Bruckner Cycle Comes to a Close with Unfinished Ninth Symphony
On Symphony at 7 this evening, we’ll end our journey through the symphonies of the Late-Romantic Austrian composer Anton Bruckner with his Symphony No. 9 in d. If you’ve been listening to any of them, you know these are massive large-scale works by a composer with a consistent vision.
There is spiritual depth combined with a sense of awesome power and vast scale well demonstrated in the final, unfinished symphony. The three completed movements last a full hour, and one can only guess what the final movement would have sounded like had Bruckner lived to complete this symphony he dedicated to God. He left uncompleted sketches for a possible finale at the time of his death in 1896. When he realized he wouldn’t live to finish it, he suggested that perhaps his choral Te Deum might serve to make a finale like Beethoven’s Ninth.
Even with only the three movements and ending with the long and majestic Adagio, there is a sense of appropriate fulfillment as the music fades away to infinity. Like Franz Schubert’s famous Unfinished Symphony, this one also makes for a satisfying and moving musical experience as it is.
I hope you can join me for the conclusion of this symphonic cycle of truly epic proportions. Here is a sampling with Leonard Bernstein conducting the Vienna Philharmonic: