Vienna Phil signs Thielemann for 5-year Bruckner cycle

Vienna Phil signs Thielemann for 5-year Bruckner cycle


norman lebrecht

January 17, 2019

Message received:

On May 2, 2019, the Vienna Philharmonic will open a Bruckner cycle in Berlin under the baton of Christian Thielemann

Christian Thielemann has been musically associated with the Vienna Philharmonic since 2000. On 1 January 2019, Thielemann conducted the Vienna Philharmonic New Year’s Concert for the first time.

On May 2 he will conduct the orchestra in a performance of Anton Bruckner’s 2nd Symphony that will take place in the Berlin Cathedral. It is the beginning of a project that will last until Bruckner’s 200th birthday in 2024.

All of Bruckner’s symphonies will be performed under the baton of Christian Thielemann. Contemporary works that have a thematic connection with the symphonies will also be performed. In order to come as close as possible to Bruckner’s concept of sound, the performances will take place in European cathedrals.


  • Petros LInardos says:

    Question: did Bruckner think of cathedrals as the appropriate venues for performances of his symphonies ?

    • We privatize your value says:

      And a more specific question – did he think of Romanesque cathedrals, of Gothic cathedrals, of Baroque cathedrals…?

    • Herr Doktor says:

      It seems pretty clear to me as someone who intensely loves Bruckner’s music that he had the sound of at least the St. Florian basilica in mind when writing his symphonies. He’s hard-coded into the music space for the music to reverberate. That said, I would imagine some cathedrals could be especially challenging for an orchestra to pull off a Bruckner symphony successfully without lots of time to understand the sound in the space and to make adjustments for and accommodate whatever those realities are. But given that time and determination by the musicians to make it work, my best guess is that it would overwhelm listeners and give them exactly what Bruckner had hoped for. I for one would love to be able to hear these concerts live in Berlin, but unfortunately that’s not going to happen.

  • MacroV says:

    Sounds pretty cool. He does great Bruckner, they do great Bruckner, they’ve worked together a lot. What’s not to like?

  • Andrew Powell says:

    In No. 1, Nowak 1953
    In No. 2, Carragan 2005
    In No. 3, Nowak 1977
    In No. 4, Haas 1936
    In No. 7, Haas 1944
    In No. 8, Haas 1939
    In No. 9, Nowak 1951

    Danke im Voraus!

  • BassOne says:

    His New Year’s Day performance was dull, dull, dull, but it will be interesting to hear what he can bring to Bruckner.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Bruckner 9 and Te Deum for Vienna New Year’s Day Concert? Commercial implication asides, that’s thought provoking!

  • Edgar says:

    That almost sounds like Communion under three species: Bread, Wine, and Bruckner;-)

    May The Force be with the recording engineers…

  • Gaffney Feskoe says:

    I wonder if this cycle will be recorded.

  • Viola da Bracchio says:

    A five-year Bruckner term? That’s what they got, for excluding women from the roster of players.

    I suppose it means more Overtime work for the trombones and tubas. And it will save me some money on not buying concert or travel tickets for Vienna.

    “At long last, the Finale – which, with its baroque themes, its confused structure and inhuman din, strikes us only as a model of tastelessness ”
    – Hanslick, reviewing the premiere of Bruckner 8

    • Bill says:

      Rather a delayed punishment, if that is what you see it as. The majority of the members on the audition panels have been voting to admit women for years. Surely you don’t expect that every woman who auditions will be chosen, however.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Got to agree with Hanslick. And Brahms. Long-winded, tasteless, self-indulgent….dull, finally.

      • barry guerrero says:

        Yes, and Brahms is none of those things. Instead, his music looks better on paper than it sounds. He manages to make an orchestra sound both screechy and muddy at the same time. Quite a skill. He also sounds as though he’s trying desperately to sound German. Bruckner and Schumann ARE German (German Austrian for Bruckner).

  • John Rook says:

    Fabulous project. Wish I could be there.

  • Spenser says:

    I hope these performances will be recorded and released on audio discs!
    Sometimes the audio track on video presentations is below par….

  • anon says:

    Like Messiaen, organist and Catholic whose music is meant to replicate the interior fervent ecstasy of the composer, Bruckner’s music, for me, a non-Christian, is insufferable.

    I don’t get it and I don’t like it. But that’s just me, so who cares.

    But for those who truly fervently believe in the TOTAL experience that Bruckner and Messiaen promise — musical, sonic, religious, Catholic — it makes all the sense to hear their music in a cathedral.

    No doubt, a French orchestra will now want to do Messiaen’s Turangalila in the Parisian cathedral where he was organist. (Sonically, it will be a mess of a soup of sound, but I’m sure the musicians will figure out the acoustics.)

    • anon says:

      Perhaps the same could be said of Bach, but for Protestanism, but the difference is that Bach was a damn good composer.

      So history tells us that Bach was ignored as dry and academic until Mendelssohn rediscovered and reintroduced him….

      Faire enougha, perhaps in 500 years, we’ll hold Bruckner in the same esteem as we hold Bach today.

  • Jamesay says:

    Bloody hell thats a very dated pic of this conductor!!!!!!