My fascination…some might call it an obsession…with the music of Anton Bruckner’s Symphony Number 6 in A Major has continued to this date, in the form of concert band / wind ensemble arrangements which I have completed for the first, second, and third movements of said symphony. I am now working on the fourth movement (the Finale), and it’s turning out to be more difficult than the middle two movements, and possibly more difficult than the first movement. In any event, I am around 90-100 measures short of finishing my first full symphony, and I’ve already arranged over 320 measures of the last movement to date. To quote Patrick Stewart, “Gods, what a monster!” This is a big symphony, albeit not when compared to some of Mahler’s gargantuan offerings.
One thing I’ve learned in the course of arranging this symphony is the 18th-century use of a dynamics mark called the “Keil,” which is pronounced like the name of the character “Kyle” on a certain animated TV show and marked like this: ( ). While this looks like a staccatissimo mark, it is not one. It stands for a combination of an accent and a staccato articulation, according to a correspondence I had on February 5th, 2024 with Dr. William Carragan, the author of “Anton Bruckner: Eleven Symphonies” (a.k.a. “The Bruckner Red Book”). He wrote:
That mark, like a vertical black arrowhead, is very common in Bruckner. Its German name is “Keil”. It means a solid but not abrupt accent, more emphatic than the shorter staccato. It should not be overly lengthened as some inexperienced conductors do, nor should it be abruptly abbreviated. You should absolutely include the Keil in your arrangement, and then explain to people how it should be played, as a staccato with an extra nudge.
Unfortunately, I must report to Dr. Carragan’s disappointment that the music writing software I use, Steinberg’s Dorico Pro 5.1.21 as of this writing, refuses to support a Keil mark properly. I cannot get it to work alongside the all-too-similar staccatissimo mark without serious performance and/or playback issues. Therefore, I had to make a choice: I chose to keep the staccatissimo mark on its own, and rewrote the Keil mark as a simple accent above a staccato mark. It works well enough so far. My apologies, Dr. Carragan.
In any event, I said I’d arranged the first three movements of Bruckner’s 6th Symphony, and here I would like to present SoundCloud links to them for your listening pleasure. Please let me know what you think by dropping me a line from the contact page once you’ve listened to any or all of them. Thank you for taking the time to listen!
Here’s the 1st Movement (the Majestoso)…
Now, the ethereal 2nd Movement (the Adagio)…
Finally, the playful 3rd Movement (the Scherzo / Trio)!