2 CD - 82876 54332 2 - (p) 2003

Anton Bruckner (1824-1896)

Symphony No. 9 in D minor "to the Dear Lord"

New Critical Edition by Benjamin-Gunnar Cohrs

"Like a Stone from the Moon"

A Workshop Concert with Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Wiener Philharmoniker (Salzburger Festspiele 2002)

Anton Bruckner, Symphony No. 9 in d-minor, WAB 109, Finale (unfinished) 'Documentation of the Fragment' (Ed. by John A. Phillips)

- "Why did we think for overhundred years that nothing of this finale existed?" 10' 52"
- Documentation, mm. 1-278 9' 13"
- "Extreme dissonances in the trumpets towards the end of the block"
2' 25"
- "At the end of the development a wild fugue begins"
0' 41"
- Documentation, mm. 279-342 2' 25"
- "A sudden vision of death"
1' 47"
- Documentation, mm. 342-478 4' 43"
- "Then there are sixteen bars missing. We will just leave them out."
1' 40"
- Documentation, mm. 479-510 1' 37"
Symphony No. 9 in D minor "to the Dear Lord"

58' 54"
- I Satz. Feierlich; misterioso 24' 17"
- Scherzo. Bewegt; lebhaft - Trio. Schnell - Scherzo da capo. 10' 39"
- Adagio. Langsam; feierlich 23' 56"

Wiener Philharmoniker
Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Luogo e data di registrazione
Großes Festspielhaus, Salisburgo (Austria) - 14-20 agosto 2002
Registrazione live / studio
Producer / Engineer
Thomas Becker / Friedemann Engelbrecht / Michael Brammann
Prima Edizione CD
RCA "Red Seal" - 82876 54332 2 - (2 cd) - 71' 40" + 58' 54" - (p) 2003 - DDD
Prima Edizione LP
Il Workshop contenuto nel CD 1 è anche in lingua tedesca. Prima registrazione nell'edizione Benjamin-Gunnar Cohrs.

The reception of Anton Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony has been subject to numerous misunderstandings and misinterpretations. It is no coincidence that Heinz-Klaus Metzger and Rainer Riehn, the editors of the series 'Musik-Konzepte', chose to publish a triple issue to mark the 100th anniversary of the work's first performance, with the title "Bruckner's Ninth in the purgatory of its reception". The article makes it clear that the misjudgment of the Ninth has a lot to do with the imperatives of the Romantic era. Other scholars, such as Willem Erauw and Peter Schleuning had already shown that the way music was experienced in Central Europe gradually took on features ofa kind of ersatz religion in the course of the 19th-century. To the extent that the predominance of the Church declined, cultural activities adopted its transcendental function in bourgeois life. And since that time, the Austro-German tradition of musical aesthetics has worshipped at a limited number of monuments. As Erauw accurately, if cynically, wrote: "With the Beethoven symphonies as the new Holy Scriptures, faithful followers would never get bored, just as church-goers never tire of hearing the selfsame words of Holy Mass every Sunday." His assertion is confirmed by the dominant position of this canon of works in musical practice on the one hand, and the neglect to which major composers of other countries tend to be subjected to on the other.
Erauw also commented that "in Classical music, nearly all playing has to do with the text. However, the belief that the absolute truth can only be found in the score, this obsession with the printed notes means that musicians often do no more than religiously interpret the score in front of them instead of producing a living and vivid performance." This may be put a little drastically. But many musicians and musicologists who rely entirely on the score still frown on the idea of trying to understand a work from the context of its origin. Scholars outside Central Europe have long since begun to focus on the complex relationships between the listener and the music he hears, whereas many German and Austrian music researchers continue to see themselves as closet music critics. Thus the term ‘historically informed performance practice’ is frequently used in a derogatory fashion. And no wonder: anyone who finds the positive example of a revived practice to reveal his own shortcomings cannot help but respond with rejection. Thus laziness and ignorance have found their justification: music-historical knowledge and skill is claimed to be academic in nature, and thus of no relevance to actual musical practice. This ideology is still propagated in musical education, sometimes with consequences nothing short of grotesque, as indignantly criticised by author Peter Lamprecht in 2002 in the magazine Das Orchester: “When a successful conductor admits in rehearsal, without blushing, that he has never heard of the 18th-century or early 19th-century rules on bowing; when another conductor fails to understand the wavy lines stipulating bowed vibrato in Gluck’s opera Orphée and asks the orchestra to play a trill on every single semiquaver: then the tolerance threshold has clearly been crossed-all the moreso when the gentlemen concerned hold university positions, giving them the chance to duplicate the gaps in their own education with impurity."
In the light of this, it is not hard to comprehend how critics and musicians who have fallen prey to a misunderstood ‘fidelity to the original’ have taken hold of Bruckner’s Ninth in a way that is diametrically opposed to the composer’s intentions. Giving the lie to the widespread cliché of Prussian thoroughness, it took an entire century for the sources ofthe Ninth Symphony to be re-evaluated-in the shape of the ten-volume project edited by John A. Phillips for the Complete Bruckner Edition. It appears that hitherto, no-one wanted to know exactly what new findings had come to light, in order not to damage a much-loved Romantic legend. According to this legend, Bruckner was allegedly suffering from “too much mental decline" in the last months of his life to be able to jot down more than “a collection of disjointed sketches” for the finale of the symphony; moreover - thus the general opinion - the first three movements were seen as “a self-contained whole" - “incornplete, but not requiring completion". In his essay “Erst fakteln, dann deuteln” (First fiddle with the facts, then quibble over the interpretation), Phillips gets to the bottom ofthis legend: he is able to show without any shadow ofa doubt that this scholarly opinion that has prevailed up to now is chiefly the result of a campaign cleverly staged by Ferdinand Löwe, the conductor of the first performance, and a couple of music critics whom he had briefed accordingly. If, on the other hand, we summarize the more recent research findings on the Ninth Symphony, on the other hand, a completely different picture emerges.
It goes without saying that Bruckner originally designed the Ninth Symphony, on which he started work on 12th-August 1887, in four movements. He spent at least a year working on the finale while still in fairly good health, and the actual composition was probably pretty much finished by June 1896, with just the instrumentation awaiting completion. Bruckner deliberately dedicated his last symphony to “The Dear Lord". Analyses carried out by Hartmut Krones and Phillips have substantiated the belief that the language of the symphony is determined by this infra-musical 'programme'. The Ninth has been referred to as the composer`s opus summum or as a ‘confessional work’, and quite justifiably too: Bruckner wanted to sum up his own findings about the nature of music here, using a compositional technique that he regarded as explicitly 'scientific'. At the beginning of the 21st-century, Bruckner scholars are only just starting to comprehend the underlying laws of this technique - and many conductors and critics are still far removed from such insight. Bruckner furthered the research of those theorists from whose books he had learnt his own craft with his teacher Simon Sechter: the rules of musical composition, the weighting of bars, the correct progression of harmonies and their individual parts. Krones has been able to show how this thinking is reflected in the Ninth, from the consideration given to Early Music (key characteristics, rhetoric, the tactus principle, fundamental bass and the theory of emotional expression and figures). At the same time, Bruckner used such resources in a music-semantic sense: analyses of the Ninth have yielded a wealth of elements that can be placed in the context of the Passion/sin, repentance/redemption, the Last Judgment/ the Resurrection.
Thus countless motifs in all the movements are formed from the widest possible variety of cross-like sequences of notes that refer to the Passion. The importance of the tritone (here the interval D-A flat) in the harmonics reminds us of the age-old function of this interval of an augmented fourth as the diabolus in musica. Chromatically descending sequences of notes as in the first subject of the first movement correspond to the Baroque passus duriuscul, also known in one particular form as lamento bass. The pure intervals of the octave, the fourth and the fifth are mostly used to express God’s omnipotence. And on the other hand there are protagonists of the Redemption whose nucleus is already hidden in the mysterious elemental sound heard at the outset: in the opening motif of the horns, arranged in ascending steps on the scale, we find the notes D-E-F-A-D. They reappear in descending and inverted order in the third woodwind subject, quoting the Agnus Dei of the D minor Mass. Lightened into the major and shaken about somewhat, the same motif also appears in the trumpets at the beginning of the adagio. With this sequence Fsharp-A-D-E-F sharp in the treble, Bruckner is quoting the ‘non corfundar’ from his Te Deum, which plays a special role in the finale: this so-called ‘Horngang’ (a progression of natural notes characteristic of the horn) is an old symbol of the circle and of eternity. It seems that the motif was intended to be the point that the whole symphony moves towards; in that case, as Sergiu Celibidache once aptly said, in the Ninth, too, “the end would be contained in the beginning". Another redemption motif is a scale that descends like divine grace; in the adagio this motif which is taken from the first subject of the first movement, turns into the earnest tuba chorale that Bruckner called “Abschied vom Leben” (Farewell to Life) before mutating in the finale into the solemn chorale theme. All the motifs of all the movements are derived from the material of the first 74 bars of the opening movement, and are developed one from another in classic sonata manner. They follow mutation processes that are unique in Bruckner's œuvre in their elaborate logical consistency.
The harmonies and rhythms, too, are charged with similar semantic significance: even the main key of D reminds us of its ancient function as the principal key before it was superseded in the 17th century by C as the primo tono. D stands for Deus (God), while the Italian name for the key, re, stands for Rex (king). The Austrian musicologist Leopold Nowak, who succeeded Robert Haas in 1945 as editor of Bruckner's complete works, pointed out that Bruckner often used related sharp keys to refer to Christ as the Redeemer (the German word for the sharp sign is Kreuz, which means ‘cross’). This explains the E major in the adagio and the chorale of the finale, likewise the idea ofa 'trio' middle movement in F sharp that is present in every movement. As far as rhythm is concerned, one is struck by the fact that Bruckner uses relentlessly repeated dottings (an old maiestas topos, and at the same time a symbol for the flagellation of Christ) to oppose regular rhythmic patterns (e.g. repeated triplets/coda of the first movement, climax of the adagio, chorale-finale etc.). And these contents are also reflected in the overall layout: the unisono of the first subject in the opening movement is like the omnipotent Word of God, and the 'Gesangsperiode' (Bruckner's own term, denoting a cantabile period) is filled with soulful compassion, while the closing phrase is an arduous procession of the Cross. The scherzo is a demonic danse macabre with an exalted vision of paradise in the trio. With exclamatory figures (opening theme), sighs, the chorale of the Wagner tubas and the placatory Miserere cantabile theme, the adagio depicts suffering that culminates in a cry of immense pain, before the coda rises up to ethereal heights and comes to a peaceful end with the violins expectantly crossing themselves just before the close.
If this conclusion is presented in such a way that it really comes to a standstill, listeners will understandably ask what could follow. But the dedication provides a clear answer: the Last Judgment, redemption and a hymn of praise as the final destination of this spiritual journey. Bruckner had prominent examples to follow: the Mozart Requiem, Beethoven’s Ninth, Mendelssohn`s Reformation Symphony, Wagner’s Parsifal, and above all the Dante Symphony by Franz Liszt. Bruckner made obvious use of the conclusion of Liszt’s opening movement (Purgaturio) as the model for the coda of his own first movement. In the fourth movement, Bruckner returned to Liszt’s Magnificat-finale, and composed what is probably the most splendid chorale theme in his entire œuvre. It made Nikolaus Harnoncourt think ofan old Austrian baptismal song, and one is also reminded of the end of the chorale Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, with which Mendelssohn ends his Reformation Symphony. At the end of the exposition, the tonal cross descending through intervals of a fourth and a fifth, already familiar from the opening of the Te Deum, appears, reminding us at the same time of the closing on a fifth of the first movement. Then follow a wild first subject fugue, a toccata-like intensification, a new subject made up of triplets and an enriched ‘developing reprise’ made up of the cantabile theme and the chorale, the latter combined here with the Te Deum motif. Thus the finale represents nothing short of a counter-statement to the opening movement-even though final movements in Bruckner’s works generally have the character of a development, so to speak, of the material of the first movement. As Bruckner’s physician Richard Heller confirms in his memoirs, the composer intended the work to end with “a hymn of praise to Our Lord". The boldness of the finale promoted Nikolaus Harnoncourt to refer with a nod of recognition in his explanatory text to "the third Viennese school". He uses a trumpet discord (bar 262ff. in the documentation) to illustrate how uncomprehending conductors in Bruckner's own time toned down the composer’s audacity, as they saw it, making mild octaves out of grinding ninths. Bruckner of course had no way of knowing that present-day practice would show that he was right: ironically enough, the passage was played in just the way Harnoncourt described in Salzburg, shortly thenafter, during a presentation of the completed performing version at the Würzburg Bruckner Festival in October 2002...
Research carried out in the 1980s showed that - in addition to sketches and drafts - an emerging autograph score of the finale has survived, the pages of which Bruckner numbered consecutively. John Phillips has reconstructed this material as far as it can be deciphered. His "Documentation of the fragment" based on this reconstruction enables the basic structure of the movement to be played without compositional additions, and is intended for use in workshop concerts. However, this work, of which Nikolaus Harnoncourt gave the first performance in 1999, does not represent the finale in its final state, for Bruckner had actually made further progress than now seems apparent. The entire exposition and a number of pages following it were originally fully orchestrated in ink (cf. reproduction of page 1 of the 21st sheet/climax of the fugue, p.11), and the composer expressly described them as "finished". All the rest existed in definitive, albeit not completely orchestrated bifolios, on which all the strings (in ink) and the principal wind parts (in pencil or ink) were already noted; and, in addition, the composer had also assembled his own short hand notes for the final instrumentation. Thus what we have is really a double fragment - one resulting from the non-completion of the instrumentation, and another resulting from incomplete preservation. Not even the first three movements are really 'finished', since Bruckner did not have the opportunity to give them one last review in their entirety. Many such contradictions are revealed by the score of the first three movements edited by this author for the Complete Bruckner Edition, which was first performed by the Russian National Orchestra under Robert Bachmann in Moscow in November 2ooo, and appears here in its first recording under the baton of Nikolaus Harnoncourt.
Regrettably enough, the material of the finale was not preserved for future generations en bloc, since Bruckner's executors failed to treat it with due care, while various subsequent owners, particularly Franz Schalk and Ferdinand Löwe and/or their heirs, actually sold some pages or gave them away as presents. As a result, the manuscripts of the finale are now scattered all over the world, and some pages may even still lie undiscovered in private collections, This prompted Nikolaus Harnoncourt to jokingly (but also seriously) appeal to people to "have a look in the attic or in old chests of drawers" - an appeal I can only repeat here with renewed emphasis. Phillips came to the conclusion that nearly half of the circa 4o numbered bifolios that made up this late phase of work on the score are still lost. It is actually nothing short of a miracle that, of the final stage of the movement from earlier working phases (i.e., sketches, drafts of the layout of the movement and earlier score-bifolios subsequently discarded), the content can for the most part be reconstructed, at least up to the end of what is the last surviving sheet we have at the moment, namely no.32. The "documentation" covers a total of 578 bars of music - 526 bars plus 52 bars of the coda - before the score comes to an abrupt end. Thus it was possible to reconstruct a sequence that goes right up to the coda, making it as extensive as the whole first movement. Where bifolios are missing, there are five smaller gaps in the music, and the editor expressly wishes that these gaps should be used for explanations by a narrator or the conductor. Not even the coda lies totally in the dark, as has been assumed hitherto: particell sketches ofthe coda have been unearthed, including what one assumes is the beginning, with an inversion of the opening motif (24 bars), a chorale fragment (4 bars), and the remarkable last cadenza of the movement (24 bars), which ends in an eight-bar pedal point over D, and dates from May 1896. The composer intended the "hymn of praise" that he even played once to his physician Dr. Heller on the piano (as Heller writes in his memoirs) to build up on this pedal point. in his "documentation", Phillips set these 52 bars for string orchestra (Bruckner's primary working phase); however, Nikolaus Harnoncourt chose not to include them in his performance, since - unlike the bifolios of the score - they cannot be fitted precisely into the rest of the piece. Thus these three, hitherto almost unknown sketches are illustrated here (pp.14/15).
The assertion that Bruckner did not write anything worthwhile for the fourth movement is thus already untenable from a philological point of view. Some scholars realised this early on: in 1949, Hans Ferdinand Redlich wrote that "every single bar is carried forward by the overwhelming momentum of an imagination nothing short of Michelangelesque. The astonishing originality of the architectural plan deserves special praise in its own right". Nowadays, it is customary to perform just the first three movements - but this constitutes a gross injustice to the composer. Bruckner even expressly ordered - what other composer was so far-sighted? - that in the event of his premature death, his Te Deum should be played as the best possible substitute for the missing finale. We once again owe it to Ferdinand Löwe that the composer’s instruction is rarely followed. "Out of piety towards the master’s own wish" (Löwe), he did perform the Te Deum on 11th February 1903, but his conviction that the Ninth Symphony also made sense in its truncated, three-movement form rapidly became the accepted doctrine. Löwe’s edition of the score did not include the Te Deum, and passed off his drastic retouching as Bruckner's original; and his editorial dogma as expressed in the
preface was adopted lock, stock and barrel by critics and programme authors. Phillips, on the other hand, was able to show that the Te Deum does actually constitute a worthy substitute finale for many reasons. The harsh Bruckner critic Max Kalbeck referred to a “pedantic and outmoded ban” after Löwe’s first performance: "After the E major of the adagio, C major sounds neither better nor worse than D minor would have sounded". And it is true that, even today, many critics still find a C major ending to the Ninth to be out of the question, although the E major close of the adagio doesn’t seem to bother them particularly. Further prejudices against the Te Deum as a finale result from Löwe’s own performing practice, where he confronted the unchanged Te Deum of the first edition with his own ‘Berliozesque’ arrangement. Nowadays, a choir, four soloists and an organ mean additional costs for any concert promoter, and - let’s be honest! - most concert-goers are perfectly happy with 60 minutes of Bruckner...
Thus, the interpreter has a number of choices. He can combine performances with the “Documentation of the finale fragment", in order to give at least an idea of Bruckner's concept; this was the solution that Nikolaus Harnoncourt decided upon. But he can also adhere to Bruckner’s wish and round off the three movements with the Te Deum. And last but not least, the symphony can also be ended with the completed “Performing version" as presented, for example, by Nicola Samale and his editorial team in 1991 - a score that was able to manage with next to no new composition, and used restoration techniques familiar from the world of art or even of plastic surgery. It goes without saying that music-forensic work like this “Documentation” or like the “Performing version” has a provisional status. Such works aim to give the interested listener an idea of music that, strictly speaking, must be regarded as lost. And, at the same time, these projects also represent ‘work in progress’, since we can by no means rule out the possibility of lost material coming to light again: only very recently, in the summer of 2003, a previously unknown page of sketches (c. June 1895) turned up from a private collection - the original source was the estate of a Munich critic.
If we want to do justice to Bruckner's own wishes, we need to finally bid farewell to the transfiguration of the adagio as the 'true finale' of the Ninth Symphony. Nikolaus Harnoncourt presents an emphatic plea here for Bruckner's concept of a fourth movement whose boldness doesn't fit into the popular Bruckner cliché that so many people adhere to. If we were not looking at THE FINALE here, but ‘simp|y’ at some Toccata infernale found amongst the papers ofa composer like Liszt, then the music itself would doubtless find easier acceptance. And one is more inclined to accept a compromise solution worked out with great care and love - good examples are Mahler/Cooke’s Tenth Symphony, Elgar/Payne’s wonderful Third Symphony or the Mozart/Süßmayr Requiem - than to throw away the bold finale entirely, when so much has actually survived. But even in the fragmentary form that has come down to us, this is still Bruckner's very own music and an indispensable part of a symphony that he designed in four movements. Anyone who pretends in retrospect that Bruckner needs to be 'protected from himself', as it were, is a know-all - and is also showing the deepest lack of respect to the composer.
Benjamin-Gunnar Cohrs, 2003

In april 2001, Nebjamin-Gunnar Cohr conducted and presented the first complete performance and the first German performance of the "Documentation of the fragment". He is one of the eitors of the Complete Bruckner Edition, the editor of the critical new edition of the Ninth Symphony and co-author of the performance version of Samale et al. He is happy to answer any inquires (Postfach 10 75 07, D-28075 Bremen), and would also be most happy to receive any information about the location of unknown Bruckner manuscripts and documents, which he will of course treat in confidence; even high-contrast photocopies, sent in anonymously if preferred, would be of invaluable assistence.
Musik-Konzepte nos. 120/121/122, Bruckners Neunte im Fegefeuer der Rezeption (Bruckner's Ninth in the Purgatory of its Reception), appeared in August 2003 in the edition "Text & Kritik", Munich (ISBN 3-88377-738-2). In addition to numerous essays on the subject - among them one by Nikolaus Harnoncourt - it also contains a complete short score of the finale fragment, tables, examples from the score and reconstructions of some lost bifolios as a piano score.
Scores and study volumes on the Ninth Symphony - with the exception of a complete performance version published by this author - are published by Musikwissenschaftlicher Verlag Wien (MWV), Dorotheergasse 10, A-1010 Vienna.
English translations: Clive Williams, Hamburg

Nikolaus Harnoncourt (1929-2016)
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