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drawing of horn


Recommended: Celibidache's live 1988 recording with the Munich Philharmonic. There's no shouting in the Finale, but this is a phenomenal performance.

You can order Celibidache's Bruckner 4 at the Barnes & Noble bookstore.


Bruckner, the Horn

We know Richard Wagner nicknamed Bruckner "the Trumpet." But if Wagner has seen the score of the Fourth Symphony instead of the Third, Bruckner's nickname would have been "the Horn"!

Bruckner's Fourth is one of the world's great horn symphonies. (Bruckner's Ninth is another.)

"The beginning is magically beautiful.... It is one of the deepest and most instantly compelling symphonic openings since Beethoven."

Robert Simpson, The Essence of Bruckner, pages 87-88, (Victor Gollancz Ltd., London, 1992).

It's also an audition piece for horns.

The scherzo, with its hunting horns playing a quick and addictive rhythm, captivates the ear at each hearing.

The Finale is magnificent. A highlight is the climax at the end of the first theme group. The emotional release is overwhelming.

The Finale's coda is, to quote Robert Simpson again (page 110) "one of Bruckner's greatest cumulative passages, superlatively fine." Sergiu Celibidache, in a 1966 recording of a concert by the South German Radio Symphony, accentuates the downbeats not by humming, not by singing, not by moaning, but by shouting. If you hear the Finale's coda played by an excellent orchestra at anything resembling a concert hall volume and you don't get goosebumps, it's time to see the doctor because something's not quite right with the ol' nervous system!

Go to the Composer page.