CHAPTER I
ANCESTRY--CHILDHOOD

JOSEPH ANTON BRUCKNER was born on 4th September 1824 at the little village of Ansfelden in Upper Austria. Like Schubert he was a schoolmaster's son; but the family were simple country folk, just one degree above peasantry and closely resembling it in their habits. Recent research has traced the family back into the early fifteenth century in the adjacent crown-land of Lower Austria. In its westernmost district an early ancestor of the composer has been traced: one JU+00G6rg Pruckner1 an der Prugk (i.e. living near a bridge), who owned the farm of the Pruckhof. The family seems to have prospered for a time, owning quarries and steadily ascending the social ladder. Some members became aldermen, and one branch even acquired nobility. But in the end the farm was sold. One of Jörg's offspring acquired another at Pyrha near Öd ( Lower Austria) by way of marriage. His son, however, Martin Pruckner ( 1656-1737), had to sell this farm too, and henceforth the family's fortunes were on the wane. From freeholders they dropped in the social scale to broom- makers and innkeepers. It was only Anton's grandfather, Joseph Bruckner, junior ( 1749-1831), who, starting as a broom-maker's apprentice, improved the family's fortunes through his marriage to Franziska Kletzer, a schoolmaster's daughter. He duly stepped into his father-in-law's shoes, and himself became a schoolmaster at Ansfelden in 1776. His son, Anton Bruckner, senior ( 1791-1837), the tenth of his twelve children, and the composer's father, seems to have given up broom-making altogether. He started as his father's assistant, and succeeded him in 1823 as village schoolmaster and organist. In the same year he married Theresia Helm ( 1801-60), the daughter of a local official and innkeeper. She seems to have been a keen and good singer.

____________________
1
The spelling used by the composer seems to have been adopted by his paternal grandfather.

-3-

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