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Korstvedt, Benjamin Marcus

The First Edition of Anton Bruckner's Fourth Symphony: Authorship, Production and Reception

Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania, 1995

For more than fifty years the first printed edition of Anton Bruckner's Fourth Symphony (1889) has been rejected as a corruption of the composer's intended text. Although this edition, which transmits a distinct version of the symphony, appeared with Bruckner's approval, most scholars now believe that it was bowdlerized. As a result, this text has been dismissed from the canon of Bruckner's works. This dissertation reappraises the validity of this judgment by exploring both the compositional history and the modern reception of this text.

The belief that this version of the symphony is corrupt was initially promulgated in the 1930s and enshrined in the commentary to the first modern edition of the symphony, edited by Robert Haas (1936). This view has been handed down as fact for decades, yet if examined critically it is clear that it was shaped by the circumstances in which it originated. Bruckner reception was intensely politicized in the Third Reich and, as I demonstrate, ideology played a determining role in the formulation and legitimation of Haas's interpretation.

The remainder of the dissertation reevaluates Bruckner's authorship of the Fourth Symphony by detailing, for the first time, its compositional history. My research shows that Bruckner was fully involved in the preparation of the version of the symphony he published in 1889. It is undeniable, however, that Bruckner received advice and assistance from others in preparing this version of the symphony. Rather than dismissing the work for this reason, this dissertation draws upon the work of Jerome McGann and others in literary textual criticism to reframe the problem. By placing both authorship and textual production in historical perspective, I show that such collaboration was not editorial interference; rather it was a crucial aspect of Bruckner's final compositional intentions. I conclude that this late published version of the symphony is not only authorial but is, in fact, Bruckner's definitive version of the work.