A Cartoon of Mahler



Symphony No. 2

Copyists' orchestral parts – [CO]


Location unknown






NKGII.2, 39, 129 (source [St-KA2]) offers no suggestions about the process by which the set used at the première was produced. The hypothesis cautiously offered here is also reflected in the provisional stemmatic diagram.






  Movements 1–3: ?July 1894–4 January 1895
  Movements 4–5: ?August–December 1895

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  NKGII.2, 39, 129 (source [St-KA2])



This set of orchestral parts, used by Mahler and others for early partial and complete performances of the work, has not been located and probably no longer exists. Nevertheless quite a lot of its history and content can be uncovered.

Precisely when Strauss offered to include the first three movements of the Second Symphony in one of his spring Philharmonic Concerts in Berlin is not clear, not least because there is a gap of five months in the sequence of Mahler's letters to Strauss between August and December 1894. At this time Mahler had a busy conducting schedule at the Hamburg Stadttheater, was also conducting a concert series in Hamburg and completing the preparation of the fair copy of the Second Symphony (AF2). In his letter to Strauss of 19 July 1894 (GMRSB, 39–40; GMRSBE, 37–8) Mahler announced the completion of the work (it seems unlikely that the partial performance would have been discussed before that date), but by 4 January 1895 he could report that the orchestral parts for the three movements were finished (GMRSB, 41; GMRSBE, 38), and were to be used in a run-through in Hamburg the following week; although it is not mentioned, the copy of the score of the first three movements (ACF1) must also have been ready by this date. On 27 January Mahler reported that the run-through had taken place, and that the material for the Symphony was ready (GMRSB, 42; GMRSBE, 39). At this stage it was expected that the performance would take place on 18 February, but Mahler had to ask for a postponement, as he was due to conduct a subscription concert in Hamburg (Martner No. 59; BSGMOH, 331–2).

In the absence of [CO] there is no direct way to infer which score – AF2 or CF2 (as it then was) – was the source used as the copy text for the parts. However there is evidence that PO1 was engraved from [CO] so a detailed collation of the first three movements in AF, the original layer of ACF1 and PO1 might offer significant clues. A cursory examination suggests that (as one would suspect on practical and economic grounds) once plans for the first complete performance were under way, the parts copied in 1894 and subsequently revised in connection with the partial premiere, were simply expanded by the addition of the fourth and fifth movements to provide a complete set.¹

The account given by J.B. Foerster of the preliminary run-through, in Hamburg in early January 1895, contains some fascinating details of the revision process (JBFDP, 406–7; for the complete description of the event, see the notes to ACF1):

Mahler erschien mit dem Orchestermitglied Weidich [recte: Weidig], einem älteren Herrn, der die Aufgabe hatte, die von Mahler während der Probe bezeichneten Abänderungen und Ergänzungen vorzumerken. Unser Zuhörerkreis vernahm zuerst nur kurze Bruchstücke der Musik, denn Mahler unterbracht das Spiel immer wieder durch seine Bemerkungen: „Weidlich, das Violoncello unisono mit dem Fagott – die Oboen streichen – Flöten verdoppeln – die Harmonie in die Posaunen.”

Weidichs Vormerkbuch war bald vollgeschrieben. Manche Abänderungen und die dynamische Details wurden gleich an Ort und Stelle in die Partiturstimmen eingetragen, das Übrige wurde in der Pause berichtigt. Nach dieser Vorbereitung spielte das Orchester Satz um Satz ohne Unterbrechung durch und belohnte zum Schluß den Komponisten mit herzlichem Applaus.

Mahler appeared with a member of the orchestra, Weidich [recte: Weidig], an old man whose task it was to record the revisions and additions specified by Mahler during the rehearsal. At first our group of listeners heard only short fragments of music, as Mahler constantly interrupted the playing with his comments: Weidlich, the cello in unison with the bassoon – delete the oboes – double the flutes – the harmony in the trombones.

Weidich's notebook was soon full. Many alterations and details of dynamics were entered into the parts there and then, and the rest were corrected during the interval. After this preparation the orchestra played through movement by movement without interruption and at the end awarded the composer enthusiastic applause.

So both ACF1 and and the original three-movement state of [CO] contained a layer of revisions and corrections before they were used for the rehearsals in Berlin for the concert in March 1895, though how accurately the score and parts were collated is a matter for conjecture. A further layer of revisions may have been added by Mahler during rehearsals and after the March performance of the first three movements; again the thoroughness of any collation of score and parts is open to speculation.

Sometime in the spring or summer of 1895 Mahler started planning the first complete performance of the work at his own expense. In August, on his way back to Hamburg, he passed through Berlin and had discussions with the concert agent Hermann Wolff about the project (HLG1, 327, 332), and while there was told by Hermann Behn that he and Wilhelm Berkhan would pay for the performance (GMLJ, 503; GMLJE, 369). The nature and extent of this support is not clear, but in is his annotations in his copy for the full score, Mengelberg noted that Behn had paid for the printing costs of the parts: since Mahler's other comments seem to have been concerned with preparations for the first performance, one might wonder whether he was referring to the copying of the orchestral parts, and/or the production of chorus material (lithographed copies from writing). Whichever costs this financial support defrayed, as late as 10 September matters were still undecided (GMB, 141; GMSL, 167), but it seems very likely that despite this, the production of a complete copyist's score and performing material was begun rather earlier, chorus material being a priority. The last two movements were presumably added to the original orchestral parts during the late summer/autumn of 1895, Between the autumn of 1895 and the appearance of the printed parts (perhaps in 1898/9 or as late as 1903), the resulting set of manuscript parts was the only orchestral material available.

The interrelationships between the various sources is graphically summarized in a provisional stemma.

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© 2007 Paul Banks | This page was lasted edited on 05 March 2019