Anton Bruckner
Motet: Tota pulchra es

Arranged by Ralph Sauer

Four trombones

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 2019

Score and parts


Composed between his 5th and 6th symphonies, Anton Bruckner wrote Tota pulchra es for solo tenor voice, choir, and organ in 1878 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Bishop of Linz, Austria. Ralph Sauer masterfully set this beautiful work for trombone quartet.

Transposed a perfect fourth lower than the original, Sauer’s adaptation follows the original version measure for measure. The a cappella solo tenor parts are mostly doubled in the lower three parts with marks indicating how to stagger the breathing. The first trombone part spans up to c-sharp2 but contains many opportunities to rest during the doubled tenor solo sections. The fourth part never plays lower than BB. However, this happens to also be the pitch played on the final cadence chord. While theoretically this work could be performed on a tenor trombone with an F attachment tuned down a half step to E, it would for sure be best realized on bass trombone.

This music is both modal and homophonic in nature, setting it apart from most sacred music of this historical era. While accessible to a wide variety of audiences, its compositional language will stand out on most programs. While not an especially demanding work, it could be challenging to get less experienced ensembles to play this with great intonation and musical intention.

Since a performance of Tota pulchra es would likely last a little over four minutes, it might be an ideal interlude on a chamber recital program or prelude for a ceremony or church service. The parts and score are well edited and available from Cherry Classics Music as either a physical copy or digital download.

Reviewer: Greg Strohman
Review Published June 15, 2019