Anton Bruckner, Rustic Genius

By Werner Wolff; Walter Damrosch | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII
THE NINE SYMPHONIES

FIRST SYMPHONY, IN C MINOR

THIS work has one characteristic for which we must love it: marked youthful freshness. Who could object to a few unrefined passages in orchestration and odd harmonic progressions in a work that shows such a wealth of creative imagination and genuine temperament as this symphony shows? The number of structural ideas is amazing, ideas which nevermore left the mind of their creator but, rather, became musical assets of a sort, usable and actually used in his later creations. Starting with the First Symphony, some of these ideas run like directing lines throughout all the other symphonies. Here appears for the first time, although in embryo, the second subsidiary theme and certain rhythmical concepts which we meet again later. Here we already find the leap of the octave, its enlargement to the ninth and the tenth (the former receiving its last consecration in the Adagio of the Ninth). We meet here, too, the numerous caesuras and general rests, the solemnly starting Coda in the Finale. And here we receive a premonition of the task which will later be assigned to the trumpets and the low woodwinds. In fact, Bruckner's imagination was replete with creative ideas when he resolved to release them through symphonies.


I. Allegro molto moderato

The youthful nature of the First Symphony is especially in evidence in the First Movement. Only gradually does the compose yield to the customary sonata scheme and then only after has expressed in a very unconventional manner

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