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Anton Bruckner's First Symphony: Its Two Versions and Their Reception

By Takuya Nishiwaki


Bruckner's First Symphony exists in two versions: the Linz version and the Vienna version. It has been taken for granted that the Linz version is to be used when performing the First Symphony. This fact seems to suggest the musical superiority of the Linz version over the Vienna version. For more than seventy-five years, the Vienna version has been completely forgotten even though this version is the final version Bruckner himself made of the work. Bruckner revised many of his symphonies, resulting in many versions. Among them, the Vienna version of the First Symphony is the only final version which is neglected. However, the Vienna version was the only available score of the work for the first forty years after its publication in 1893. This situation is unique in the modern reception of Bruckner's music. This thesis attempts to reappraise the validity of the current overt bias toward the Linz version by exploring both Bruckner's working method and the history of the modern reception of the First Symphony. Biographical facts show that Bruckner had a strong personal motivation for the revision which was not triggered by any external factors. I shall demonstrate that the Vienna version has been undermined in the twentieth-century reception of Bruckner's music through two separate modern critical editions. In particular, the main causes for the current bias toward the Linz version originated with the period of the first Bruckner Gesamtausgabe (1930-44) under the direction of Robert Haas. The political climate of the Third Reich had a major impact on shaping the text-critical ideology of the Gesamtausgabe. In addition, Haas was confronted with legal constraints that hindered his editorial work. As a result, Haas had to wage an extensive campaign to promote his editions, which eventually proved durable and affected the current reception of Bruckner's music half a century later. It will be shown that the Vienna version was forgotten more for ideological reasons than for musical ones. The thesis also discusses the rationale for the revision and practical issues about performing the Vienna version of the First Symphony. I will show that Bruckner's motivation for the revision was not promotion or publication of the work. The essence of the revision was related to his personal concerns about theoretical issues. In that sense, Bruckner revised the work for himself. In every sense, the Vienna version is unique in Bruckner's oeuvre. This study gives a new perspective and urges a reappraisal of the modern reception of the two versions of Bruckner's First Symphony

Topics: Music
Year: 2009
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