Anton Bruckner (1824-1896)
Bruckner, most famous today for his vast, sprawling symphonies, was also a significant church musician, becoming the organist of the Linz cathedral and eventually the court in Vienna. Bruckner subscribed to the Cecilian Movement in choral music, which attempted to restore Gregorian chant and Renaissance polyphony to Austrian sacred music. In his motets, we see his introspective genius reflected in a seamless flow and traditional progressions, and in the simple piety of a humble believer.
The Ave Maria of 1861 is a supplication to the Virgin Mary, based on text from the annunciation. Scored for a seven-part a cappella chorus, the first segment contrasts the three-part women's choir and the four-part men's choir, which unite in the proclamation of the name of Jesus. The second segment is for all seven parts, with a particularly effective diminuendo as the choir asks for intervention for us sinners.