CHAPTER VII
THE TEXTUAL PROBLEM

ANY approach to Bruckner's music, any attempt to assess its merits and to reach an authentic standard of interpretation has been immeasurably complicated by the gradual publication since 1934 of the so-called Originalfassungen (original versions, O.V.1) of Symphonies I-IX, and of the great Masses, based on the autograph scores which Bruckner bequeathed to the National Library in Vienna. His will stipulated that these manuscripts should be put at the disposal of the firm of J. Eberle & Co., which later became amalgamated with the Universal Edition, Bruckner's exclusive publishers from 1909 to 1931. The heated arguments aroused some twenty years ago by the question of 'O.V. versus R.V.' and their respective authenticity have been continued ever since, to the embarrassment of conductors, musicologists and biographers who have tried to establish contact between Bruckner's music and the public. The case is unique in musical history, and therefore of special interest in so far as Bruckner seems to have been the only major composer whose scores, though published during his lifetime, do not necessarily represent his ultimate artistic convictions. The question uppermost in the mind of any performer is simply whether O.V. or R.V. represents the truly authentic version. The answer, which unfortunately is far from simple, is formulated on the following pages.

The composition of a symphony or a mass was usually a painfully long process for Bruckner, sometimes taking as much as fifteen or twenty years, and involving nearly every work in repeated revisions

____________________
1
This is the correct expression, not Urfassung, as used in many German text-books as a somewhat misleading and imprecise term. The abbreviations O.V. and R.V. will be used hereafter for original and revised versions.

-40-

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