Anton Bruckner

Symphony No. 9 in D minor, WAB 109

    Description by Wayne Reisig

    As Bruckner progressed on his Ninth and last symphony, he daily petitioned God for the strength to complete it, saying "If He takes the pen from my hand, it is His responsibility." From 1889 to 1896, the composer doggedly worked on the Ninth. But on October 11, 1896, after a morning walk, Bruckner went home and quietly passed away, leaving behind what is possibly the greatest unfinished symphony since Schubert's.

    The Ninth is often cited as one of the most important musical links between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, taking the innovations of Wagner's Tristan a step further. The pounding rhythms of the scherzo seem to look ahead to Stravinsky and Bartók while the wide interval leaps and grinding dissonance look ahead to the Second Viennese School. Although the three movement torso is the standard format for presenting Bruckner's last symphonic essay, the final sketches (which have been recorded along with a few "completed" versions of the finale) show that despite failing health and occasional mental detachment, Bruckner's musical mind remained virile and imaginative to the end. The immense fourth movement would have surpassed even the Eighth's in scale, utilizing a fugue and quotes from the Te Deum. Yet, there is something satisfying and uplifting in closing with the adagio.

    The solemn drone against which the symphony commences sets the stage for an otherworldly conflict, evolving into a whirlwind and erupting into the shattering main theme. This is followed by a characteristic hymn-like passage and a restless rocking-like third theme; in the development section a twisting 6/8 motive emerges and will later be used as a propelling device against which the apocalyptic coda plays out, ending on a menacing open fifth. No hint of a peasant dance or earthly image is left in the pounding, demonic scherzo, placed second in order; even the trio, while starting out with elfin lightness, soon evolves into a mysterious, half-lit dreamscape of vague and unsettling images. The following adagio is considered the composer's valedictory to life. The tortured leap of a ninth ushers in a slow-unfolding vision which explodes, Tristan-like, into a climax of spiritual ecstasy. This is followed by a beautiful, autumnal song-theme which seems to radiate from a nostalgic looking-back on life's joys; then appears an austere march-like theme derived from the symphony's opening. Against a stuttering sixteenth note figure, the autumnal theme makes a last appearance. It is gradually joined by a noble hymn-like theme which gradually sours with dissonance while becoming even more intense in its attempted fervor; this works up to the famous seven note dissonance, grinding and terrible, and is followed by an even more terrible silence, as though staring into a void. But then, stealthily a motive from the movement's opening drifts the music to a final serene plane. In the coda, Bruckner fondly quotes from his Eighth and Seventh symphonies, taking an eloquent and affecting leave of the world.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Feierlich, misterioso
    2. Scherzo. Bewegt, lebhaft - Trio. Schnell
    3. Adagio. Langsam, feierlich

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2019 Deutsche Grammophon 4836659
    2019 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 18030
    2019 BR Klassik BRK 900173
    2019 Tacet TACET 2454
    2019 Tacet TACET 245
    2018 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 17024
    2018 ATMA Classique ACD 22451
    2018 SWR Klassik / SWR Music SWR 19411CD
    2018 Sony Classical 88985495052
    2018 Deutsche Grammophon
    2018 SWR Music SWR 19512CD
    2018 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 18048
    2018 Warner Classics
    2018 Decca / Deutsche Grammophon 4798418
    2017 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 16059
    2017 Symphonia ERM 4023
    2017 SWR Klassik / SWR Music SWR 19043CD
    2017 CSO Resound CSOR 9011701
    2017 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 16089
    2017 Praga / Praga Digitals DSD 350125
    2017 Deutsche Grammophon 4796985
    2017 Deutsche Grammophon 4797477
    2017 Sony Classical 88985483372
    2016 Gramola GRAM 99089
    2016 Capriccio Records C 5247
    2016 Challenge Classics CC 72702
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4795805
    2016 CPO CPO 5550232
    2016 RCO live / RCO Live RCO 16001
    2016 Oehms Classics OC 026
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4796314
    2016 Sony Classical / Sony Music Distribution 88875173752
    2016 SWR Music SWR 19014CD
    2016 Decca / Philips 4788977
    2015 Oehms Classics OC 693
    2015 Savoy UMI_00795041610
    2015 Signum Classics SIGCD 431
    2015 Danacord / DanaCord DACOCD 754
    2015 Oehms Classics OC 025
    2015 PentaTone Classics PTC 5186520
    2015 Music & Arts MACD 1283
    2015 Melodiya MELCD 1002295
    2014 Archipel ARPCD 0546
    2014 LSO Live LSO 0746
    2014 Deutsche Grammophon 002119802
    2014 Deutsche Grammophon
    2014 Naxos 8501205
    2013 CPO CPO 777787
    2013 Warner Classics
    2013 Warner Classics 61891
    2013 Warner Classics 4317522
    2013 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 13038
    2013 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 09061
    2013 Oehms Classics OC 090
    2013 Deutsche Grammophon 4791046
    2013 Deutsche Grammophon
    2012 Querstand VKJK 1215
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099995598
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    2012 Haenssler / Haenssler Classics HAEN 93273
    2012 Entertainment Group 12108
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099995296
    2012 Testament SBT 21472
    2012 Music & Arts MA 1262
    2012 Deutsche Grammophon 002894770055
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon 4779449
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon
    2011 BR Klassik 900711
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon 4779803
    2011 Warner Classics 680225
    2011 Tahra TAH 689
    2011 Decca
    2011 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 11028
    2011 Hänssler Classic HAEN 94604
    2011 Denon Records
    2011 Decca 458 964-2DH
    2011 Music & Arts MA 1256
    2011 Orfeo C 838112B
    2010 RCA Red Seal / Sony Classical 7776582
    2010 Sony Classical 8869768365
    2010 RCA / RCA Red Seal 8869754257
    2010 Teldec 256468022-8
    2010 Hallé / Halle Concerts Society 7524
    2010 Savoy
    2010 Audite 04480
    2009 Musikalische Akademie Mannheim 01294100
    2009 Oehms Classics 717
    2009 Music & Arts MACD1227
    2009 Bella Musica / Zebralution
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler 9068
    2008 Document / Membran 231884
    2008 ATMA Classique 2514
    2008 Deutsche Grammophon 4777580
    2008 Coviello Classics 30711
    2008 Sony Classical Essential Classics 88697202399
    2008 Music & Arts 1216
    2008 Deutsche Grammophon 004400734395
    2008 Pentatone Classics 5186030
    2008 Sony Classical Essential Classics 729964
    2008 Medici Arts 2056848
    2008 Decca 4753312
    2008 Music & Arts MACD1209
    2008 Brilliant Classics 8593
    2008 Andromeda 9028
    2008 Universal Classics & Jazz
    2008 Music & Arts MACD1212
    2007 Andromeda 9010
    2007 Preiser Records 90728
    2007 Deutsche Grammophon 427345
    2007 Andromeda ANDRCD 9008
    2007 Berlin 8403
    2007 Amado Classics 4000
    2007 Document 223602
    2006 RCO / RCO Live 06004
    2006 Weitblick 7
    2006 Weitblick 50
    2006 Haenssler 93186
    2006 BBC Legends / BBC Music 41742
    2006 Universal Classics & Jazz
    2006 Decca 442 040-2PB9
    2006 Haenssler 93140
    2006 History 203136
    2005 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler 4058
    2005 Brilliant 92084
    2005 Designo 222505
    2005 EMI Classics
    2005 Elatus
    2005 Archipel 0144
    2005 Philips 000530902
    2004 Oehms 207
    2004 Oehms 218
    2004 Deutsche Grammophon 474990
    2004 Palexa 530
    2004 Rca Red Seal 60395
    2004 Deutsche Grammophon 4775136
    2004 Deutsche Grammophon
    2004 Haenssler 93148
    2004 Decca
    2004 Rca Red Seal 62323
    2004 Sony Classical 92737
    2004 Warner Music 61891
    2004 Sony Music Distribution 92460
    2004 Deutsche Grammophon 474 980-2GM10
    2004 Artone 222341
    2004 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 7243585974
    2003 Deutsche Grammophon 000001302
    2003 Naxos 8555933-34
    2003 Arte Nova 34044
    2003 Berlin Classics 0020502
    2003 Music & Arts CD1110
    2003 Andante 4070
    2002 Urania URN 22225
    2002 Archipel Records 85
    2002 LSO Live 23
    2002 1043
    2002 Naxos 501101
    2002 Haenssler 93052
    2002 Rca Red Seal 90114
    2001 Arte Nova 85290
    2001 RCA 63244
    2001 Deutsche Grammophon 4710322
    2001 Decca 4684942
    2001 Deutsche Grammophon 471032
    2001 Music & Arts 1094
    2001 Orfeo 550011
    2001 Tahra 417-418
    2001 History 203133
    2000 Angel Records / Warner Classics 7243573905
    2000 Deutsche Grammophon 445471
    2000 Angel Records 73827
    2000 Deutsche Grammophon 445476
    2000 Orfeo D'Or 548001
    1999 Music & Arts 4896
    1999 Music & Arts 969
    1999 EMI Classics 56699
    1999 BBC Music 4017
    1999 Magic Master 37081
    1999 Naxos 554268
    1999 BBC Legends / BBC Music 40342
    1998 EMI Classics 556688
    1998 Tuxedo Music 1059
    1998 EMI Music Distribution 69797
    1998 ICONE 9412
    1998 Music & Arts 1028
    1998 New York Philharmonic 9701
    1997 Deutsche Grammophon 449758
    1997 Golden Melodram 40008
    1997 Point Classics 265010
    1997 Reference Recordings 81
    1997 London 455506
    1997 Grammofono 2000 78696
    1997 Tahra 207
    1996 Camerata Records CMSE431-442
    1996 Chandos 7051
    1996 Music & Arts 896
    1996 London 448910
    1996 Philips 442731
    1996 Sony Music Distribution 64483
    1996 Sony Music Distribution 66249
    1995 Seraphim UK 568527
    1995 Preiser Records 90148
    1995 Camerata Records 30CM275/276
    1995 Melodiya 25193
    1995 Melodiya 25189
    1994 BMG 26502
    1994 Encore Recordings 67768
    1994 Orfeo 160851
    1994 Vox 5508
    1992 Sony Classical 47542
    1992 Music & Arts CD-730
    1992 Telarc Distribution 80299
    1991 Deutsche Grammophon
    1991 Deutsche Grammophon 4299042
    1991 Teldec 72140
    1991 Deutsche Grammophon 4299042
    1990 RCA 60075
    1990 Deutsche Grammophon
    1989 Deutsche Grammophon 429079
    1980 Tahra 162
    Deutsche Grammophon 435321
    Deutsche Grammophon 477006
    Deutsche Grammophon 429904
    EMI Music Distribution 62935
    EMI Music Distribution 67279
    Laserlight 14138
    Philips 410039
    Urania 163
    Nuova Era 2225
    Deutsche Grammophon 419083
    Deutsche Grammophon 435326
    6w 23
    Iron Needle 1396
    Grammofono 2000 78831
    Iron Needle 1333
    Leningrad Masters 1303
    London 425405
    Brilliant 92084/9
    Supraphon 110654
    Digital Masterworks 71814
    Amado Classics 04008
    CBS Masterworks 44825
    BMG 603652
    EMI Classics 63916
    Manchester 136
    Music & Arts 219
    Teldec 43302
    Sirio 53004
    Canyon Classics 3690
    Teldec 91446
    Intaglio 709
    RCA 60365
    EMI Music Distribution 65177
    Teldec
    Brilliant Classics 8593/8
    Music & Arts 781
    History 205643
    New York Philharmonic 9702/03
    Archiphon 32
    Palladio 4209