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Anton Bruckner's 'cathedral' of a symphony and Leonard Bernstein's youthful, kinetic ballet

Eric T. Williams
Michael Stern leads the Kansas City Symphony in a performance of Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 7 in Helzberg Hall, October 2019

This week, hosts Michael Stern and Dan Margolies highlight the otherworldly musical invention of Anton Bruckner and Leonard Bernstein's portrait of wartime New York, along with Anton Webern's early romantic explorations. We'll hear Webern's "Passacaglia," Bernstein's "Fancy Free" and Bruckner's towering "Symphony No. 7."


Michael Stern
Dan Margolies


Part 1 - Webern and Bernstein
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Passacaglia, Op. 1
by Anton Von Webern
Jun Märkl, guest conductor
Live performance, February 2017

Fancy Free
by Leonard Bernstein
Live performance, January 2016

"Fancy Free" is the work that inspired the next collaboration between Bernstein and choreographer Jerome Robbins, namely their hit Broadway musical "On the Town." And of course the pair went on to collaborate on another Broadway hit called "West Side Story." Michael Stern believes the work shows Bernstein at his "creative best," adding that "it was written by a 26 year old who was actually living that experience — living in New York City, during wartime and feeling all of the energy of the city."

Part 2 - Bruckner

Symphony No. 7 in E Major (1883)
by Anton Bruckner
Live performance, October 2019

Bruckner wrote this towering work between 1881 and 1883, and revised it in 1885. It marked his first real public triumph and brought fame, perhaps unwanted, to this modest and diffident man. Michael Stern finds it impossible to separate Bruckner's music from his devout Catholicism, and says that "his music is like the construction of a massive cathedral. You're building a piece of music block by block, stone by stone, and erecting this massive structure which stands proudly and triumphantly at the end of that journey."

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Dan Margolies has been a reporter for the Kansas City Business Journal, The Kansas City Star, and KCUR Public Radio. He retired as a reporter in December 2022 after a 37-year journalism career.
Sam Wisman is a Senior Producer for 91.9 Classical KC and a backup announcer for KCUR 89.3. Email him at