Gustav Mahler’s Sound: Between Creative Process, Performance, and Reception

International Symposium. Gustav Mahler Research Center Dobbiaco,

18–20 July 2024 Grand Hotel Dobbiaco (Alto Adige, Italy)

in collaboration with the FWF Science Fund and the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz

Symposium Chairs
Tobias Janz (University of Bonn)
Christian Utz (University of Music and Performing Arts Graz)


The sound of Gustav Mahler’s music – its idiosyncratic “tone” – is unmistakable. In chamber music song settings or in the large orchestra (expanded by choir and soloists), whether on disc or in the concert, this tone evokes the period of its creation: the fin de siècle, Viennese modernism, and their social fault lines. This sound also opens a wealth of music-historical, music-analytical, intertextual, and cultural dimensions, which are complexified due to their multitudinous interwoven aspects. A multi-perspective approach seems necessary if one wants to better understand a phenomenon that is located in a characteristic way between composition, performance, and interpretation as well as listening reception. The aim of this international symposium is to bring research perspectives engaged with Mahler’s sound into dialogue and at the same time to develop new approaches to analysis and historical and cultural-scientific interpretation. Four sections focus on the areas of Sound Analysis, Sources and the Creative Process, Performance Practice and Performance History, and Mediatized Sound.

The symposium is a cooperation between the Gustav Mahler Research Center Toblach (, founded in 2020, and the Graz research project “Multiple Dimensions in Performances of Mahler’s Symphonies” (, funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF. The venue is the Euregio Cultural Center Gustav Mahler Toblach (

Programme (22/03/2024)

Thursday, 18 July 2024

9.00 Keynote 1 Karol Berger (Stanford University): Mahler: The Semantics of Sound

10.00 Coffee break

Section 1: Sound Analysis (Chair: Tobias Janz, University of Bonn)

10.30 Tobias Janz: Analyzing Mahler’s Sound. Thoughts on the Sixth Symphony and Kindertotenlieder

11.00 Emily Dolan (Brown University): The Mahlerian Shape of Timbre Studies

11.30 Discussion

12.00 Lunch break

13.30  Jack Adler-McKean (Lunds Universitet): ‘If the tubist cannot produce this tone in pianissimo, it is to be taken over by the contrabassoon’. The Tuba in the Orchestra of Gustav Mahler

14.00 Klaus Aringer (University of Music and Performing Arts Graz): Chorische Hornbehandlung in Mahlers Orchester

14.30 Dimitrios Katharopoulos (University of Music and Performing Arts Graz): Processes and Topics in Gustav Mahler’s Orchestration. The First Movement of the   Second Symphony as a Case Study

15.00 Discussion

15.30 Coffee break

16.00 Fredrica Roos (Uppsala Universitet): Scoring the World: The Musical Imagery of Mahler’s Orchestration

16.30 Sam Reenan (Miami University): Queering Mahler’s Orchestration

17.00 Federico Celestini (University of Innsbruck): Mahlers ‘undomestizierte’ Klänge

17.30 Discussion


18.00 Concert (Gustav-Mahler-Hall): Bartók, Chopin, Schostakowitsch (Ensemble Esperanza)   

Friday, 19 July 2024

9.00 Keynote 2 Anne Holzmüller (University of Marburg): Mahler, der Zeitgemäße. Mahlers Klang im Spiegel gegenwärtiger Hörästhetiken

10.00 Coffee break

Section 2: Sources and the Creative Process(Chair: Anna Ficarella, Conservatorio di Musica G. B. Pergolesi, Fermo)

10.30 Nikolaus Urbanek (University of Music and Performing Arts Wien): Philologie des Klangs

11.00 Anna Ficarella: Klang in Mahlers Werkstatt. Versuch einer critique génétique am Beispiel der Fünften Symphonie

11.30 Discussion

12.00 Peter Revers (University of Music and Performing Arts Graz): „Eine Chorsymphonie großartigen Stiles“. Zur Behandlung der Chöre in Gustav Mahlers Sinfonien

12.30 Discussion

12.45 Lunch break

Section 3: Mediatized Sound (Chair: Jeremy Barham, University of Surrey)

14.15 Jeremy Barham (University of Surrey): ‘Surface Noise’: The Radical Depthlessness of Mahler (Re-)Mediatization

14.45 Minoru Shimizu (Doshisha University Kyoto): Mahler und die audiophile Kultur

15.15 Discussion

15.45 Coffee break

16.15 Edwin K. C. Li (The Chinese University of Hong Kong): Languaging as Sonic Mediatization: Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde in Mandarin and Cantonese

16.45 Robert Samuels (The Open University): Mahler’s Sound in Benjamin Britten’s Ears

17.15 Discussion


18.00 Concert (Gustav-Mahler-Hall): Gustav Mahler, Sixth Symphony (Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano, Michael Sanderling)

Saturday, 20 July 2024

Section 4: Performance Practice and Performance History(Chair: Christian Utz, University of Music and Performing Arts Graz)

9.00 Christian Utz: Perspektiven der Korpusforschung auf die Interpretationsgeschichte von Mahlers Siebter und Zehnter Symphonie

9.30 Julian Caskel (Folkwang Universität der Künste): Zur Differenzierung der dynamischen Vorschriften in Scherzosätzen von Gustav Mahler

10.00 Discussion

10.30 Coffee break

11.00 Anna Stoll Knecht (University of Fribourg): To ‘Sing’ (in Vienna) or ‘Not to Sing’ (in Bayreuth): Performance Practice c. 1900

11.30 Lóránt Péteri (Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music): ‘Mr. Mahler at the Harpsichord’: Mahler’s ‘Bach Suite’ and its Performances in the US

12.00 Discussion

12.30 Panel Discussion: Interpreting Mahler, interpreting Mahler-Interpretations (Hermann Danuser, Peter Revers, Anna Stoll Knecht, Sybille Werner; Leitung: Tobias Janz und Christian Utz)

Call for Papers (German)
Call for Papers (English)