Johannes Brahms’ 4th Symphony and Anton Bruckner's 7th Symphony were given their Viennese premiere by the Vienna Philharmonic under Hans Richter on 17th January and 21st March 1886 respectively. The Brahms symphony was received without much enthusiasm – a respectable achievement at best was the verdict. Even his faithful friend the critic Eduard Hanslick has his problems with the work, in which he discovered „a frost touching on acerbity“. After a performance on 2nd January 1887 Bruckner noted – not without a certain satisfaction: „4th Symph. of Brahms flopped miserably“.
In contrast, what was after all Bruckner's ninth symphonic work finally brought him a breakthrough to international acclaim. The success of the symphony, which was not in the least diminished by Hanslick's disparaging comment that it was a „gigantic symphonic serpent“, made him a musical icon of the „New Germans“, who declared that his works were a „symphonic counter-project to Brahms“. It was no coincidence that this happened after Wagner's death, to whose memory Bruckner dedicated the Adagio of the „Seventh“ as „funeral music“.
Johannes Brahms (1833–1897)
Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98 (1884–85)
– Pause –
Anton Bruckner (1824–1896)
Symphony No. 7 in E major, WAB 107 (1881–83)
Hans Graf | Conductor