Nikolaus Harnoncourt Conductor
Nikolaus Harnoncourt conducts the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony. You can also watch the performance with commentary by the musicians Jan Kouwenhoven and Daniël Esser, (in Dutch).
Anton Bruckner was extremely pleased with his Symphony No. 5. He spoke with pride about his ‘contrapuntal masterpiece’, referring to the complex structure of the Finale. When the Fifth Symphony was premiered in 1894, Bruckner was too ill to attend. Franz Schalk, the conductor, wrote to him: “I felt myself deeply moved, and that I wandered blissfully in the fields of eternal greatness. Those who did not hear it can have no idea of the shattering force of the final movement.”
Having founded Concentus Musicus Wien in 1953, Nikolaus Harnoncourt revolutionised Baroque historical performance practice. Harnoncourt first appeared with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in 1975 and was appointed honorary guest conductor in October 2000. His interpretations have contributed greatly to the performance tradition of Bach’s St Matthew and St John Passions, for instance. With this performance of Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony, Harnoncourt bid farewell to the Concertgebouw Orchestra after a collaboration spanning thirty-eight years and 276 concerts. He passed away in 2016.