The next music to be considered is near the beginning of the development. In 1873, Bruckner began the development at measure 285 with chords continuing the codetta at the end of the exposition, followed by the motto theme in augmentation played by the solo horn. He then designed three passages, in F minor, G minor, and A minor, in the first two of which the motto theme in inversion, led by the bassoons and low strings, and the A2 or unison theme in the upper winds, are discussed alternatim 5 . To the second of these passages, the one in G minor beginning at 1873 measure 317, he enriched the canonic imitation in 1874 by adding upright entrances in the clarinet, oboe, and flute, as can be seen in Example 2. Here he originates the idea of using the motto theme in both upright and inverted forms in the same canon. It is a model of clarity. Then in 1877 he not only retained the additions of 1874, but also added yet another entrance in the flute one measure after the beginning of the passage, this one in the same sense as the basses, that is, inverted. In 1889 all of these changes were kept. We see Bruckner preserving and extending his decorations, even while the symphony is being shortened.
Later in this extraordinary development there is a long crescendo leading to the famous fortefortissimo statement of the motto theme and its continuation.Everyone knows that Bruckner violated one of the basic principles of sonata form here by bringing back the main theme in the tonic in the middle of the development. But that is what happened, here and nowhere else in his work, and there is no one who does not appreciate it as a stroke of genius. The buildup to this event, shown schematically in Example 3, was originally conceived as a development of the A2 theme in the timing of its first occurrence in this version at measure 37, and to all but the first group, an anacrusis or upbeat is provided. But in 1874 Bruckner came back and removed every second upbeat, which has the effect of making the melody divide into four-measure phrases instead of two. Those removals were, in the flute and clarinet parts, in measures 362 and 366, and in the upper horn parts, in measures 359, 363, and 367; in the example, these locations are marked by asterisks. In 1873 there was no imitation of the A2 theme beyond the echo of the woodwinds by the upper pair of horns, but in 1874 after partially suggesting the rhythm at measure 360 in the trumpet, in 363 he creates the full rhythm of A2 one half-note late in the trumpet in dialogue with the lower pair of horns, and extraordinarily, one quarter note late in the bassoons. All of these details were retained in 1877, with a bit of tinkering in the bassoon parts, and it is no wonder that he felt he needed to double the flute melody with the upper division of the first violins, writing “gestrichen” in the devout hope that they would be heard at all. It is quite difficult for the listener to keep track of every detail of the imitation as such, but it seems that Bruckner was content to create a dynamic, pulsating chordal texture which carries all before it. Trumpets enter at 1874 measure 367½ and in 1877 at parallel measure 333½; they are strangely different as inspection of the example shows; for two A naturals in 1874, Bruckner substitutes two B flats in 1877, leaving all the other notes enharmonically the same. Both contours work, though the later one, with its bolder trombone echo, is quite a bit spicier. The inevitable diminution occurs at measure 369, where in 1874, and to a greater extent in 1877, Bruckner brought in entrances of A1, the motto theme, in the trumpets and trombones, to replace the earlier A2 contrapuntal responses of the bassoons.
All this can be seen in Example 3, including the double diminution arriving in 1873 measure 373 and 1877 measure 339, but in Example 389, which compares just the 1877 and 1889 versions, it was possible for me to open up the woodwind parts and add the violoncello line. Here we do see some simplification: the rocking accompaniment in the oboes and violins, present in all three versions from the 1870s, is removed, and the violins are immediately put to work doubling the flutes while the oboes are given simple imitations. As the 1889 music proceeds the flutes, clarinets, and violins play the real melody, while the oboes echo it in canonic imitation. Meanwhile, most of the brass writing is simply deleted, and the upper pair of horns double the bassoons’ slow progression at the octave. Finally at 1889 measure 335 the trumpets enter, and the trombones follow with harmony at 337, where the trumpets at last play a new, intricate canon. The 1877 divisions are, beginning at 325, 10 bars, 4 bars in diminution, and 4 bars in double diminution, leading in a total of 18 measures to the unison at 343, while the 1889 divisions are, beginning at 321, 8 bars, 4 bars in diminution, and 8 bars in double diminution leading in a total of 20 measures to the unison at 341. The 1889 passage is thus two measures longer than the common texts of 1873, 1874, and 1877. When one hears the late version, the unison at 1889 measure 341 seems more inevitable, whereas in the older versions, probably because of the ten-bar phrase, the unison comes as somewhat of a surprise. At any rate, the late version may be a bit longer, but now it is also quite a bit simpler even though the same techniques of dense imitative counterpoint are used. It is, of course, wonderful music, but it is eerie to see in the earlier scores the elements from which the seething, pulsating sound is mysteriously generated.