The Austrian composer Anton Bruckner is best known for his nine numbered symphonies, which are a staple in the Romantic repertoire, and known for their rich harmonies, counterpoint, and length. Bruckner was born in Ansfelden (now a suburb of Linz) in 1824, and was the eldest of eleven children. He received his first musical education from his father, who was a schoolteacher, and learnt to play organ as a child. After his father’s death in 1837, Bruckner became a choirboy, and later followed his father’s footsteps in becoming a teacher, though worked in poor conditions and was often humiliated by his superior. He managed to leave this job and find work as an organist and teacher, receiving his first composition lessons from the Viennese music theorist Simon Sechter, mostly via correspondence.

Aside from this brief period of tuition, Brucnker remained mainly self-taught as a composer, and did not start composing seriously until the age of 37, when he was introduced to the music of Richard Wagner, which he studied extensively. Bruckner did not achieve fame until he was in his 60s, when his Seventh Symphony was premiered. He slowly garnered a small following in Vienna, and was well respected by composers such as Gustav Mahler.

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