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





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Paragraph 9c of the Dienstinstruction: see HJSGMK, 10.


Facsimiles were kindly supplied by Michael Bosworth who also drew my attention to the online facsimile of the handbill.


Schaefer (HJSGMK) gives the date of the Wiesbaden performance as 6 June 1885, the day after the performance in Karlsruhe. If that was so, there must have been two sets of performance material.


In an early, lost score of the Symphony ([Weberms]), the movement was headed or titled 'In glücklicher Stunde' (WM1995, 199).




Incidental Music to Der Trompeter von Säkkingen



  [Incidental music to Der Trompeter von Säkkingen]


  20–22 June 1884



1 Bild: Ein Ständchen am Rhein


2 Bild: Die erste Begegnung


3 Bild: Das Maifest am Bergsee


4 Bild: Trompeten-Unterricht in der Geißblattlaube


5 Bild: Der Überfall im Schlossgarten


6 Bild: Liebesglück


7 Bild: Wiedersehen in Rom


  Joseph Victor von Scheffel (1826–1886): Der Trompeter von Säkkingen










Printed Editions



[1884.06.??] Work on the score begun
[1884.06.??] The score completed
1884.06.23 First performance in Kassel, conducted by Mahler
1884.09/12 Performance at Mannheim in autumn 1884
1885.06.05 Performance in Karlsruhe
1885.06.06 Performance at Wiesbaden
1889.04.27 Performance in Altona (Hamburg)



Mahler's contract at the Königliches Theater, Kassel included a clause that required him to provide such music as was requested by the management¹ and in June 1884 he was drawn into the preparations for a benefit concert ‘zum Besten der Allgemeinen Pensions-Anstalt der Genossenschaft Deutscher Bühnenangehörigen’. He was already a member of this international association (membership number 8198), and was also on the committee of the theatre's benefit funds for members of the orchestra and chorus respectively (AGDB, passim).

As with most such events, the programme, given on the last day of the theatrical season, was diverse:

1. Wagner: Overture to Rienzi

2. Meyerbeer: Die Hugenotten, act 4

3. Verdi: Der Troubadour, act 4

4. Der Trompeter von Säkkingen

The last item was described as ‘Sieben lebende Bilder mit verbindenden Dichtung nach Victor von Scheffel von Wilhelm Bennecke. Musik Mahler’. These tableaux vivants were based on an enormously popular semi-ironic narrative poem by Victor von Scheffel (1826–86) that had also been turned into operas by Emil Kaiser (Mahler's predecessor at Olmütz) and  Victor Nessler – whose version coincidentally also had its première in 1884 and which, much to his disgust, Mahler had to conduct in later years. Scheffel, who walked out of a performance of the Nessler opera (Mahler would have approved), was nevertheless happy to authorise the Kassel entertainment (KBME, 171):

I am very glad to give my consent to a performance of Der Tompeter von Säkkingen in the form of tableaux vivants at the Royal Theatre at Kassel. This was successfully done by the Mining Association during the Carnival at Stuttgart a few years ago, and the linking narration, decorations costumes and the final festive procession of all the participants were highly effective.

The author of the connecting text was a local Kassel writer, Wilhelm Bennecke (1846–1906) – who may have been related to Frau Bennecke, one of the principal dancers at the theatre – and the narration was spoken by Gustav Thies, a popular leading actor in the company.

Mahler reported briefly on the composition of his incidental music in a letter to Fritz Löhr, dated 22 June 1884 (GMB, 27–8; GMSL, 77):

Ich habe in den letzten Tagen über Hals und Kopf eine Musik zum „Trompeter von Säkkingen“ schreiben müssen, welche morgen mit lebenden Bildern im Theater aufgeführt wird. Binnen 2 Tagen war das Opus fertig und ich muß gestehen, daß ich eine große Freude daran habe. Wie Du Dir denken kannst, hat es nicht viel mit Scheffelscher Affektiertheit gemein, sondern geht eben weit über den Dichter hinaus. Deinen Brief erhielt ich eben, als ich die letzte Note in die Partitur schrieb; wie Du wohl fühlen wirst, schien er mir mehr eine himmlische als irdische Stimme.

In the last few days I have had to write some music helter-skelter for Der Trompeter von Säkkingen which is going to be performed in the theatre tomorrow with tableaux vivants. I polished off this opus inside two days, and I must confess I am very pleased with it. As you can imagine, it has little in common with Scheffel's affectation, indeed leaves that author a long way behind. Your letter arrived just as I was writing the last note in the score; as you can imagine, it was more like a heavenly than an earthly voice.

The performance seems to have gone down well, to judge from the report that appeared in the Hessischen Morgenzeitung on 25 June (HJSGMK, 57):

Die lebenden Bilder zu Scheffels, „Trompeter von Säkkingen“, zu welchem Herr Musikdirektor Mahler eine durchaus stimmungsvolle Musik componirt hatte, gelangen vortrefflich und wurden stürmisch beklatscht.

The tableaux vivants on Scheffel's Trompeter von Säkkingen, for which music director Mahler had composed music full of thoroughly genuine feeling, succeeded splendidly and were enthusiastically applauded.

Presumably the 2177 Mk. paid over to the Genossenschaft in September 1884 (see AGDB, 169) were the profits from the evening. A few months later Mahler had some further news about the score, which he passed on to Löhr in a letter of 1 January 1885 (GMB, 34; GMSL, 81):

Meine „Trompetermusik" ist in Mannheim aufgeführt morden und wird demnächst in Wiesbaden und Karlsruhe aufgeführt werden. Alles natürlich ohne das geringste Zutun von meiner Seite. Denn Du weißt, wie wenig mich gerade dieses Werk in Anspruch nimmt.

My `Trumpeter music' has been performed in Mannheim and is shortly to be performed in Wiesbaden and Karlsruhe. All of course without any instigation whatsoever on my part. For you know how little this work in particular concerns me.

There is strong evidence that the work was indeed performed in Mannheim in the autumn of 1884 (ELS, 133), and it was certainly given in Karlsruhe in aid of the Hoftheater's pension fund, on 5 June 1885. The staging was by Otto Ewald, one of the resident producers on the staff of the Kassel Theatre, who presumably knew the original production; the text was declaimed by Aloys Prasch, one of the actors in the Karlsruhe company.²


Colour facsimile of the listing for the Karlsruhe perfomance of Der Trompeter von Sakkingen with music by Mahler, on 5 June 1885 (Karlsruher Zeitung, 4 June 1885, p. 3)


Karlsruher Zeitung, 4 June 1885, 3


Colour facsimile of the playbill for the performance at Karlsruhe

[Playbill, 5 June 1885]

Badische Landesbibliothek


Colour facsimile of the review of the Karlsruhe perfomance of Der Trompeter von Sakkingen with music by Mahler, on 5 June 1885 (Karlsruher Zeitung, 7 June 1885, p. 3)


Karlsruher Zeitung, 7 June 1885, 3


Colour facsimile of the report of the Karlsruhe perfomance of Der Trompeter von Sakkingen with music by Mahler, on 5 June 1885 (Badischer Beobachter, 7 June 1885, p. 3)

[Report dated 5 June 1885]

Badischer Beobachter, 7 June 1885, 3


Advertisements for  the Wiesbaden performance mentioned by Mahler have not yet been located (though, see GMSL, 392 and GMiK, 51³), and its status remains in doubt, but the research of Michael Bosworth has recently revealed that there was at least one further performance, at a benefit evening for Robert Buchholtz at the Stadttheater in Altona, in April 1889. Otto Ewald was again involved in the production, though in Altona he was  credited with the linking texts, adapted from Scheffel. It is no doubt a measure of the popularity of the poem that this occasional work should have had an afterlife, and presumably the effectiveness of Mahler's music had also been noted in theatrical circles, though this in itself provides no clue to how exactly it came to be chosen for performance in Altona.


Facsimile of the announcement of the performance of Der Trompeter von Sakkingen with the music by Mahler in 1889 (Hamburger Nachtrichten, 21 April 1889 (Morgen-Ausgabe), 20)


Hamburger Nachtrichten, 21 April 1889 (Morgen-Ausgabe), 20


Facsimile of the announcement of the performance of Der Trompeter von Sakkingen with the music by Mahler in 1889 (General-Anzeiger für Hamburg-Altona, 95 (24 April 1889), 2–3)


General-Anzeiger für Hamburg-Altona, 95 (24 April 1889), 2–3


Facsimile of the announcement of the performance of Der Trompeter von Sakkingen with the music by Mahler in 1889 (General-Anzeiger für Hamburg-Altona, 26 & 27 April 1889, 8)


General-Anzeiger für Hamburg-Altona, 26 & 27 April 1889, 8


Facsimile of extracts from a review of the performance of Der Trompeter von Sakkingen with the music by Mahler in 1889 (Hamburger Nachtrichten, 29 April 1889 (Abend-Ausgabe), 1)


Facsimile of extracts from a review of the performance of Der Trompeter von Sakkingen with the music by Mahler in 1889 (Hamburger Nachtrichten, 29 April 1889 (Abend-Ausgabe), 1)

[Extracts for a review]

Hamburger Nachtrichten, 29 April 1889 (Abend-Ausgabe), 1


Facsimile of a report of the performance of Der Trompeter von Sakkingen with the music by Mahler in 1889 (General-Anzeiger für Hamburg-Altona, 30 April 1889, 6)


General-Anzeiger für Hamburg-Altona, 30 April 1889, 6


The performing material – consisting of a score and a set of copyist's parts – was presumably returned to Kassel, and if so was almost certainly destroyed there during World War II: no trace of it has been found in Hamburg.  But one movement, or at least material from it, survives as Blumine, which, for seven or eight years was the second movement of the First Symphony, before being excised from that work between 1894 and 1896. The connection between the incidental music and the Symphony was established indirectly by the conductor and critic Max Steinitzer (1864–1936) who knew the movement from the incidental music, but seems not to have been aware of its subsequent symphonic incarnation (MSGM; see also MSGMiL):

Für einen Zyklus lebender Bilder aus dem ,Trompeter von Säkkingen' am Hoftheater Kassel (ich glaube zum besten des Orchesterpensionsfonds) hatte Mahler begleitende Musik geschrieben, auf die er keinerlei Wert legte: möglicherweise – ich habe nie mehr davon gehört – könnte etwas davon noch in Kassel vorhanden sein. Nach Leipzig brachte er nur ein Stück davon in Partitur mit, das meiner Meinung nach den Vorwurf – Werner bläst in der Mondnacht nach dem Schlosse, wo Margaretha wohnt, über den Rhein hinüber ein Ständchen – sehr passend verkörperte. Mahler fand es aber zu sentimental, ärgerte sich darüber und ich mußte ihm mein Wort geben, den Klavierauszug, den ich davon gemacht hatte zu vernichten. Soweit ich es noch im Gedächtnis habe, begann dieses Trompeten-Solo:

Mahler wrote accompanying music for a series of tableaux vivants, based on Der Trompeter von Säkkingen, at the Court Theatre at Kassel (for the benefit of the orchestra pension fund, I think) which he regarded as absolutely worthless; I have never heard of it since, but possibly some of it might still be at Kassel. He brought with him to Leipzig only the score of one movement, which I thought expressed its subject very well: in the moonlight Werner is playing a serenade across the Rhine to the castle where Margareta lives. However, Mahler found it too sentimental, fretted about it, and I had to give him my word to destroy the piano arrangement that I had made of it. As far as I can remember, the trumpet solo began like this:

Musical example showing Steinitzer's memorial reconstruction of the opening of the serendade from Der trompetter von Säkkingen

The melody corresponds quite closely to that of Blumine (the last pitch is presumably a misprint for a''), though the chromatic neighbour notes in the accompaniment to the first complete bar do not appear in the symphonic movement, which is a tone lower, in C major.

Select Bibliography

  RSpBD, 46; HJSGMK, 49–51; HLG1, 716–17; HLG1F, 928–9; HLG1a, 217–18; 240; 371.
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