Bruckner wrote his Seventh Symphony as a tribute to his idol, Richard Wagner.
Performed by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Giordano Bellincampi
Bruckner’s symphonies are often described as ‘cathedrals in sound’ and the 7th doesn’t disappoint.
Wagner had been his inspiration – Bruckner was a bit of a fan-boy and would wait for hours outside Wagner’s home just to glimpse and greet the aged composer. The news of Wagner’s death came while he was working on the 7th.
In a letter just before that, Bruckner wrote: ‘I felt very sad, for the thought that the Master would soon die had occurred to me, and at that moment the C# minor theme of the Adagio came to me’.
Supposedly, the famous cymbal clash at the peak was added by the composer when he heard of the death of Richard Wagner.
When he wrote this work, Bruckner was feeling energetic and confident and he completed his 7th symphony in a couple of years, just before his 59th birthday.
The first performance, in 1884 in Leipzig, had a mixed reception, conducted by Arthur Nikisch who insisted (after hearing a piano version); “from this moment, I regard it as my duty to work for Bruckner’s recognition.”
Ten weeks later, in Munich, the work was received as an undisputed triumph. Immediately after that concert, Bruckner dedicated the work to King Ludwig who’d been Wagner’s patron.
Recorded by RNZ Concert in Auckland Town Hall, 28 February 2019
Producer: Tim Dodd; Sound Engineer: Rangi Powick