One of the principal activities of the International
Gustav Mahler Society. Since Gustav Mahler's works were protected
by copyright law until the 70th anniversary of his death (1981),
it was decided to have each volume published by the holder of
the rights. This practice was continued even after Mahler's works
entered the "public domain" in 1981.
The first volume, the 7th Symphony, was published in 1960, the
100th anniversary of Mahler's birth. The editor (until his death
in 1973) was Erwin Ratz, who by 1967 had already brought out 7
volumes. His guiding priciple was to document the last known version
of each work, based on the conviction that all of Mahler's many
retouches and revisions could only have represented improvements.
The critical notes and source documentation were kept to a minimum,
mainly because no publisher at the time was prepared to invest
money in the future of Mahler's works. Very few people at that
time expected their popularity to increase significantly.
During this period Ferdinand Redlich edited six volumes of Mahler
for the Edition Eulenburg, and took the opposing viewpoint: he
accepted only the original version of a work as being valid.
Erwin Ratz edited a total of ten volumes. From 1974 to 1993 the
editor-in-chief was Karl Heinz Füssl. Whereas Ratz had done
everything alone, Füssl assembled a team of qualified Mahler
experts: Zoltan Roman edited volumes of songs, Peter Revers the
early Lieder, Stephen Hefling the version of Das Lied von der
Erde with piano accompaniment, Rudolf Stephan Das klagende Lied
and Totenfeier. Füssl himself edited the 8th Symphony and
devoted his energy to the difficult work of correcting, revising
and completing earlier volumes, an undertaking which is still
continuing today. Under Füssl more emphasis was placed upon
the critical notes documenting the research and sources.
After Füssl's death Reinhold Kubik took charge of the Complete
Works. The next volumes to be completed were the Wunderhorn-Lieder
in piano and orchestra versions (Renate Hilmar-Voit), the early
piano quartet movement (Manfred Wagner-Artzt), the original version
of Das klagende Lied in three movements (Reinhold Kubik) and the
5th Symphony (Reinhold Kubik). New editions of the Second (Renate
Stark-Voit/Gilbert Kaplan) and the Seventh (Reinhold Kubik) will
be finished in due course. All these new volumes with the title
"Neue kritische Gesamtausgabe" have an extensive section
of notes with preface, critical comments and illustrations. Kubik
feels that both the original versions as well as later revisions
and several of the "Retuschen" possess artistic validity.
Future work on the project will be based upon this premise.