NEW RELEASE FROM ZOHO CLASSIX: Anton Bruckner Symphony No. 9 in D Minor Organ Transcription by Eberhard Klotz
Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 9 is regarded by many as one of the supreme, profound musical masterpieces of the 19th century Romantic period.
German organist Eberhard Klotz has created an idiomatic transcription of the work for large organ. It is not intended as a substitute for the orchestral version, but rather as a “new” organ symphony especially written for the organ and its tonal possibilities.
This is the premiere recording of Klotz’s transcription, played here with stunning virtuosity by Swiss organist Thilo Muster.
The Organ of St. Martin’s Church in Dudelange. Luxembourg was built in 1912 by the German father-and-son German organ builder team of Georg Stahlhuth (1830-1913) and his son Eduard Stahlhuth (1862-1916). The three-manual instrument of 1912 had 45 stops and was driven by three English water motors.
In 1962, this organ underwent profound but misguided changes in its technical and tonal structure in accordance with the neo-baroque sound aesthetics prevailing at the time. From 2001 to 2002, another complete restoration was carried out by Thomas Jann, Allkoven, Germany. It included the reconstruction of the Stahlhuth pipes and windchests from 1912, and an extension of the organ to 78 speaking stops with both German romantic and French symphonic tone colors.
Shortly after the completion of the first version of his 8th Symphony in Vienna in the summer of 1887, Anton Bruckner began work on the composition of his 9th Symphony. Preliminary drafts date to September 12, 1887, but even for the very conscientious Bruckner the work progressed very slowly, which can be explained by the extensive revisions and new orchestrations of his earlier symphonies during the same period. In November 1894 Bruckner completed the 3rd movement, the "Adagio". The last symphonic movement which he was to complete and which he himself called his "farewell to life".
For the next two years, until his death on the morning of October 11, 1896, he worked on the finale, which was largely mapped out. However, further completion of the symphony was increasingly interrupted by his deteriorating health. When Bruckner realized that he probably wouldn't be able to complete the finale, he requested his "Te Deum" to be performed instead of the finale. Today, however, the 9th Symphony is almost generally concluded with the Adagio, whose unfathomable depth opens up a new world previously undreamt of in music.
According to information from his physician Dr. Heller, Anton Göllerich and his biographer Max Auer, Bruckner is said to have said shortly before his death, "You see, I have already dedicated two earthly majestic symphonies... And now I dedicate my last work to the majesty of all the majesties, the beloved God, and hope that he will give me so much time to complete the same."
Why an organ transcription of the 9th Symphony?
In the 19th century, and well into the 20th century, organ transcriptions served primarily to make a usually new, large orchestral work known to a wide audience. At first there were no sound recordings, later they were rare, expensive and often of poor quality. And smaller towns in particular did not have their own orchestra concerts.
Here the local organist was the one to perform these new works on the organ, making them accessible to the musically interested public. Especially in England and parts of France, the organ was also seen outside of its religious context and as a concert instrument. It was found in many town halls to entertain the educated bourgeoisie, and such performances enjoyed great popularity.
Today one could argue that great orchestral works are accessible everywhere in their original versions, interpreted by the best orchestras, in good sound recordings, as well as the many live performances. Concerts with organ transcriptions therefore have a completely different significance in modern times. Above all, they revive the tradition of the organ concerts of the 19th century, in which, as already mentioned, arrangements always played an important role.
And in doing so, these live organ performances do not allow this great European and American musical tradition to be lost, a tradition that is threatened to disappear due to the mechanization and rationalization of the world. They provide a new aspect of the work for the listener, which thus enables him to interpret in a new way.
This is an aspect that seems particularly important for repertoire works that have been played often. For this reason, Arnold Schönberg, for example, has arranged orchestral works by Gustav Mahler for chamber music ensembles. This is also a way of compelling the listener to concentrate anew on the content of the musical substance of a work. And it is in this sense that my organ versions of the nine symphonies of Anton Bruckner are to be understood. They are not intended as a substitute for the orchestral versions, but rather as new organ symphonies especially written for the organ and its tonal possibilities.
Apart from this, a performance of Bruckner's symphonies on the organ is of course also an exciting musical experience. After all, how does a single interpreter succeed in performing a symphony, which is otherwise played by a large symphony orchestra, on his instrument alone? On the instrument that Bruckner particularly loved and from whose sonorities he developed all his symphonies. It is a well-known fact that Bruckner always used themes for his symphonies in his ingenious organ improvisations.
An impressive experience of Bruckner's art of improvisation is described by his composition student of many years, Friedrich Klose, "Anyone who has ever heard Bruckner improvise on the organ will be able to appreciate what an overwhelming impression it must have made on me, the young musician, how he intoned a strangely windy erupting theme, processed it into an artistic fugue and heightened it. Crowning the imposing sound structure with a mighty organ point."
By presenting Bruckner's symphonies on the organ, his music thus returns to the framework in which it was written. It brings us closer to the original process of the work's creations, elevates us and at the same time opens up a new intellectual and visionary space.
Eberhard Klotz (*1967) began composing at an early age and became interested in the scores of important composers and especially in the music of Anton Bruckner. As a pre-student he studied composition at the State Academy of Music in Karlsruhe with Rudolf Kelterborn and played the horn with the "Junge Süddeutsche Philharmonie" (“Young Southern German Philharmonic”). At the age of 12 he became interested in the organ and after finishing high school he studied organ with Guy Bovet at the Basel Music Academy, graduating with a teaching and concert diploma. Other formative teachers were Wolfgang Neininger, composition, and Jean Goverts, continuo.
Numerous organ concerts took him through Europe and to Russia. Since 2000 Eberhard Klotz has been living in Stuttgart as a freelance musician, teacher, composer, arranger and publicist. In addition to his activities in various music publishing houses, he has been teaching music theory, composition and aural training at the renowned Röhm Academy in Stuttgart.
He has received numerous commissions for arrangements from renowned ensembles and orchestras, such as the Basel Chamber Orchestra. For the Bruckner year 2024, "Merseburger Verlag Kassel" is publishing all nine numbered symphonies of Bruckner in the organ arrangement by Eberhard Klotz as a complete edition.
Thilo Muster (*1965) studied organ with Guy Bovet at the Basel Music Academy. After winning prizes at the "Concours Suisse de l'Orgue" and the renowned "Concours de Genève", he was titular organist of St. Pierre Cathedral in Geneva for 11 years.
His love for musical projects that transcends borders inspires him to perform numerous music styles: from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book to French composers like Ermend Bonnal and Charles Quef, from Bruckner symphonies to Balkan music. His CDs reflect this diversity and have gained international recognition.
Thilo Muster can be heard regularly at concerts and festivals throughout Europe. He is a member of the management team of the organ festival at the "Stadtcasino Basel" and co-initiator of the building of a new organ there, which he also helped to design with his expertise.
Anton Bruckner Symphony No. 9 in D Minor
Organ Transcription by Eberhard Klotz Thilo Muster
at Eglise St-Martin, Dudelange Luxembourg
ZOHO CLASSIX ZM 202107
Street Date: August 6, 2021