Music of the Week: June 8, 2024: Anton Bruckner – Symphony No. 8

Anton Bruckner — Symphony No.8 in C minor — Herbert von Karajan, Berliner Philharmoniker [24/192]

Anton Bruckner — Symphony No.8 in C minor — Herbert von Karajan, Berliner Philharmoniker [24/192]

Austrian symphonic and religious composer Anton Bruckner (1824-1896) was one of the profound innovators of the classic symphony and a musical genius who, according to many scholars, is still not fully appreciated today. There is something in his symphonic dramatization that fascinates and surprises through the unique combination of modern polyphonic and atonal elements with traditional musical narrative, all of which is, at the same time, permeated by profound purity and piety.

Every year in September, the Bruckner Festival in Linz, Austria begins with what has come to be called a “Sound Cloud” of classical music with electronic light shows transporting orchestral and electronic sounds over the city. The very first Sound Cloud 45 years ago had Bruckner’s Eighth as its central piece. 2024 celebrates the 200th anniversary of Bruckner’s birth.

The Eighth Symphony is nothing less than breathtaking.

If you are new to Bruckner, you are in for an experience. Some called the Eighth Symphony “apocalyptic,” and it can certainly transport the listener into soundscapes of transformation and even divine transcendence. Bruckner himself described his Eighth as a “mystery.”

We have chosen a recording of Bruckner’s Eighth that does not show the orchestra, even though we usually prefer live views of performing musical artists. However, we anticipate that the listener will naturally be completely captured by this dramatic music and will have no time or focus to watch the orchestra. This 1975 recording by the Berlin Philharmonic under the direction of Herbert von Karajan is, according to many critics, among the best renderings of this symphony.

If possible, listen with headphones. 

The Last Supper – Painting (1886) by Fritz von Uhde showing Bruckner as one of the disciples (seated on the left).
Source: Wikipedia

Related:

Anton Bruckner – Symphony No. 8 (Wikipedia)

Linzer Klangwolken 2024

Karajan’s interpretations of Bruckner’s symphonies

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