b. Ansfelden (Upper Austria), Sept. 4, 1824, d. Vienna, Oct. 11, 1896, composer, organist, one of the greatest Austrian composers of symphonies of the 19th century. Since his family were teachers in Upper Austria, he first became a temporary assistant teacher in Windhaag bei Freistadt and Kronsdorf an der Enns, then 1845-1855 a teacher, from 1848 organist in St. Florian Abbey, 1855-1868 cathedral organist in Linz and member of the "Frohsinn" choral society in Linz, which he conducted after 1860. In addition studied music theory under S. Sechter in Vienna and succeeded him as professor at the Vienna Conservatory and as court music organist; 1875-1892 taught harmony and counterpoint at the University of Vienna. 1871 concert tours to Paris and London, where he was celebrated as an organ virtuoso and above all as a great improviser.
Although B. also composed a lot of church music he is better known for his symphonies; unlike J. Brahms, who concentrated on detailed music, B. had a two-dimensional style that has often been called "organ-like"; his symphonies are of epic proportions (E. Hanslick: "Symphonic giant boas"); a morbid perfectionism urged B. to write several versions of many of his symphonies. Like hardly any other composer B. was considered a legend by his devotees even during his lifetime; this and various anecdotes surrounding him have created an incorrect image of him as a "provincial Parsifal", the "German Michel" or an "instrument of God", images which still exist to this day. At his own request B. was buried beneath the organ of St. Florian Abbey ("B.-Orgel"). He left the original scores of his most important works to the Austrian National Library.
Works#9 symphonies (plus 2 unofficial), 3 great masses, Tedeum, 150th Psalm, Requiem, religious and secular choral music, motets, psalms, hymns, piano, chamber, and organ music. - Edition: Gesamtausgabe, ed. by R. Haas and A. Orel, 1930ff.; Kritische Gesamtausgabe, ed. by the Directorate General of the Austrian National Library and the International Bruckner Society, 1951ff.
Literature#A. Goellerich and M. Auer, A. B., 4 vols., 1922-1936; L. Nowak, A. B., 1964; M. Wagner, B., 1983; R. Grasberger, B. skizziert (B. anecdotes) 1991; R. Grasberger (ed.), A. B. - Persoenlichkeit und Werk, 1995; M. Wagner, A. B. Sein Werk - sein Leben, 1995; U. Harten (ed.), A. B., 1996; H. Litschel (ed.), Vom Ruf zum Nachruf, exhibition catalogue, St. Florian/Mondsee 1996; E. Maier, A. B. Stationen eines Lebens, 1996; F. Scheder, A. B. Chronologie, 2 vols., 1996; R. Ulm (ed.), Die Symphonien B., 1998.