Anton Bruckner Symphony No 3 Arrangement for Two Pianos

William Carragan
Vice-President, Bruckner Society of America

First state of the second version

Poppies – photo via Pixabay MabelAmber

The Third Symphony was completed in its first version in 1873 after its dedication was accepted by Richard Wagner, and there is a variant of 1874 with brass parts enhanced in various places which is preserved in Mus.Hs.6033. But in 1876 Bruckner commenced a thorough revision, which became Austrian National Library Mus.Hs.19475. The original slow movement of that revision was the grand-form adagio of 1876 edited by Nowak in 1980. Finally on April 25, 1877 he showed the completed revision to Johann Herbeck and other members of his circle. This was before the many alterations and a serious deletion which befell that manuscript later that year. One can be quite sure that up to April 25 nobody else had had any input into the score, giving this early state decisive importance.

This version of the Third is a reconstruction of the early state of Mus.Hs.19475. I refer to it as the version of “1876” because there is already an accepted version of 1877, edited by Nowak in 1981, apparently representing the altered symphony as it was on November 10, shortly before the disastrous premiere of December 16. Reconstruction required that some of the orchestral parts of 26 deleted measures of the “1876” finale be restored, which is done here analogous to the corresponding passage from the 1873 version. Distinctive features of this finale include the only place in Bruckner’s work where the A, B, and C themes are developed together, and also the crescendo to the recapitulation, which was still there in April but was soon to disappear from this symphony forever and also from the Fourth.

The reconstructed 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.

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