On April 22, Susanna Mälkki will lead the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra in Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 in C minor (1890, ed. Nowak). This magnificent work, sometimes called The Apocalyptic, placed 13th in BBC Music Magazine’s article: “The 20 Greatest Symphonies of all time”.
This was the last symphony the composer completed, which he began composing in 1884 and revised between 1889-1890 after conductor and Bruckner’s frequent collaborator, Hermann Levi, deemed it “impossible to perform in its current form”. This new version, only published in 1955 by the International Bruckner Society with edits by Leopold Nowak, is grandiose in scale and somewhat abstract in nature yet can only be described as an epic work of art.
Though the premiere of the symphony garnered mixed opinions, composer Hugo Wolf wrote this of the work five days after he first heard it:
“This Symphony is the creation of a Titan, and in spiritual vastness, fertility of ideas, and grandeur even surpasses his other symphonies. Notwithstanding the usual Cassandra prophecies of woe, even from those in the know, its success was almost without precedent. It was the absolute victory of light over darkness, and the storm of applause at the end of each movement was like some elemental manifestation of Nature. In short, even a Roman Emperor could not have wished for a more superb triumph.”
Photo: Jiyang Chen