Inside The Music: Bruckner – Symphony No. 4, Romantic

Discover about Bruckner’s instrumental colours in his Romantic 4th Symphony, with this short video lecture from Jonathan James


I wonder what you feel are the key instrumental colours when you think of Bruckner. I’m hoping that like me you think first of all of the horn because the horn, particularly in this, his fourth symphony, the so called romantic symphony, plays a huge role.

At first it beckons us into this mysterious natural world. Before in the third movement the scherzo, it leads us on a hunt.

Its a really exciting build up, actually you get the thrill of the hunt there. So, the horn has this leading major role within the whole of the work, but also you’ll hear the cellos, I hope that was the other sound that you immediately think of when you think of Bruckner and sure enough in the second movements the cellos get this wonderful romantic tune.

And you’ve got to imagine just eight cellos or more really loving that tune and playing it till their hearts content. The other thing that really strikes me about Bruckner’s language is how he uses this unfurling harmonies these wonderful colours that seem to blossom. Let me just give you an example, again form the slow movement.

Did you get a sense of that, how it goes from a closed world to a very open one. So these choices of instrumental colours, the horns, the cellos, and also his use of harmony. This transformative harmony that he has, are just a few of the poetic elements that go to make up his very unique romantic sound.

So what do you think are the secrets to Bruckner’s romance? We’d love to hear so feel free to put your comments below and to like and subscribe to these videos. Thanks for watching.