Eighty Years of  Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 2

William Carragan
Contributing Editor, Anton Bruckner Collected Edition, Vienna
Vice-President, Bruckner Society of America

This paper is a longitudinal study of more than 150 recorded performances of Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 2.  In it the effects of the à-la-carte editions of the symphony by Robert Haas and Leopold Nowak are studied and evaluated.

Eighty Years of Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 2 | Image via http://abruckner.com
Image via abruckner.com

“Diese Symphonie ist super!”
—Members of the Bruckner Orchestra Linz, April 1991

A new edition of Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 2 was recently published under my editorship by the Musicological Press of the International Bruckner Society in two volumes, the first-concept version of 1872 printed in 2005, and the revised version of 1877 printed in 2007. Now after ten years it seems appropriate to take stock of the way in which the symphony has been performed in the past, and of how these new editions are being used. For that purpose a sample of 148 performances of the symphony has been collected and examined, representing the work of 85 conductors over the time span 1938 to 2017. In this paper some of the general results will be presented, although much more can be extracted from the sample than can be included now.

Sources and publication history Bruckner’s symphony no. 2

The Second Symphony comes to us in five principal sources. They are (1) Mus.Hs. 19.474 in the music collection of the Austrian National Library (ÖNB), a long-format copy on sequential bifolios or “Bogen” in Bruckner’s strong, decisive hand, which though it is overall quite neat and very easy to read, contains some evidence of compositional changes. For various reasons I regard this manuscript as a fair-copy of the real composition score which is now lost. (2) Mus.Hs. 6035 (ÖNB), a copy score prepared in 1872 by the copyist Tenschert (first three movements) and the copyist Carda (finale) with revisions by Franz Hlawaczek dating from 1877 and bound in leather. In its original state it was almost certainly the score from which Bruckner conducted the symphony in the performances of 1873 and 1876. But it is obvious that parts of it were removed after the 1876 performance, new material being added and the partially-dismantled binding repaired. The outer surfaces have been scratched and abraded. It was finally used as the publication source or Stichvorlage for the rare octavo score of the Second published by Doblinger in 1892. (3) Mus.Hs. 6034, a similar copy score prepared in 1872 by Carda on paper similar to 6035, similarly revised and repaired, bound in buckram. The outer surfaces are faded but undamaged. (4) M.H. 6781 in the Vienna City Library (Wiener Stadt-Bibliothek), a later copy by Hlawaczek. (5) The 35 orchestral parts, preserved in the library of the Augustinian convent of St. Florian. There are also collections of the leaves separated from 6035 and 6034 at the time of revision; they are preserved at Vienna (Mus.Hss. 6059 and 6060) and at the Benedictine abbey of Kremsmünster. There are alao a few other fragmentary sources. Not all of the leaves separated from 6035 survive. All of these manuscripts were used by me in the preparation of my editions, with the evidence from the parts being given precedence for obvious reasons.

The first publication was by Doblinger in 1892, in three formats: the pocket score, a somewhat larger octavo score, and the conductor’s score. The music was very close to the revisions of 1877, with errors corrected and a few emendations not changing the length of the music except for the end of the first movement which was one measure longer than the 1877 version. The work was done by Cyrill Hynais under Bruckner’s supervision. That supervision is demonstrated in Mus.Hs. 6035 where the page showing measures 521–524 is a piece of manuscript paper written in a different hand, which is glued over the original page inserted into the manuscript by Hlawaczek in 1877. The glued-in page can be separated at the top enough to show that the underlying original page was missing measure 524. Above the system Bruckner scrawled in his aged shaky 1892 handwriting “ein Takt fehlt”, and so the correction was made. This is not to say that every distinguishing feature of the 1892 publication really came from Bruckner.

The second publication was edited and published by Robert Maria Haas in 1938 in the Critical Edition. By that time, he and his colleague Alfred Orel had edited and published Symphonies nos. 1, 4, 5, 6, and 9 and some other works, with the First in two versions and with Orel doing only the Ninth, to excellent and unimpeachable standards. But in 1937 a copyright case brought to court by Universal Edition, the successor to the various Viennese publishers used by Bruckner, was settled by the determination that if the Collected Edition scores were sufficiently different from the Universal scores, they could be published. Haas knew then that his new scores had to be different, and his score of the Second achieved that by using the 1877 version but introducing certain elements from the 1872 version into the first movement, the slow movement, and at two locations in the finale, and surrounding them by “vide” (“look!”) signs so they could be included or omitted at the conductor’s discretion. Not surprisingly, the real status of either 1872 or 1877 could not be unequivocally represented by this clumsy process, and in one place Haas actually wrote violin parts of his own to replace Bruckner’s music to make the spurious transitions between otherwise incompatible passages possible. This process has let to utter chaos as we will see. Then in 1938 and 1944, Haas brought out editions of the Eighth and Seventh, which as every Bruckner lover knows remain controversial to this day especially as to how they differ from the first published versions of those symphonies.

After the war, Haas was removed from his position as director of the library and of the Collected Edition, at least partially because he had been a vocal and committed National Socialist. Orel, who was just as much a Nazi as Haas, had already left the Collected Edition and taken up other musicological duties in Vienna. Haas’s 1946 replacement was the devout Catholic Leopold Nowak, who had had no connection to National Socialism. Nowak reprinted the Haas and Orel scores quickly with certain corrections and with new editions of the Third and Eighth, excepting only the Second where some of the sources used by Haas which were in private possession had disappeared and could not be examined. Finally in 1965 he reprinted the mixed Haas edition of the Second with some small changes including the removal of the repeat symbols for the Scherzo which were a feature of the 1872 version, but he retained the 1872 music Haas had inserted with “vide” signs, one place in the first movement, one in the slow movement, and two in the finale. In his preface Nowak explained that these debatable passages were retained “for technical reasons connected with the engraving,” mainly that the whole symphony would have to be re-engraved expensively and they did not want to do that. He assures his readers that if the cuts are taken, the result will be the true 1877 version, but that is not quite true.

The Sample

First, the performances were organized into five categories: 21 performances using my publication of the 1872 version, 13 performances using my publication of the 1877 version, six performances directly using the first publication of 1892, 52 performances using the mixed version published by Robert Haas in 1938, and 54 performances using the slightly revised mixed version published by Leopold Nowak in 1865. By the version being “used” I mean the version which the conductor had lying on his or her music desk, and that can be determined in nearly every case by examining the end of the first movement heard in the performance. Indeed each of these categories has a distinctive ending, and two of the five contain a serious and very prominent error.

In all five scores, the first movement ends with a short peroration of twelve measures followed by six chords. The differences among the five categories concern the indicated tempo of the peroration and the spacing of the six chords, as well as the presence or absence of trumpets playing by themselves apart from the rest of the orchestra, accompanied by a continuing drum roll. Example 1 shows the situation for the versions of 1872, 1877, and 1892; in each case, only the last two measures of the twelve-measure peroration are given, the previous ten being identical with the first measure in the example.

Eighty Years of the Bruckner Second - Example 1

In the first concept of 1872, the four final measures of chords complete a sixteen-measure phrase with which the first movement ends. But in 1877 he inserted a measure to make the movement end with the first measure of a new group. Both techniques are possible, of course, and this is not the only place where in revising his work Bruckner tinkered with the timing of a movement’s conclusion. But as things turned out, he never heard this version, and upon publication in 1892, he expanded the ending even further by spacing out the last three chords. Today we are privileged to be able to hear all three endings in modern recordings from modern editions, although the final version will probably always be a rarity.

However, more than two thirds of the recordings in this sample present the ending in two erroneous ways, neither of which Bruckner intended or ever heard. These recording include 52 performances derived from the score published by Robert Haas in 1938, and 54 derived from the very slight revision of the Haas score published by Leopold Nowak in 1965. Example 2 shows schematically that in those scores, at the end of the first movement the trumpets, which have been playing with the rest of the orchestra, do not stop where the other instruments (except for the drum) stop in measure 566, but continue through that measure. In the Haas score, they go on to the next chord immediately, but in the Nowak score they simply stop abruptly without resolving and the drum plays alone for the entire measure before the chords resume. The orchestral parts, copied in 1872, revised and played from in 1873 and 1876, and further revised in 1877, do not have these extra notes in either trumpet part, and of course the parts represent the valid reading, the music which Bruckner heard and would have corrected if it had sounded wrong.

Carragan - Eighty Years of the Bruckner Second - Example 2

The database

For each recording, the following data were compiled for this paper: conductor, date of performance, source of performance, the version or score, the timed length of each movement in decimal minutes, and various features and measurements connected with the performance of each movement in addition to its timed length. For the first movement I recorded the number of crescendos or “waves” in the coda; in the 1872 version there are two waves, and in the 1877 and 1892 version there is one wave. This first wave is the first place where Haas took material from the 1872 score and inserted into the 1877 score with “vide” symbols, and in so doing, distorted the beginning of the second wave as it appears in the true 1877 and 1892 versions. Also for that movement I measured the length of the 12-measure peroration to an accuracy of 0.01 second, and calculated the overall metronome-tempo of the movement, the metronome-tempo of the peroration, and the ratio of the peroration tempo to the overall tempo. For the scherzo, which is the second movement in the 1872 version and the third in the later versions, I determined the exact repeat scheme used by the conductor; of course, there are quite a number of options possible. For the slow movement, I took note of whether the last half of part 2 was played (1872) or omitted (1877 and 1892). This section of part 2, which is closely parallel to the corresponding section of part 4, is the second passage Haas inserted with “vide” marks. (I found myself doing the same thing with this music in my 1877 edition, for reasons fully explained in the preface to the score.) I also wrote down whether the horn or the clarinet and violas played the melody at the end. There are three possibilities: the horn ending which belongs only to 1872, the short clarinet ending used only in the performances of 1873 and 1876, and the long clarinet ending of 1877 and 1892 For the finale, again there are two “waves” in the coda for 1872, and one “wave” for 1877, also inserted into 1877 by Haas with “vide” marks, and I noted that number for each performance. I have not timed the peroration in the finale, but there is a real issue and in future research I shall look at that problem. I also noted whether the codetta, a reference to the Kyrie of the F-minor Mass, was present in the recapitulation (yes for 1872, no for the later versions, once again inserted by Haas with “vide” marks). In the last column, I made note of any peculiarities of the performance which particularly stand out.

Results for the first movement or Kopfsatz

The two issues in this movement concern the presence or absence of the first crescendo or “wave” in the coda, and the absence or presence of the extra trumpet notes very near the end of the movement. In the 1872 version, the first wave begins at measure 500 with the first violins beginning their distinctive tremolo-figure on middle C (C4), with a steady crescendo rising and leading quickly to sequences of quarter notes in a decrescendo ending on a sustained low D (D4) for the oboe and a drum roll on G. The second wave begins at measure 532, with the same violin figure but up an octave, starting on C5 and resulting in a much larger crescendo and the concluding events of the movement. For the version of 1877, Bruckner removed the first wave but retained the second wave at measure 488, reshaping the violin part so that it began on middle C as the first wave had done, but then jumping abruptly to the higher tessitura in the last two notes of the eighth measure so that the violins could continue from there as in 1872. And at that same time one measure was skipped in the continuation of the crescendo. In an attempt to present both versions simultaneously, Haas had to suppress the 1872 modification of the second wave, making both choices erroneous, and Nowak did not correct that error. And my edition is the only one to show that measure of 1872 (measure 547) deleted in 1877.

The crescendo of the second wave in the 1872 version and the similar crescendo in the single wave of the 1877 version end the same way, abruptly, followed by one of the many silences that give this composition the name “Pausensymphonie”, symphony of rests (not pauses). One of the 2¾ rest measures of 1872 in this position was deleted in 1877, a process carried out in several other places at that same time; of course Haas and Nowak present only the shorter silence. Then, marked “Langsamer” (slower) there is a plaintive recollection of the principal theme by the cellos, which had played it at the beginning of the movement, lightly accompanied by winds in 1872 and more ornately in 1877 with the clarinet in contrary motion. (Voices in contrary motion were also added in 1877 in several other places as well.) The music continues as the bassoon seems to call together the other winds, and suddenly the peroration bursts upon the listener. In 1872, the tempo for the peroration is “Tempo Imo”, tempo primo, the tempo of the waves and indeed of the whole movement; in 1877, the tempo is “Sehr schnell” (very fast). Of these, Haas chooses the first, meaning that even if all the cuts are taken to approximate the 1877 version, the peroration will be played as it would be in the 1872 version. Nowak, thinking of 1877, takes the “Sehr schnell”, which is what most conductors do anyway as we shall see.

In the sample, the 21 recordings of the 1872 score in my edition all include both waves, and the 15 recordings of my 1877 score and the six recordings of the first print of 1892 all feature one wave, which is the second wave as modified by Bruckner in 1877. Of the 52 Haas recordings, 33 use two waves, departing from the 1877 score, and 19 use one wave, in the incorrect reading supplied by Haas. And of the 54 of the Nowak score, 29 use two waves, and 25 use one wave. These divisions are probably not statistically different. It seems that conductors simply use the number of waves they want to irrespective of the edition. Here, as we shall see in many other places, one simply has no idea what will be present in this passage if one buys an unknown recording using either the Haas or the Nowak score. Two recordings conducted by Okko Kamu in 2014 are noteworthy in that in them he uses the Nowak edition with one wave, but changes the beginning of the wave and omits the extra trumpet notes to agree with my edition. Later I will explain how I know he used Nowak, which of course was obsolete at the time.

As for the speed of the peroration, one would expect that all the conductors reading “Tempo Imo” in either my 1872 edition or Haas’s score would go back from the previous “Langsamer” to the initial tempo of the movement, and that all the conductors reading “Sehr schnell” in my 1877 edition, in the 1892 first print, and in the Nowak score, would go somewhat faster, maybe quite a bit faster. Here following are the statistics. The cited percentages measure the amount by which the peroration tempo incrementally exceeds the overall tempo. For example, if the overall tempo for the movement was MM half note = 60 beats per minute, and the peroration was conducted at 72 beats per minute, the speed-up would be expressed as 20%, (pesroration ÷ overall) – 1, all times 100%.

1872 edition, 21 recordings. Only Eichhorn, Tintner, Jurowski, and Blomstedt in his first performance of the 1872 at Montréal, stay close to the initial tempo, averaging at a speed-up of 8%; the others increase the speed by an average of 26%, for example from MM half note = 60 to half note = 76. Blomstedt in later recordings goes as high as 34% (from 63 to 84), still a modest value as we will shortly see.

1877 edition, 13 recordings. All go faster, an average of 43% faster, ranging from 11% (Paavo Järvi 2016) to 111% (Janowski 2012, more than twice as fast!). It is possible that the three recent Järvi recordings, with speed-ups of 11%, 15%, and 19%, would be thought of as not speeding up, but the others definitely do make quite a difference.

1892 edition, 6 recordings. All go faster, an average of 76% faster, ranging from 32% (Lim, 2016) to an astounding 128%, MM half note = 67 to 152 (Scherchen 1964). And of course all of these speed-ups sound even more extreme because they come immediately after an area where the tempo is slower, often much slower, than the overall tempo from which the speed-ups are calculated. Now for the Haas and Nowak scores.

Haas score, 52 recordings. For this analysis, it might be valid to separate the Haas recordings into two populations, one with speed-ups of less than 20% which will seem to the listener as the maintenance of the pre-“Langsamer” tempo, and those with greater speed-ups in defiance of the Haas indication “Tempo Imo”. Twenty of the recordings fall into the slower group, a few of them with tempos slightly slower than the overall speed, and the average speed-up of those twenty recordings is a modest 8% just like the smallest performance speed-ups for the 1872 version cited above. By contrast the other 32 Haas recordings have an average speed-up of 51%, with two recordings conducted by Leonard Slatkin reaching speed-ups of 118 and 119%, again more than twice the speed of the rest of the movement. That is in spite of Haas’s direction, which follows Bruckner’s original indication to return to the original tempo. This effect is so strong that it cannot be blamed on the irresponsibility of conductors. There is something in the music of the peroration that makes people want to take it fast, and that is probably why Bruckner changed the tempo indication to “Sehr schell” in 1877.

Nowak score, 54 recordings. The score says “Sehr schnell”, and we should consider all the recordings together. The overall speed-up is 63%, as if from MM 60 to MM 98, ranging from 29% (one of the Kamu recordings) to 102% (the interesting Daniel Nazareth recording of 1980 which we will consider again shortly). One Nowak recording was excluded from this group. A 1997 recording conducted by the experienced and cosmopolitan Hiroshi Wakasugi speeds up by only 3%, tantamount to not speeding up at all. In context that seems odd; even his compatriot Takashi Asahina, using the Haas edition and known for his slow tempos, sped up by 22%.

It is possible that conductors who adopted a slow overall tempo would be more inclined to speed up the peroration by a larger amount than a conductor who was already going rather fast. A graphical analysis

Carragan - Eighty Years of the Bruckner Second - Overall Tempo vs. Year

might bring some sense of that effect, as revealed by the measurements. First we shall look at the overall tempos in terms of the date of the performance. As can be seen in the first graph, the tempo shows a slight downward trend in time, losing 4 or 5 beats per minute in metronome marking over the sample span of eighty years. This is a commonly-observed phenomenon in Bruckner studies, but it seems rather artificial. The second graph plots speed-up percentage against overall speed. In that graph, conductors who sped up

Carragan - Eighty Years of the Bruckner Second - Peroration ratio vs. overall tempo

by only a small amount would be clustered at the bottom just above the horizontal axis, and those who sped up significantly would lie higher in the display, while conductors who used a slow overall tempo would be at the left, and the fast-tempo performances would be at the right. Thus, conductors who used a slow overall speed and a large speed-up of the peroration would appear high up on the left, and conductors who were conducting the movement more rapidly and did not speed up so much would appear low on the right. It seems that the suggestion made above is valid, considering how so many of the performances trend toward the lower right. But there are outliers, the most notable of which is the lone point at top a bit to the right of center, which belongs to the wild and historically valuable Scherchen performance, which uses the 1892 version. He makes a cut in the finale even larger than the immense excision suggested by the “vide” in the score, proceeding directly from the buildup to the recapitulation to the final peroration, omitting the A theme, the B theme, the C theme, and two thirds of the coda in one fell swoop. I am glad that he did not perform any such shenanigans in his recordings of Mahler and Glière symphonies from the early 1950s from which I learned those monumental works uncut. The outlying very fast performances at the lower right are respectively those of Carl Melles 1977, Wolfgang Trommer 1967, and Jascha Horenstein 1969. It is notable that almost 40 years earlier, Horenstein recorded the Bruckner Seventh, conducting the first movement faster than anyone ever has since then, approximating the metronome markings in the first edition which literally everyone in over a thousand recordings since then has ignored.

The bizarre history of the trumpet error at the end of the peroration began with Bruckner himself. In the spring and summer of 1872, as Bruckner was writing the symphony in Vienna, he seems to have simultaneously maintained two scores of the symphony, delivering them to two copyists in Franz Hlawaczek’s copying atelier whom we now know only by their last names as Carda and Tenschert. Carda and a few helpers copied the orchestral parts from the score they had, and Tenschert began the copy score from the score he had. This was done movement by movement during the composition, because Bruckner wrote scores in successive or sequential bifolios, four pages at a time. But when scores were copied, for ease in subsequent binding the bifolios were nested in groups or signatures of several bifolios at a time so that when the binding was stitched together many pages could be fastened together at the same time. And each orchestral part consisted of one group of bifolios stitched together in the same way. Today, we have the Bruckner holograph score that Tenschert used to make his copy score. It was Mus.Hs. 19.474, mentioned and described above, and the copy score he was working on is Mus.Hs. 6035. But we do not have the holograph score Carda was using. That Carda did not use 19.474 is apparent from many differences between it and the parts. There must have been another score, and considering the relative neatness of 19.474, it must have been the real composition score which like the other composition scores that survive, would have quite a bit of scratching-out and rewriting. The composition score of the Fifth is a case in point; it is a veritable battleground of conflicting texts, and we would expect that the real composition score of the Second would be similar. One suspects that Bruckner might have discarded it along with the sketches for all the symphonies through the Seventh and heaven knows what else, when he moved into the Belvedere Kustodenstöckl in July 1895 at the invitation of the emperor.

One of Bruckner’s compositional traits, which his enthusiasts love and his detractors criticize, is frequent repetition. And here in this peroration the first eleven of the twelve measures are identical, part by part. Bruckner’s habit in such passages was to indicate the repeat with special repeat signs, a virgule flanked by dots ̇/ˑ , for all measures being repeated. And that he did here in 19.474, and apparently by error, he put in one more repeat for the staff containing the two trumpet parts instead of entering the concluding single note. This reading was picked up by both copyists in their copy scores 6035 and 6034, and was used by Haas in his edition as shown in the upper staff of Example 2. In Haas’s score the trumpet notes produce an effect similar to a passage in the 1877 revision of the First Symphony at the end of the finale, and thus it sounds entirely plausible, though it is wrong because the notes do not appear in the parts. The fact that these extra notes also did not appear in the first printing of 1892 must not have bothered Haas a bit; it was one more difference between the first publication and his Collected Edition which he could show the court. There are 52 recordings in my sample in which one can hear what that sounds like. But Nowak, in his edition of 1965, favored the 1877 version when he could, and in 1877 Bruckner had caused to be added an extra measure after the trumpet notes, as can be seen in the lower staff of Example 2. This was done by Hlawaczek himself in 6035, in Mus.Hs. 6034 which is a copy score prepared later by Carda, in all the parts, but not in 19.474 which represents only the 1872 version. The result is that the trumpets stop without resolving on to an accented note; it is as if a cavalry charge suddenly fell off a cliff. Bruckner has surprising moments in his symphonies, but nothing else quite like this. Nevertheless Nowak put it into his score, and there are 54 recordings showing what it sounds like in this paper’s sample. But Carda’s orchestral parts did not contain the spurious extra notes, which is immediately apparent upon merely glancing at the parts since the added measure follows a measure in which the trumpets, like every other instrument in the orchestra except the kettledrum, play one note, not six as in the previous measures.

In Haas’s critical report on the Second Symphony, there are quite a number of citations of readings in the parts, and indeed when he inspected them he numbered every ten pages in pencil, and there are 1058 pages in the surviving parts. (In doing the research for my editions, I found I had to number all the other pages.) But for his edition he used the trumpets as they are in the scores, and so did Nowak. However, the reading in the two trumpet parts is valid, because Bruckner conducted from those parts twice with extensive rehearsals, and would have certainly corrected something which would have been heard so easily. It is quite satisfying to see that the eventual first print does not contain those extra trumpet notes. They must have been corrected out in the galley proofs, because there is no evidence of their cancellation in the Stichvorlage 6035. It’s amusing to think how many people could, indeed should have caught this mistake: first Bruckner himself in 1872 or 1873, then Tenschert and especially Carda, then Hlawaczek, then Haas and Nowak, and finally any of the throng of erudite conductors from 1965 to 2017 who used the Nowak score but never thought to question this strange-sounding effect. Bruckner himself finally caught it while supervising the 1892 print near the end of his life in 1892, but Haas put the error back in in 1938 and in 1965 Nowak made it worse, and there it is, still being played.

In the sample recordings, everyone plays what is on the stand: 1872, 1877, 1892 (no trumpets), and Haas and Nowak (five extra invalid but very loud trumpet notes). That is, everyone but three. In 1996, Franz Welser-Möst has the trumpets play one cadence note in the added measure which sounds better but is wrong; Daniel Nazareth in his distinctive recording from 1980 has the trumpets repeat the rhythm through both measures until the orchestral chord, which resourcefully solves the problem but sounds too long and is also incorrect. Takeo Noguchi, conducting the orchestra of the Furtwängler Institute of Tokyo, one of the more than 150 amateur orchestras in that amazing city, is the only one to remove the extra notes cleanly. His recording of the Nowak score dates from 2011 and he could have gotten the idea from my scores which were published by that time just as Kamu did, but I doubt it as he uses two waves in both the first movement and the finale. Then in two other recordings, the second trumpet could not resist adding the cadence note. These are Segerstam 1983 and Thomas Dausgaard’s 2011 performance with the RSO Stuttgart. And two measures later the accidental effect seems to be repeated by Bruckner himself, where the first trumpet alone among the instruments of the orchestra descends an octave for the final note, and gives the impression that the whole orchestra does.

Results for the scherzo

Bruckner first conceived of the scherzo in this position, and here we will discuss its reception in the sample of recordings. This symphony is the last one he wrote with scherzo repeats, except for the scherzo trio of the Sixth. His earlier symphonies all had section repeats in the scherzo, but not in every place possible, and besides, there is a strong tradition among musicians that the performer has some choice as to whether to take all the repeats indicated by the composer. In the 1872 version of the Second, repeats were indicated for both halves of the scherzo proper and both halves of the trio. But at the 1873 rehearsals, or perhaps in 1876, the repeats were cancelled at the request of the conductor/composer. The players themselves scribbled over the repeats in the parts so they would not be taken; every scribble is different. Thus in my edition of the 1877 version, there are no repeats, and in the 1892 first publication, likewise there are no repeats. Haas in his score indicated repeats, and Nowak, closer to 1877, did not indicate repeats. Here is a list of the repeat schemes used in the sample, where A is the first half of the scherzo proper, B is its second half, C is the first half of the trio, D is the second half of the trio, and K is the independent coda which concludes the movement.

It is particularly interesting that in ten recordings of the Nowak score, conductors took repeats when they were not told to. These were Myung-whun Chung, Michael Gielen (AAB CCD ABK), Eliahu Inbal in three recordings, Fabio Luisi, Leif Segerstam, and Jeffrey Tate in three recordings. Gielen also has a recording using the Haas score in which he takes full repeats. It’s fascinating to think about why people would take repeats when not told to. Perhaps there is something in the music of this scherzo which wants to be repeated.

In my edition of both the 1872 and 1877 versions, I recommend that Bruckner’s poco rit. at measure 63 be followed by a slower tempo from measure 65 to the recapitulation at measure 85. Bruckner uses this device in the scherzos of the Fourth, the Seventh, and in the trio of the Ninth, and conductors by and large are following my suggestion in the Second as well, some with real diligence.

Among the entries for the Haas score are two by the Swiss conductor Erich Schmid (1907–2000). One of them is an air check of a very creditable performance in which he conducted the Southwest Radio Symphony Orchestra on September 25, 1965. The other is a recording on the Pilz label, attributed to the fictitious conductor “Alberto Lizzio” and the equally fictitious “Philharmonia Slavonica”. The first movement of the two recordings is the same performance, but the scherzo isn’t; the aircheck has full repeats, and the Pilz issue has no repeats. There is also an issuance on the Point Classics label of the performance without repeats, ascribed to the real conductor Hans Zanotelli (1927–1993) and the Süddeutscher Philharmoniker, which might be a pseudonym for the SWR SO which actually played the music. There is also an Ampex Tapes issue of the performance with the repeats, credited to Hans Swarowsky (1899–1975) and once again the Süddeutsche Philharmonie. These pseudonymous issues are traceable to the conductor, entrepreneur, and fabulist Alfred Scholz, about whom sufficient can be learned on abruckner.com and the internet. Scholz was a student of Swarowsky, but that is probably the only good thing that can be said about him. Suffice it to say here that a person who denies an artist credit for work well and faithfully completed is beneath contempt.

(full repeats)
1872, all 21 recordings; Haas, 15; Nowak 1 (Tate 2005).
AABB CCD ABK Haas, 15.
AAB CCD ABK Haas, 10; Nowak, 9 (including the other two Tates).
AAB CD ABK Haas, 1 (Rozhdestvensky 1996).
AB CCD ABK Haas, 1 (Moreno 2012).
(no repeats)
1877, all 13 recordings. 1892, all 6 recordings. Haas, 13. Nowak, 44.

It is particularly interesting that in ten recordings of the Nowak score, conductors took repeats when they were not told to. These were Myung-whun Chung, Michael Gielen (AAB CCD ABK), Eliahu Inbal in three recordings, Fabio Luisi, Leif Segerstam, and Jeffrey Tate in three recordings. Gielen also has a recording using the Haas score in which he takes full repeats. It’s fascinating to think about why people would take repeats when not told to. Perhaps there is something in the music of this scherzo which wants to be repeated.

In my edition of both the 1872 and 1877 versions, I recommend that Bruckner’s poco rit. at measure 63 be followed by a slower tempo from measure 65 to the recapitulation at measure 85. Bruckner uses this device in the scherzos of the Fourth, the Seventh, and in the trio of the Ninth, and conductors by and large are following my suggestion in the Second as well, some with real diligence.

Among the entries for the Haas score are two by the Swiss conductor Erich Schmid (1907–2000). One of them is an air check of a very creditable performance in which he conducted the Southwest Radio Symphony Orchestra on September 25, 1965. The other is a recording on the Pilz label, attributed to the fictitious conductor “Alberto Lizzio” and the equally fictitious “Philharmonia Slavonica”. The first movement of the two recordings is the same performance, but the scherzo isn’t; the aircheck has full repeats, and the Pilz issue has no repeats. There is also an issuance on the Point Classics label of the performance without repeats, ascribed to the real conductor Hans Zanotelli (1927–1993) and the Süddeutscher Philharmoniker, which might be a pseudonym for the SWR SO which actually played the music. There is also an Ampex Tapes issue of the performance with the repeats, credited to Hans Swarowsky (1899–1975) and once again the Süddeutsche Philharmonie. These pseudonymous issues are traceable to the conductor, entrepreneur, and fabulist Alfred Scholz, about whom sufficient can be learned on abruckner.com and the internet. Scholz was a student of Swarowsky, but that is probably the only good thing that can be said about him. Suffice it to say here that a person who denies an artist credit for work well and faithfully completed is beneath contempt.

Results for the slow movement

Three issues surrounding the integrity of the Adagio (1872) or Andante (1877) slow movement are the presence or absence of the second half of Part 2 of the five-part song form, the appearance of a solo violin in part 5, and the issue of whether the horn, or the clarinet and violas, were to play the solo at the end of the movement. The summer 1872 genesis of this movement in a four-part structure, ABAB with coda, is discussed in my paper “The Bruckner Brand, Part 2” published in the just-previous issue of The Bruckner Journal, and available on my website carragan.com. But by rehearsal time, reportedly sometime in October 1872, the movement had reached its final form as a five-part song form modeled on the slow movements of Beethoven’s ninth symphony and fifteenth string quartet. Parts 2 and 4 were parallel in construction, each divided into two sub-parts, the first sub-part consisting of a chorale for the pizzicato strings and a plaintive countermelody for the first horn, continuing with urgent upwardly-moving figures with meticulously-notated rubato, stabilized by long rising notes for the cellos. The second sub-part is a repetition with the chorale transferred to the winds with an ornate string accompaniment, where the stabilizing instrument in the second sub-part is the horn in part 2 and the cello section in part 4. Part 2 ends with an unaccompanied solo for the bassoon, the only one in all of Bruckner’s music, and part 4 ends with a transition modeled loosely on a phrase from the Benedictus of the Mass in F minor leading into the elaborate restatement of the A theme, Part 5. Thus the parallel construction of Parts 2 and 4 is conceived very tightly and used to considerable dramaturgic effect. Then why, in 1877, did Bruckner delete the second half of Part 2 but retain the second half of Part 4? The effect can be seen graphically in these two diagrams, taken from “The Bruckner Brand, part 2”:

Carragan - Eighty Years of the Bruckner Second - B2 1872
Carragan - Eighty Years of the Bruckner Second - B2 1877

Clearly in the 1877 shortening of the first B section the proportions of the entire slow movement are seriously distorted. And upon listening, if the cut is taken the return of the A theme in part 3 always comes too soon. So why would Bruckner do that? I can think of two answers. First, he had shortened the first movement principally by omitting the first wave of the coda, he had shortened the scherzo by omitting the repeats, and he had shortened the finale by omitting the codetta in the recapitulation and the first wave of the finale coda, and so he felt that he should shorten this movement as well. And second, that section of Part 2 contained a fairly high note for the horn, concert C5 an octave above middle C (measure 67), which was treacherous at that time because of the way Vienna horns were then being manufactured. This matter is covered in the preface to my edition of the 1877 version. Perhaps the problem did not extend to the C5-flat the horn has to play in section 4 (measure 132), which after all is a quarter note at the beginning of a phrase rather than a half note coming at the end of a long uninterrupted passage. True, he did not try to eliminate the same note played quietly but essentially in measure 183 of the first movement, but here in the slow movement problems could be avoided easily and maybe the listeners in the concert hall would not notice the distortion. We, who listen to Bruckner’s music in our living rooms with a Macanudo and a dram of Glenlivet, do indeed notice it, and it is very harmful. Besides, the cut discards the glory music for the bassoon. For those reasons, in my 1877 edition I took a leaf from Haas’s book and included the second half of Part 2 anyway, surrounding it with “vide” symbols like the ones he used. This is the only option I allow in either version apart from variant movement endings.

Among the 13 recordings of the 1877 versions in the sample, six recordings, from Daniel Barenboim (4), Alan Gilbert, and Stefan Sanderling take the cut following the authentic 1877 version, and seven recordings, from Marek Janowski, Paavo Järvi (3) and Mario Venzago (3), dare not to take the cut. The Haas recordings include 20 with the cut, with Stanisław Skrowaczewski accounting for six of them. Skrowaczewski wrote to me that he was very interested in the 1872 version, and that he would perform it that way as soon as he could, but as far as I know he did not have the opportunity; how wonderful it would be to be able to hear what he would have done with it. Then there are 32 Haas performances without the cut, and the Nowak recordings include 26 with the cut and 28 without it. Again one can see that the Nowak people are biased somewhat toward 1877. I believe that unlike the other “vide”s in the Haas and Nowak scores, choice of this music does not affect the overall impression the symphony makes, but definitely makes a difference in this movement and may without risk be left to the conductor.

In 1873, Bruckner added a violin solo to Part 5 of the Adagio, and slightly strengthened the accompanying woodwind parts. By this time, he had already modified and made more complex the decorative first-violin figuration, changing groups of six sixteenth-notes to groups of five and regular groups of nine to irregular groups of eight. The effect may be heard in the Eichhorn recording of the 1873 version from 10:29 to 12:14, as played by Heinz Haunold, the concertmaster of the Bruckner orchestra of Linz. It has its beauty, but as Eichhorn complained at the time, it does not allow the rest of the orchestra to rise to the climax (“Höhepunkt”) as it should. Meanwhile, the complex textures for the rest of the first violins created a much less decisive effect. At the time I asked the players what they thought, and they said, “Please use the sixes, not the fives.” I said, “But the fives are slower!” “Yes,” they replied, “but they are really awkward.” Besides, the 1877 version has different groups of five. So I used the Rheingold sixes and the original version of the wind scoring in my 1872 edition. And I did not include this 1873 variant in the publication of the 1872 version because it would require eight pages of full score, and because Nowak had commanded me, “Don’t give them too much. It will only addle them.” It will be in the critical report, though, to satisfy the curious.

In measures 203 through 209 of the 1872 version of the adagio, seven measures in all, there is a solo for the horn which many people love as the greatest effect in the whole movement. It contains six occurrences of the note C5, one octave above middle C. Each time, the adjacent not is E4-flat, a major sixth lower. The player starts the phrase on C5, moves down to E4-flat, down to middle C, and back up to the E flat and to the high C. These days, hornplayers are expected to be able to play this sort of thing long before they become members of a professional orchestra. It really isn’t that high; the real difficulty is moving smoothly from the E flat to the upper C and back again at a quiet dynamic. But in Bruckner’s day, a peculiarity of the horns being made then rendered the C5 treacherous, and in 1873 Bruckner transferred the solo from the horn to the first clarinet, joined by the viola section to give the sound more body. This change was carried out by the copyist Carda, which is why we know it was in 1873; by 1876, Bruckner was using other copyists. No attempt was made in the strings to maintain what was originally given to the violas, which was an unbroken C5; that note appears frequently enough in the solo that one does not feel the lack of it being sustained. However, there was one alteration: the last note in 1872 was E flat for the horn, but in 1873 the clarinet is brought back up to C, which would be absolutely no problem for it but would have been very difficult for the horn. There was no other change, and the clarinet ending was the same length as the horn ending. I did not supply this 1873 clarinet ending as an alternative to the horn ending in the 1872 score; hardly anyone would ever use it, It must be in the critical report, though, like the violin solo, because it has never been printed quite like that before.

In the 1877 version, the clarinet ending is the only option. But it is not the same as the 1873 clarinet ending; it is one measure longer, owing to the duplication of the second-last measure. Thus the clarinet/viola section solo extends through eight, not seven measures, 200 through 207, and this feature was carried over into the 1892 first print.

In the sample, all the 1872 conductors used the horn; I gave them no alternative. In particular, in the premiere recording of the 1872 first-concept version by the Bruckner Orchestra of Linz conducted by Eichhorn, the solo was proudly and flawlessly played on a Vienna horn, by Kurt Deutsch, just to show that it could be done. And all but one of the 1877 conductors used the clarinet; they also had no alternative. But one conductor asked the horn to play instead of the clarinet. This was Paavo Järvi in three recordings, and his hornplayer does not play the real seven-measure horn ending of 1872. He plays the notes of the eight-measure clarinet ending of 1877, and like the clarinet, he goes to the upper C at the end, not concluding on the E flat a sixth lower as the player does in the real horn ending, and in one of the recordings, not without mishap. There are two more upper Cs in this concoction than there should be, which is really cruel. In his notes, Maestro Järvi says that he used the 1872 ending because he believes it is more authentic. But he didn’t use the 1872 ending; he invented something that Bruckner never would have written.

Haas presents only the horn ending, while Nowak presents the clarinet ending in the main score and gives the horn ending as an alternative. The 52 recordings of the Haas score all contain the horn ending, which is the only alternative in the score, except for the 1996 Gennadi Rozhdestvensky recording, which has the clarinet playing the horn ending of seven measures, not turning up at the end as the manuscript clarinet part shows was done in the unpublished seven-measure version of 1873 and 1876. This seems to have been played by Rozhdestvensky’s clarinetist as a true solo, without audible backup from the violas. Among the 54 Nowak recordings, 40 use the 1877 clarinet ending and 14 take the alternative of the 1872 horn ending, which is about what one would expect from the way they are presented in the score.

Results for the finale

In the finale there are four issues. : tThe first concerns an orchestrational detail present only in the 1872 version, the second is the presence (1872) or absence (1877) of the codetta quotation of the F minor Mass in the recapitulation, the third is the presence (1872) or absence (1877) of two waves or crescendos in the coda, and the fourth involves(4) the nature, quality, and speed of the C-major peroration with which the symphony concludes. I will take up these issues up in that order, the order of the music.

The finale of the first concept of the symphony, completed on September 11, 1872, contains a development conceived on the grand scale. It comprises four sections: (1) an introductory region of 40 measures (239–278) which itself is in three episodes, (2) a fantasy on the first (A1) theme of 82 measures (279–360), (3) a fantasy on the second (B) theme of 62 measures (361–422), and (4) a dominant preparation of 40 measures (423–462) leading to the recapitulation beginning with the A2 theme. Tempos are more or less steady through this vast structure, almost as long as the entire exposition, but the A theme is usually played a little faster than the average and the B theme in a more relaxed tempo, bringing the whole structure into almost perfect symmetry in which the first and last sections form a frame for the two fantasies which contain the real development of the themes. There is also a strong narrative feeling, with the first fantasy reflecting a gradual loss of coherence, and the second fantasy an ecstatic and warm-hearted reconciliation. But in 1873, 1876, and 1877 Bruckner kept whittling away at the first three sections finally arriving at dimensions of 32, 44, 40, and 40 for the four sections, more similar each to each but with much of the intellectual content sadly discarded and the emotional subtext depleted if not destroyed. One of the most interesting parts of the original long fantasy on the first theme is a section where the melody almost disappears in a highly dissonant texture. This is at 1872 measure 337, where for sixteen measures most of the strings are marked pizzicato but the violas play the offbeats arco, with their bows. The texture is unusual to say the least, but very effective. Riccardo Chailly and Simone Young render this eerie passage and the “rubato” a few measures later particularly eloquently. This music didn’t even make it to the premiere in 1873, and it was not indeed heard by anyone until the 1991 premiere of the 1872 edition by the Bruckner Orchestra Linz under Kurt Eichhorn, At the time Eichhorn was very skeptical about this scoring until I showed him the manuscript with “arco” clearly marked. Remembering that years later, I put into the introductory notes for the 1872 score an extra assurance that the “arco” indication was correct. Despite that, Dennis Russell Davies led that same orchestra twenty years later in a 2011 recording in which the violas were instructed to play pizzicato. In no other performance of the 1872 version in the sample is that liberty taken. I am very grateful to Messrs. Davies and Järvi for their excellent work, and to all the others who have advocated for my editions, but these things need to be said; the music is what it is.

The 1892 first publication contains a “vide”, suggesting a cut from bar 388 of the 1872 score, on which it is closely based, to bar 493. This large cut would eliminate the recapitulation of the A theme and the recapitulation of the B theme, removing 106 measures and passing immediately to the highly-developed recapitulation of the C theme. One deeply misses the intervening music, but the cut on its own does not jar the ear, as can clearly be heard in the new recording of the 1892 version by Hun-joung Lim and the Korean Symphony Orchestra on Decca. A somewhat different cut was suggested in manuscript in Mus.Hs. 6035, where in 1877 Bruckner begins the “vide” at 388 and seems at first to conclude it at 493, but erases the mark at that place poorly, moving the end of the cut to twenty measures later, within the third theme group at 513. But at a different time he marked back at 493 of this manuscript “Auf X nur im höchsten Nothfalle”, “to letter X only in the greatest emergency”, and letter X is at measure 591, the onset of the C-major peroration at the end of the movement. Perhaps these proposed cuts were the idea of Johann Herbeck, who is known to have made urgent suggestions to Bruckner at this time. We know from Herbeck’s own Fourth Symphony, completed that very year, that he did not feel the necessity of using sonata form in a symphony, and was also content with a symphony only half an hour long. But there is no proof at all that Bruckner did anything Herbeck told him to. And in another recording of the 1892 version, Hermann Scherchen, as mentioned above, throws up his hands (which otherwise was very unlike him) and has the Toronto Symphony Orchestra take all the cuts and discard exactly one third of the movement, jumping from 388 directly to 591. This has to be heard to be believed. By contrast, in his valuable recording with the Norrlands Opera Orchestra, Ira Levin brilliantly gives us the 1892 version without the cut, which is the way you really want to enjoy it.

In the 1872 score at the end of the recapitulation, after an extensive and chaotic developed third-theme group, the quotation from measures 124–129 of the F-minor Mass is repeated from the exposition as a second codetta. But in 1877, when so much was trimmed including the third-theme group, that quotation was eliminated, and from that point on, there are no second codettas in Bruckner’s newly-composed sonata-form movements, just transitions from the recapitulation to the coda. Haas and Nowak made the second codetta optional, and among the sample recordings the codetta is retained in 44 Haas recordings and 34 Nowak recordings, and it is omitted in 7 Haas recordings and 19 Nowak recordings. Once again there is a tendency for the Nowak people to be closer to 1877 than the Haasians.

Among the many elegant symmetries of the early version of the Second Symphony is the fact that the coda of the first movement and the coda of the finale each contain two crescendos or “waves” beginning with similar material, the first one leading to a preliminary climax and the second one leading eventually to the brilliant peroration with which Bruckner concluded all of his outer movements, at least in their early forms. But in 1877 in both movements the first wave was dropped. This maintained the symmetry, but something very dramatic was lost. When Haas came along, he expressed each of these cuts as a “vide”, and now it was possible for a conductor to take one wave in one of the movements, and two in the other. Not too many in the sample do that, but here is an accounting according to the number of waves in each movement:

Haas: two-two 33, two-one none, one-two 9 (6 by Skrowaczewski), and one-one 10.
Nowak: two-two 29, two-one none, one-two 5, and one-one 20.

Both populations favor two waves both times, the Haas people a bit more so than the Nowak conductors, and a few take one wave in the first movement and two in the second. One conductor in that last group is Okko Kamu, in two recordings from 2014 in which the Nowak edition was used, both with Finnish orchestras. He was aware of my edition, because he corrected the beginning of the second wave of the coda in the first movement and removed the spurious trumpets at the end. But he wanted to enjoy the two waves in the finale, probably because the first one ends in a wonderfully dramatic outburst, and of course the first wave was not in my 1877 edition because it does not belong there. So in order to get it he rented the Nowak materials (the video shows them to be fresh and unworn) and entered corrections from my edition. But if he had wanted the two waves, he should have chosen the 1872 version where they appear in their proper context. The time has gone, if it was indeed ever here, when conductors should feel empowered to pick and choose among such compositional materials on their own.

Finally, Bruckner seems to have made a miscalculation in orchestration, a great rarity for him, when he entrusted the melody of the peroration to the cellos and basses alone with the rest of the orchestra loudly playing repeated chords in the motto rhythm of the first movement (as in Example 1) over a drum roll. If that is performed in the true 1872 version, the melody is almost completely drowned out. Bruckner quickly tried to fix the problem, adding a fourth trombone in 1873 and then in 1876 expressing the melody in the entire string body. In the 1991 premiere recording under Eichhorn of both the 1872 version and the 1873 variant, the 1873 fourth trombone part was played by Albert Landertinger on a contrabass trombone, an enormous contraption with a bell as big as that of a French horn. And the other three trombonists and the tuba player Robert Herdman had already tried this out under my direction in Bruckner’s bedroom at Stift St. Florian one dark evening, reading from the original manuscript parts which had not been played from since 1876. We all went down the grand staircase to the Kellerstüberl afterwards and lifted a Gösser in Bruckner’s honor.

In 1877 Bruckner kept the unison strings of 1876 and added a trumpet countermelody, and in 1892 he finally spruced up the trombones. All of these versions are given in my editions and all can be heard in one place or another. It wouldn’t be from Bruckner, but a very good effect is obtained by doing what Chailly, Blomstedt, Young and others did in their recordings, which is to take the three regular trombones off of the chords and put them on the bass line. Even then the melody is a bit faint, but it works and keeps intact the delightful image of Bruckner rendering the symphony on the organ, with the chords on the manuals and the bass melody on the noble and sonorous pedal reeds.


The investigations reported in this paper, while incomplete and capable of being considerably extended, already show that the performance status of Bruckner’s Second Symphony is in deep disarray. Uniquely among his symphonies, the scores that are still being used by the majority of conductors present a group of options so wide-ranging that in approaching any particular performance since the publication of Haas’s mixed score of 1938, a listener has no idea what to expect. No other symphony has been treated this way by editors; no other symphony has been presented like an à la carte menu in which the consumer has the option of choosing whatever appeals to her. We know why Haas did what he did; he had to make sure that what he created was sufficiently different from the current publications of the 1892 edition to satisfy the court decision. And Nowak in 1965 could only make small revisions to bring the score to a point where if one were to cut the “vide” material, the result would be the 1877 version. But Nowak could really not accomplish that without having the score re-engraved. That was eventually done with the scores of the early versions of the Third, Fourth, and Eighth, and that is what he eventually asked me to do for the Second. The result was the double publication of the 1872 and 1877 versions in 2005 and 2007, separated so that they could be coherently and unambiguously presented to the Bruckner community, and the two major versions of the symphony could be enjoyed as Bruckner himself actually devised them.

I will always be grateful to Kurt Eichhorn and the Bruckner Orchestra Linz who at the instigation of David Aldeborgh and the Bruckner Archive and with the substantial support of the Brucknerbund Oberösterreich undertook the performance and recording of both the 1872 version and its interesting variant of 1873. I am also thankful to Georg Tintner and the National Orchestra of Ireland for bringing the 1872 version to a very wide audience, and to Daniel Barenboim and the Berlin Philharmonic for doing the same with the 1877 version. Now the emergent mighty hero of the 1872 version is certainly Herbert Blomstedt, who after resolutely taking up the cause of the first-concept Third found similar satisfaction in advocacy of the first-concept Second. Indeed Blomstedt first heard the early Second in 2007 in Leipzig at a time when Riccardo Chailly was preparing it for a three-concert series and had invited me to be present, and so I was able to get to know both of these eminent musicians. And I am grateful to Simone Young for her several performances, and to Ivor Bolton, Marcus Bosch, Dennis Russell Davies, Vladimir Jurowski, and Tatsuya Shimono for their performances. Indeed Davies mentions in the booklet for his recording that the 1872 is “really interesting… the better version”. And for the 1877 version, the champion is Daniel Barenboim who performs it frequently, most recently in his remarkable Carnegie Hall series of the nine numbered symphonies which also I was able to attend, and participate in the awarding to him of the Kilenyi Medal of the Bruckner Society of America. At that performance of the Second I was initially disconcerted to read in the Carnegie Hall program booklet that Barenboim would be using the Nowak edition, but when the music started I was very relieved to discover through many audible details that it was indeed mine. Where do these people get their material?

At the same time I am dismayed at the continued use of the Haas score (12 performances in the sample since 2005) and Nowak score (17 performances since 2007). Thus fully one fifth of the performances in the longitudinal sample of this study were of scores that were obsolete at the time of performance. Here I will not name names as I have done elsewhere in this paper, but you know who you are. Any performance of the Haas or Nowak score at this point is a deliberate and calculated falsification of Bruckner’s work and his compositional method, and cannot be defended on any basis, such as I heard in one case “We’ll use the Nowak; it’s the one they know.” Consider: just in the finale, Bruckner’s two authentic versions contain 806 and 613 measures respectively. That is a major difference between versions, but Bruckner approved of both of them. What he did not approve was a score of 698 (Haas) or 702 (Nowak) measures, and although out of historical necessity those scores were the ones to use up to 2005, they are not now. Indeed enthusiasts, annotators, and especially discographers should cease referring to the Haas and Nowak scores as “1877 Haas” or “1877 Nowak”. If only on the evidence presented in this paper, what one gets from those scores is often very far from the true 1877 version published in my edition and people will be seriously confused. I do not refer to the work of Haas or Nowak on this symphony as versions, but as scores; they are not versions, they are concoctions. To do him credit, Hofrat Nowak was deeply aware of the problem, and would have corrected the errors and conflations himself if he could have. I am quite sure that he would be just as upset as I am that the erroneous score of 1965 is still being used. But now, conductors’ thoughtless adherence to the obsolete scores has meant that even now, ten years after the official publication of the new edition, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra has yet to perform it.

In the past, the presence of competing scores for Bruckner symphonies has given rise to advocacy among conductors and enthusiasts for one or another presentation, sometimes quite fierce. But as years have passed the competition has become more and more among datable versions established at different times by the composer. This is a good result. As Hofrat Nowak once said to me, “They are all original versions.” And the real issue with Haas’s lifetime work is only with his à-la-carte edition of the Second (1938), his mixed and compromised edition of the Eighth (1939), and his edition of the Seventh (1944) with its selective un-erasures in the first movement, the invented red herring of the percussion in the Adagio, and his omission of essential tempo indications in the scherzo and finale. His earlier work on the other symphonies was excellent; at the request of Georg Tintner I was even able to produce the premiere version of the First Symphony, as played in 1868 long before the commonly-heard revisions of 1877, using only Haas’s meticulous critical report as the basis. But those last three Haas productions, of the Second, Eighth, and Seventh, need to become historical. We have enough authentic versions of Bruckner’s symphonies as it is.

A last appeal. Bruckner people are a special group, drawn to a unique situation where much wonderful music was courageously brought to life under circumstances which were often discouraging to the composer and certainly were always challenging. We are united in our love for his music and our sympathy for him as a man, even if we do not always agree on what the music is, or whether he preferred schnapps to beer. Indeed the reception history is full of controversy, some of it political, some of it merely arising from the clash of ambitious and willful people. Sometimes Bruckner is made into a new kind of victim; I have even heard it said that a conductor does not perform Bruckner, he realizes him, meaning that the conductor’s help is needed even to determine what the music is. I find that attitude outrageous. No other composer is treated that way! In these swirling arguments we all enjoy taking Bruckner’s part and then gleefully denigrating whomever the misguided friend or enemy of the moment might be. But when one studies the sources, the simplicity of the real situation becomes apparent. Bruckner simply wrote the music, and then simply revised it, sometimes several times. Whatever the reason for any one of those easily-determined revisions may be, and there are always several plausible reasons, the nature of the symphony as it was being revised can still be determined at any date and an edition can be produced for that date (see my paper, “The Bruckner Versions, Once More”, on carragan.com). This process has provided enough opportunities for variety without continuing to use scores which demonstrably do not reflect the composer’s decisions. At the last, one can say that in producing as many editions as he did, Nowak was always reliable except with the Second, and even there he did the best he could, even to generously passing the work on to someone else who at the time could perform it.

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