Bruckner’s colourful Wagner memorial

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On the top. © Charles Thibo

Majestic. This symphony is majestic in many respects. Firstly through the impressive use of melodies as structural elements. Secondly through its sophisticated and still balanced instrumentation. Thirdly through its dedication to the Bavarian King Ludwig II. And finally through the background of its creation. Richard Wagner, or more precisely the death of Richard Wagner, is looming large behind this piece. In the first movement, the composer Anton Bruckner quotes a duet from Wagner’s opera “Tristan and Isolde”, in the second and fourth movement, the tubas and horns play a thrill lamentation that can also be interpreted as Bruckner’s pledge of loyalty to his idol.

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