Australian World Orchestra’s Guest Conductor helps shed light on the Eighth Symphony of the Austrian behemoth.

A nton Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony can’t claim to be his longest – that distinction belongs to the first version of his feral Third. Nor is it his technically most demanding – the Ninth requires that orchestral musicians plunder technical resources they don’t necessarily know they have. But Brucknerheads of the world unite over the idea of the Eighth as providing the ultimate Bruckner fix; music to get inside your veins, opening the doors of perception to heightened sensory awareness. 

When Simon Rattle was deciding what to bring to Australia for this summer’s tour with the Australian World Orchestra – three concerts, two in Sydney and one in Melbourne – Bruckner’s Eighth pretty much chose itself, without Rattle needing to ponder the issue for too long. “Wherever I go,” he deadpans, “I bump into Australians who say ‘I’m coming to play with you in the summer!’ and there is clearly something very special about coming home to Australia.” The AWO operates by inviting ex-pat Australian musicians who are gainfully employed by some of the world’s stellar orchestras – the Berlin Philharmonic, the LSO...

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