Symphony No. 6 (Bruckner)

Symphony No. 6 (Bruckner)

Infobox Bruckner Symphony
title = Symphony No. 6 in A major

dedication = Anton von Oelzelt-Newein and his wife Amy
composed = 1879 - 1881
first_performance = Gustav Mahler, 26 February 1899, Vienna Philhamonic, Vienna
first_published = 1899 (ed. Cyrill Hynais)
other_editions = ed. Robert Haas, 1935
ed. Leopold Nowak, 1952
first_recording = Henry Swoboda, Vienna Symphony Orchestra, 1950

Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 6 in A major (WAB 106) was completed in 1881, and revised in preparation for publication around 1894. The symphony was dedicated to Bruckner's landlords Dr. and Mrs. Anton von Oelzelt-Newein and is occasionally nicknamed "The Philosophical" or "The Philosophic", although this nickname was not given by the composer. Bruckner did remark that "die Sechste ist die Keckste" (the Sixth is the sauciest).

The middle two movements were premiered in 1883 by Wilhelm Jahn with the Vienna Philharmonic. All four movements were first performed in a heavily-cut version by Gustav Mahler in 1899, after the composer's death. Bruckner's original four movements were premiered by Karl Pohlig in Stuttgart in 1901.


The symphony requires an instrumentation of one pair each flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, with four horns, three trumpets, three trombones and one tuba along with timpani and strings.

The symphony has has four movements:

#"Majestoso" (A major)
#"Adagio: Sehr feierlich" (F major)
#"Scherzo: Nicht schnell" (A minor)
#"Finale: Bewegt, doch nicht zu schnell" (A major, starting A minor)

"Majestoso" begins with a rhythmic pattern on the violins (rather than a tremolo) using the Bruckner rhythm. The 'j' in Majestoso is possibly a misspelling of the Italian "Maestoso", as the German word is majestätisch. The second movement, "a consoling complement to the fiery first movement, ... traces the more songful side of things." [Ethan Mordden, "A Guide to Orchestral Music: The Handbook for Non-Musicians". New York: Oxford University Press (1980): 213.] The third movement contains a "suggestion fo the Rhine music from Act III of Richard Wagner's "Götterdämmerung"." [Mordden (1980), ibid.]

Of all the explanations given for the neglect of this work, the most often given is that the rhythmic complexities of the Bruckner rhythm in the first movement (often set against other instances of the rhythm in different note values) make it difficult to maintain good ensemble.


1881 Version

This version, based on Bruckner's autograph score, is available in editions by Robert Haas (published 1935) and Leopold Nowak (published 1952), which have very few differences.

First published version (1899)

The version prepared for the first publication was edited by Cyrill Hynais. It is mostly similar to the 1881 version: the most noticeable change is a repeat in the second half of the trio. It is available in a recording by F. Charles Adler; all other available recordings use the Nowak or Haas editions of the 1881 version.

Mahler arrangement

The version heard at the work's full premiere in 1899 contained substantial cuts and changes by Gustav Mahler. This version does not seem to have been recorded.


The oldest performance of this symphony surviving on record by Wilhelm Furtwängler from 1943. Recorded with the Berlin Philharmonic, it is missing the first movement. The oldest complete performance is by Georg-Ludwig Jochum with the Bruckner Orchestra of Linz from 1944.

The first commercial recording was made by Henry Swoboda with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra for the Westminster label in 1950.

Being the shortest of Bruckner's later symphonies, it takes only about 60 minutes in most recordings, rarely more than 70. Otto Klemperer's CD on EMI Classics uses the extra space for two overtures by Christoph Willibald von Gluck, whereas Horst Stein with the Vienna Philharmonic chooses two overtures by Carl Maria von Weber.


External links

*IMSLP2|id=Symphony_No.6_in_A_major_%28Bruckner%2C_Anton%29|cname=Symphony No. 6
* [ Complete discography]
* [ Article at]

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