Bruckner, Symphony No. 4, ‘Romantic’
This symphony is in 4 sections called movements.
Bruckner often rewrote his compositions, including this one. There are at least three different versions of it!
The French horn is used a lot throughout this piece. The French horn player sits at the back of the orchestra on the left.
Buckner’s music can seem long because he takes his time building up musical ideas. To help you, try imagining that you are going on a journey and listen to the different sounds that the orchestra creates.
Movement I: Bewegt, nicht zu schnell (moderate speed) Around 13 minutes
The strings begin by playing pianissimo (pp). Over the top of this we hear the French horn. Listen to the shape of the tune as it goes down in pitch and then back up and take note of the rhythm.
The shape and rhythm of this melody are played throughout the movement by different sections of the orchestra. Can you spot it?
Movement II: Andante quasi Allegretto (slow) Around 12 minutes
The violins and violas begin the movement. The cello section comes in next and introduces a new melody. You can hear this melody played by the wind section about 30 seconds later. You can also hear the strings plucking at this time.
Five minutes in we can hear the melody from the beginning of the movement. This time it is played by the horn and is in a major key. Follow it as it is passed on to other instruments.
Movement III: Scherzo (Bewegt) (quick) Around 9 minutes
The violins begin the movement using the tremolo technique which is similar to the English word ‘tremble’. This involves repeating the same note very quickly for a sustained period of time.
The French horn plays a short melody that sounds like a hunting call. Notice as it is played throughout the orchestra and the excitement that it creates.
Four minutes in the time signature changes to 3 beats in each bar. The music slows down and the flute and clarinet play a smooth melody. The musical term for this is legato.
Around six minutes in the string tremolo returns as does the horns hunting call from the beginning of the movement.
Movement IV: Finale (Bewegt, doch nicht zu schnell) (slightly further in movement) Around 16 minutes
The strings play a repeated note creating tension and drama.
The horns play in a similar style to the opening of the first movement.
The wind section then plays this melody but faster and at a higher pitch to create drama.
Fifteen minutes in the music is pianisissimo and we hear the opening horn melody, signifying that the piece is coming to a close.
ANTON BRUCKNER 1824-1896
Austrian romantic composer.
Romantic music was about an outpouring of emotion.
Bruckner was dedicated to composing and playing, often practising for 12 hours each day.
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