Symphony in F minor (“Study Symphony”): Only one version, 1862/63. This was part of the final examination which his teacher Otto Kitzler set him. It was brought out by Nowak in 1973. It’s wonderful; he never misses a beat. Don’t ignore it!
First Symphony, C minor: Two versions. The original of 1866, published in a slight 1877 revision by Haas in 1935 and republished by Nowak in 1955, and a more extensive revision of 1891 which Bruckner prepared on his own (against his friends’ advice) for dedication to the University of Vienna. It was edited by Günter Brosche in 1980.
Symphony in D minor (“Zero” or “Nullte”)). One version, 1869. The preface to Nowak’s 1968 score says there was an early version of 1863, but in fact there never was; see Paul Hawkshaw’s article in Nineteenth Century Music VI/4, 1983. Hofrat Nowak endorsed this conclusion shortly before his death. This symphony is intermediate stylistically between the First and Second and is eloquent, beautiful, and innovative.
Second Symphony, C minor. Two versions. The original of 1871/72 has variant versions prepared for the performances of 1873 and 1876. The imperial Kapellmeister Johann Herbeck, who had urged Bruckner to move to Vienna shortly before, was his advisor, although it is not easy to tell just what he advised, or whether Bruckner accepted any of his advice. A revision was prepared in 1877, but it was not performed until its publication in 1892; the 1892 score, in which m,any errors in the 1877 score were corrected under Bruckner’s supervision, represents a variant also. The Haas version of 1938, revised slightly by Nowak in 1965, is a combination of 1872, 1873, and 1877, and Haas himself wrote a tiny bit of it in order to make one of his joinings. Haas’s score, even as reprinted by Nowak in 1965, is not a valid presentation of the symphony. In his naïve article “The Bruckner Problem Simplified” (Music and Letters, 1975), Deryck Cooke guessed, quite wrongly, that the Haas version is that of 1872, but the 1872 version of the finale, for example, is over 100 measures longer than Haas’s. The original version of 1872 and the revised version of 1877 were entrusted to me by Nowak and were published in 2005 and 2007 under my editorship. Many details of the various versions and variants are discussed in the notes accompanying the pre-publication Camerata recording of 1991, and in “Second Symphony Studies” on this website.
Third Symphony (“Wagner Symphony”), D minor. Four versions. The original, 1873, revised slightly (and effectively) in 1874, published by Nowak in 1977. The second version, 1876, is partially lost; the orchestral parts which Bruckner had copied from it are missing the oboe parts and all the string parts except the contrabass. The third version, quite extensively revised, dates from 1877 or 1878, with Herbeck presumably serving as advisor until his untimely death in 1877 before the scheduled date when he was to conduct it. Some form of this revision was performed under Bruckner’s own leadership in December 1877. The performance was a disaster, but that cannot be blamed on Bruckner’s conducting, as the two earlier performances of the Second in which he directed were quite well received. This version was published by both Bösendorfer and Rättig in 1878, then edited by Oeser in 1950 to complete the “gray score” Haas series, and again by Nowak in a 1981 “blue score” with a coda for the Scherzo dated 1878. The fourth version, 1889, is the most familiar one, and contains several new passages and orchestrational amendments in his later style which are of great interest; see my paper “Bruckner’s Trumpet“. The Schalk brothers, Josef and Franz, were involved in that revision, which was eventually reissued by Nowak in 1959. There are Wagner quotations in the 1873 and 1874 scores, and at least one Wagner quote is present in all the versions. They are distinctive, but also very well integrated into Bruckner’s own material.
Fourth Symphony (”Romantic”), E flat major. Four versions. The original, 1874. Published by Nowak in 1975. The second, 1878, simplified and with a new scherzo; the finale of this version is called the “Volksfest” and has been published separately. The third, 1880 or perhaps more properly 1881, with minor revisions to the first three movements and a new finale, all published by Nowak in 1953; this is how one usually hears it today. The Haas version (1936) is very slightly different. The fourth, 1888, with Franz Schalk and Ferdinand Löwe as advisors. According to Benjamin Korstvedt, who has written an ambitious critical report on the Fourth, the 1888 printer’s copy shows clearly that Bruckner was fully involved in the preparation of this score and regarded it as his final, definitive version. This score was published in the Collected Edition under Korstvedt’s editorship in 2004.
Fifth Symphony (“Fantastic”), B flat major. Two versions. The original, 1875/78, published by Nowak in 1951. Bruckner revised it right after finishing the Finale, but the earlier text cannot be established definitively because in revising it Bruckner worked directly on top of the existing music. A few passages can be recovered, though, and perhaps used by a very adventurous conductor. There is also a late version of 1894, with Franz Schalk as advisor. Bruckner had something to do with this, but it is not clear how much; probably not very much. In Schalk’s version the Finale is particularly different and calls for extra brass and percussion players in the final chorale and to the end. To give the devil his due, Schalk’s scoring of the extra instruments in the chorale is both effective and tasteful, and besides, many conductors have used extra brass to double the existing parts not as resourcefully as Schalk.
Sixth Symphony, A major. One version, 1879/81, published by Nowak in 1952. The posthumous first printing of 1899 has certain emendations made to the galley proofs by Joseph Schalk, including some rather odd dynamic changes.
Seventh Symphony, E major. One version, 1883, published by Nowak in 1954. Haas’s 1944 score deliberately and incorrectly omits the percussion instruments in the Adagio which Bruckner had added after the symphony was completed. Bruckner had plenty of opportunity to remove the percussion but never did, and indeed used even more percussion in the slow movement of the Eighth. The interesting ritardandos in the first theme of the Finale of the Seventh (listen particularly to Klemperer’s many performances) were omitted by Haas, but they should not be considered optional. They certainly stem from Bruckner’s own urgent recommendations.
Eighth Symphony, C minor. Two versions. The original, 1885/87, embodies a return by Bruckner to the monumental scale of the Fifth. It was published by Nowak in 1972. Its intended conductor, Hermann Levi, rejected it, however, and Bruckner prepared a second version, shorter but with an expanded orchestra, in 1890, and published with further small revisions in 1892. This was brought out by Nowak in 1955. The Haas version of 1939 is an inauthentic combination of the two and should be abandoned; nobody would treat any other composer that way.
Ninth Symphony, D minor. One version, 1889-1896. The Ninth was left unfinished at Bruckner’s death, although the first three movements probably lack only final editing. They were brought out by Nowak in 1956. The Finale exists in many pages of sketches (published by Orel in 1934 and again recently and much more completely by John Phillips), which have been the basis of a number of completions including one by myself, premiered in Carnegie Hall in 1984, one by Phillips with three other people, one by Sébastien Letocart, and others. The version of the first three movements edited by Ferdinand Löwe and published in 1903 is of course completely without Bruckner’s involvement, but it is still interesting as it involves the thought and performance style of one of Bruckner’s closest associates.