Anton Bruckner Symphony No 7 Arrangement for Two Pianos

William Carragan
Vice-President, Bruckner Society of America

Black Swan – photo via Pixabay Holgi

IIn terms of thematic content the Seventh Symphony is the most integrated of all. The gestures with which the first and last movements begin are quite similar in contour (though not in feeling), beginning with a descending fourth and going back up in an arpeggio. The somber opening melody of the adagio begins with a descending fourth and does not succeed in cadencing above it until the thematic content moves forward, and the trumpet call of the scherzo concludes with a descending fourth.

Although the symphony is written in a very resourceful and sophisticated style, it is still close to the scaled-back proportions of the Sixth, and is even simpler in overall form. Nonetheless, Bruckner made a very special movement out of the finale. He used an arch structure as he had done in the Quintet a few years earlier, but on a much larger and more ambitious scale. At that time, he had just finished what was to become his most popular religious work, his setting of the canticle of St. Nicetas of Remisiana, Te Deum laudamus, which also has elements of arch form with a central fugal section framed by two tenor solos. In the symphony the form is both revealed and confused by the strong resemblance in contour between the brilliant A theme and the ponderous C theme.

This piano arrangement was prepared in 2011 for Darwin Aquino when he conducted the first performance of a Bruckner symphony in the Dominican Republic, sponsored by Massimiliano Wax. It contains elements present in the first published edition which seem to stem from Bruckner even though they do not all appear in his manuscript, Mus.Hs.19479. Among those that are in the score are the metronome markings throughout and the systematic ritardando indications in the finale, which are also entered here. These specifications are discussed extensively in Anton Bruckner, Eleven Symphonies, and I suggest strongly that players follow them.

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