A Cartoon of Mahler



Symphony No. 1

Autograph Full score – AF2


US-NHub Osborn Collection, MS 506


Fascicle structure



With his letter Mahler enclosed a press cutting from the Berliner Tagblatt  'concerning a matter that has been troubling Frau Perrin of late (she used to be much more sensible)'. This was 'Helmholtz über Suggestion und Wunderglauben', Berliner Tagblatt 32/161 (29 March 1903, 3), which quotes the whole of a letter from Helmholtz written in response to an inquiry about an article by Karl Emil Franzos (1848–1904)  et al., 'Die Suggestion und die Dichtung', Deutsche Dichtung, 9 (1890–91), 71–130. Helmholtz, of whose views Mahler approves, takes a generally skeptical view of suggestion and hypnosis.

The immediate stimulus for both the reproduction of the letter, Jenny Perrin's interest, and Mahler's reference to it, was the recent conviction and imprisonment for fraud of the German medium Anna Rothe (1850–1907).










































































  [On inside of cloth cover, black ink, all crossed through in pencil, on unruled paper:] Symphonie („Titan”) / in 5 Sätzen (2 Abtheilungen) / von / Gustav Mahler / I. Theil: „Aus den Tagen der Jugend” / 1. „Fühling und kein Ende” / 2. „Blumine” / 3. „Mit vollen Segeln” / II. Theil: „Com[m]edia humana” / 4. Todtenmarsch in „Callots Manier” / 5. „D'all Inferno al Paradiso”

[For details of the headings of the individual movements, see the separate fascicle descriptions via the links in the LH pane.]


  [Begun Winter 1892?]

[At end of Blumine:] Renovatum / 16. August 1893.

[At end of Scherzo:] 27. Jänner 93 renovatum

[At end of fifth movement:] umgearbeitet 19 Januar 1893


  Predominantly black ink, with ruled bar lines in pencil; revisions and additions in pencil; a few blue crayon revisions/corrections in IV and V; pencil annotations by Ferdinand Weidig and Felix Draeseke.


  A 20 staves, Joh. Aug. Böhme, Hamburg.  No. 12., upright format, 346 x 270 (r = 293), grey on cream
  B 18 staves, Joh. Aug. Böhme, Hamburg.  No. 11., upright format, 346 x 271 (r = 282), grey on cream
  C 18 staves, no maker's mark, upright format, 331 x 250 (r = 276), grey on dark cream/light brown
  D 20 staves, no maker's mark, upright format, 347 x 263 (r = 286), grey on cream

Manuscript structure and collation

  113 folios. The basic fascicle structure is of stacked bifolia:

I: 15 bifolia, numbered 1–15

II: 4 bifolia, numbered [1]–4

III: 10 bifolia (last incomplete), numbered 16–25

IV: 1 folio + 6 bifolia, numbered 1–6

V: 21 gatherings numbered 1–13, 14a–14b, 15–20

Use the links in in the left-hand column to navigate to a more detailed account of the manuscript and its fascicle structure.



Jenny Feld (gift from Gustav Mahler); John C. Perrin (by bequest from his mother); sold at Sotheby's, 8 December 1959; purchased by Mrs James M. Osborn; placed on deposit at Yale University Library in 1968.


  Complete colour facsimile: US-NHub

Titles from inside front cover: JDMJ, plate III

Fol. 31r, Blumine, bb. 1–6: JDMJ, plate IV

Fol. 42v–43r, movement III (later II), bb. 74–86: SMFS 110–11

fol. 59r, movement IV (later III), bb. 1–23: KBME, plate 78

Fol. 97r–v, movement V (later IV), bb. 502–8 + 13 deleted bars: JDMJ, plates V–VI

Select Bibliography

  SW1b (= source [A]);  JDMJ, passim


  Picc (=fl 3), fl 1–2, ob 1–2, ob 3 (from movement III), cl in Ba symbol: a flat sign/C/A 1–2 (cl 1=cl in Ea symbol: a flat sign in movement IV*), cl 3 in A (from movement III), , bsn 1–2, bsn 3 (from movement III)

Hn in F 1–4 (with a note calling for doubling of hn 1, 3 from b. 646ff.), tpt 1–4 in F (1–2=cornets à pistons in movement V), trb 1–3, btuba

Timp, trg, cym, bd, tam-tam (blue crayon addition in movements IV–V

Harp (‘womöglich doppelt besetzt’), strings


*When it first enters the part is added at the foot of the page (fol. 107r) copied in black ink and with bar lines drawn in pencil; thereafter it appears below the oboes in the score, suggesting that this doubling by cl 1 was planned from the outset and the first entry perhaps omitted through an oversight.



The manuscript is housed within a folder of boards covered with blue cloth. The score itself has been bound in black, cloth-covered boards which show considerable signs of wear. The spine in particular is partially detached, and the stitching loose; the sheets seem not to have been cut down during the binding process. The work, part and movement titles on the inside of the cover were almost certainly a relatively late addition. There are no rehearsal numbers in this score, so it was presumably never used for rehearsal or performance.

It is not possible to date the use of any of the four papers found in the manuscript, but there is little evidence to support Donald Mitchell's speculation (DM2, 196ff.) that some or all of the type C and D sheets formed part of an earlier autograph score. Indeed it is striking that (with one exception on fol. 34v–35r that might be the result of a copying error) there are no discontinuities in orthography or calligraphy at the points were the paper types change. Moreover the level of correction and annotation is more or less consistent throughout, again suggesting that the sheets that make up the document date from broadly the same period.

The evidence of the movement numbering, autograph fascicle numbers and revision dates suggests strongly that the manuscript was prepared in four-movement form (without Blumine), the composer working on Part II (i.e. the slow movement and finale) first, and completing their revision on 19 January 1893. Work on Part I seems to have followed, with its fascicles numbered in a single continuous sequence, and this was completed on 27 January 1893. Later that year Blumine was reinstated (dated 16 August 1893). The pencil bar number counts added by Weidig (listed in the manuscript descriptions of the separate movements), provide strong evidence that that he used this manuscript as his source when preparing ACF2.

At the end of January 1894 Strauss – who may have have played through the work with Hermann Levi in Munich in the late summer of 1888  – wrote to Mahler (in a letter that apparently does not survive) to tell him that he had asked Hans von Bronsart (Intendant of the Hoftheater in Weimar and the President of the Allgemeiner Deutscher Musikverein) to  consider Mahler's Symphony for inclusion in the thirtieth festival of the  ADM in June of that year (GMRSB,  23–4; GMRSBE, 27; for a first hand account of Mahler's hopes for the reception of the work, see JBFDP, 409f.). On receiving Strauss's letter Mahler immediately sent Bronsart a score for appraisal  (2 February, see IKRS, 92): it is unlikely to have been [AF1] or ACF1 as both had been radically superseded. Equally, Mahler would have wished to retain what was then the current working score (ACF2), so it was probably AF2 that was sent to Weimar – at this stage, the fact that it had no rehearsal numbers would not have posed a problem.

This supposition is strongly supported by some pencil annotations by the same commentator, in the first movement and the finale (the last of these identifies an error which Mahler subsequently corrected):







fl 1, cl 1

d zu cis unten?


145, 148 


d zu / des in der / Harmonie / F.D.



tbn 3, vc 

falsch / F.D.

Fig. 1

These are not by either Mahler or Weidig and on the basis of the content and the initials it seems likely that the author was Felix Draeseke who prepared a detailed report on the work (for a more extended discussion of the preparations for the Weimar performance, see the notes to ACF2).

The later history of this manuscript is well documented, though not without some confusions. The main source of information is the correspondence between James Marshall Osborn (1906–76) and John C Perrin (1894–after 1969), now housed at US-NHub (OSB MSS 7, Box 59, file 1237). James Osborn was a literary scholar and cattle breeder who joined Yale as a research associate in 1938, and with his wife built up an extensive private collection of literary and musical manuscripts. In 1954 he was appointed Adviser on Seventeenth Century Manuscripts to the Yale Library, and in 1963 began to transfer the collection to the Library, where he became its first curator (and Curator Emeritus in 1972). John Perrin (whose father was an American who spent most of his working life in Europe) was the son of Jenny Feld (1866–1948), to whom Mahler gave the manuscript in the 1890s.

Although Mrs Osborn had purchased the manuscript at a Sotheby's sale in 1959, it was not until 1967 that James Osborn sent a letter to Perrin via the sale room requesting information about its history. In his reply, dated 16 January 1968, Perrin explained that in addition to relying on his own memories, he had researched the family papers in an attempt to confirm the dates and sequence of events: his letters seem to reflect a serious attempt to get things right. If some of the information about the later history of the symphony is less than accurate, his account of its earlier history needs to be considered carefully – which alas did not happen in the first article to offer an account of the manuscript and its history (JDMJ, 76ff.), and it is given short shrift by de La Grange (HLG1, 747ff.)

From 1878 Mahler had been Jenny Feld's piano teacher in Vienna, and kept in touch with her and her family by correspondence until 1888: by this time her family had returned to Budapest, and in September of that year he took up his post as Director of the Royal Opera House there. According to her son, Jenny attended the first performance of the Symphony in November 1889, and when in March 1891 Mahler left to take up his post in Hamburg, he and Justine called on the Feld family and Mahler gave Jenny ‘the original manuscript’ of the work. Prompted by the Mahler scholar Jack Diether, Osborn wrote to Perrin on 20 May 1968 to ask how the date of this gift could be reconciled with the 1893 dates on the manuscript. In his subsequent article Diether quotes from Perrin's response (in a letter to Osborn dated 17 June 1968) (JDMJ, 79):

My mother told me she returned twice the manuscript to Mahler. Once in 1893, the year he had chosen a Steinway piano for her at the Central European depot of Steinway in Hamburg. A performance of this very symphony took place that year in Hamburg, another one in 1894 at Weimar, after which he returned the manuscript to my mother. This answers the puzzle. May I add that my mother again returned the manuscript to Mahler in 1897 when he had his bitter fight with Vienna editor Weinberger, who imposed alterations. Mahler finally gave in and rewrote for editing as it is known nowadays in this new form. Among other alterations the Blumine movement was suppressed; Mahler was furious, and gave in only very reluctantly.... [In 1898] Mahler was invited to direct his Second Symphony in Liege, stayed several days with my parents in Brussels, and I understood handed the manuscript to my mother, which never left her since.

Diether questioned this story, because he believed (erroneously) that the Hamburg performance was in 1892; he also got the date of Mahler's visit to Liege wrong: Mahler conducted the Second Symphony there on 22 January 1899, did indeed expect to see Jenny Feld-Perrin during his stay there (see GMLJ, 445–6; GMLJE, 327), and appears to have had an exchange of letters with Jenny's husband shortly afterwards (GMNUB, 177). Nevertheless there are some curious aspects to the story. Weinberger's purported role in the revision of the Symphony is not supported by the documentary evidence currently available, all of which indicates that Mahler himself had grave doubts about the inclusion of Blumine and had made the decision to omit it at least two years before the work was published. Yet Perrin refers to this elsewhere in his correspondence with Osborn: it is presumably based on a mis-remembered story that cannot now be reconstructed.

The other curious element in the narrative is the idea that the manuscript was twice returned to Mahler: AF2 is clearly written on Hamburg papers, so cannot have been the 1891 gift to Jenny Feld, but it could have been the manuscript given (not returned) to her sometime after the summer 1894 performance. Which leaves at least three questions: what did Mahler give her in 1891, why did he request its return in 1893, and why did he need AF2 in 1897? There are no obvious candidates that might provide the answer to the first of these: as far as we know in 1891 Mahler had only two manuscripts of the symphony, [AF1] and ACF1 and it seems unlikely that he would have parted with either. As to the remaining questions, without additional evidence, any answers would be entirely speculative. The fact remains that Mahler clearly did give AF2 to Jenny Feld in the 1890s, they appear to have remained in contact for the rest of his life (see GMBaA, 146–47; GMBaAE, 116–17¹) and John Perrin reported that his mother visited Mahler in Paris in 1911 as he travelled home to die in Vienna.

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© 2007 Paul Banks | This page was lasted edited on 16 May 2020