Anton Bruckner’s lost symphony
April 28, 2022
The Phoenix-based MusicaNova Orchestra has been offered the chance to perform the first live performance of a lost symphony of Austrian composer Anton Bruckner. Composed in 1878, this version of the Bruckner score was discovered by Dr. Benjamin Korstvedt, of Clark University in Massachusetts, in the Austria National Library archives in Vienna. Dr. Korstvedt knew of MusicaNova’s reputation and its mission to perform unknown or lost works. He offered them the world premiere. We spoke with Warren Cohen, the founder and Music Director of MusicaNova and Dr. Korsvedt for more.
Dr. Korsvedt you found a lost piece of music from a very famous classical composer. Talk to us about this.
“This is a version of Bruckner’s 4th symphony, which is probably his most popular and frequently performed concert piece, that he performed in 1878.” He had withdrawn the piece just before performing it to continue working on it, so it was never played in his day.
“The lost version, as you refer to it, has never been performed publicly in 144 years.”
Musicanova you are known for finding obscure things and performing them. When you heard about this, what was your first thought?
“My first thought, I was actually aware of it for a while, was this is a little bit strange. The first thing that came to mind was the finale of it, the folks fest finale is known, but is never played.” It only existed separate from the symphony, so Cohen had to figure out how to make the pieces fit together. “That, I thought, was kind of a remarkable challenge to try and work on.”
Dr. Korsvedt did you just stumble on this?
“No, hardly. I had been involved in preparing a critical edition for the Bruckner, Anton Bruckner edition based in Vienna, which is a very extensive research project. There are many many manuscripts and pages–more than 5,000 pages of music through the archives. I was exploring this systematically. The entire four movement symphony in its 1878 version has never been performed.”