A Cartoon of Mahler



Symphony No. 2

Manuscript arrangement – CT2p4


Current location uncertain




Top l.h. corner, pencil: Typendruck; r.h. corner, pencil: 98978; blue crayon: III87¹  





  [?Ink] Symphonie in C-moll / № 2 / von / Gustav Mahler. / Für zwei Claviere zu vier Händen gesetzt / von / Hermann Behn.

Below this is a 'Notiz für den Stecher' initialed  'B'.

Top right-hand corner, blue crayon [not Behn or Mahler]: 98978


  On last page: Timmendorf. / Hamburg / October/November 1895. / beendet / am 13. Nov.


  Black ink, with rehearsal numbers in red pencil (Hermann Behn); annotations by Röder staff in pencil



12 staves, no maker's mark, watermark: shield containing a decorative monogram B, with 1776 below / BREITKOPF UND HÄRTEL LEIPZIG (runs vertically across sheets), upright format, 296 x 226 (r=225). The  paper is light green.

Manuscript structure and collation


130 pages of music

Because of the tight binding it was not possible to confirm the fascicle structure







Title page



Bemerkung des Werkes¹



[Movement] I.



[At end:] Timmendorf / Juli 1895. / beendet am 26 Juli 1895



[Movement] II.

    [At end:] Timmendorf, / August 1895. / beendet am / 13 August 1895
25r–38v 47–74 [Movement] III.
    [At end:] Timmendorf, / August 1895. / beendet am 26 August 1895.
39r–40v 75–78 [Movement] IV. / Urlicht
    [At end:] Timmendorf, / d. 9 August 1895.
41r–66v 79–130 [Movement] V
    [At end:] Timmendorf, Hamburg, / October / November / 1895. / beendet / am 13. Nov.


  Acquired by Gilbert E. Kaplan; offered for sale at Sotheby's (London), 4 December 2018, lot 286 (not sold)


  Fol. 40v, 41r: Sotheby's Catalogue and website

Select Bibliography

  NKGII.2, 39; 128 (source KlA-B-Ms)



This calligraphically exquisite manuscript is bound in grey reversed calf; the title, stamped on a lozenge-shaped inset of black, gold-tooled leather on the front cover, is Symphonie in C-moll / von / Gustav Mahler / [ornamental separator] /  Hermann Behn. The sheets have been trimmed during binding. It contains instructions to the engraver and apparently served as the printer's copy: the pencil casting-off corresponds to that of the first edition, and the blue pencil annotation of the title page is probably a Röder reference number. Rehearsal numbers were added by Behn in red pencil (these correspond to those in the printed edition of the arrangement, but not to those in the published full score).

Behn had decided to attempt a two-piano transcription after the run-through of the first three movements in Hamburg in early January 1895, as recounted by J.B. Foerster (JBFDP, 407):

Doktor Behn, ein ausgezeichneter Musiker und Pianist, versprach, eine Einrichtung der Partitur zu vier Händen für zwei Klaviere versuchen zu wollen, „damit wir nicht jahrelang auf eine Wiederaufführung warten müssen.” Auch bei dieser Klavierpremiere in Behns Villa an der Alster war ich zugegen. An den Klavieren nahmen der Komponist und der Gastgeber Platz. Unter den Gästen erschien auch Bülows greise Freundin and warme Verehrerin Frau Lazarus. Sie versicherte uns beim Abschied, sie scheide als nicht weniger glühende Vereherin Gustav Mahlers.

Dr Behn, an outstanding musician and pianist, declared he wished to attempt an arrangement of the score for two pianos, four hands, 'because we must not wait a year for a repeat performance'. I was also present at this piano première at Behn's villa on the Alster. The composer and the host took their places at the piano. Von Bülow's aged friend and ardent supporter, Frau Lazarus, was among the guests. Making her farewell she assured us that she left as no less enthusiastic an admirer of Gustav Mahler.

Behn must have been working from AF2 for the last two movements (and seems to have annotated the score of the finale while doing so), but for the first three movements used ACF1 and AO (which he also annotated); in the later stages (perhaps while the arrangement was at proof stage) he must also have consulted ACF2 (not least to gain access to the final version of the opening of the scherzo.

The significance of the date at the end of the manuscript is more problematic than it might at first appear. By early September Mahler could report to Arnold Berliner that he considered it very good, and that it would be published soon (GMB, 136–7; GMSL, 165–6). This implies that at least one manuscript had been prepared and seen by Mahler by that date; if he played through the arrangement with Behn before agreeing to its publication (which seems a distinct possibility) another copy would have been required (as it would for the private performance attended by Foerster, if that was a separate event and occurred before publication). If so, the date at the end of the Kaplan copy suggests it was perhaps not what Mahler saw in late August/early September 1895: the reason why another manuscript might have been prepared in October/November when, presumably, the engraving was already under way, is unclear.

In NKGII.2 (p. 129 note 6) Renate Stark-Voit suggests that this problem would be resolved if the month in Mahler's date on his letter to Behn was not September but November (i.e. the first 9 stands for '9-bris', 'a not unusual abbreviation in those days'). One might add that this re-dating would also make sense of Mahler's comment in the letter that 'this is my first day without an evening engagement': on 12 September he conducted Siegfried, but he was not on the podium on 12 November (see BSGMOH, passim). However, Mahler was rather unreliable over dates, and, more importantly his comments later in the letter that 'nothing has yet been decided about the participation of the chorus on December 13' and that Ochs, the conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Choir was prevaricating, provides a terminus ante quem for the date of the letter: by mid October 1895 Friedrich Gernsheim had indicated that the Stern'sche Singverein (of which he was the conductor) would be happy to participate in the première, and Mahler was in contact with him to make arrangements (GMB2a, 154–6; GMSL, 16769).

For an account of the arrangement's publishing history, see also the notes on the first edition.

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