Listening to Bruckner's Eighth Symphony Is Like Entering a Majestic Church

Dec 25, 2017

History has painted composer Anton Bruckner as a simple man who gave the world complex and innovative symphonies. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more on Bruckner’s 8th, which premiered in December of 1892.

The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcast for Sunday, December 31st at 1 pm brings us music by Anton Bruckner and J.S. Bach. Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts.

Radio script:

[Music:  Bruckner, Symphony No. 8]

Just breathe in, breathe out, and feel the connection of that music to the harmony of the universe.

Susan Lewis: Bruckner was in his sixties when he wrote his monumental Eighth Symphony, informed by  Bach, Beethoven, Wagner, and Bruckner’s own earlier works.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin: The architecture is so long and vast but it’s the most well controlled.

SL: Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin

YNS: It’s the most perfect creation, I think, of Bruckner’s.

SL: A teacher and devout Catholic, Bruckner was also a renowned organist. His Eighth Symphony is scored for a large orchestra, with 15  brass instruments, including eight horns, four of which double on Wagner tubas.

Jennifer Montone: The brass often functions as an organ, to simulate the organ which goes with Bruckner’s whole incredibly deeply religious aspect.

SL: Philadelphia Orchestra principal horn Jennifer Montone.

JM: You have this spiritual round and noble kind of quality, which the brass is often doing, and then there’s these very human moments of emotion that pierce through the center.

SL: Yannick likens the Eighth Symphony to entering a majestic church or vast canyon.

YNS: Accept that space and time are different, that it is not about the micro event, it is about the grand line.  And just breathe in, breathe out, and feel the connection of that music to the harmony of the universe.