Homage to Anton Bruckner

1.- Prelude.

I beg your pardon, my dear little bunch of friendly readers, but I’m going to break the blog’s rules today. This post will be very long, very personal and will have nothing to do with the Western Mediterranean area of Europe traditionally covered by Covetotop.

I must confess something that in these ultramodern, hyperdigitalized, tetradownloaded, megalinked, supermerchandised, materialistic, relativistic, noisy and artistically death days may seem a crime: I love classical music.

Actually, my crime is even worse than that, as one of my favorite composers is Anton Bruckner (1824 –1896).

But taking into account that freedom rules the Internet, and that I’m the writer, the translator, the photographer, the lord and the king of this blog, I’ve decreed that today’s post will render homage to my beloved friend Anton Bruckner. Period.

Bruckner in Vienna

My limited knowledge of the English language doesn’t allow me to express accurately my admiration, sympathy and profound gratitude towards this humble genius.  I know it may sound strange, but since I was a kid, I have been a convinced Bruckner’s fan. For sure, my friends deemed a little insane that instead of listening to pop music, rock or any other kind of disturbing noise, I was spending my time, my ears and my soul listening to those long and intimidating symphonies of Mr. Bruckner (Beethoven et al. aside).

So, if you don’t like the issue, feel free to fly away to any other website or to do anything useful for the sake of humankind. But if you love classical music to such a weird point in which you know who Bruckner is, then stay with me and follow Covetotop’s pilgrimage to the Anton Bruckner’s holy realm: the Augustine Monastery of Saint Florian and its wonderful surroundings, in Upper Austria.

2.- Covetotop’s pilgrimage to the Saint Florian Monastery.

Assuming that you, my dear friend (if you didn’t fly away when you realized that this post was dedicated to Anton Bruckner, then you are a dear friend of mine) have some knowledge about Bruckner and his music or, if you don’t, assuming that you can get tons of info about the Master in the Internet (or better still: you can buy some cds and listen to his awesome music), I’ll go straight ahead.

This is the “Augustiner Chorherrenstift Sankt Florian”:

Bruckner's monastery

The Saint Florian Monastery was the Bruckner’s spiritual and artistic home. He was a choirboy and later organist here, and is buried beneath the organ inside the monastic church.

Saying Saint Florian Monastery is saying Anton Bruckner. So, Covetotop went on pilgrimage to Saint Florian. It was some time ago. I got this little room in the monastery for a few days:

St Florian

Stift St Florian

Certainly it was a humble room by modern standards (single bed, no tv, no radio, no telephone, no room service nor any other kind of vulgarity), but an outstanding room by spiritual standards … I was the happiest man on Earth in this little room.

Here below it is my room’s window; you can see the monastic church’s towers, but cannot listen to the vigorous, dynamic, emphatic, resounding bells announcing the new day, every day, very early in the morning:

Saint Florian's towers

Wandering completely alone through the long corridors of this Baroque masterpiece was a divine experience …

St. Florian monastery

St Florian corridor

monastic stairs

Having breakfast each morning at the monks’ dinning room was a divine experience too:

Chorherrenstift Sankt Florian

The monastery’s patio is breathtaking …

Baroque masterpiece

Augustiner Chorherrenstift Sankt Florian

Saint Florian building

Saint Florian

Saint Florian Monastery is also the home of one of the best boys’ choir of the world (St. Florianer Sängerknaben). Once upon a time, one of those kids was Anton Bruckner. This excellent choir was founded almost 1,000 years ago, in 1071.


One day, wandering through the monastery’s corridors, I heard a sweet, weak and very beautiful music apparently coming from other world. Was I dreaming? No. I wasn’t dreaming. I opened a big door and came across this …

florianer singers

It was a rehearsal of the St. Florianer Sängerknaben. I tried to take a picture of such a privileged moment with my camera, but I couldn’t hold it steady, as I was in a state of shock. They were singing Mozart as only angels can do. Blurred picture. Sorry.

3.- Brucknerian surroundings.

Once you decide to leave the monastery to take a walk (which is a hard decision), the first thing you’ll find at the other side of the main door is a paradise called Austria. What a wonderful country.

Being a Bruckner’s fan, my first target was Ansfelden. This little village is not far away from Saint Florian. The yellow house (right) below the Ansfelden’s church is Bruckner’s house. Anton Bruckner was born here on the 4th of September, 1824:


Bruckner's natal house

A kind lady opened the door and Covetotop levitated through the Bruckner’s house:

traditional dining room

Bruckner in Ansfelden


A very nice way connects Ansfelden with Saint Florian:

Wanderway Bruckner

As you’ve guessed, it’s dedicated to the Bruckner’s symphonies. The way is divided in ten “Stationen” (stops) where you can hear (in your mind) the Bruckner’s symphonies and learn some facts about them:

Bruckner way

Beyond Saint Florian and Ansfelden it’s the city of Linz:


Bruckner’s traces are spread everywhere in Linz:

Steyr is another wonderful Austrian city:

Austrian village

Bruckner was here too and you’ll notice it:

Bruckner statue

Nature in Austria is almost as beautiful as its musical heritage.  Its villages, mountains and lakes are simply unforgettable:

lake in Austria

Oh my! I’m about to break another blog’s rule today: here below you’ll find a self-portrait of Covetotop. In order to take self-portraits like this one, you only need an Austrian lake, a mountain, a tree (to hang the camera with the auto-timer on) and being able to run faster than Usain Bolt:

That place was magic. I didn’t need my ipod to listen to some Bruckner. His music was in the air.

Not very far away from Saint Florian, and overlooking the river Danube, it’s the Benedictine Melk Abbey (Stift Melk), which is one of the world’s most famous monastic sites. It is another masterpiece of Baroque architecture, but in Covetotop’s humble opinion, visiting Saint Florian was a much more rewarding experience because:

A) Being such a famous place, Melk was crowded by the usually daffy and noisy touristic hordes (including Covetotop). In Saint Florian there was just one daffy and silent tourist: Covetotop.

B) Mozart WAS in Melk. I love Mozart, but he no longer IS in Melk. On the contrary, Bruckner IS in Saint Florian.

Stift Melk

Anton Bruckner was in Vienna:

Covetotop was in Vienna too:

Poseidon in Vienna

And Covetotop ate in Vienna a lot of Austrian specialties, like Wiener Schnitzel …

Sacher Torte or Apfelstrudel? Both of them! And one coffee, please! ….

Apfelstrudel and coffee

In 1895 the emperor Franz Josef offered Anton Bruckner free quarters in the Belvedere Palace (Vienna). There, after a morning spent working on the Ninth Symphony (the finale was almost incomplete; click here and see this video for more info), Bruckner died on October 11, 1896.

Bruckner’s funeral took place in St. Charles’s Church (Karlskirche):


4.- Bruckner’s friends.

Anton Bruckner had (and still has) some detractors. Their opinions are not allowed in this blog, as all of them were (and are) assholes.

Anton Bruckner had (and increasingly has) quite a few friends.

One of them was the maestro Sergiu Celibidache. This great (greatest) conductor died in 1996. There has always been a special relationship between Celibidache and Bruckner, the former being said to have understood the latter like nobody else.

Some quotes about Bruckner, said by Sergiu Celibidache:

“For me, the fact of Bruckner’s existence is God’s greatest gift”

“We’re singing in St. Florian! There can be no greater honor”

“And along comes this “peasant” Bruckner with completely new solutions …”

“To him, time is different than it is to other composers. To a normal man, time is what comes after the beginning. To Bruckner, time is what comes after the end. All his apotheotical finals, the hope for another world, the hope of being saved, of being again baptized in light, it exists nowhere else in the same manner”

Previously in this post, I included a link to an interesting video about the recently rediscovered finale of the Bruckner’s 9th Symphony. In that video, the current conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, Sir Simon Ratle (another Bruckner’s friend), talks about Bruckner with passion and admiration.

Sir Simon Rattle also have said: “All these great transition passages in Bruckner’s symphonies lead to some extraordinary vista, some wonderful moment which leads you out of this world”.

Perhaps the very best Bruckner’s living friend is another conductor. Or to better say it, another conductor and pianist and pacifier and great man and hyper-genius: Daniel Barenboim.

The humble Covetotop is a Bruckner’s friend too …

5.- Finale.

It’s time to return to Saint Florian:

Monastery of Saint Florian

It’s time to visit once more time the Anton Bruckner’s room in the monastery:

Bruckner's piano

It’s time to visit the beautiful monastic church:

It’s time to stay in awe before the Master’s organ; the very same organ that he played and the place where he got a good deal of his divine inspiration:

Bruckner in Saint Florian

It’s time for Covetotop to post the picture you can see here below. It’s Covetotop standing between the Bruckner’s organ and his grave (my face appears totally blurred because of the deep emotions I was experiencing at that very moment). Bruckner is buried just beneath the organ, in the church’s crypt.


It’s time to say good-bye to the Master:

And, perhaps, it’s time for you to listen to Bruckner.


About Covetotop

A Mediterranean blogger
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41 Responses to Homage to Anton Bruckner

  1. What a great post! I love clAssical music! Every post I write on my blog is written while listening to classical music. I’m blown away by the monastery and the all around beauty of Austria! Seems like you had a blast:)

  2. Lucky lucky lucky you! Absolutely loved this post!

  3. Guang Yi says:

    Seeing as you liked one of my classical music posts, you know that I loved this article 🙂 Wonderful photos!

  4. Don Terpstra says:

    Thanks for the fine photos, and the memories. I made a similar pilgrimage, during the 1996 Brucknerfest centennial of the composer’s death. I wish I had known I might have had a room at the monastery. As it was, I visited St. Florian and Ansfelden by public bus, on a Sunday, and learned, to my dismay, that buses run infrequently there in rural Austria. To get back to my room in Linz, I had to hike several miles, then call a cab from a pub, though I spoke no German. But the locals were friendly and helpful, and it all made the day more memorable.

  5. livesinstone says:

    I’m a bit of a novice when it comes to classical music, so it’s great to get recommendations. This was a really interesting post and I loved the pictures. I’ll have to find some Bruckner now. Thanks! 🙂

  6. rpbmorris says:

    Excellent blog post! I’m someone who for the last five-odd years has had a “mild addiction” to Bruckner’s symphonies, and now that he’s my favourite composer, I too hope one day to make the pilgrimage to the St Florian area. Galleries like this one are both enjoyable to look at for Bruckner lovers, and also helpful for anyone who wants to go there. Danke schön!

    • Covetotop says:

      Danke schön for your kind comment. If Bruckner is your favourite composer, then you have to do that pilgrimage.  St. Florian is like a Brucknerian symphony made out of stone. It is pure beauty. 

  7. This post was amazing Covetotop. Bruckner is in some ways not of this world and there is nothing else like him. I heard his 3rd live in NY last month and I was literally speechless. Your pictures actually illustrate his life for me as I have never been to Austria. Thank you so much again!

  8. A M Zénon says:

    As a music lover of Bruckner, dreaming on a Sunday afternoon of a trip to St Florian, in the far future, I came across your story. An inspiration. Beautiful! 

    • Covetotop says:

      Thanks for commenting. Bruckner fans are always welcome in this blog. I hope you’ll make that inspiring trip in the not-so-far future. It is really a rewarding experience for those who trully appreciate Herr Anton’s overwhelming, outstanding, divine art.

  9. A wonderful testament to one of my favourite composers. I MUST visit St Florian.

  10. a ferreira says:

    This post is a pure masterpiece, Covetotop, I am speechless with wonder!

    A ‘Bruckner’s fan’, since you were a kid? That’s pretty amazing, you’ve raised my curiosity, I don’t know enough of his music to have an opinion, but as I’ve also been a fan of a composer since very young (that’s Tchaikowsky), now I want to know more about Bruckner! 🙂

    • Covetotop says:

      Thank you for your kind comment, Ana. I like Tchaikovsky very much too. I discovered Bruckner as a kid, which was some kind of miracle, because Bruckner is not one of the famous “entry-level” composers. But, I don’t know why, his long, complex and marvelous symphonies hypnotized me. Later the choral music came, and his quintet … If I had to recommend an introductory piece to Mr. Bruckner’s music, it would be his 4th symphony (or his 7th, perhaps). Listen to it patiently, concentrated, again and again … and, sooner or later, in a sudden manner, you’ll find yourself in a mysterious new world. 😉

      • Kevin Bichard says:

        I love numbers 4 and 7 also. Number 6 is neglected for reasons that I do not understand.

        Recently I have been listening to the reconstructed finale of number 9 – in the Rattle/BPO version. Rattle is not a natural Brucknerian and the first three movements are very good but not quite top notch. However the finale I have to say I find very convincing. There is a marvellous sense of the struggle to emerge from darkness into light. A wonderful brass chorale episode occurs twice – the first time it finishes with a terrifying descent into a very dark place but the second time it ends with a beautiful Elysian vision. Wow !

        I am very much hoping the full 4 movement version will be played at the Proms this year.

        Thanks for this terrific homage.

      • Covetotop says:

        I am sure that you, like me, love numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 , 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 … I even love his symphonies 0 and 00.

        I suggested numbers 4 and 7 as an “introduction” to Bruckner. Symphony number 6 is an absolute marvel. It is neglected because most of the people is hard of hearing.

        I totally agree with you about Mr. Rattle’s 9th. I prefer the Celibidache (EMI) Giulini (DG) and Baremboim (Teldec) versions, for instance.
        Thank you very much for commenting. Bruckner’s friends are my friends 🙂

      • a ferreira says:

        That’s what makes this post such an absolute MUST – your deep admiration for him and his music: fascination runs throughout the post and jumps out on this side of the screen! 🙂
        Thank you so very much for your recommendations, I’ll follow them, it sounds good already! 😉

      • Covetotop says:

        I am sure you´ll like and appreciate them very much, Ana! 🙂

  11. As another Bruckner admirer I loved your post – thanks so much for taking the time to create it! My own (rather personal) blog also pays homage see http://antonalyptic.blogspot.ie/p/music.html

    • Covetotop says:

      Thank you! Your “rather personal” blog is really nice and interesting. And yes, the adagio of Bruckner’s 8th is … how to say it? I cannot find the precise adjective …

      • Sublime…… is one word to describe Bruckner at his greatest.

        For me that adjective is what distinguishes AB from his big rival Brahms. For me Brahms is a great composer but he never reaches the sublime heights of Bruckner.

        The Proms programme will be coming out soon and I always look out for performances of Bruckner (as well as my other favourites, Sibelius, Purcell, Bartok, Britten). Last year we hade the 7th with Essa-Pekka Salonen (fastish tempi throughout but an interesting and novel interpretation) and Maazel and the Vienna Phil playing the 8th (unexpectedly superb). I hope someone will play the 6th this year – it is one of my special favourites

      • Robert Morris says:

        My own adjective for that adagio is “cosmic”, and I’ll add that I consider it very important to be able to hear the harp.

  12. Martin James says:

    Great to read all these comments. The Abruckner website ran a trip to Austria in 2012, and they plan to run another, this will take in Vienna, Linz, St. Florian and some other places too.

    • Covetotop says:

      That is a really wonderful trip for anybody. For Bruckner’s fans, that trip is simply unforgettable. I would suggest to add marvels like these: Melk, Hallstat, Steyr, Gmunden … All of these locations are close to Ansfelden (St. Florian). I hope that you have a good journey!

  13. Kazuo Saito says:

    An excellent report of pilgrim of Anton Bruckner. I wish I had checked this page prior to my Europe travel (from May 22 to June 7, 2014). I took photos of Bruckner statue at Stadtpark Vienna, stayed 2 nights at the guesthaus of St Florian Monastery, visited Bruckner Museum in Ansfelden, which reopened in April 2014, walked a part of Bruckner Symphony Wanderweg, visited the Old Dom of Linz to see the Bruckner Organ, listened to Bruckner’s 6th symphony at Brucknerhaus by H. Schiff and Bruckner Orchestra Linz, and attended the ascending day mass at St Florian with Haydn’s Little Organ solo Mass. After leaving St. Florian, I enjoyed 2 other Bruckners; Mass No. 1 (Gardiner/ Bavarian RSO; Munich) and Symphony No.5 (M.Bosch/Nuerunberg SO; Nuerunberg).
    It was, indeed, a luxurious travel. The report is on my Home Page http://franciscoalfonsokazuo3110.web.fc2.com/travel/2014eurotour/2014front_page.html (written in Japanese; sorry!).
    I hope that you may enjoy photos.

    • Covetotop says:

      Thank you for your kind and very interesting comment. What a great Brucknerian experience you had! I visited your Japanese page and … yes, I liked the pictures very much. Bruckner is great.

  14. Dan Sneed says:

    Just came across your Bruckner post today. Thanks so much for it and for your obvious love of the music. If I had to pick a favorite of Bruckner’s symphonies it would be the Ninth. And my favorite recorded cycle is Karajan’s with Berlin (DGG). I’ve listened to Bruckner’s music with a very different understanding ever since I read Karajan’s statement that “Bruckner’s music is primordial.” That observation gave me a new outlook on the music and consistently makes me listen to it more carefully than I used to and for that deeper insight I’m very grateful to Herbert.

    Thanks again for your educational and entertaining post. It was the bright spot in an otherwise dull day.

    • Covetotop says:

      In first place, sorry for my delay in replying to you, but I haven’t checked my webmail/blog for a long time, and now I find here your nice comment.

      Bruckner’s Nine is one of my absolute favorites too. For me, listening to Bruckner is travelling to another, better, higher world.

      Karajan, Jochum, Giulini, Baremboim … and Celibidache. Pure talent is not enough to conduct Bruckner: and enlarged sense of soul is needed too.

      Thank you very much, Mr. Sneed, for your very kind comment.

  15. A fantastic blog. I love Bruckner, too, and have done for fifty odd years. I was at the first performance of the f Minor symphony in London in 1964. My favourite symphony of all time and over all others is the magnificent 8th. But almost as brilliant are 5, 7 and 9. Glad to meet a fellow Brucknerian! You might like to see a recent post of mine about our friend at http://www.theharpistofmadrid.com!
    Best wishes, Gordon Thomas, Worcester Park, Surrey, ENGLAND

    • Covetotop says:

      “But I always end up at those symphonies of Bruckner!”

      Me too. Greatness in music is difficult to explain, but easy to feel. Bruckner’s music is definitively great.

      Thank you very much for your kind comment, Mr. Thomas.

      By the way, your bright and musically gifted friend Juan Hidalgo was born just three years after the death of my bright and musically gifted friend Victoria. … At this regard, I guess you’ll like my post “Victoria in Madrid“, in this very blog … (If you read said post, take into account that Hidalgo was baptized in San Ginés’ Church on September 28, 1614)

      • Thanks for the follow up! I thoroughly enjoyed your article on Victoria. Another great Spaniard! Have dropped you a brief comment on it. I’m following your blog now and invite you to follow mine but only if you wish. Best wishes, Gordon Thomas, London, England

      • Covetotop says:

        Following your blog! Thank you.

  16. Thanks! That’s brilliant!

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