In 2010, Christian Thielemann and the Staatskapelle Dresden recorded Bruckner's Symphony No. 8—often referred to as the "Apocalyptic" Symphony—to enthusiastic critical acclaim. On April 19, this "venerable, remarkable orchestra" (The New York Times) returns to Carnegie Hall for the first time since 2005 to perform the work live and without an intermission.
Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony, the composer's last completed work in the genre, is regarded by Bruckner's admirers as his most monumental achievement—the symphony where he most completely attained the sublimity for which he was always searching. The Eighth was Bruckner's favorite as well, even though he struggled even more intensely than usual with rejections, revisions, and self-doubts.
The work is in the usual four movements, but the architecture is so daring and the mysticism so uncompromising that listeners were initially put off, just as orchestras resisted Bruckner's huge reach and ferocious technical difficulties. The controversial premiere by the Vienna Philharmonic was largely successful, but as with other mature Bruckner symphonies, performances were rare until the recent Bruckner boom. The Eighth was only played two more times during Bruckner's lifetime and was not performed in America until 1909. Recently, however, maestros from Karajan to Boulez have taken up Bruckner's cause, and epic works like the Eighth are enjoying a revival similar to that experienced by the similarly large-scale symphonies of Mahler.
Christian Thielemann and the Staatskapelle Dresden perform Bruckner's Symphony No. 8.
Related: April 19, Staatskapelle Dresden