Symphony No. 5 - Finale

Anton BRUCKNER, WAB 105 (1878)
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page one of Symphony No. 5 - Finale

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The disasterous December 1877 Vienna premiere of his Symphony No. 3 shook Bruckner’s confidence, but he pressed on to write his Symphony No. 5 in 1878. He had written a contrapuntal finale for his 1869 "Nullte" Symphony, but his Symphony No. 5 finale fully realized the concept, marrying contrapuntal mastery with attractive content.

The symphony had to wait until 1894 for a successful premiere in Graz, Austria under Franz Schalk. Upon studying Bruckner’s score, Schalk realized that Bruckner miscalculated the formal structure of the Finale. He therefore cut much of the contrapuntal development to improve its cohesion. Schalk also realized that although Bruckner’s musical ideas were quite sound, his scoring did not present them in their best light. Using his orchestral conducting experience, Schalk thoroughly revised the scoring throughout, both to vary the texture and to reserve the massive brass writing for the final chorale. Schalk’s cuts excised earlier appearances of the chorale theme, thus ensuring its "crushing" power once it finally arrived.

Schalk’s revisions have been fiercely debated elsewhere. I would refer interested readers to David Aldeborgh’s articles posted on

Score ID
Anton BRUCKNER, WAB 105 (1878)
Year of composition
Year of arrangement
Difficult (Grades 7+)
17 minutes
Concert band / wind band
Classical music

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