Bruckner: Symphony No. 8 in c minor

A legendary wartime performance of Bruckner’s towering masterpiece in a new remastering from archival sources

In 1938, following the annexation of Austria, conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler found himself the de facto music director of the Vienna Philharmonic and State Opera. Some of the most talented members had been forced to flee before the anschluss, and Furtwängler was faced with the challenge of maintaining these institutions’ excellence — and independence — on top of his responsibilities in Berlin.

About a year rater, Furtwängler premiered Robert Haas’s edition of Bruckner’s monumental Eighth Symphony — an edition that set off a wave of controversy among Bruckner scholars and adherents, particularly with respect to the restoration of material Bruckner had cut from the adagio and finale on the advice of Franz Schalk. For his part, Furtwängler folded a number of the Schalk revisions into the Haas edition within a few years of the premiere.

The present performance of the Eighth Symphony, recorded to magnetic tape on October 17, 1944 by Austrian Radio, is arguably the best-sounding of surviving wartime recordings with Furtwängler on the podium, and shows the Vienna Philharmonic in world-class form.

In a recent inventory of the Vox/Turnabout tape archive, a set of tapes acquired by Vox for a Bruckner LP collection were located. The tapes were not only in generally excellent condition, but yielded greater dynamic heft than current CD releases of the same performance. Musical Concepts is pleased to release this legendary concert performance in arguably the best sound ever!