings
String instrument
A string instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound by means of vibrating strings. In the Hornbostel-Sachs scheme of musical instrument classification, used in organology, they are called chordophones...

 (the "Wagner tuba
Wagner tuba
The Wagner tuba is a comparatively rare brass instrument that combines elements of both the French horn and the tuba. Also referred to as the "Bayreuth Tuba", it was originally created for Richard Wagner's operatic cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen. Since then, other composers have written for it, most...

", an instrument Wagner used in his operas and which no longer exists in the form originally designed, was not requested by Bruckner until his last few symphonies). Also note that, in its original form, the symphony was scored without a bass tuba. This was added in 1878, at the same time that Bruckner added a tuba to the fourth symphony.


The first commercial recording of part of the symphony was made by Dol Dauber with his salon orchestra in 1928 for HMV
His Master's Voice is a trademark in the music business, and for many years was the name of a large record label. The name was coined in 1899 as the title of a painting of the dog Nipper listening to a wind-up gramophone...

. It included only the scherzo, in an arrangement of the Schalk edition.

The first commercial recording of the complete symphony was made by Karl Böhm
Karl Böhm
Karl August Leopold Böhm was an Austrian conductor. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest symphonic and operatic conductors of the 20th century.- Education :...

 with the Dresden Staatskapelle in 1937. It, and nearly every subsequent recording, has used either the Haas or Nowak editions.

Norman Lebrecht
Norman Lebrecht
Norman Lebrecht is a British commentator on music and cultural affairs and a novelist. He was a columnist for The Daily Telegraph from 1994 until 2002 and assistant editor of the Evening Standard from 2002 until 2009...

 has singled out Georg Tintner
Georg Tintner
Georg Tintner CM was an Austrian-born conductor whose career was principally in New Zealand, Australia, and Canada....

's recording with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Royal Scottish National Orchestra
The Royal Scottish National Orchestra is Scotland's national symphony orchestra. Based in Glasgow, the 89-member professional orchestra also regularly performs in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee, and abroad. Formed in 1891 as the Scottish Orchestra, the company has performed full-time since 1950,...

 on Naxos Records
Naxos Records
Naxos Records is a record label specializing in classical music. Through a number of imprints, Naxos also releases genres including Chinese music, jazz, world music, and early rock & roll. The company was founded in 1987 by Klaus Heymann, a German-born resident of Hong Kong.Naxos is the largest...

 as #92 in his list of the 100 best recordings of the century, and credits it (along with Tintner's other Bruckner recordings) with changing critics' dismissive attitude towards Naxos. It was Tintner's first Bruckner recording and Lebrecht says "It actually sounds as if Tintner had been waiting all of his life to give this performance."

Also noteworthy is Bernard Haitink
Bernard Haitink
Bernard Johan Herman Haitink, CH, KBE is a Dutch conductor and violinist.- Early life :Haitink was born in Amsterdam, the son of Willem Haitink and Anna Haitink. He studied music at the conservatoire in Amsterdam...

 conducting the Concertgebouw Orchestra
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is a symphony orchestra of the Netherlands, based at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. In 1988, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands conferred the "Royal" title upon the orchestra...

, studio recording, 1972 (Philips) The recent recording (2010) by Haitink with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
The Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, in German Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks is the internationally renowned orchestra of the Bayerischer Rundfunk , based in Munich, Germany. It is one of the three principal orchestras in the city of Munich, along with the Munich Philharmonic...

 (2010) shows a more mature Haitink and is regarded by some music expert as a new benchmark.

Of the recordings of the Schalk version, Leon Botstein
Leon Botstein
Leon Botstein is an American conductor and the President of Bard College . Botstein is the music director and principal conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra and conductor laureate of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, where he served as music director and principal conductor from 2003-2010...

's studio recording conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra
London Philharmonic Orchestra
The London Philharmonic Orchestra , based in London, is one of the major orchestras of the United Kingdom, and is based in the Royal Festival Hall. In addition, the LPO is the main resident orchestra of the Glyndebourne Festival Opera...

, released by Telarc in 1998, is the most recent.

External links

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