Programme Guide

The greatness of Anton Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony, as attested by Hugo Wolf, manifests itself in many ways – firstly in its duration, which puts all of Bruckner’s other works in the shade. Moreover, the composer here achieves a unique emotional power, such as when themes of changing moods – doubt, sadness and warm consolation – intertwine in the slow movement and undergo a powerful expressive intensification.

Bruckner’s inspiration here is also rich and varied. He himself claimed to use both the emotional and sound worlds of Richard Wagner in the first movement, in particular the Todesverkündigung, the “annunciation of death” from the Valkyrie and the monologue of the Flying Dutchman. In the finale on the other hand, there are echoes of a historical meeting of the Austrian Emperor and the Russian czar, for example in a “Ride of the Cossacks” in the string accompaniment at the beginning of the movement. Despite its multifaceted and well-calculated contrasting nature, the music is not fractured: Rather, it is firmly bound together by the ever-present personality of the composer, which ensures that the symphony maintains a never-diminishing intensity.

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