Bruckner and the Town of VoecklabruckWhile attending the 2021 BrucknerTage in St Florian, there is always the opportunity to venture forth during the afternoon in search of all things Bruckner.
After hosting three Bruckner Tours of Austria, I can safely say that we have visited most of the obvious spots: Vienna, Linz, St Florian, Ansfelden, Kronstorf, Windhaag, Enns, Steyr - even Bad Kreuzen and Bad Ischl.
But a new one was revealed, and it proved to be fascinating - the Heimat-Haus Stadt Museum in Voecklabruck.
Voecklabruck is a town about 50 miles southwest of Linz. Two people closely linked to Bruckner lived there - his sister, Rosalia and Bruckner's biographer, Max Auer.
Rosalia Bruckner was born in Ansfelden, Austria in 1820. Anton referred to her as "Sali" and typical of an older sister, she was very caring for her younger brother. In January of 1855, Rosalia married Johan Nepomuk Hueber (1827-1913). In addition to being the hard-working city gardener of Voecklabruck, he was an active choir singer and a much sought-after clarinetist. His musical training helped him acquire a deep appreciation of Bruckner's music.
The Huebers had five children, four of whom grew to adulthood, and Rosalia's brother, Anton had good reason to make frequent visits to Voecklabruck to spend time with his loyal sister and his nieces and nephews. Between 1863 and 1891, Bruckner visited his relatives sixteen times.
During his visits, Bruckner continued to work on his symphonies. On September 4, 1884, Bruckner signed off on the first movement of his Symphony No. 8. This took place at 38 Stadtplatz in Voecklabruck. In that year, the citizens of Voecklebruck held an official celebration of Bruckner's 60th birthday - the only municipality to do so.
In 1892, Bruckner paid his last visit to his relatives in Voecklabruck. Illness limited his travels out of Vienna to Steyr and St. Florian. After 1892, there was only an exchange of letters.
Voecklabruck was also the home of Max Auer, a famous biographer of Bruckner. In addition to writing his own biography of Bruckner, he was also instrumental in completing the nine-volume Bruckner biography that was initiated by August Goellerich. The Auer family immigrated to Voecklabruck from Bavaria in 1750 when Max's great grandfather, Jakub Auer and his wife, Walpurga moved into a new home on Gmundnerstrasse.
Auer pursued the profession of an elementary school teacher. Through self-study he continued his education in the field of music and from 1901 to 1927 he was choir master of the Liedertafel in Voecklabruck. In 1911/12 he passed the state examinations in singing, piano and organ and was appointed professor in 1924 and founded a musicological publishing house in 1930. He was the first president of the International Bruckner Society , of which he was a co-founder. He is considered one of Anton Bruckner's most important biographers. For his pioneering work, Max Auer received the Julio Kilenyi Medal of Honor from the Bruckner Society of America.
Auer once wrote, "My first Bruckner experience came to me when I was seventeen years old, at a performance of the Symphony No. 4 in Salzburg. From then on, the tremendous impression determined the direction of my life's work. When I found that Bruckner was my close compatriot and that his sister Rosalia was the wife of the town gardener Hueber in my hometown of Voecklbruck, I came up with the plan to write the master's biography one day."
The Heimat-Haus Stadt Museum has an interesting exhibit although it is all situated in a small second floor room. The two prized items in the collection are a conveyance chair used to assist Bruckner in moving around during is later visits. There is also one of Bruckner's hats which was given to the Museum by Max Auer. There is also a life-sized bust of Bruckner's head which was created by sculptor, Franz Forster (1896-1987).
|The Bruckner Room in the museum|
|One of the display panels|
|Bruckner's older sister, Rosalia|
|Rosalia's husband, Johan Hueber|
|The Hueber home in Voecklabruck|
|Bruckner's Hat (Given to Max Auer)|
|A carrying chair for the aging Bruckner|
|One of Bruckner's many "Girlfriends," Karoline Oppitz (b. 1870)|
|The Forster bust of Bruckner (owned by the Hueber Family)|
|Part of the Auer Exhibit (Portrait & painting of home)|
|Max Auer's Bruckner Society of America Medal|
|Letter to Max Auer from Wilhelm Furtwangler||