For a long time, it was hard to imagine that Anton Bruckner's (1824-1896) magnificent symphonies would one day be among the cornerstones of the concert repertoire. Bruckner's work was widely scorned; he himself was regarded as a naïve and eccentric oddball whose behaviour gave rise to countless anecdotes. Bruckner, born on 4th September 1824, grew up in cramped quarters in a small Austrian village near the city of Linz. At age 13, he was admitted to the Augustinian monastery in nearby St. Florian, where he received a thorough practical musical education. Here, he discovered the magnificent abbey organ, which would help propel him to fame throughout Europe. Bruckner started out as assistant teacher in a small village. Within 15 years, he had risen from teacher with additional musical responsibilities to professional musician and in 1855, he became cathedral organist in Linz.
Bruckner’s creative development alongside his professional advancement remains unparalleled. Over the years, Bruckner merely produced impersonal studies, mostly within the framework of a kind of correspondence course with Simon Sechter, music theorist in Vienna. Brucker did not indulge in personal creative urges until he was 40 years old. In 1864, with his first work, the Mass in D minor, he succeeded in breaking through to his own style, out of nowhere, as it were.
Further professional advancement followed in 1868, when he assumed a professorial position as Sechter's successor at the Vienna Conservatory. During his time in Vienna, Bruckner was forced to endure many bitter defeats and severe hostility. Amid the factional strife between the followers of Wagner and Brahms, his symphonies were either mercilessly panned or not even accepted for performance. It was not until the mid-1880s that his works gradually gained acceptance. Bruckner died as a universally respected artist on 11th October 1896.