< Back to the Music and MIDI Page

< Portuguese version

The Several Versions of Bruckner's Symphonies (a synopsis)

(C)1996, 1998, 2000 by
José Oscar Marques

This is a short text meant to be used as a quick reference for simple questions about
the multiple versions of Bruckner symphonies. I compiled it for my own use but came
to believe it could be useful for other people with the same doubts I had at the time I
started looking into the problem. Almost everything that is in it I learned from the
very knowledgeable discussions of David Griegel, Henry Fogel and Juan Cahis in
rec.music.classical. Of course they aren't responsible for the mistakes it may contain.
Also, I apologize for my far from perfect English.

An excellent Bruckner Discography is mantained by John F. Berky. A link to the
relevant part of the Discography is provided below, for each version of the symphonies.

Sym 00 Sym 0 Sym 1 Sym 2 Sym 3 Sym 4 Sym 5 Sym 6 Sym 7 Sym 8 Sym 9

Symphony in F minor "Study Symphony" ("no. 00")

Original version (and the only one), begun in 15th February and completed in 26th May 1863. First performance by Franz Moissl in 18th March 1924. Published by Nowak [1973].

 table of contents>

Symphony in D minor "die Nullte" ("no. 0")

Original version (and the only one), completed in 1869. It's doubtful that there ever was a former score (1863) of this symphony, as it was believed. First edition [1924, Universal] by J. Wöss, not reliable for it has changes introduced by Wöss. First played in 12th October 1924 in Klosterneuburg under Franz Moissl. Critical edition by Nowak [1968].

table of contents>

Symphony no. 1 in C minor

Original 1866 version, composed in Linz between May 1865 and April 1866. First performance in Linz on 9th May 1868, conducted by Bruckner. Haas didn't publish a score of it but provided a description. A complete reconstruction was prepared by William Carragan in 1998.

1877 version, also called the "Linz Version" (misleadingly, since Bruckner had left Linz in 1868). It is the result of a rhythmic revision made in 1877, but includes perhaps some slight changes made as far as 1884. This is the version commonly performed. The Haas [1934] and Nowak [1953] editions of this version have no significant differences. Revised version prepared by Bruckner in 1889/1891, also called the "Vienna Version". First performed in Vienna in December 13th 1891 by Hans Richter. The modern critical edition of this version is by G. Brosche [1980].

The First Edition of the symphony, published by Doblinger in 1893 under the supervision of Hynais, uses this revised version, although with some few changes in relation to the manuscript score of 1891 (some of these changes were accepted by Haas as authentic in his edition [1934] of the Vienna version)

table of contents>

Symphony no. 2 in C minor

1872 version (First concept version), composed between 11th October 1871 and 11th September 1872. Critical edition by William Carragan for the Bruckner Society.

1873 version (First performance version) prepared for the first performance on 26th October 1873 by the Vienna P.O. under Bruckner. There were many changes in this revision. The order of the inner movements was reversed; in the Adagio, the horn solo at the end was changed to a clarinet solo and a violin solo was added. The repeats were canceled in the Scherzo and Trio, a passage in the Finale was completely rewritten, and a fourth trombone was added in the final few bars to reinforce the bass line. Critical version by William Carragan (still unpublished). 1876 version, prepared in 1875-76 and performed on 20th February 1876 also by the Vienna P.O under Bruckner. There weren't many changes this time. In the Finale, some material from the 1872 version, cut in 1873, was restored, the new passage added in 1873 was shortened, the fourth trombone was removed from the final bars and, instead, unison strings were introduced at the very end.

1877 version, presents more significant changes. Compared to the 1872 version, there is a cut in the first movement (although this cut might have been made in 1876). There was also a cut made in the Adagio, and the violin solo was removed. The Scherzo was modified slightly, with some bars being repeated at the end of the Scherzo and its reprise. In the Finale, the new passage (which was shortened in 1876) was removed and replaced with yet another passage. The final few bars were changed again, mainly in the trumpet parts. And the last few bars of the first movement were stretched out a bit.

Neither Haas [1938] nor Nowak [1965] editions represent pure versions. Contrary to what is still commonly said, Haas doesn't present the original version, but is based primarily on the 1877 version, with some elements of the 1872 version. The Nowak edition is actually a close approximation to the 1877 version as long as the cuts are observed and an error in the trumpet parts at the end of the first movement is fixed. The new definitive edition by William Carragan [1997] removes from the Nowak edition the anomalies that had remained from Haas.

1892 version, with slight revisions made by Bruckner between 1891 and 1892. The final bars were stretched out a little bit further, and new trombone parts, similar to the 1877 trumpet parts, were introduced near the very end of the Finale. This last version is used in the First Edition, published in 1892 by Doblinger under the supervision of Hynais and later republished many times. The Doblinger edition was considered inauthentic for a long time, but now it is recognized as being a more accurate realization of the 1877 version than either the Haas or Nowak editions.
table of contents>

Symphony no. 3 in D minor

Original 1873 version, composition begun 23rd February 1873, full score completed 31st December 1873. An early draft was presented to Wagner in Bayereuth in September 1873, when the Finale still hadn't been orchestrated. A complete fair copy was later sent to Wagner in the Spring of 1874, and this is the basis of the Nowak edition [1977].

1874 version, represents, accordingly to Bruckner, "a considerable improvement of the first version". Unpublished and unrecorded.

1876 version, is the result of a rhythmic revision; only the Adagio of this version has been published so far - Nowak

1877 version, composed 1876-77. The Wagner quotations are suppressed, the Finale is shortened and the Scherzo gets a new ending. First performance in Vienna on 16th December 1877, under Bruckner's direction. The First Edition was published in 1880, by Rättig, with some small differences from the autograph of the 1877 version, like the elimination of the coda of the Scherzo. (In fact the Coda is marked "not to be printed" in the autograph.) There is no surviving Haas edition of this symphony, and the first critical edition for the Bruckner Society was prepared by Oeser in 1950. Oeser edition is a mixture of the 1877 version and the 1880 edition, for it's based on the autograph score, but follows the printed score by leaving off the coda of the Scherzo. The Nowak edition of the 1877 version (incorporating the coda of the Scherzo) appeared in 1981 and has since then become the most favoured edition of the work. 1888/89 version is a revision made with the help of Franz Schalk during the years 1888-89. The work was further shortened, and the Coda of the Scherzo dropped again. Changes in the orchestration modified the whole climate of the work, bringing it closer to the sound world of the last symphonies. This version was published with some modifications by Rättig in 1890 (Second Edition). First performed on December 21st 1890 by the VPO under Hans Richter. The critical edition of this version is Nowak's [1959]. Before the recent prominence of the 1877 version, it was the most played version.
table of contents>

Symphony no. 4 in E flat "Romantic"

Original 1874 version, composed between 2nd January and 31st October 1874, orchestration finished on 22nd November. Edited by Nowak [1975].

1878 version - The Scherzo and the Trio were substituted by completely new pieces. The first movement, the Andante and the Finale were thoroughly revised. This 1878 Finale (Volksfest) was published separately by Haas [1936 app.] and Nowak [1981]. First Performance version - In 1880 the Finale was replaced by the one we know today. This was the version used in the first performance, conducted in 20th February 1881 by Hans Richter. Unpublished and unrecorded.

1881 version - Revisions were made just after the first performance, including a cut in the Andante and a nontrivial reworking of the Finale. This was the version played (with some cuts) at the second performance of the work on 10th December 1881 by Felix Mottl in Karlsruhe. Usually called "1878/1880" version. Published by Haas [1936]. (In 1944 Haas prepared another edition, which is actually a mixture of the 1881 and 1878 versions).

1886 version - Some small modifications, before sending the score to Anton Seidl in New York. It is possible that the modifications were completed in 1882. The version published by Nowak [1953] was based on this score, found at the Columbia University. Also usually called "1878/1880" version. Revised version 1887-88, prompted by Loewe but now thought to be chiefly the work of Bruckner himself. This is the version used in the First Edition of the symphony, published in 1889, with some alterations, by Guttmann in Vienna. Performed in Munich (Levi?) on 10th December 1890.
 table of contents>

Symphony no. 5 in B flat

Original version composed from February 1875 to May 1876. The later revision was made on the same score, so it is not possible to recover this original version, although Haas provided some indications to this effect

1878 version A thorough revision was concluded in November 1878. The Haas [1935] and Nowak [1952] editions of this version don't present any significant difference between them.

Revised version made in 1892-4 by Franz Schalk and employed in the first performance of the work (Graz, April 8th 1894). It was published in 1896 by Doblinger (First Edition of the work). Bruckner had very little to do with this revision, that introduces large cuts especially in the Finale.
table of contents>

Symphony no. 6 in A

Original version composed from September 1879 to September 1881. It was never modified by Bruckner. The Haas [1935] and Nowak [1952] editions don't present any significant differences.

Slightly revised version by C. Hynais for the publication by Doblinger in 1899 (First Edition). Although Hynais work was careful, the final printed text contains many errors and changes introduced by an unknown hand. Another edition of this version, prepared by Wöss, was published in 1927.
table of contents>

Symphony no. 7 in E

Original version composed from 23rd September 1881 to 10th August 1883. First performance in Leipzig (by Arthur Nikisch) on 30th December 1884. The later revision was made once more over the original text, so that an exact edition of the original 1883 version cannot possibly be made, although the Haas edition [1944] restored some parts of it.

1885 version - Some changes were introduced by Bruckner under the influence of Schalk, Loewe, and Nikisch (among others the inclusion of cymbals, triangle, and timpani in the Adagio). These changes were made shortly after the first performance, and are incorporated in the First Edition of the work, published by Gutmann [1885]. Some of the changes in tempo and dynamic, although not in Bruckner's hand, were sanctioned by Nowak in his edition [1956] and put between parentheses. If they are skipped, little difference remains between Haas and Nowak. The percussion is likewise maintained by Nowak in the Adagio, while Haas omits it. A famous passage is the cymbal clash (with triangle) at the climax of the Adagio, which some conductors play, others don't.

table of contents>

Symphony no. 8 in C minor

Original version, composed from October 1884 to August 1885. Many and important revisions take place until 3rd July 1887. The first publication of this rarely performed version was by Nowak [1972].

1890 version, prepared by Bruckner and Josef Schalk. The critical edition is Nowak [1955]. It includes a re-writing of the end of first movement (so that it gains a soft ending instead of the loud ending of the original version), and substantial changes in the Adagio and the Trio. Also, some cuts were made with advice from Schalk. The Nowak edition includes all these changes and cuts, and considers them as representing the final decisions of Bruckner. Haas edition [1935], if we leave aside some minor complications, can be said to be basically a combination of 1887 and 1890 versions. Haas accepted the re-writings and changes as being Bruckner's genuine decisions, but restored all the cuts introduced under the alleged influence of Schalk. Because of that, it is somewhat longer than Nowak's. This, among all Bruckner symphonies, is the one that presents the largest differences when it comes to the Haas or Nowak editions, and the preferences of conductors are evenly distributed among them. Revised version of 1892, prepared for the publication of the First Edition by Robert Lienau, in that same year. Further cuts were made at the suggestion of Schalk, who also introduced changes of dynamics, phrasing, and orchestration. This was the version played in the first performance, by Hans Richter, in Vienna on 18 December 1892.
table of contents>

Symphony no. 9 in D minor

At the time of his death in October 1896 Bruckner had completed the first three movements and left copious sketches for the Finale.

Original version The first three movements were composed between September 1887 and November 1894. Critical edition by Orel [1932]. Nowak [1951] just corrects some few very minor typographical errors in the Orel edition.

Revised version of 1903 by Loewe, for the First Edition published by Doblinger in the same year. It contains a large amount of changes never authorized by Bruckner. It was the performance of this 9th Symphony in 1932 by the Munich Philharmonic under Siegmund von Hausseger at a semi-private concert in both the Loewe and the Orel editions that provided the impetus for the support and funding of the Bruckner Society to prepare authentic versions of all of the symphonies.

The Finale Completions

There are two performing editions of the Finale, one by William Carragan, published in 1984, other by Samale, Phillips, Mazzuca and Cohrs, in 1992. Of this later version, there is an earlier draft, by Samale and Mazzuca alone.

table of contents>

< Back to the Music and MIDI page