About this work
This is Bruckner's second, and most popular, of three settings of the Latin Ave Maria, each in the key of F major. It was written for a May 12, 1861, celebration to commemorate the founding of a local choral group, the Liedertafel Frohsinn, of which Bruckner was then director. One of a number of works he composed just after finishing counterpoint studies with Simon Sechter, it is generally regarded as the piece in which Bruckner first realized his mature style of vocal composition. Scored for a seven-part, a cappella chorus, the women's voices sing the first lines, never moving far from the F major triad. The men's voices take up the next lines in similar fashion, modulating until all join in A major block chords at the name of Jesus, repeating the name three times in a crescendo. The choir then breaks into imitative counterpoint to return to the home key and finish the prayer. The composition ends with a plagal cadence, the traditional chords of the "Amen" usually found in Protestant hymns. The whole work has a homophonic, yet rich and warm sound that reflects the coming together of Bruckner's understanding of older compositional forms and styles, his Romantic sensibility of expression, and his personal beliefs.