William Steinberg / Boston Symphony Orchestra

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A compelling performance of Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony, this DVD presents Steinberg at his most majestic in a sympathetic interpretation of this mighty work. The Boston Symphony Orchestra is once again on top form, as testified by a rapturous Sanders Theatre audience. The ICA Classics Legacy series represents an historic account of performances by some of the world’s greatest artists. This DVD features some of the earliest televised concerts with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and their Music Director, William Steinberg. While the material has been restored using the greatest care and state-of-the-art techniques, certain visual artefacts and distortions remain in some instances due to the age of the film. Despite this, it remains of exceptional musical interest and historic value and is released here for the first time on DVD.

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Steinberg was much admired for his sterling musicianship; the breadth of his repertory, which included much contemporary music; the clarity and precision of his technique; his wit and pipe-smoking geniality; and the collegial relationships he established and maintained with his musicians.

Steinberg was a guest conductor during the music directorship of Charles Munch when he led Brukner’s Eighth Symphony in this performances televised from the Sanders Theater at Harvard University on 9 January 1962. There is one peculiarity about the performance. Steinberg chose the revision of the symphony that Bruckner made in 1980 with the assistance of his pupil and protégé Josef Schalk. This is the version favoured by such prominent conductors of Steinberg’s generation.

Fifty years later, one can feel that this performance remains extremely compelling. Steinberg leads from memory, often with eyes closed; he is not in his own world, one feels, but in Bruckner’s. Nothing feels rushed or pushed.

The reviews for this concert were enthusiastic, and the Sanders Theatre audience responded generously, repeatedly recalling Steinberg, who climbed the steep stairs up to the platform again and again. There he was greeted by a sight as unusual then as it is now, an orchestra tapping its bows and joining the audience in its ovation.


Anton Bruckner, Symphony No. 8 in C Minor, WAB 108
1. Allegro moderato
2. Scherzo: Allegro moderato – Trio: Langsam
3. Adagio: Feierlich langsam, doch nicht schleppend
4. Finale: Feierlich, nicht schnell

Venue: Sanders Theatre, Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA)
Production date: 2012
Recording date: 9 Jan. 1962
Duration: 1 h 03 min

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