Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Romantic Era > Symphony No. 4, in E Flat ("Romantic") - Bruckner
Symphony No. 4, in E Flat ("Romantic")
1. Allegro molto moderato.
The Fourth of Bruckner's symphonies was first produced in Vienna in 1881 and was performed for the first time in America by the Theodore Thomas Orchestral in Chicago, January 22, 1897. Like all of this composer's symphonies, it is so elaborately constructed and full of musical complications that it is only possible, in an article of this kind, to present a bare sketch. The first movement opens with a passage in the horns accompanied by the strings, which, several times repeated, prepares the way for the introduction of the first and second principal subjects, both of which present two themes. These, with their working up and the treatment of subsidiary ideas, constitute the learned structure of the movement which closes with a return to the horn passage of the opening.
The Andante is impressive and sombre in character, opening with a funeral march with characteristic refrains, followed by a melody for violas with string pizzicato accompaniment. After the development of this melody the march theme is restated most impressively and the movement closes with drum taps as the second theme dies away.
The Scherzo is a hunting movement, built up on two lively and graceful themes, after which is a country dance which furnishes the material for the trio. The movement closes with a repetition of the hunting scene music.
The Finale, Wagner fashion, introduces all the principal ideas of the other three movements, which are worked up and combined with the utmost skill. It is in reality a résumé of the whole symphony. Old forms are restated, and new forms growing out of them are presented. The workmanship is solid and the learning of the composer is everywhere apparent.