It is a gradual in the Catholic liturgy of the mass. In the classical Roman rite, it was sung as the gradual at mass on Maundy Thursday, however since the promulgation of the new rite of mass by Pope Paul VI in it has been employed instead as the gradual on Palm Sunday. Up until it was also sung daily at the conclusion of Tenebrae Matins and Lauds on the last days of Holy Week. It appeared first at Tenebrae of Maundy Thursday, but was not recited in full, ending with The following day at Tenebrae of Good Friday it was sung from the beginning until
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Unlike many important nineteenth-century composers, he had a strong background in vocal music, becoming a choirboy at age 13 at the Augustinian monastery of St. Florian, located not far from his home.
Here he studied singing, violin, and organ; he had begun piano studies earlier. Despite his evident musical gifts, after leaving St. He continued to study music and was composing by this time. In he moved to a much better position as assistant schoolteacher back at St. During his time there he developed into an outstanding organist with special skills in improvisation.
In he became the organist for the monastery, a position that, however, never moved beyond provisional status. In November Bruckner accepted the position of organist at Linz cathedral provisional at first, then permanent two months later.
In he also began studying counterpoint and harmony with the famous Viennese theorist Simon Sechter, training that lasted until After ending that round of study, he embarked on another, this time of form and orchestration with cellist and Linz theater conductor Otto Kitzler, continuing his studies until Through Kitzler Bruckner learned the music of Wagner and rapidly became an ardent disciple of the operatic master. The results of this were mixed.
As a chorister he sang second tenor; any especially gorgeous second tenor parts are surely owing to that experience. He also was the director of the chorus for two periods, first from November to September , and then again from January to October He was said to be especially concerned with dynamics. In October he moved at last to the cultural capital of Austria, Vienna, where he was Professor of Harmony and Counterpoint at the Vienna Conservatory until his retirement in ; his pupils included the influential theorist Heinrich Schenker.
He taught organ at the Conservatory as well, and held various other positions, including organist one of three at the Hofkapelle.
It was in Vienna that almost all of his symphonies were written and that the slow path of his musical acceptance finally began. He died there in Compositions and Reception For a major composer, Bruckner wrote relatively few compositions in relatively few genres, for several reasons. He began serious composition rather late in his view, it only began in after his studies with Kitzler , his symphonies tended to be very long, and he constantly revised what he had already written often to match his theories of metrical analysis.
A few songs and piano works exist, but his symphonies and his choral works are his claim to fame—and, of course, given the implicit hierarchy of classical music, that means the symphonies. The Symphonies Bruckner wrote eleven symphonies. Nine of them are known as surprise! Symphonies 1 through 9. Many symphonies exist in multiple versions. Symphony 4, for example, has three distinct versions, and Symphony 8 has two versions.
Symphony 9 was left with an unfinished last movement. A good summary of the complex state of affairs can be found in the New Grove article on the composer. But these are gorgeous movements, truly inspirational in their unfolding. And they are surrounded by other equally moving components Bruckner followed the traditional four-movement layout for his symphonies , including exuberant Scherzi that provide lively contrasts to the more slowly-moving neighboring movements.
Symphonies 4 to 9 are now part of the standard repertoire and are well worth the investment in time to get to know them. Choral Music Unlike Mahler, Bruckner never included a chorus in his symphonies, with one quasi-exception to be noted below. But he wrote important choral works with symphonic accompaniment, as well as numerous a cappella gems. This dates from the spring of , not long after he finished his intensive period of study with Simon Sechter.
Bruckner wrote three mature masses, in D Minor , E Minor , and F Minor —; premiere in at the Augustinerkirche in Vienna ; various earlier masses exist. The D Minor and F Minor masses use full orchestra and organ in the classical tradition of Haydn and Mozart, while the E Minor mass uses winds and brass only.
All underwent revisions, but, interestingly, the revisions were concentrated on the instrumental accompaniments much more so than the vocal parts; the jewels of his choral part-writing received new settings. The first two masses had their premieres in Linz, the second one being used to consecrate the votive chapel of the cathedral in The F Minor mass, which many writers consider the best of the three though they are all good , came about under unusual circumstances.
In the spring of Bruckner had a nervous breakdown, brought on in part by stress, overwork, and concentrated compositional activity. For a period of three months May 8 to August 8 he resided at the sanatorium of Bad Kreuzen. Not long after his release he was back at work composing against the advice of his doctors. The resulting piece, which took almost a full year to create, was the F Minor mass, commissioned by the Vienna Hofkapelle. In addition, a direct influence on his later work was the quotation of material from the Mass in three different symphonies.
After the F Minor mass, Bruckner wrote three other important works with chorus and orchestra: Helgoland with male chorus ; Psalm ; and the Te Deum. Bruckner considered this last to be his best work it is indeed spectacular , and when it appeared as if he would not finish his ninth symphony, he indicated that the Te Deum could be used as its finale—shades of Beethoven! Some of my favorites include the aforementioned Ave Maria; Locus iste ; Tota pulchra es , with tenor and organ ; Ecce sacerdos magnus , with three trombones and organ ; and Virga Jesse floruit also The two works we are singing are both unaccompanied, and in that respect fit into the Cecilian movement that was current in Austria and Germany while Bruckner was alive.
This was a movement that strove to restore Catholic church music to the style of the distant past, as in plainchant and Palestrina. The emphasis was on functional church music of relatively simple compositional means.
Although Bruckner was a devout Catholic, his taste in church music had been formed and influenced by the dramatic sacred music of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Mendelssohn, which often used full orchestral forces to increase theatricality and affect.
Bruckner did write often for unaccompanied voices the ideal for Cecilian compositions , but the two motets we sing present two very different aspects of a cappella writing.
The Christus factus est that we sing is his third and last setting of this text; the first time was in a youthful plenary mass ; the second setting, from , includes instruments. The ever-changing key center makes the work challenging to keep in tune. Os justi is different from Christus factus est in almost every respect beyond the lack of instruments.
But the greatest contrast is harmonic, for Os justi is written in pure Lydian throughout. Lydian was one of the medieval church modes, and its use in a late nineteenth-century motet is an obvious gesture to the past that would be appreciated by followers of the Cecilian movement.
To simplify a complex matter, we can describe the medieval modes as the scale patterns from which music before was constructed as opposed to the major and minor scales used to create later music. The scale patterns were specific mixtures of half and whole steps most readily described as the white notes on a piano from D to an octave above Dorian ; the white note octave on E Phrygian ; on F Lydian ; and on G Mixolydian.
And, indeed, Os justi has no accidentals anywhere. It further eschews six-four chords and seventh chords, as Bruckner himself pointed out in a letter to its dedicatee. Yet despite these restrictions Bruckner manages to include harmonically effective devices such as a quick taste of the circle of fifths starting in m.
Os justi was dedicated to Cecilianist Ignaz Traumihler, the chorus director of St. Florian, and it obviously suits the objectives of the Cecilian movement far better than does the thrilling Christus factus est.
It also meets the Cecilian desire for a functional liturgical work. The text is that of the Gradual for the mass for the common of doctors doctors of the church, that is, such as St. Augustine, St. Jerome, and—yes! Hildegard of Bingen , and the premiere was at St. Florian on the litugically appropriate date of 28 August —the Feast of Saint Augustine a farewell gift; Traumihler died less than two months after the premiere.
They do. Thank you, Martin Luther. Translations Christus factus est pro nobis, Obediens usque ad mortem, Propter quod et Deus exaltavit illum, Et dedit illi nomen Quod est super omne nomen. Os justi meditabitur sapientiam Et lingua eius loquetur judicium. Lex Dei eius in corde ipsius Et non supplantabuntur gressus eius.
Christ was made for us, Obedient even to death, And God exalted him for that, And gave him a name That is above every name. The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom And his tongue speaks what is just. The law of God is in his heart And his feet do not falter. Bibliography Bruckner has generated a great deal of scholarship, the majority of it in German. Again, though, German writings outpace material in English on the subject. Readers might wish to consult The Cambridge Companion to Bruckner or Bruckner Studies , the latter of which includes an article by Paul Hawkshaw on the revisions to the F Minor mass.
For those of us who like pictures, Grasberger has also compiled an exhaustive three-volume iconography Bruckner-Ikonographie. Recordings I have the recording on Hyperion by the Corydon Singers of the dm, em, and fm masses plus the Te Deum and a few other works. A Personal Note My introduction to Bruckner was through singing Virga Jesse in a Christmas concert as an undergraduate—certainly a great place to start—followed by Ecce sacerdos magnus and the Ave Maria.
And I loved pretty much everything I came across. But actually travelling in Austria for the first time, and specifically the Austrian Alps, made me respond to Bruckner in a different way. If you have the chance, see for yourself. April
Christus factus est, WAB 11 (Bruckner, Anton)
Christus Factus Est
Christus factus est (II), gradual for chorus, 3 violins & 2 trombones in D minor, WAB 10
Christus factus est, WAB 10 (Bruckner, Anton)