It's not that the conservative label doesn't fit Bruch, for it certainly does. But the conservative label doesn't mean that Bruch was a mediocre composer. On the contrary, he had a wonderful melodic gift and he was a master of orchestration, as his popular Violin Concerto No. 1 and Scottish Fantasy For Violin and Orchestra readily attest. So it's good to try and go further than just the labels that are put on people. This is pretty good advice for all facets of life, not just music. When we acquiesce to a label given to someone, we cease to think, discover and explore about that person for ourselves. We are in essence taking someone else's opinion without question or examination, an opinion arrived at through their own particular frames of reference, knowledge, taste, and yes, prejudice.
Bruch's Symphony No. 1 in E -flat was composed in 1867 and dedicated to Johannes Brahms. It is in the traditional 4 movements:
1) Allegro maestoso - Bruch was a master of sonata form and used it in his own way to express himself musically. The first movement is in sonata form and opens with a grand theme stated by bassoons and horn:
2) Scherzo. Presto - This scherzo scurries along somewhat like the music of Mendelssohn, a composer that Bruch emulated in his popular Violin Concerto.
3) Quasi fantasia. Grave - A heart-felt slow movement, somber in orchestration.
4) Finale. Allegro guerriero - The Finale begins without pause and is marked 'guerriero' - war-like or militarily. Not so much as a struggle as between two enemies in war, but as a swaggering, self-confident military unit passing by on galloping horses