A Cartoon of Mahler



Symphony No. 2

Draft text, movement 5 – AL2



Fonds Henry-Louis de la Grange, Mahler ms 001


Link to a comparison of AL2, AL3 and the text as set.






Mahler posted a virtually identical announcement to his brother, Otto, the following day: see GMLJ, 391; GMLJE, 281.





  [Pencil:] Lux lucet in tenebris
  [Black ink:] Steinbach, Mittwoch, [word or date scratched out] / [brown ink:] 13. [black ink:] Juni 1894


  Ink, with pencil revisions


  Unruled, no maker's mark, upright format, 220 x 173

This is a single sheet of [?] hand-made laid paper.

Manuscript structure and collation

  1 fol.:
  1r = draft text for the finale, stanzas 1–5
  1v = stanzas 6–8


  Gift from Mahler to the daughter of the Countess Wydenbruck; purchased from her heirs; now part of the Collection de La Grange-Fleuret, Foundation de France (on deposit at the Médiatèque Musicale Mahler)


  1r: GMHOE, no. 40, pp. 42–3 (colour facsimile online at F-Pgm)
  [1r–v]: GMS2Fac, 49; GKMRC, 24; NKGII.2, 192–3

Select Bibliography

  GMHOE, pp. 42–3; HLG1F, 1027–29; FDLG, 3;  GKMRC; GMS2Fac, 62; NKGII.2, [189]195



The pencil heading, squeezed in at the top of the page, was presumably a later addition. The phrase is adapted from the Gospel according to St. John, v. 5 (Vulgate): 'et lux in tenebris lucet et tenebrae eam non conprehenderunt' ['The Light shineth in the darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not']. On 29 June Mahler used the phrase in the announcement of the completion of the composition draft of the fifth movement (GMB2a, 136; GMSL, 154–5):¹

Lieber Fritz! Melde hiemit die glückliche Ankunft eines gesunden, kräftigen, letzten Satzes der II. Vater und Kind befinden sich den Umständen angemessen; letzteres ist noch nicht außer Gefahr.

Es erhielt in der heiligen Taufe den Namen: „Lux lucet in tenebris".

Beg to report safe delivery of a strong, healthy final movement of the Second. Father and child as well as can be expected; the latter not yet out of danger.


At the christening it was given the name 'Lux lucet in tenebris'.

The dating of this draft text relative to AL3 is uncertain and contrary views have been taken by Edward R. Reilly (ERBH, 62) and, apparently, the editors of NKGII. Reilly believed that AL3 to be the earlier of the two documents, chiefly because of the absence of the crucial lines:

O Schmerz! Du Alldurchdringer!

Dir bin ich entrungen!

O Tod, du Allbezwinger!

Nun bist du bezwungen!

These are present in AL2 and the text as set, so their omission is perplexing if AL3 post-dates AL2. In a footnote (ERBH, 61, fn. 14), Reilly also suggested that 'it is most interesting that a thematic link that one finds between the song and the finale in just that passage that was added by Mahler to his text [i.e. in AL2]', which, were it the case, might also offer some slight support for J.B. Foerster's report that the decision to include Urlicht in the Symphony was a late one, made only after the work's finale had been completed. But one might respond that the reference to the music of Urlicht (b.660ff) is a setting not of the four 'missing' lines absent from AL3, but text that is present, albeit in variant forms, in both AL2 and AL3:

[Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen]

In heissem Liebesstreben

werd' ich entschweben

zum Licht, zu dem kein Aug' gedrungen!

On the wider issue of the chronological ordering of the libretto drafts, some observations can be offered in support of the alternative ordering of the drafts adopted here and in NKGII.2:

• AL2 retains a closer connection with the Mahler's original source of inspiration, by ending with a return to the opening stanza by Klopstock; AL3 drops this idea and instead uses stanza VI of AL2 as the concluding text, the solution adopted in the text as set.

• The assignment in AL3 of the third stanza to the alto (rather than the soprano, as in AL2) was adopted in the final setting.

AL3 adopts revisions made in AL2 (e.g. stanza IV, line 2)

S5.6 adopts revisions made in AL3 (e.g. stanza III, line 2)

None of these observations is decisive, and because of the unavailability of most of Mahler's composition draft [SS5] and the entire orchestral draft [OD5] the issue of the chronology of these text drafts cannot be resolved at present.

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© 2007 Paul Banks | This page was lasted edited on 17 July 2018