AMONG the strange anomalies of Bruckner's development is the fact that he wrote no large-scale instrumental composition before the age of thirty-eight. Various explanations have been offered: his 'arrested development' in general; his lack of opportunity to hear orchestral music in his provincial backwater; his ecclesiastical surroundings; the six years of austere study of strict counterpoint under Sechter. Probably all these circumstances contributed in equal measure to this strange hesitancy in approaching what later was to become his most personal means of expression. Bruckner is reported to have tried to explain the late appearance of his first great orchestral compositions with a phrase of characteristic humility: 'Ich hab' mich nicht getraut' ('I didn't dare'). He certainly lacked a deeper knowledge of sonata and symphony (sternly excluded from Sechter's almost medieval curriculum), both of which he only began to study with the new opera conductor of Linz, Otto Kitzler, the last of his tutors and fully ten years younger than his middle-aged pupil. Bruckner worked under him from the end of 1861 to 1863. As Kitzler's pupil he insisted especially on the subjects deliberately neglected by Sechter: form and orchestration. Instinctively he had chosen the right person, for Kitzler was as progressive as Sechter was ultra-conservative. He was the first to perform WagnerTannhäuser at Linz, and he thus acquainted Bruckner for the first time with a Wagner score at the turn of 1862-3. The essays in composition dating from this time are, with the sole exception of a string Quartet in C minor, orchestral. They vary in quality and comprise four pieces for orchestra, two marches for military hand, an Overture in G minor and a complete Symphony in F minor.
The Overture is Bruckner's symphonic prentice-work par excellence. It is in fact a fully fledged symphonic first movement, scored for an orchestra with double wind and three trombones. It begins with