Anton Bruckner Biography

Josef Anton Bruckner, a renowned 19th century composer and organist from Austria, dedicated his life to music. From a young age, he displayed a talent for the organ, eventually deputizing for his father and becoming a chorister at the St Florian monastery. As he grew older, Bruckner’s passion for music led him to study with various teachers and take on prestigious positions as an organist. Despite facing criticism and rejection in Vienna, Bruckner remained devoted to his craft, constantly revising his works. It was not until the age of sixty that he finally achieved fame with his ‘Seventh Symphony’. Bruckner’s legacy as a simple man and devout Christian lives on through his timeless compositions.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Josef Anton Bruckner
  • Died At Age: 72
  • Family: father: Anton Bruckner
  • Born Country: Austria
  • Composers
  • Austrian Men
  • Died on: October 11, 1896
  • Place of death: Vienna, Austria

Childhood & Early Life

Josef Anton Bruckner was born on 4 September 1824, in Ansfelden, a small village in Upper Austria. His father, Anton Bruckner, was the village schoolmaster and an organist, while his mother, Therese Helm, was a choir singer. Anton was the eldest of eleven children, with four surviving siblings. At the age of six, he began his formal education at his father’s school and started learning the organ. In 1835, he was sent to study with his godfather, Johann Anton Weiss, in Hörsching. However, he had to return to Ansfelden in 1836 due to his father’s illness. After his father’s death in 1837, his mother took him to the St. Florian Monastery, where he became a choral scholar.

Early Career

At the St. Florian Monastery, Bruckner began training in music under the supervision of Prelate Michael Arneth. He studied violin and organ, and also played the latter instrument during church services. In 1840, he completed his training in music and started working as an assistant teacher in Windhaag. Life there was difficult, with poor pay and constant humiliation from his superior. In 1843, he was sent to Kronstorf as an assistant teacher, where he had a happier and more productive time. He studied with Leopold von Zenetti and composed a greater number of works. In 1845, he returned to St. Florian as a fully qualified teacher and remained there for around a decade, producing a large body of work. In 1848, he was appointed an organist in St. Florian and wrote his first important large-scale work, the ‘Requiem in D minor’, in 1849.


In 1861, Bruckner made his concert debut, conducting ‘Ave Maria’. He moved to Vienna in 1868 and started teaching theory and counterpoint at the Vienna Conservatory. Despite facing criticism for his experimental style, his works began to gain recognition. He composed symphonies, masses, motets, and other sacred choral works. In 1884, his ‘Seventh Symphony’ was premiered in Leipzig, marking a turning point in his career. He continued to compose and teach until his death in 1896.

Major Works

Anton Bruckner is best known for his ‘Symphony No. 4’, also known as the ‘Romantic Symphony’. It remains one of his most popular works. Another notable work is his ‘Symphony No. 7’, which was well-received and later revised.

Awards & Achievements

In 1886, Bruckner was decorated with the Order of Franz Joseph by the Emperor of Austria.

Family & Personal Life

Bruckner spent his life searching for the right woman but remained a bachelor and a virgin. He proposed to several young women but was rejected each time. He died in 1896 and was buried in the monastery church of St. Florian, underneath his favorite organ. Anton Bruckner Privatuniversität is named in his honor.

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