Completed in 1868, Austrian composer, organist, and professor Anton Bruckner’s Mass No. 3 in F minor first premiered in 1872. Despite garnering less than favorable reviews during initial rehearsals from conductor Johann Herbeck, the work’s first performance at Augustinerkirche—which was, instead, conducted by Bruckner himself—received quite the opposite response from Herbeck, who then commented “I know only two Masses—this one and Beethoven’s Solemnis!” As was typical of Bruckner, in keeping with his notorious insecurity, he continued to make a number of revisions to the Mass into the early 1890’s.
Bruckner (1824-1896) was born in Ansfelden and lived much of his life in provincial Austria where he followed in his father’s footsteps working as a teacher’s assistant, then becoming an organist at a monastery in St. Florian. In 1868, he took a new position teaching organ and music theory, moving to Vienna to teach at the Conservatory, and later accepted an appointment to lecture in music theory at the University of Vienna in 1875. In a way mirroring the divisions we witness today, the Vienna in which Bruckner arrived was at the forefront of the conflict between the (musical) progressive and conservative, the cosmopolitan and the nationalist, the urban and provincial. What also set Bruckner apart was his intrinsic religiosity, which shaped and defined his views and his personality; a devout Catholic, he composed multiple motets, at least seven Masses, and many other sacred choral works. Much of Bruckner’s oeuvre had been revised by himself and colleagues alike, both out of self-doubt and to gain more popularity in cosmopolitan Vienna.
“We have an opportunity to listen to a great composer who like all other creative artists absorbed the influences of his life sequentially without losing the distinctive fingerprints of his initial aesthetic vision.” –Leon Botstein.
Listen now to experience all six movements of Bruckner’s Mass performed by the ASO.
Meagan Miller, soprano
Elizabeth Batton, mezzo-soprano
Richard Clement, tenor
Kevin Deas, bass
Concert Chorale of New York
James Bagwell, director
Conducted by Leon Botstein, music director
Composed by Anton Bruckner