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Bruckner: Symphony No.7, 1st movement (Allegro molto)

Form scheme:
1st movement
Since its first performance it has remained Bruckner's most frequently played symphony. Like no other it reveals the wealth of Bruckner's melodic splendour.

bars 1-23
Bruckner's symphony - like some of his other compositions - starts with the third E - G sharp of the root key, tremolo and in pianissimo. This characteristic trait of Bruckner's has also been called "primeval mist". From this hardly audible third arises the wide-arching main theme of the 1st movement, introduced by the celli, intensified by horn, viola and, later on, clarinet. Bruckner himself said about the origin of the theme, "The theme is not really mine. One night, Dorn (Kapellmeister and Bruckner's friend from his period in Linz) appeared to me and dictated me the theme - which I wrote down at once - saying, 'Mind you, with this one you will be lucky.'"

bars 51-59
The harmonically restless secondary theme is presented by oboe and clarinet, taken up by various combinations of instruments and elaborated contrapuntally.

bars 103-122
In the bridge the secondary theme is reversed, i.e. the invervals are changed, e.g. a rising second is reversed downward. All this happens around the organ-point F sharp, a voice sustained in bass. The 4th and 5th bars are split off, the theme is swelled to a fortissimo in Bruckner's organ-like technique.

bars 123-130
Instead of the expected fortissimo surge the theme of the closing group is introduced in pianissimo.

In the development all themes are used for a musical elaboration. The mirrored secondary theme, extended by a lyrical codetta, urges on towards the great musical culmination of the main theme, but is stopped short by an intervening motif from the closing group.

bars 413-443
The Coda uses only the main theme. Beginning in pianissimo, Bruckner's gradual crescendo is fully exploited. The movement closes in fortissimo, on the organ-point E, which is sustained throughout 31 bars.

Turn over to 2nd movement   

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