The extensive study of the original sources for the present Critical New Edition of Gustav Mahler's Fifth Symphony not only brings to light innumerable facts and rectifications. It also facilitates a comprehension of the intricate source material and establishes a record of the creative process based on the latest research.
The earliest information about the gestation of the Fifth Symphony we owe to Natalie Bauer-Lechner. Her entries on 4/5 August 1901, in Maiernigg report about Mahler's work on the Scherzo, about his taking a theme of the Carinthian Composer Thomas Koschat (1845 - 1914) for the second movement and about the plan of the work that was to encompass four instrumental movements. Bauer-Lechner´s information is confirmed by a sheet(Sk4) with the autograph title "2. Satz / (Scherzo) / (August 1901. Maiernigg beendet)", kept at the Moldenhauer Archives. Both the sketches (Sk2 and Sk3) to the third movement date from this time at the latest while the sketch Sk1 probably dates earlier. Mahler's unrealised plan for the Fourth Symphony, that probably goes back to 1896, should be mentioned in this context. He intended for the 5th movement a scherzo in D major entitled "The World without Gravity". This is in keeping with Mahler's remark, as reported by Bauer-Lechner, that the scherzo of the Fifth is "the human being in full daylight, at the zenith of his life." We also have a remark made by Gustav Brecher on the occasion of the Hamburg performance of the Symphony (13 March 1905), the scherzo was "created first in this symphony". Sk3 also contains a short notation to the later 5th movement. Unfortunately, the above mentioned sketches are the only presently known sources before the score was written out.
We know neither how far Mahler had come with the composition in the summer of 1901, nor whether he worked on the Symphony in the following opera season. In November 1901 Mahler got to know Alma Schindler, was engaged to her in December and married her in March 1902. The enlargement of the Symphony to encompass five movements is very probably related to these events. Mengelberg's suggestion that the Adagietto is Mahler's expression of love for Alma could be correct. It is even imaginable that the movement was conceived at the time of their engagement. Alma's memories of Gustav having brought to Maiernigg "sketches to the 5th Symphony, with two movements completed, the others just drafted" in June 1902 suggests that Mahler completed movements 4 and 5 during these two summer months; Alma's two "movements" probably refer to the first two "Abteilungen" (sections). The next surviving documents, postcards dated 23 August 1902, addressed to Guido Adler and Nina Spiegler, already report about the completion of the Symphony: "I am finally finished! The Fifth is also here!" This euphoric exclamation certainly refers to the completion of the (non existent) particell. Alma writes: "Mahler played me the finished 5th Symphony in the autumn [probably beginning of September]. It was the first time that he played me a new work; we ceremoniously walked up to his studio in the woods, arm in arm." The part of Alma's report: "And so I changed my routine and always copied out all that he had finished from the 5th Symphony right away, so that I was finished with my manuscript just days after he was;" cannot therefore refer to the summer of 1902. Between the autograph score (Aut) and Alma's copy (StV) there is an undeniable and direct philological connection; a particell cannot have been the original for the StV. The autograph score - also according to Alma's account - was written by Mahler in the winter of 1902/03. Assuming Alma did not copy the symphony twice (first in 1902 from the particell, then again in 1903 from the score) she must have erred in her Memories about the year. On 28 August 1903, Mahler sent his wife (who stayed two weeks longer in Carinthia) a postcard immediately after his departure from Maiernigg: "I haven't yet told you how touched I was to see before me the entire copy, so clean and complete." (The copy was probably not entirely complete for on 23 September Mahler informed Arthur Seidel: " You will be interested to know that my 5th is being copied".
Contacts to the publishing house Peters also developed in the summer of 1903. The owner, Henri Hinrichsen (1868 - 1942) learned from Gustav Brecher (1879 - 1940, engaged at the Wiener Hofoper in the season 1901/02) on 23 July that Mahler "had found an amicable agreement with his publisher [Eberle/Weinberger, Vienna] and was free to dispose of his works." On the same day Hinrichsen wrote to Mahler: "I hear that you have completed your 5th Symphony and therefore would like to enquire whether you would consider giving it to me with all the rights." Mahler postponed his answer until September, so that he could consult with his legal advisor Emil Freund. The decisive letters, wherein the fee (10 000 Gulden) was also agreed upon date from 30 September (Mahler) and 20 October (Hinrichsen). Mahler once more went over Alma's copy (StV) beginning October (letter to Hinrichsen on 4.10.) and made corrections and additions before sending it off. On 14 October Hinrichsen acknowledged receiving the original and sent a cheque.
That October Mahler dedicated his score to his "dear Almscherl". In November Otto Singer was chosen to arrange the (four hand) piano score (KlA); two sample pages of the print were approved by Mahler and it was decided to wait for the publishing of the parts until after the premiere, "so that any minor changes in the instrumentation, that in such cases enhance the music, could be put in. A small index could be attached to the score". Hinrichsen, at this time, had no inkling of what was in store for him, for his firm and later for all the editors of this work: "as I can gather from your remarks in your November letter, only small changes will be made in your revision, I would welcome them […] for I dislike correcting plates." This letter dated 21 January 1904, accompanied the first printer's proof of the first movement with the promise of delivering the proof for the second movement "in 8 days" and the rest "in about 3 weeks". And things did go this fast: Mahler had corrected the first section by end January, the second and third sections by mid February; he praised the "extraordinary care and professionalism" of the print work and asked for a second proof reading. The proof sheets for this second proof reading (that Mahler did between end February and end March 1904) are preserved at the Arnold Schönberg Center in Vienna. They give valuable insight into the proof reading. We learn, for example, about the dates of their completion or the names of 10 engravers of the firm C.G. Röder (Leipzig), who was the best music printer in the world at that time. There are Mahler's corrections (differently coloured pencils and black ink), also those not included in the first edition of the study score (EA- Stp) and therefore later again called for by him (with repeated entries in W-Stp). There are also autograph Durata-Data, that represent Mahler's approximations before the premiere (look at list at the end of foreword). A third proof was agreed upon, also because Otto Singer had found mistakes while preparing the piano score. The third proof was completed on 6 April 1904. Mahler and Hinrichsen, at the time, were looking for a suitable place to premiere the Symphony. Both considered and discarded several possibilities. After a performance of the 3rd Symphony on Palm Sunday, 17 March, that Mahler conducted in Cologne, Fritz Steinbach (1855 - 1916, Kapellmeister at Gürzenich) received Mahler's confirmation to premiere his 5th "at the first Gürzenich concert mid October". (The date 18 October was subsequently decided upon). Steinbach wanted to begin with preparatory rehearsals in June and should have received the score and parts for this purpose. At the beginning of May Singer visited the composer in Vienna and went through his arrangement with him. Mahler corrected it and put in "minor changes" end of May. At the beginning of June Mahler and Hinrichsen agreed to wait with the publishing of parts and conducting score until the premiere but to issue a study score already in September. On 8 July Otto Singer complained to Hinrichsen about Mahler's way of working: " It is a calamity with Mahler… from one day to the next he changes his opinion about necessary corrections, finally accepting what he initially rejected without enough thought, ignoring my careful suggestions. In the last two movements every note seemed to him to be in the right place and yet he went on to change so much." Singer was so annoyed that he wanted to withdraw his name from the arrangement. He was calmed by Hinrichsen who pointed out that changes were anyway "always better before rather than after the printing". It is not clear why Singer was so angry, for the second proof of the piano arrangement, with its many changes, came later, between the 18th and 26th July. Since Otto Singer's material consisted at least in part of early proofs of the score, his piano score retains a number of details that were later changed, including the repetition of bars 1 - 145 in the second movement.
No-one at the publishing house knew which key the Symphony was to be assigned "on the covers, as in the catalogues". On Hinrichsen asking the composer on 20 July, Mahler replied: "From the order of the movements (where the usual first movement now comes second) it is difficult to speak of a key for the 'whole Symphony', and to avoid misunderstandings the key should best be omitted." On 8 September 1904, four copies of the freshly printed study score and a piano score were sent to Mahler; he raved over "the absolutely delightfully done little score", and also over the "impressive" piano score. In the same month it was decided to read through the work with the Vienna Hofopern Orchestra. Mahler asked for the material from Cologne that was used at the preparatory rehearsal in June. Alma errs again when she dates these readings to the spring; they occurred between the 17 and 26 September 1904. Alma reports she was disappointed that "Mahler allowed the percussion, the snare drum to play so loud that they almost drowned out everything else. […] He laughed, took up the score and cancelled with a red pencil almost the entire snare drum and even half of the percussion. He had felt it himself, but my passionate plea made all the difference. I own the completely changed score." Though Mahler mentions the overburdened percussion in two letters, Alma's report is not quite conceivable. Mahler had used the same study score at the reading rehearsal from which he also conducted the performance (W-Stp); there do not exist any major cancellations of the percussion in it. Since the percussion is almost non existent in the autograph (Aut), it is unclear to which score Alma refers to as being in her possession.
After the Vienna orchestra reading, Mahler sent the publisher the revised wind and percussion parts on 27 September, the "corrected string parts and a small score [the study score W-Stp] with all the changes marked in red ink" on 28 September. In addition, Mahler requested the issuing of a separate part "cymbals/ bass drum - played by one player". He ascertained that the photographic reduction for the study score was made from plates onto which corrections from the third proof had not yet been incorporated: "… Strangely, the small score contains mistakes that were already corrected in the last proof reading from which Steinbach proceeded - ." Hinrichsen undertook everything to have the corrected material ready for the first rehearsal. The time being too short for a corrected score, Hinrichsen decided to "use the copy sent to him […] with the material", "since the large type metal used in the small score made it feasible to conduct from." (With the large type metal Hinrichsen meant the large print. Though the study score was the photographic reduction of a large format score, Hinrichsen used this term here to express the good legibility.) Mahler agreed: "Please do not worry about the score. I can conduct just as well from the small score."
Mahler arrived in Cologne on 13 October 1904, for his first rehearsal the next day: "Everything went acceptably. The Scherzo is a terrible movement! It will have a long life of ordeal! Conductors for 50 years will take it too quickly and make a mess of it, the audiences - - o heaven! What should they make of this chaos, where a new world is born in one moment only to be destroyed in the next - - - of these primeval sounds, this seething, screaming, shattering sea, these dancing stars, these gasping, shining, sparkling waves?! How can a flock of sheep react to an 'Ethereal feast of song' other than bleat!? […] O, I wish I could perform my symphony 50 years after my death!" On 15 October Mahler learnt about Alma's illness that prevented her from coming to Cologne. The public general rehearsal on the 17th went well; Bruno Walter was also present - - - the indications about the duration of the Symphony at the general rehearsal and performance in W-Stp are probably his. (Look at list below.) Mahler suffered from Alma's absence: "Your not being here, Almschi, has ruined everything for me, everything seems irrelevant. You would have enjoyed the work!" And he wrote to his sick wife after the premiere: "Walter will soon come and tell you about everything. […] At any rate I feel it made an enormous impression".
The impression was rather a divided one… Hinrichsen was excited and wanted to have the 6th right away, on the condition however, that Mahler not raise his fee. (We know today, that Mahler did raise his fee and so the 6th Symphony went to the Leipzig publisher Kahnt.) Otto Neitzel in the Kölnische Zeitung of 19 Ocotober called Mahler a "tyrant, a master of colossal forms, a Cesar of the arts of instrumentation and musical construction. […] He wanders again along high, remote mountain paths; sometimes seemingly lost, as if befallen with the desire to hurl himself down; in the course of the symphony these peculiar visions are dispelled in the thin mountain air: in the last movement he is earthbound again. […] The Gürzenich audience, especially after the finale, applauded heartily." The same author wrote in the "Signale für die musikalische Welt" (62. Jahrgang, Leipzig 1904): " The work is geared to dissipate the antagonism that Mahler has kindled until now, and it is eminent enough to be favourably considered by the leading concert organisers especially because, with all its modernity, it belongs to the neglected realm of absolute music." The Berliner Tageblatt of 19 October 1904, wrote however: "It is an exhaustive work, whose ramblings are difficult to understand; stylistically, it is a puzzle. Despite pretty details, it tends as a whole, more to consternate then to uplift. The composer uses the most cunning effects of instrumentation to indulge in dissonances and eccentricities. […] The very subdued applause was mixed with vehement opposition." In the Leipziger Tagesblatt of 20 October, the new symphony was also "received with little applause amid voices of dissent." In the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik of 23 November, Paul Hiller wrote that Mahler was "ingenious, but unconvincing, because he missed the truth." (Many parallels of language and thought make one suspect that Paul Hiller was also the author of the Berliner Tageblatt review already cited.) Other reviews appeared in the Kölner Volkszeitung (Herrmann Kipper), the Rheinische Musik- und Theaterzeitung, in the Neue Musikzeitung (Karl Wolff) and in the Neue Musikalische Presse (19 November 1904, Artur Eccarius-Sieber): "Even one who ranks truth above beauty in art can find serious 'blemishes' in the modern sense in Mahler's work. […] The vulnerability of his talent is especially obvious: the lack of potent inventive skill […] The final result: Mahler overpowers the listener with his reckless portrayal of a demonic, dominating theme, totally convincing and reconciling the listener, before returning to his guise of amiable composer. […] A suggestive virtuoso performance by the Kölner Gürzenich Orchestra was received with reservation in the first movements and with excitement in the following sections. The performers and public departed in total accord -- Mahler won."
Mahler left for Amsterdam, where he conducted his 4th Symphony, immediately after the premiere. He had the Cologne score of his Fifth in his luggage. Back in Vienna, he sent it on November 1st to Leipzig for incorporating his revisions into the conducting score. While in Leipzig for a performance of his 3rd Symphony, Mahler visited the Hinrichsen family. On his return to Vienna he found the new conducting score (EA-DP) that was sent to him on November 23. The corrected parts were also printed at the same time (EA-St).
Subsequent performances took place in Dresden (27 January 1905, conductor Ernst Schuch), Berlin (20 February 1905, conductor Arthur Nikisch) and Prag (2 March 1905, conductor Leo Blech). The Fifth was performed under Mahler's direction in Hamburg on 13 March 1905. The composer presented a score to Herrmann Behn on March 10, wherein the friend noted the duration of the general rehearsal of 12 March (look at the list below). In the course of the year Mahler conducted the work four times again: 21 May in Strasbourg, 1 December in Trieste, 7 December in Vienna, 18 December in Breslau. On 24 March 1905 the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra under Frank Van der Stucken performed the American premiere. In 1906 Mahler conducted performances in Antwerpen (5 March) and Amsterdam (8 March); Mengelberg then took over the baton, performing the work within the next two weeks in Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Harlem and Arnhem. On 2 February 1906 Wilhelm Gericke conducted a successful performance in Boston obtaining good reviews; Mahler wrote thanking him. Mahler conducted the Adagietto in Rome on 1 April 1907. On 9 November 1907 - his last performance of his work - he did the complete Symphony in Saint Petersburg (on 26 Ocotober according to the old Russian calendar).
From which material each performance was played cannot be ascertained with 100% accuracy. We own a set of orchestra material with Mahler's stamp and several entries from the composer, from copyists and musicians. This material (St1) was used for several performances between 1905 (Strasbourg) and 1907 (St. Petersburg) under Mahler's direction. Besides several important stages of revision, it contains many remarks about the practical aspects of the performances and information as to duration (look at list below). Peters delivered through the local music store Wolf a complete material set for Strasbourg including a conducting score (that bears the stamp of the store and is preserved in Vienna under W-Dp). The working of the publisher with local music stores is borne out by two letters of Hinrichsen: "I finally request Mr. Steinbach to see to it that the material is obtained from a Cologne store, for I sell my works only through such channels." (30 March 1904) "I have an order for your 5th Symphony from St. Petersburg with the instruction to send the material to your Vienna address." (3 September 1907) In Saint Petersburg Peters worked together with the 'Hof Pianofabrik C.M. Schröder', whose stamp appears on three string parts with high desk numbers. For the concert in Rome (30 March 1907) Peters made an exception and delivered the material directly to the Accademia di Santa Cecilia: "Since only one movement was performed in Rome, I made an exception and directly lent the material for this performance and received it back." (letter of 3 September 1907). According to the programme, only the Adagietto was performed in Rome. Curiously, two wind parts (in the 2nd clarinet between the 4th and 5th movement and in the 2nd bassoon between the 1st and 2nd movement) bear dates and signatures of two orchestra musicians from Rome. Was a performance of the entire Symphony perhaps planned and even rehearsed? Mahler further worked on the 'Roman material' (also with conducting score) during his journey to Saint Petersburg and his rehearsals there. (St1). A conducting score was always - as is the custom today - part of the performance material. It was always delivered together with an order and Mahler sometimes conducted from it. This is evidenced by the score that was part of the material at the Antwerpen performance (5 March 1906). This score with current revisions by the well-known Viennese copyist (whose accounts are found in Tr-Dp and M-Dp) contains not a single entry by Mahler: he apparently had not conducted from it.
Mengelberg received his own material that now exists at the Mengelberg archive in The Hague. The score marked M-Dp was Mengelberg's personal property. Mahler had the same Viennese copyist who worked on the Antwerpen and Triest scores put the latest revisions into this score; these were then transferred into the parts in Amsterdam. Mahler conducted the concert on 8 March 1906, from this score and put more changes into it during the rehearsals. It also contains several technical conducting and semantic remarks by Mengelberg, and his information that the Adagietto was Mahler's declaration of love for Alma, with the famous poem that according to Mengelberg formed the melodic line of the 1st violins.
The conducting score used by Mahler at the Trieste performance on December 1 1905, also exists (Tr-Dp). It is kept at the Library of the Conservatorio Giuseppe Tartini in Trieste. It contains several autograph changes, that often concern technical and acoustical shortcomings and therefore were not taken over by Mahler. The following scores, from which Mahler provenly conducted, exist today: Premiere Cologne (W-Stp), Strasbourg (W-Dp), Trieste (Tr-Dp) and Amsterdam (M-Dp). Mahler also had a reference score (GM-Dp) into which he put in all the changes that he wanted to conserve. Whether he also conducted from it we do not know. Several stories exist about this score. The publisher Peters had it until the end of 1919. Henri Hinrichsen's son Max (1901-1965) may have taken it to London when he emigrated there 1937; his brother Walter (1907-1969) may have sold it, having received back in 1945 part of the Hinrichsen family property that was confiscated by the Nazis. In the 1940s, composer and musicologist Egon Wellesz (1885-1974) borrowed this score from the art dealer Albi Rosenthal (born 1914) and transferred Mahler's revisions into his copy of the study score. (Wellesz-Stp). He did not know at the time that EA-Stp consisted of a revision stage that was behind even that at the premiere; his entries are therefore of little value. Wellesz gave us what stood on the title page of GM-Dp: "Corrected and found suitable as model for the necessary new printing / Gustav Mahler / December 1907." This means that GM-Dp conserved the stage of revision until upto the St. Petersburg concert, until the last performance conducted by the composer himself.
Mahler took the decisive step - decisive also for our edition - end of May 1910. He wrote Henri Hinrichsen a letter from Vienna that arrived in Leipzig on June 1. He mentioned the necessity for a new edition of the 5th Symphony that he wanted to finance himself. "The most important thing for me is to be able to try my edition at a performance in New York in the next season. For this purpose please be so kind and send me a set of orchestra material into which I can put in all my changes." Mahler wanted to check the 'corrected material' at a rehearsal "and, if the changes are okay, incorporate them also into the performance… this corrected material can serve as model for a new edition. Please send me therefore a score and complete orchestra material for
for my private use."
Hinrichsen replied immediately on June 2: "I gladly comply with your wishes and send you the orchestra material of your Symphony 5 that has had 20 performances since its appearance in 1904." Hinrichsen offered Mahler to "do my part by scrapping the inventory and paying for the proof reading." Mahler took the material to New York and worked at it in the winter of 1910/11. This is the main source for the present edition (St2). Two letters describe this revision work. A letter to the Munich concert agent Emil Gutmann, that discusses projects for the next European sojourn (June - October 1911) mentions: "I have reworked my Symphony 5 and would appreciate an opportunity to do this quasi new work (even in Munich or some place else)". In another letter written on 8 February 1911 to Georg Göhler, Mahler wrote as postscript the famous lines: "I have finished the 5th -- it had to be practically entirely re-instrumented. It is amazing how I erred so entirely like a beginner at that time. (The routine that I had gained in the 4th Symphony apparently did not serve me at all -- for a new style requires a new technique.)"
Mahler's sudden death on 18 May brought to an abrupt end the seven year process of revisions to his 5th Symphony -- a process that surely would have continued had the composer and conductor of his own works lived longer.
Georg Göhler (1874-1954) wanted to perform the Symphony already in 1908 in Karlsruhe; this was not possible because the local Hof Orchestra did not possess enough strings. In June 1910 Mahler was in Leipzig rehearsing the chorus of the Riedel-Verein, under Göhler's direction, for the Munich premiere of his Symphony 8. Göhler inquired about the Symphony 5 and was told: "Do not perform it now. I have reworked it entirely, it was badly instrumented." Göhler asked Alma for the reference score (GM-Dp) after Mahler's death and tried to instigate Henri Hinrichsen into publishing a new edition. Hinrichsen retreated from his agreement with Mahler but offered "to correct the parts by hand and lend this material to the music society […] A prerequisite and condition for this would be that Mrs. Mahler hand over the changed score into my possession." Göhler used the material prepared end of 1913 for the "Premiere of the New Edition". The score of the Göhler version, printed in 1920 as "New Edition", is based entirely upon GM-Dp, combining all the revisions until the last performance that Mahler conducted in St. Petersburg… until the end of 1907. That a score must have belonged to the parts St2 unknown to Göhler, prepared and revised according to the parts by Mahler in New York, to be used for the new edition planned by Mahler and Hinrichsen, is not only logical; its existence is underlined by the letter quoted above where Mahler asks for "a score and complete orchestra material." This score has never been found. The destiny of Mahler's personal material of Symphony 5 after his death is unknown and intriguing (as is the division of St1 among three and St2 among two owners). The future may hold surprises in store.
My personal thanks - and those of all music lovers - go first to the publishers C.F. Peters in Frankfurt who initiated this New Edition. Due to diverse new technologies and the considerable changes in public interest, publishers today face enormous difficulties; the expensive new publication of a large work where the performance material - though rampant with mistakes - already exists, is an ambitious project for any publisher.
We wish to thank the following libraries and institutes together with their staff: The Music Collection of the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, the archives of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, the Music Collection of the Wiener Stadt- und Landesbibliothek, the Library of the Vienna University of Music, the Arnold Schönberg Center, the archives of the Vienna Philharmonic, the archives of the Vienna Konzerthausgesellschaft, the archives of the International Gustav Mahler Society; the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York, the New York Public Library, the New York Philharmonic Archives; the library of the Conservatorio Giuseppe Tartini in Trieste.
I am grateful to Robert Threlfall (London) and Rüdiger Bornhöft (Bremen) for their competent, critical and inspiring proofreading, Jerry Bruck and Gilbert Kaplan ( New York) for their helpful advice, Herta Blaukopf for her critical appraisal of the texts, members of the Vienna Symphony and Renate Rusche (Hamburg) for their assistance in preparing the orchestra parts, and my wife, for her patience, while I worked on this New Edition of Mahler's 5th Symphony.
|Vienna, autumn 2001