Symphony in F minor (Bruckner)

Anton Bruckner's Symphony in F minor, WAB 99, was written in 1863, at the end of his study period in form and orchestration by Otto Kitzler.

Symphony in F minor
by Anton Bruckner
A portrait of Anton Bruckner, c.1860
KeyF minor
CatalogueWAB 99
Composed1863 (1863)
Published1973 (1973) (ed. Leopold Nowak)
Recorded1972 (1972) Elyakum Shapirra, London Symphony Orchestra
Date12 October 1924 (1924-10-12)
ConductorFranz Moissl

Bruckner gave the score of the Symphony in F minor to his friend Cyrill Hynais, together with that of the Four Orchestral Pieces of 1862 and the Overture in G minor. The symphony, which was not played in Bruckner's lifetime, received its first full performance at Klosterneuburg on 12 October 1924.[1][2][3] It is available in only one edition, by Leopold Nowak published in 1973.[4]


The work is scored for two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets in B, two bassoons, four horns (two in F, two in B), two trumpets in F, alto, tenor and bass trombones, timpani and strings.


There are four movements:

  1. Allegro molto vivace, 2
  2. Andante molto, 4
    , E major[1]
  3. Scherzo, Schnell, 3
    , C minor, with Trio, Langsamer, in A major[1]
  4. Allegro, 2
    , F minor to F major[1]


Biographer Derek Watson says that compared to the Overture in G minor, the F minor Symphony "is certainly thematically uninspired and less characterful," but that it does have "some moments of warm melodiousness and consistently fine if unoriginal scoring."[5] Also, the score is quite lacking in dynamics and phrasing marks compared to Bruckner's later works.[6]

As Nowak also writes:

Much about the work betrays the style of the times, but Bruckner’s own mode of expression can already be recognized in a number of other traits. The composer's teacher Otto Kitzler wrote the work off as "not particularly inspired", which was why Bruckner laid it aside. Fortunately, however, he did not destroy it when later screening his manuscripts.[4]

Bruckner's F-minor symphony of 1863 was initially designated Symphony No. 1, and, in a letter to his friend Rudolf Weinwurm dated 29 January 1865, Bruckner described the C-minor symphony he was working on at the time as his Symphony No. 2. Later Bruckner decided to leave the F-minor symphony unnumbered, and he called the C-minor symphony of 1865–66 his Symphony No. 1.[7]

Kitzler's criticism, which led Bruckner to label the symphony "Schularbeit" (schoolwork),[8] led Georg Tintner to "wonder whether he [Kitzler] had a good look at the Scherzo."[9] Tintner considers the Finale of the work to be the weakest of the four movements. In the words of David Griegel, "Like many other composers, I believe Bruckner was merely being too self-critical, and the unnumbered symphonies are also works worthy of our enjoyment".[7]


Scholars at first believed that the next symphony Bruckner wrote was the so-called Symphony "No. 0", so that this symphony is sometimes called Symphony No. 00 in F minor. In any case, musicologists are sure now that the next symphony Bruckner wrote after this one was Symphony No. 1 in C minor.[10] Together with the Linz version of Symphony No. 1, the Study Symphony was not written in Vienna like all Bruckner's other symphonies.[11]


The first commercial recording, and apparently the first modern performance, was made by Elyakum Shapirra with the London Symphony Orchestra for EMI in 1972.[12][13]

The first recording available on compact disc, was by Eliahu Inbal and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra on the Teldec label in 1991; lasting 47 minutes. Inbal's recording appears slow compared to Tintner's 37-minute recording with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra on Naxos (which is paired with the "Volksfest" Finale of Symphony No. 4 in E major). Tintner skips the exposition repeats in the first and fourth movements, and occasionally dials down brass dynamics.

Stanisław Skrowaczewski's 2001 recording with the Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra on Arte Nova/Oehms Classics, which also skips the exposition repeats in the first and fourth movements, lasts 36 minutes. More recently, Gerd Schaller's live recording with the Philharmonie Festiva (Ebrach Summer Music Festival, 7 June 2015) uses the original setting, i.e. with the repeats in the first, second and fourth movements (Profil CD PH 15004, lasting 43 minutes).

The scherzo has been transcribed for organ and is available on a Novalis CD.[12]




  • Anton Bruckner: Sämtliche Werke: Band X: Symphonie in f-Moll (“Sudiensymphonie”) 1863, Musikwissenschaftlicher Verlag der Internationalen Bruckner-Gesellschaft, Leopold Nowak (Editor), Vienna, 1973
  • A. Peter Brown, The second golden age of the Viennese symphony: Brahms, Bruckner, Dvořák, Mahler, and selected contemporaries, Indiana University Press, Indianapolis, 2002
  • Paul Hawkshaw, "An anatomy of change: Anton Bruckner's Revisions to the Mass in F minor" in: Bruckner Studies edited by Timothy L. Jackson and Paul Hawkshaw, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1997
  • Paul Hawkshaw, "Bruckner's large sacred compositions" in: The Cambridge Companion to Bruckner edited by John Williamson, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2004
  • Keith William Kinder, The Wind and Wind-Chorus Music of Anton Bruckner, Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut, 2000
  • Timothy L. Jackson, "Bruckner's 'Oktaven'" in: Music & Letters Vol. 78 (No. 3), August 1997
  • Lee T. Lovallo, "Mass no. 3 in f minor" in: Anton Bruckner: a Discography, Rowman & Littlefield, New York, 1991
  • Leopold Nowak, Anton Bruckner: Sämtliche Werke: Band 10: Studiensymphonie F-Moll: Studienpartitur (Preface), Musikwissenschaftlicher Verlag der Internationalen Bruckner-Gesellschaft, Vienna, Richard Rickett (translator), 1973
  • Hans-Hubert Schönzeler, Bruckner, Marion Boyars, London, 1978
  • Robert Simpson, The Essence of Bruckner: An essay towards the understanding of his music, Victor Gollancz Ltd, London, 1967
  • Derek Watson, Bruckner, J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd, London, 1975
  • Uwe Harten, Anton Bruckner. Ein Handbuch. Residenz Verlag, Salzburg, 1996. ISBN 3-7017-1030-9
  • Cornelis van Zwol, Anton Bruckner 1824-1896 - Leven en werken, uitg. Thoth, Bussum, Netherlands, 2012. ISBN 978-90-6868-590-9
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