Anton Bruckner was not a musical child prodigy like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The compositions of his youth do not bear the stamp of genius which the author of the great symphonies later produced.
His musical education lasted for more than thirty years and took place outside musical institutions. It was always of great matter to the composer that his ability in different fields of music was recognized by official attestations. Only when his talent was confirmed in this manner, was he at last ready to devote himself completely to a musical career. His actual career began when he was approximately forty - an unprecedentedly late beginning for a composer in the entire history of music.
Bruckner’s career was prefigured by that of his father and grandfather, who were both teachers and musicians. Born on September 4, 1824 in Ansfelden near Linz, the young Bruckner sang as a choir boy in the monastery of St. Florian, and then studied at the teacher’s college in Linz. Diligent and gifted, Bruckner worked as an organist during his studies, and from 1852 held the position of organist at St. Florian. His close relationship to this center of religious life left its mark on the young Bruckner, who was deeply religious.
Bruckner’s musical training, which lasted over thirty years and took place outside of academic institutions, nonetheless gained official recognition. In 1868 he was appointed professor at the conservatory of Vienna’s Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, which was the predecessor to today’s Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst. Both for this position and that of ”Hoforganist-Expentanten” (organist presumptive to the imperial court), Bruckner gave up a secure and well-paid position in Linz. In Vienna, Bruckner wrote nine symphonies, which he continued to rework until shortly before his death on October 11, 1896. Bruckner, who was considered a master of improvisation, undertook concert tours to several European countries.