Anton Bruckner, Eleven Symphonies (The Bruckner Red Book) is a systematic account of the different versions of Bruckner’s symphonic and symphony-style works. It includes comprehensive discussions of the versions and variants of the nine numbered symphonies from 1866 to 1896 including the sketches for the finale of the Ninth, as well as the string quartet of 1862, the overture of 1862–1863, the F minor symphony of 1863, the D minor symphony of 1869, a symphonic sketch from that same year, and the viola quintet of 1879. A chapter is devoted to each composition, with separate topics for each of the major differences among the versions. These are cited and described in detail, with musical examples especially engraved for this publication. There are also computer-generated audio files associated with each musical example, sometimes as many as six, which are accessible from a separate website through quick recognition codes printed next to the examples.
No attempt is made here to establish a “best” or “definitive” version of any of these works. Bruckner’s reasons for revision are too varied for such reductionary thinking. Rather, alternative readings are simply presented for appreciation in such a way as to be easily recognized even by users not familiar with musical notation. One can then attempt to understand why Bruckner did what he did without prejudice. Even the much-maligned late version of the Third Symphony contains some of Bruckner’s most skillful and brilliant brass writing.
Supplementary features of the Red Book include a list of some thirty books and long essays in English on Bruckner and his music, and a group of analyses of each of the compositions identifying its major formal elements and themes.
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