Ansfelden ( 1824 ) - Viena ( 1896 )
He was the son of a village schoolmaster and organist, with whom he first studied. His father died in 1837 and he was sent at 13 as a chorister to the St. Florian monastery where he could study organ, violin and theory. He became a schoolmaster-organist, holding village posts, but in 1845 returned to teach at St. Florian, becoming organist there in 1851. During these years he had written masses and other sacred works. He continued his studies almost to the age of 40, but more crucial was his contact, in 1863, with Wagner’s music - first Tannhäuser, then Tristan und Isolde; these pointed to new directions for him.
In 1868 he was offered the post of theory teacher at the Vienna Conservatory, which he hesitantly accepted. In the ensuing years he travelled to Paris and London as an organ virtuoso and improviser. In Vienna, he concentrated on writing symphonies; but the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra rejected Sym. 1 as ’wild’, Sym. 2 as ’nonsense’ and ’unplayable’ and Sym...