Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bruckner - Ave Maria in F Major (WAB 6)

Bruckner was a composer that formally studied his craft of music until he was forty years old. He had already composed a considerable number of choral pieces by the time he began his studies with Simon Sechter, a noted teacher and composer in 1855. Sechter was a taskmaster as a teacher, and commanded Bruckner to do no composing while he was studying with him. Bruckner took lessons by correspondence and in person in Vienna. Bruckner took his lessons very seriously, so much that Sechter had to warn Bruckner against overwork.

Sechter was a very skilled contrapuntalist and is reported to have written over 5,000 fugues in his life. Sechter gave Bruckner the final polish he needed and began to compose immediately after he graduated from Sechter's class.  The Ave Maria in F Major WAB 6 ( WAB numbers stand for Werkverzeichnis Anton Bruckner -Works Of Anton Bruckner,compiled by Renata Grasberger)  was composed shortly after his studies and was the second setting of the Ave Maria from the Catholic Mass. Bruckner was a very devout Catholic and wrote many works for accompanied and unaccompanied choir.  This Ave Maria is acapella, in seven parts, with a single soprano part while the alto, tenor and bass all have two parts.

In the first part of the work Bruckner contrasts the three-part women's choir with the four-part men's choir. In the second part of the work all seven parts join together in a proclamation of faith and the asking for mercy.

Bruckner was an Austrian that was a life-long bachelor that fell in love with young women even into his old age.  He liked drinking beer and playing the organ. He became a teacher in his own right at the Vienna Conservatory as he took up his old teacher's position as music professor upon Sechter's death in 1868.  He was a complex, intelligent, socially awkward man who never gave up his peasant ways.  He worked very hard all of his life and created some of the most inspired moments in western music, and all the while kept his child-like devotion and faith to his beloved Catholic church.