Bruckner was one of the most notable composers in the second half of the 19th century, celebrated for his majestic symphonies and sacred compositions. He is famous for his large-scale harmonies and forms. Although his music is largely influenced by Wagnerian orchestration and harmonic structure, he is firmly rooted in the traditions of his predecessors Schubert and Beethoven.
Bruckner was born in the farming community of Ansfelden in 1824, the eldest son of the local schoolmaster and music director of the village church. Bruckner was known to have begun musical activities at a very young age and at 11, he was sent to study with a cousin, who was an organist in the larger nearby village of Hörsching, which included thoroughbass, keyboard studies and an introduction to the orchestral and choral scores of Haydn. After the death of his father, he was sent to be a choir boy at St. Florian for three years, where his Catholicism was reinforced and where he was also exposed to a vast array of Austrian composers such as Mozart, Haydn and Schubert.
Bruckner initially embarked on a career similar to his father’s. He attended a teacher-training course in Linz and in autumn 1841, set out for his first position as a school teacher in the remote village of Windhaag. The only surviving work from this period is his Mass in C for alto solo, horns and organ. In 1855, Bruckner started to study composition and counterpoint with Simon Sechter and Otto Kizler and continued his studies until the age of 40, a period in which he composed his March in D minor and Overture in G minor. After his studies, he wrote his first mature work, the Mass in D minor.