A Cartoon of Mahler



Symphony No. 1

Symphony No. 2

Das klagende Lied


Lost manuscripts


Present location, if they survive, unknown




Sepia photograph of Marion von Weber, seated, with a dog at her feet.

Fig. 1

Marion von Weber (1856–1931)




Very exceptionally on 13 July 1888 Mahler offered to loan his score (i.e. [AF1]) to Paul Limberger, but with a specific request that it should be returned by the end of August at the latest, so that a copy could be prepared (GMBVC, 75).


But why prepare it then? Until the conflict with the chief stage manager, Albert Goldberg, broke out in mid May, Mahler was not planning to leave, and when it did, Mahler tried to mend bridges (HLG1, 178–9).



Marion was born Marianne Mathilde Schwabe on 25 March 1856, in Manchester, England. Her father, Adolf Schwabe (1823–1901) was a member of a prominent German-Jewish family that was much involved in the manufacturing, philanthropic and cultural life of the city. Her family appear to have returned to Germany in the late 1860s, and Marion married Oberleutnant Alexander Eduard Carl Maria Freiherr von Weber (1849–1897) on 2 July 1877 in Berlin.



If de La Grange is correct, they became acquainted in autumn 1886 (see HLG1, 155; GMB2a, 78; GMSL, 101–2).









Select Bibliography

  HLG1, 718–9, 865–6 fn. 25; DM2, 51–4



In 1938 Paul Stefan published an article in English and Dutch that reported that Willem Mengelberg, in the company of Max von Schillings, had discovered the manuscripts of four unknown early symphonies in the Dresden home of Marion von Weber, the widow of Carl Maria von Weber's grandson (PSFMS; the Dutch version appeared in De Telegraf (7 March 1938; see also the books by de La Grange and Mitchell listed above). This tantalizing report attracted attention over the years, but inevitably this second-hand narrative had to be treated with some circumspection: it clearly related to events that had occurred some years earlier, since Baroness von Weber died in 1931 and von Schillings in 1933. It has subsequently emerged that the crucial visit took place in 1907, and was described at the time in some detail in a letter from Mengelberg to his wife dated 10 July 1907 (BHOWM, 53–7 with a partial facsimile; text and translation quoted below from WM1995, 197–9):

Toen ging ik er natuurlijk op door en toen zei ze in eens – met 'n soort verlegenheid –'von Gustav Mahler habe ich auch noch Manuscripte' – nu weer – tableau – mijnerzij ds – Ik spring op – en zeg – `wat zegt U daar – Manuscripten van Mahler?' Je begrij pt dat ik paf was – en nu ontwikkelde zich een lang gesprek over Mahler waarbij Schillings nog al dour zat to kijken –je weet dat Sch. hem niet heelemaal verstaat – de oude dame werd hoe langer hoe vriendelijker tegen me en beloofde me ten slotte mij ook die manuscripten to laten zien. Maar tegen ons beiden met 'n akelige ernst zeide ze dan: `aber bitte – Sie beide – Schillings & Sie, sind die ersten, welche diese sachen zu sehen bekommen! Ich lege viel wert darauf, Ihnen dies zu sagen, bitte dies auch Mahler zu sagen wenn Sie darüber sprechen – noch nie habe ich jemanden für würdig befunden, die Mahlerischen Manuscripte zu zeigen.'!

The conversation continued ... and all at once, she said – rather shyly – 'I also have Gustav Mahler manuscripts.' Again tableau – on my part – I sprung up and asked `Pardon me – Mahler manuscripts?' You can imagine my astonishment. We began a long conversation about Mahler – Schillings watching in silence (Sch., you know, does not quite understand him) – and as it progressed the elderly woman became increasingly friendly until at length she promised to show us these manuscripts as well. But then, deeply earnest, she continued: `but I beg you both – you and Schillings are the first to see them! I find it very important that you both know – and please tell this to Mahler when you see him – that never before have I considered anyone worthy of being shown the Mahler manuscripts.'!...


Den volgenden dag kort na 't diner kwam ze met 'n dik pak muziek – erg goed in gepakt – ze scheen erg zenuwachtig. Ze zeide mij: was wollen Sie erst sehen, sinfonie no. 1– II. oder z.b. das klagende Lied etc! Je begrijpt ik werd hoe langer hoe meer verbaasd. Ik riep dadelijk – 'Schillings – das klagende Lied müßen Sie nächstes Jahr auf dem Fest in München machen – es ist zu schön –' (Schillings kende dat heelemaal niet) en dadelijk kwam ze met de Manuscript partituur van das klagende Lied. Ik geloofde m'n oogen haast niet, toen ik dat in m'n hand kreeg, 't heele eerste deel, dat wat hij niet liet drukken, zooals hij ons destijds vertelde – en verder, zooals wij 't kennen. Zij ging in 'n hoek van de kamer zitten en zag hoe Schillings en ik, gezeten op de oude kanapee van Weber, aan de tafel van Weber, in dit heerlijke handschrift bladerden en zongen motieven etc. Toen zei ze tegen mij, `wollen Sie auch die I Sinfonie sehen'? Ik natuurlijk ja, bitte! Ze zei, er is nog een satz bij, die niet gedrukt werd! Alweer groote verbazing. Ik greep natuurlijk dadelijk naar dit deel – op den titel stond `In glücklicher Stunde'. De Barones was nu de kamer uit gegaan, waarom begreep ik later wel, ze was erg aangedaan ... Ik zei, kom, Sch. we zullen dat eens even spelen, en aan de vleugel gezeten speelden we dit droomerig schwärmerische andante 4 handig uit de orkestpartituur, tot heel onder aan de laatste bladzijde – Mahler met duidelijke letters geschreven had – An M. zum Geburtstage – von M! Nu begreep ik er meer van. Zij was zeker een echte `Jugendliebe' van hem geweest – toen hij in Leipzig Kapellmeester was (toen was Nikisch er eerste en Mahler, nog jong-tweede) woonde hij in Leipzig. Ik keek Sch. aan, hij mij, en hij zeide heel goedig – 'Wir wollen aber darüber kein Wort sprechen' – Ja – zei ik – die Musik sagt ja mehr als Worte können!

The next day, just after dinner, she came with a thick bundle of music – tidily packed – she seemed exceedingly nervous. She asked me, `What would you like to see first, the First Symphony – Second, or perhaps Das klagende Lied?'! You can imagine how my astonishment grew. `Schillings', I exclaimed, `you must do Das klagende Lied next year at the Munich festival, it is so beautiful.' (Schillings did not know the piece.) And immediately, she handed me the manuscript of das klagende Lied. I could scarcely believe my eyes when I took it in my hands, the complete first movement, which, as he had told us, he did not have printed – and the rest, as we know it. She sat in a corner of the room and watched how Schillings and I, seated on Weber's old canapé, at Weber's table, leafed through this wondrous manuscript, singing motifs, etc. Then she asked me, `Would you not also like to see the First Symphony?', and I, of course, `Yes, please!'. She said there was an additional movement that had not been printed! Once again, astonishment. Naturally, I turned immediately to this movement – on the title page stood `In glücklicher Stunde'. By now, the Baroness had left the room, I later understood why, she was very moved ... I said, `Come, Sch., let's play through it', and seated at the piano we played this dream-like, rapturous andante four-handed from the orchestral score, down to the last page – Mahler had written in bold letters `To M. for her birthday – from M!' I was beginning to understand. She must certainly have been an early `sweetheart' of his while he was the director in Leipzig (Nikisch was the principal and Mahler, still young, was the second). I looked at Sch., he at me, and then he said tactfully, `We shall say not a word of this. "Yes,' I answered, `the music says so much more than words ever could!'

If the style seems a bit self-conscious, this may simply reflect Mengelberg's sense that he was recording a momentous event. Crucially the details are plausible, as the compositions he lists – Das klagende Lied, Symphony No. 1 and Symphony No. 2 – are all works Mahler had either completed before his arrival in Leipzig, or worked on during his stay there, although, since there is no evidence that Mahler was much in touch with the Webers after his departure, the Second Symphony was presumably represented only by material relating to the first movement).

No surviving manuscripts of these works can now be be linked to Baroness von Weber's collection and the general assumption is that they were destroyed in the Allied air-raid on Dresden on 13–14 February 1945. What they were is an interesting question. Some or all may have been otherwise unrecorded manuscripts, but, while bearing that in mind, it is nevertheless possible to propose two conjectural identifications.

Mengelberg apparently looked through a manuscript of the complete, three movement version of Das klagende Lied: this was Mahler's first large-scale work to be completed so one cannot be certain that its creative evolution was that adopted by Mahler in his mature works. Fragments of short-score continuity drafts for parts II and III survive (Das klagende Lied, SS2, SS3) but no orchestral draft has come to light. The Weber manuscript could have been the latter, but it was most probably one of the two complete manuscript copies prepared in 1881 for submission by Mahler for the Beethoven prize (closing date 30 September 1881) and for a state stipendium (closing date 15 August 1881) (see RKNI). One survives (listed in this catalogue as Das klagende Lied ACF1) and was retained by Mahler and used for revisions in later years; the other ([ACF2]) has not been traced, so could have been the copy given to Marion von Weber.

Mengelberg's letter suggests that he did not actually examine the manuscript material for the Second Symphony, which would explain why he offered no clue about the nature of the document(s) in the Weber collection. However, apart from some sketches for what became the second movement (see Symphony No. 2, S2.1), Mahler's main work in 1888 was on the first movement: an orchestral draft (OD1) was completed on 8 August and a fair copy (AF1) on 10 September. Both manuscripts survive, but the dates suggest that it was not until after the completion of the First, and the composer's abrupt departure from Leipzig in late May (see HLG1, 178–80) that he did much work on the new Symphony. Since there is currently no evidence that Mahler was in contact with the Weber's after his resignation from Leipzig, it seems possible that the material relating to the Second in Marion von Weber's collection was modest, perhaps only a few early, discarded sketches.

In the case of the First Symphony Mengelberg refers specifically to an orchestral score, raising two interconnected questions: what was this score, and when was it given to the Webers? No definitive answers are possible, and it is with due caution that the following conjectural observations are offered:

If the manuscript was a gift made before Mahler's departure in late May:

  • It cannot have been [AF1], not least because for some time after his departure from Leipzig that score was Mahler's sole copy of the finalized state of the work;¹

  • It could have been a copy specially prepared for Marion von Weber: there would have been about a month (mid April-mid May) for this to have been prepared, either by Mahler or a copyist;²

  • It could have been an orchestral draft of the work: that such a working manuscript existed is hinted at by Mahler's reference, in a letter to his parents from March 1888, to his hope that he would finish the 'fair copy' ('Reinpartitur') by mid April (GMLJ, 91; GMLJE, 51).

If the gift of the manuscript was made after Mahler's departure from Leipzig, then his original fair copy ([AF1]) would be a strong candidate.

Mengelberg's letter also offers details about one movement in particular, the subsequently deleted Blumine:

  • That it was originally headed or titled 'In glücklicher Stunde';

  • That is was a 'dream-like, rapturous Andante' (the tempo marking in AF2 is Andante alegretto [sic])

  • That Mahler had inscribed the score (presumably at the end) 'To M. for her birthday – from M!'.³

This final revelation offers food for thought: the movement apparently carried a special meaning for both giver and recipient, but it was one that it had recently acquired, since the music had been composed in Kassel in 1884 as part of the incidental music to Der Trompeter von Säkkingen, i.e. at least two years before Mahler met Marion von Weber. This connection between the movement and the most significant of his early relationships probably helps to explain Mahler's striking indecision over its retention in the Symphony.

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© 2007 Paul Banks | This page was lasted edited on 23 January 2019