Bruckner: Symphony for String Orchestra (arranged from String Quintet in F by Meirion Bowen)


This new version for string orchestra of Bruckner's String Quintet in F was commissioned with funds provided by the Stereo Society of New York and was completed in September 1998. The world premiere was given by the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields conducted by Sir Neville Marriner at the Royal Festival Hall, London on September 28, 1999. The same forces and conductor repeated the work at the Brucknerhaus, Linz, on October 3, 1999, as part of the International Bruckner Festival. A recording is being planned.

The score has now been published by Tritó Edicions, Barcelona. It is also a set work in the 7th Cadaqués International Conducting Competition.

Copies are obtainable from:

Tritó S.L. la Catedral 3,
E-08002 Barcelona
Apartat de Correus, 2254
Tel. (34) 93 342 61 75
Fax. (34) 93 302 26 70

Meirion Bowen writes:

My new version of Bruckner's String Quintet in F is not a 'straight' transcription of the original but an expansion of it into a fully-fledged Symphony for string orchestra. It seemed to me that this was the best way to bring out the full potential of this somewhat neglected work - one that has the same grandeur of conception and expressive power as the composer's symphonic works for full orchestra.


In making the transcription, I have tried, using strings alone, to offer the same variety of colour and texture that one encounters in Bruckner's own symphonies - ranging from the intimacy of solo strings to the rich sonorities of divided full orchestra. Transforming the work from a Quintet into a Symphony also meant enlarging some of Bruckner's musical gestures and broadening his paragraphs, so as to convey a true sense of symphonic architecture.

For the second movement, here, I have chosen to use Bruckner's Intermezzo, as it seemed to me more orchestral (by implication) than the Scherzo that he himself substituted.


The finale of the work never sounds quite up to the standard of the rest and I have identified the root cause in the opening exposition, which is somewhat lacking in thematic content. To remedy this, I have incorporated into the exposition some music that appears towards the end of the movement, thus (I think!) balancing the overall structure better.


I'm fairly certain that Schoenberg knew and possibly played Bruckner's Quintet. In recognition of this, at the end of the slow movement, I have included a "pre-echo" of a similar passage in Verklarte Nacht. I don't think Bruckner would have minded...


Copyright Meirion Bowen (1999)