© Foto BOL/Petra Moser: Markus Poschner dirigiert das Bruckner Orchester Linz.
Markus Poschner dirigiert das Bruckner Orchester Linz.
Markus Poschner dirigiert das Bruckner Orchester Linz.

Upper Austria's Music Ambassador

In 2024, the music world will celebrate the 200th birthday of the composer Anton Bruckner. We met up with Markus Poschner, the principal conductor of the Bruckner Orchester Linz to ask him why Anton Bruckner’s music still excites audiences to this day. The award-winning conductor also tells us how Upper Austria sounds and what fascinates him so much about the region’s cultural and musical life.

Anton Bruckner was born in Ansfelden near Linz on 4 September 1824. A widely celebrated organist and composer, he left the world of music a legacy that still lives on 200 years later. His name is carried by the Bruckner Orchester Linz, which is both Upper Austria’s symphony orchestra and the orchestra for Linz’s opera house, the Musiktheater am Volksgarten.

© Foto BOL/Petra Moser: Markus Poschner beim Soundcheck mit dem Bruckner Orchester Linz.
Markus Poschner beim Soundcheck mit dem Bruckner Orchester Linz.

Markus Poschner, originally from Munich, has been principal conductor of the Bruckner Orchester Linz and opera director at the Musiktheater am Volksgarten since 2017. He firmly believes in the timelessness of Anton Bruckner’s compositions.


Bruckner’s works open up a unique world of beauty, emotion and mysticism. His music still touches us today, resonating deep in our souls.

The fact that Anton Bruckner composed his great pieces more than 100 years ago is of no consequence. “Music always comes into being at the moment it is performed – it isn’t tied to the time of its creation. So there really is no such thing as old music,” Poschner explains with conviction.


© Foto BOL/Petra Moser: Musiker des Bruckner Orchesters Linz bereiten sich auf den Auftritt vor.
In einem historischen Gewölbe bereiten sich Musiker des Bruckner Orchesters Linz auf den Auftritt vor, im Vordergrund ein Musiker mit Violine.

Still, the cliché of being difficult to access still clings to Anton Bruckner’s symphonies in particular. Can an orchestra and a conductor open up new gateways into his music? “When we travel to a big city like Rome or Paris for the first time, we can’t take in all the streets, alleys and buildings in one day. And yet we enthusiastically throw ourselves into the adventure. It’s a similar story with Anton Bruckner’s music, which is not only incredibly virtuosic and complex, but also full of symbolism. I think it’s important that we have the courage to open the door into this world and engage with it without preconceptions.


We must always remember that there is no right or wrong when it comes to experiencing music. We just have to start the journey – without fear.

Keeping the fire burning

Markus Poschner began his journey with the Bruckner Orchester Linz in 2017. At the Austrian Music Theatre Awards in 2020, the Bruckner Orchester was named Orchestra of the Year and Markus Poschner took home the prize for Best Musical Direction for the production of Richard Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” at the Linz Musiktheater.


© Foto BOL/Petra Moser: Markus Poschner dirigiert das Bruckner Orchester Linz.
Markus Poschner dirigiert das Bruckner Orchester Linz.

What are the Bavarian conductor’s impressions of Upper Austria? “The people here can be enormously passionate and very enthusiastic. At the same time, Upper Austrians are known for being sociable and for their love of music. Art and culture are nurtured and appreciated here. The excellent music school system in Upper Austria is unique. Upper Austrians love their orchestra and identify with it – you can really feel that. Here, a great appreciation of tradition combines with a keen sense of the present and an incredible openness to new things. As the saying goes, the people of Upper Austria take care to keep the fire burning.”


© Foto BOL/Petra Moser: Ein Hornist des Bruckner Orchesters Linz.
Zwischen den Saiten einer Harfe ist ein spielender Hornist des Bruckner Orchesters Linz zu sehen.

What Upper Austria sounds like

It is against this background that Markus Poschner sees what is typically “Upper Austrian” about Anton Bruckner: “Bruckner studied tradition. He wanted to fully master his craft before he began to compose, so he didn’t write his most important pieces until later in life.” Markus Poschner and the Bruckner Orchester have set themselves the goal of discovering Upper Austria’s unique “sound dialect” in Bruckner’s music. But what does this Upper Austria sound like? Poschner is quite certain: “Very much like folk music – the sound of a brass band, a polka. It’s something that’s simply in the genes of the people of Upper Austria.”


Together with the Bruckner Orchester, he has set about uncovering this “Upper Austrian DNA” in the music of Anton Bruckner. “A great deal of patina has accumulated over the decades. Just like in the children’s game Chinese whispers, the clichés have developed over time. This has given rise to ideas such as Bruckner the divine musician or Bruckner the builder of cathedrals of sound. But we want to look behind these preconceptions and bring out what lies between the lines in order to find an authentic way of performing the pieces. Here in Upper Austria, we are fortunate to be located right at the source. Many of Anton Bruckner’s handwritten scores are available to us here, and there’s also a long tradition of research.” With this in mind, Markus Poschner and the Bruckner Orchester are investing considerable energy in their latest major project – to record all of Anton Bruckner’s symphonies in all their different versions on CD by the bicentenary in 2024.

© Foto BOL/Petra Moser: Streicherinnen des Bruckner Orchesters Linz.
Drei Streicherinnen des Bruckner Orchesters Linz beim Soundcheck auf der Bühne.

So, what unmissable experiences would Markus Poschner recommend to anyone visiting Upper Austria in the hope of soaking up its culture? The conductor laughs: “A concert by the Bruckner Orchester in the Brucknerhaus or a performance in the Musiktheater am Volksgarten, of course! We are part of Upper Austria and also attach great importance to being a cultural ambassador and a figurehead for this region."


After all, we must remember that, alongside nature, culture is Upper Austria’s most important treasure. It’s something money can’t buy.

And finally, where does Markus Poschner find the energy for his work? What places does he go to in Upper Austria to recharge his batteries? “The mountains. I’m a huge fan of the mountains. But the city of Linz is an important centre for me, too. Here, my family is my main source of strength."

Tips around Linz and Anton Bruckner