Bruckner: 10 Things You Never Knew

  • Bruckner suffered from numeromania, a condition that saw him count the leaves on trees and the windows in buildings. Ken Russell made a film about it for the South Bank Show, entitled ‘The Strange Affliction of Anton Bruckner’.
  • He wrote eleven symphonies, ten of which he completed. Confusingly, No. 8 is the last one he finished, as he relegated two works to No. 0 and No. 00. No. 9 is incomplete, but among his greatest works.
  • Knowing which edition to perform is a constant headache for conductors, as Bruckner revised every one of his symphonies up until his death.
  • Bruckner was a fine organist and one of the greatest improvisers. Sadly or organists, he wrote nothing of note for the instrument.
  • Bruckner only started composing seriously from the age of 37, a couple of years older then Mozart was when he died.
  • At his request, Bruckner was buried under the organ at St Florian, where he served from the age of 24 for seven years.
  • Bruckner never married, despite proposing to several women. It’s thought he went to the grave a chaste man.
  • Each of Bruckner’s symphonies is huge in scope and ambition – Brahms called them symphonic ‘boa constrictors’.
  • Bruckner’s music has suffered from associations with Hitler, whose favourite Symphony was No. 7. It was played on German radio following his death in 1945.
  • A nervous breakdown struck Bruckner in 1866, for which he spent three months in a sanatorium.