I linked to this ages ago, but technology conspired to delete it. I see that Gramophone has now put it on line. Reposting it as few articles have been such fun to write. It is the story of the premier of Bruckner's Third Symphony:
Public ridicule, heckling and cat-calling. Not even the most avant-garde of contemporary composers playing to a jaded and obstreperous audience today would expect such a reaction. But that was the reception given on Sunday, December 16, 1877, to one of the 19th century's greatest composers. The premiere of Anton Bruckner's Third Symphony in D minor – the 53-yearold Austrian's first mature and monumental symphony – under the direction of the composer himself was an unmitigated disaster and was to prove to be the worst fiasco of his life.
In retrospect, this should have surprised few. Bruckner's first concert in four years was a comedy of errors from the outset. The writing itself had been difficult. Bruckner had started what he called his Wagner Symphony in autumn 1872 and worked on it until the end of December 1873. In Bayreuth in September that year he had doorstepped his hero Richard Wagner, then preoccupied with The Ring, to get him to look through his unfinished Third Symphony and his Second Symphony in C minor. Although Wagner had liked the work (fondly nicknaming Bruckner 'The Trumpet' because of its brassy opening) in the beer-induced revelry that followed that evening, when Bruckner woke up the next morning he could not remember which symphony Wagner had agreed to have dedicated to him. He had to drop 'The Master' a note to confirm that it was indeed the Third.
Full article here.