This is the fifth Bruckner symphony I have arranged for two pianos. Having two instruments makes the continuity of contrapuntal voices, so important to Bruckner, much more coherent than with one piano, four hands. Also, the tessitura of the writing is more concentrated toward the center of the piano range, with interesting overlapping textures reminiscent of the pièces croisées of French harpsichord music.
This version of the Third is a reconstruction of the early state of Austrian National Library Mus.Hs.19475, as finished by Bruckner on April 25, 1877. Despite that date, I refer to it as the “version of 1876” because it contains the grand-form adagio of 1876 already published by Nowak in 1980. The other three movements as deployed here put that remarkable piece in its proper context. In order to do that, some of the orchestral parts of 26 measures of the finale had to be reconstructed, which is done here using the corresponding passage from the 1873 version as a guide. The result is the last version of the Third Symphony which, apart from the reconstruction, has no interference from other people.
The orchestral score of the “1876 version” was given its premiere on March 2, 2019, by the New England Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of the distinguished conductor and teacher Richard Pittman.