The MGM logo: a hand-drawn cartoon of Mahler at the podium, glaring at the audience

Main heading: The Music of Gustav Mahler: A Catalogue of Manuscript and Printed Sources [rule] Paul Banks





Instrumental Works


Vocal Works


Unfinished Works


Lost and Spurious Works






Mahler's Publishers


Supplementary Essays




Using the Catalogue


Conventions & Abbreviations




Index of Works


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Natalie Bauer-Lechner studied at the Conservatoire from 1866 until 1872. Whether Natalie and Ellen attended as auditors or as extra string players is not clear.



This passage quotes from an otherwise unpublished portion of Bauer-Lechner's collection of Mahleriana.




Piano Suite
















Printed Editions






The only published evidence for this work is Natalie Bauer-Lechner's account of her first encounter with Mahler:

Meiner erste Erinnerung an Gustav Mahler reicht in die Konservatoriumzeit zurück, da meine Schwester Ellen und ich nach früh absolviertem Geigenstudium als Hospitantinnen die Orchesterübungen unter Hellmesberger besucht.

Es war knapp vor dem Kompositions-Konkurse; eine Symphonie Mahlers sollte gespielt werden. Dazu hatte dieser, da er sich einen Kopisten hierfür nicht bezahlen konnte, Tage und Nächte hindurch das Stimmenmaterial für alle Instrumente herausgeschrieben, wobei es ihm geschah, daß sich da und dort ein Fehler einschlicht. Hellmesberger gereit darüber in den hellsten Zorn, schleuderte Mahler seine Partitur vor die Füße und rief mit seinem leeren Pathos: „Ihre Stimmen sind voll von Fehlern; glaube Sie, daß ich so etwas dirigieren werde?‟ Und da er nicht zu bewegen war, auch mit der nachher ausgebesserten Stimmen Mahlers Werk zu bringen, mußte dieser im letzten Augenblick eine „Klavier-Suite‟ komponieren, die, „weil sie eine flüchtigere und viel schwächere Arbeit war, prämiiert wurde, während meine guten Sachen vor den Herren Preisrichtern durchfielen‟, erzählte Mahler später davon.

My first recollection of Gustav Mahler dates back to his Conservatoire years, when my sister Ellen and I, having already graduated in violin¹ sat in on Hellmesberger's orchestral rehearsals as guests.

It was just before the composition contest; a symphony of Mahler's was to be played. Since he could not pay a copyist, he had worked day and night copying the parts for all the instruments and, here and there, some mistakes had crept in. Hellmesberger flew into a passion over this, flung down the score at Mahler's feet and shouted with unfounded vehemence: 'Your parts are full of mistakes; do you think that I'm going to conduct something like that?' And since he could not be persuaded to perform Mahler's work with the subsequently corrected parts, at the last moment [Mahler], had to compose instead a Piano Suite. As he explained later: 'Since it was a much weaker and more superficial work, it won a prize, while my good things were rejected by the worthy judges.

The narrative motif of a work being composed overnight and winning a prize recurs in connection with a number of lost works by Mahler.

How many movements this work might have included is not clear, but in July 1893 Mahler admitted to Bauer-Lechner that at this stage in his career he rarely completed compositions (HLG1, 719–20):²

It was not only because I was anxious to begin something new...but because, while still involved in the work, I had already outgrown it and was no longer content with it...but who could have known then that it wasn't [because of a] lack of creative urge, of strength or perseverance. 

See also: Symphony (1876–8), Violin Sonata (1876), Movement for String Quintet (1876–8)

Select Bibliography

  NBL, 1; NBL2, 17; NBLE, 23
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