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The Several Versions of Bruckner's Symphonies (a synopsis)
(C)1996, 1998, 2000, 2012 by
This is a short text meant to be used as a quick reference for simple questions about the multiple versions of Bruckner symphonies. I compiled it for my own use but came to believe it could be useful for other people with the same doubts I had at the time I started looking into the problem. Almost everything that is in it I learned from the very knowledgeable discussions of David Griegel, Henry Fogel and Juan Cahis in rec.music.classical. Of course they aren't responsible for the mistakes it may contain. Also, I apologize for my far from perfect English.
An excellent Bruckner Discography is mantained by John F. Berky. A link to the relevant part of the Discography is provided below, for each of the symphonies.
Symphony in F minor "Study Symphony" ("no. 00")
Original version (and the only one), begun on February 15, and completed on May 26, 1863. First performance by Franz Moissl on March 18, 1924. Published by Nowak (1973).
Symphony in D minor "die Nullte" ("no. 0")
Original version (and the only one), completed in 1869. It's doubtful that there ever was a former score (1863) of this symphony, as it was believed. First edition (1924, Universal) by J. Wöss, not reliable for it has changes introduced by Wöss. First played on October 12, 1924 in Klosterneuburg under Franz Moissl. Critical edition by Nowak (1968).
Symphony no. 1 in C minor
1866 version, composed in Linz between May 1865 and April 1866.
First performance in Linz on May 9, 1868, conducted by Bruckner. Haas didn't
publish a score of it but provided a description. A complete reconstruction
was prepared by William Carragan in 1998.
version, also called the "Linz Version" (misleadingly, since
Bruckner had left Linz in 1868). It is the result of a rhythmic revision made
in 1877, but includes perhaps some slight changes made as far as 1884. This
is the version commonly performed. The Haas (1934) and Nowak (1953) editions
of this version have no significant differences.
Revised version prepared by Bruckner in 1889/1891, also called the "Vienna Version". First performed in Vienna on December 13, 1891 by Hans Richter. The modern critical edition of this version is by G. Brosche (1980).
First Edition of the symphony, published by Döblinger in 1893 under the
supervision of Hynais, uses this revised version, although with some few
changes in relation to the manuscript score of 1891 (some of these changes
were accepted by Haas as authentic in his edition (1934) of the Vienna
Symphony no. 2 in C minor
version (First concept version), composed between October 11, 1871 and
September 11, 1872. Critical edition by William Carragan for the Bruckner
version (First performance version) prepared for the first performance on
October 26, 1873 by the Vienna P.O. under Bruckner. There were many changes
in this revision. The order of the inner movements was reversed; in the
Adagio, the horn solo at the end was changed to a clarinet solo and a violin
solo was added. The repeats were canceled in the Scherzo and Trio, a passage
in the Finale was completely rewritten, and a fourth trombone was added in
the final few bars to reinforce the bass line. Critical version by William
Carragan (still unpublished).
version, prepared in 1875-76 and performed on February 20, 1876 also by the
Vienna P.O under Bruckner. There weren't many changes this time. In the
Finale, some material from the 1872 version, cut in 1873, was restored, the
new passage added in 1873 was shortened, the fourth trombone was removed from
the final bars and, instead, unison strings were introduced at the very end.
version, presents more significant changes. Compared to the 1872 version,
there is a cut in the first movement (although this cut might have been made
in 1876). There was also a cut made in the Adagio, and the violin solo was
removed. The Scherzo was modified slightly, with some bars being repeated at
the end of the Scherzo and its reprise. In the Finale, the new passage (which
was shortened in 1876) was removed and replaced with yet another passage. The
final few bars were changed again, mainly in the trumpet parts. And the last
few bars of the first movement were stretched out a bit.
Neither Haas (1938) nor Nowak (1965) editions represent pure versions. Contrary to what is still commonly said, Haas doesn't present the original version, but is based primarily on the 1877 version, with some elements of the 1872 version. The Nowak edition is actually a close approximation to the 1877 version as long as the cuts are observed and an error in the trumpet parts at the end of the first movement is fixed. The new definitive edition by William Carragan (1997) removes from the Nowak edition the anomalies that had remained from Haas.
1892 version, with slight revisions
made by Bruckner between 1891 and 1892. The final bars were stretched out a
little bit further, and new trombone parts, similar to the 1877 trumpet
parts, were introduced near the very end of the Finale. This last version is
used in the First Edition, published in 1892 by Doblinger under the supervision
of Hynais and later republished many times. The Doblinger edition was
considered inauthentic for a long time, but now it is recognized as being a
more accurate realization of the 1877 version than either the Haas or Nowak
Symphony no. 3 in D minor
Original 1873 version, composition begun on February 23, 1873, full score completed on the last day of 1873. An early draft was presented to Wagner in Bayereuth in September 1873, when the Finale still hadn't been orchestrated. A complete fair copy was later sent to Wagner in the Spring of 1874, and this is the basis of the Nowak edition (1977).
version, represents, accordingly to Bruckner, "a considerable
improvement of the first version". Unpublished and unrecorded.
version, is the result of a rhythmic revision; only the Adagio of this
version has been published so far:
version, composed 1876-77. The Wagner quotations are suppressed, the Finale
is shortened and the Scherzo gets a new ending. First performance in Vienna
on December 16, 1877, under Bruckner's direction. The First Edition was
published in 1880, by Rättig, with some small differences from the autograph
of the 1877 version, such as the elimination of the coda of the Scherzo. (In
fact the Coda is marked "not to be printed" in the autograph.)
There is no surviving Haas edition of this symphony, and the first critical
edition for the Bruckner Society was prepared by Fritz Oeser in 1950. Oeser
edition is a mixture of the 1877 version and the 1880 edition, for it is
based on the autograph score, but follows the printed score in that it leaves
out the coda of the Scherzo. The Nowak edition of the 1877 version
(reincorporating the coda of the Scherzo) appeared in 1981 and has since then
become the most favored edition of the work.
version is a revision made with the help of Franz Schalk during the years
1888-89. The work was further shortened, and the Coda of the Scherzo dropped
again. Changes in the orchestration modified the whole climate of the work,
bringing it closer to the sound world of the last symphonies. This version
was published with some modifications by Rättig in 1890 (Second Edition).
First performed on December 21, 1890 by the VPO under Hans Richter. The
critical edition of this version is Nowak's (1959). Before the recent prominence
of the 1877 version, it was the most played version.
Symphony no. 4 in E flat Major "Romantic"
1874 version, composed between January 2 and October 31 1874;
orchestration finished on November 22. Edited by Nowak (1975).
version - The Scherzo and the Trio were substituted by completely new pieces.
The first movement, the Andante and the Finale were thoroughly revised. This
1878 Finale (Volksfest) was published separately by Haas (1936 app.)
and Nowak (1981).
Performance version - In 1880 the Finale was replaced by the one we
know today. This was the version used in the first performance, conducted
in February 20, 1881 by Hans Richter. Unpublished and unrecorded.
version - Revisions were made just after the first performance, including a
cut in the Andante and a nontrivial reworking of the Finale. This was the
version played (with some cuts) at the second performance of the work on
December 10, 1881 by Felix Mottl in Karlsruhe. Usually called
"1878/1880" version. Published by Haas (1936). (In 1944 Haas
prepared another edition, which is actually a mixture of the 1881 and 1878
version - Some small modifications, before sending the score to Anton Seidl
in New York. It is possible that the modifications were completed in 1882.
The version published by Nowak (1953) was based on this score, found at the
Columbia University. Also usually called "1878/1880" version.
version 1887-88, prompted by Loewe but now thought to be chiefly
the work of Bruckner himself. This is the version used in the First Edition
of the symphony, published in 1889, with some alterations, by Guttmann in
Vienna. Performed in Munich (Levi?) on
December 10, 1890.
Symphony no. 5 in B flat Major
Original version composed from February 1875 to May 1876. The later revision was made on the same score, so it is not possible to recover this original version, although Haas provided some indications to this effect
version A thorough revision was concluded in November 1878. The Haas (1935)
and Nowak (1952) editions of this version don't present any significant
difference between them.
version made in 1892-4 by Franz Schalk and employed in the first performance
of the work (Graz, April 8, 1894). It was published in 1896 by Doblinger
(First Edition of the work). Bruckner had very little to do with this
revision, that introduces large cuts especially in the Finale.
Symphony no. 6 in A Major
version composed from September 1879 to September
1881. It was never modified by Bruckner. The Haas (1935) and Nowak (1952)
editions don't present any significant differences.
Slightly revised version by C. Hynais for the publication by Doblinger in 1899 (First Edition). Although Hynais work was careful, the final printed text contains many errors and changes introduced by an unknown hand. Another edition of this version, prepared by Wöss, was published in 1927.
Symphony no. 7 in E Major
Original version composed from September 23, 1881 to August 10, 1883. First performance in Leipzig (by Arthur Nikisch) on December 30, 1884. The later revision was made once more over the original text, so that an exact edition of the original 1883 version cannot possibly be made, although the Haas edition (1944) restored some parts of it.
version - Some changes were introduced by Bruckner under the influence of
Schalk, Loewe, and Nikisch (among others the inclusion of cymbals, triangle,
and timpani in the Adagio). These changes were made shortly after the first
performance, and are incorporated in the First Edition of the work, published
by Gutmann (1885). Some of the changes in tempo and dynamic, although not in
Bruckner's hand, were sanctioned by Nowak in his edition (1956) and put
between parentheses. If they are skipped, little difference remains between
Haas and Nowak. The percussion is likewise maintained by Nowak in the Adagio,
while Haas omits it. A famous passage is the cymbal clash (with triangle) at
the climax of the Adagio, which some conductors play, others don't.
Symphony no. 8 in C minor
version, composed from October 1884 to August 1885. Many and important
revisions take place until July 3, 1887. The first publication of this rarely
performed version was by Nowak (1977).
version, prepared by Bruckner and Josef Schalk. The critical edition is Nowak
(1955). It includes a re-writing of the end of first movement (so that it
gains a soft ending instead of the loud ending of the original version), and
substantial changes in the Adagio and the Trio. Also, some cuts were made
with advice from Schalk. The Nowak edition includes all these changes and
cuts, and considers them as representing the final decisions of Bruckner.
Haas edition (1935), if we leave aside some minor complications, can be said
to be basically a combination of 1887 and 1890 versions. Haas accepted the
re-writings and changes as being Bruckner's genuine decisions, but restored
all the cuts introduced under the alleged influence of Schalk. Because of
that, it is somewhat longer than Nowak's. This, among all Bruckner
symphonies, is the one that presents the largest differences when it comes to
the Haas or Nowak editions, and the preferences of conductors are evenly
distributed among them.
version of 1892, prepared for the publication of the First Edition by Robert
Lienau, in that same year. Further cuts were made at the suggestion of
Schalk, who also introduced changes of dynamics, phrasing, and orchestration.
This was the version played in the first performance, by Hans Richter, in
Vienna on December 18, 1892.
Symphony no. 9 in D minor
At the time of his death in October 1896 Bruckner had completed the first three movements and left copious sketches for the Finale.
version The first three movements were composed between September 1887 and
November 1894. Critical edition by Orel (1932). Nowak (1951) just corrects
some few very minor typographical errors in the Orel edition.
version of 1903 by Loewe, for the First Edition published by Doblinger in the
same year. It contains a large amount of changes never authorized by
It was the performance of this 9th Symphony in 1932 by the Munich Philharmonic under Siegmund von Hausseger at a semi-private concert in both the Loewe and the Orel editions that provided the impetus for the support and funding of the Bruckner Society to prepare authentic versions of all of the symphonies.
The Finale Completions
I cannot cover here the complex history of the attempts to reconstruct the Finale of the Ninth Symphony from the sketches that Bruckner left. The two most common performing editions of the Finale, are by William Carragan, published in 1984 and succesively revised until 2010 , and by Samale, Phillips, Mazzuca and Cohrs, which began in 1983 and whose last version appeared in 2011. The reader can consult the Wikipedia article to get more information.
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