One of the greatest symphonists of the nineteenth century, ANTON BRUCKNER, had a complex and unusual fate. Unlike a multitude of artists before him, who had manifested their successes as child prodigies from the earliest of age, Bruckner’s real professional development commenced only in the fourth decade of his life and he became known to audiences only when he was into his sixties. His road as a musician for a long time has been connected with church practice alone. He spent ten years as a church organist at the St. Florian Monastery. About the depressing seclusion he had to undergo, he wrote in his letters: „I don’t have anyone here to whom I could open my heart… Our monastery treats music, and consequently the musicians as well, with absolute indifference. I cannot be happy here and I am not allowed to show any of my plans…”
During that period he created forty choral and organ works, related to the church service and gained prominence as a splendid improviser on the organ. During the next twelve years Bruckner served as organist at the cathedral in Linz. It was in this period that he began his training with a diligence that amazed his teachers and in 1861 (at the age of thirty-seven!) he passed his exams in organ performance at the Vienna Conservatoire, eliciting genuine admiration.
After several years, in 1868, Bruckner was invited as a lecturer at the Vienna Conservatory and finally found the creative musical environment that he needed. He quickly gained renown as theoretician and teacher, in whose class sought admittance the most talented, future renowned conductors and composers. His guest performances as organist across France, England and Germany were also met with enormous success. But no one was interested in Bruckner the composer, who at that time had already authored dozens of opuses. His symphonies had to wait between fifteen and twenty-five years to have their first performances. Bruckner was destined to savour glory only in the last decade of his life, when, owing to his former students (with famous conductor Arthur Nikisch playing a particularly important role), his large symphonies at last began to be performed.
Although Bruckner’s gigantic symphonic epics, reflecting profound philosophic content, never became particularly popular with broader audiences, they have become a measure for the level of professionalism for each conductor and orchestra. The Sofia Philharmonic, under the direction of Emil Tabakov, gave a complete performance of all Bruckner’s symphonic works in the late 1980s in the integral cycle “The Symphonies of Bruckner and Mahler”.