Your Classical and Jazz Source
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Arts Desk

Listening to Bruckner's Eighth Symphony Is Like Entering a Majestic Church

Cathedral1300px.jpg
Michael D. Beckwith/Unsplash
/

History has painted composer Anton Bruckner as a simple man who gave the world complex and innovative symphonies. Bruckner’s 8th symphony, which premiered in December of 1892, is a spiritual masterpiece.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin talks about Bruckner's Symphony No. 8 with WRTI's Susan Lewis.
Yannick Nézet-Séguin talks about Bruckner's Symphony No. 8 with WRTI's Susan Lewis.

The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcast for Sunday, September 19th at 1 PM on WRTI 90.1, and on Monday, September 20th at 3 PM on WRTI HD-2, brings us music by Anton Bruckner and J.S. Bach. Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts.

Just breathe in, breathe out, and feel the connection of that music to the harmony of the universe.

Bruckner was in his sixties when he wrote his monumental Eighth Symphony, informed by  Bach, Beethoven, Wagner, and Bruckner’s own earlier works.

"The architecture is so long and vast but it’s the most well controlled, says Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin. "It’s the most perfect creation, I think, of Bruckner’s."

A teacher and devout Catholic, Bruckner was also a renowned organist. His Eighth Symphony is scored for a large orchestra, with 15  brass instruments, including eight horns, four of which double on Wagner tubas.

"The brass often functions as an organ, to simulate the organ which goes with Bruckner’s whole incredibly deeply religious aspect," says Philadelphia Orchestra principal horn Jennifer Montone.

"You have this spiritual round and noble quality, which the brass is often doing, and then there are these very human moments of emotion that pierce through the center."

Yannick likens the experience of listening to the Eighth Symphony to that of entering a majestic church or vast canyon.

"Accept that space and time are different; that it is not about the micro event, it is about the grand line.  Just breathe in, breathe out, and feel the connection of that music to the harmony of the universe.