THE extent, scope and character of Bruckner's vocal music was largely determined by his relations with the Church and with choral societies. Surpassing his instrumental compositions in sheer weight of number it approximately equals them in actual bulk. Two categories of vocal composition much favoured in the romantic period are all but excluded: Bruckner wrote no opera and hardly ever a song with piano accompaniment. The anachronistic nature of his creative personality seems vividly expressed by his almost exclusive concentration on choral music for the Roman liturgy and on the part- song with or without instrumental accompaniment. The greater part of these compositions are pièces de circonstance either commissioned by church dignitaries (e.g. the Mass in E minor) or suggested by secular authorities for a festive occasion (e.g. Psalm CL). Others again, like the first large-scale secular composition, Germanenzug, were written for competitive choral festivals. However, some of the greatest among these works owe their existence to the promptings of Bruckner's genius alone.
The greater part of this music was written while Bruckner kept in close touch with cathedral choirs and secular choral societies. It belongs to the first half of hit life (i.e. before 1868), spent mainly in Upper Austria as teacher, chorus-master and organist, and thus represents in the main a man of under forty-five, whose musical apprenticeship extended well into his forties and who only then began to strike out on a creative path of his own. Once Bruckner had exchanged the organ-loft of Linz Cathedral and the conductor's rostrum of the Liedertafel 'Frohsinn' for the lecturership in harmony and counterpoint at the Vienna Conservatory, his interest in choral composition in general and in works for the Church in particular began to diminish. In the last twenty-right years of his life only