A Cartoon of Mahler



Symphony No. 2

Fourth movement, manuscript piano-vocal score – CV


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For a discussion of these texts and their relevance to the Symphony, see the separate essay Urllcht - the unsung text. The unsung text was omitted from all later printings of the piano and voice arrangement.


It was not included in the autograph score of Mahler's 1893 orchestration (Des Knaben Wunderhorn No. 12, AF)






[Hermann Behn, black ink:] Urlicht. / Gedicht aus „Des Knaben Wunderhorn‟. / Für eine Altstimme mit Orchesterbegleitung / (als IV. Satz der Symphonie № 2. in C-moll) componirt von Gustav Mahler / Für Gesang mit Clavierbegleitung gesetzt von / Hermann Behn.


Heading on 1v (Hermann Behn): Urlicht. / Aus „Des Knaben Wunderhorn‟. / IV. Satz der Symphonie № 2. in C-moll) / von Gustav Mahler.



[October–November 1895]



Black ink (Hermann Behn); with pencil annotations by Röder staff.



12 staves grouped for notation in four systems of three staves each (not bracketed), light green paper, no maker's mark, watermark: shield containing a decorative monogram B, with 1776 below, upright format, 286 x 215 (r=228). The  paper is light green.

Manuscript structure and collation


1 bifolio





  1r tp Behn has used empty spaces to provide alternative readings of bb. 15–17, 18–20 and 32–35: see the notes below.
1v 1–45  
2r 46–68  
2v Blank  



Acquired by Gilbert Kaplan, together with the manuscript of Behn's two-piano arrangement of the complete Second Symphony; both manuscripts were offered for sale at Sotheby's (London) on 4 December 2018, lot 286 (not sold).



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As the title page makes clear, this piano-vocal score was arranged from the full score and prepared for publication by Hermann Behn and is a topic to which Mahler alludes in a letter to Behn which can be dated to mid-October 1895 (GMUB, 24–5; GMUBE, 26–7 (revised below)):

Schnell in aller Kürze, daß ich für den 13. Dez. d. Stern-Gesangsverein und als Solisten die Götze (Berlin) und Artner (Hamburg) gewonnen habe. – Ich muß der G. sofort das Urlicht schicken, und bitte Dich, mir durch Eilboten (nicht Nachts auszutragen) meinen Clavierauszug, den ich Dur kürzlich durch deine liebe Frau gesandt, zuzuschicken. – Bezüglich des Separatdrucks bitte ich Dich, in Erwägung zu ziehen, daß mein „Clavierauszug‟ eigentlich die ursprüngliche Abfassung der Composition [ist], noch, ehe ich wüßte, daß ich es instrumentieren und der Symphonie einfügen werde.

Just to tell you quickly that I've manage to get the Stern choral society with Götze (Berlin) and Artner (Hamburg) as soloists for 13th  Dec. I must send G. the Urlicht immediately; please return by express (but not to be delivered at night) my piano score which I sent to you recently via your dear wife. Re the separate publication, please bear in mind that my 'piano score' is the original draft of the piece, before I knew that I would orchestrate it and include it in the Symphony.

....Laß doch die Correcturbögen an mich einsenden, damit ich Dir daran vorarbeiten kann. –

Have the proofs sent to me, so that I can do preparatory work on them for you.

Now that the autograph of Behn's arrangement has come to light, the significance of Mahler's reference to his piano and voice manuscript ([AV]) becomes clearer: he had presumably sent that autograph to Behn in case it was useful in the preparation of the publication of a printed piano-vocal score, but wished to encourage Behn to work from the symphonic version of the song when making the arrangement. This appears to have been the case: Behn did not notate the first 35 bars on fol. 1v, but indicates that the accompaniment is to be taken mostly from p. 75 of his manuscript of the two-piano arrangement (where the accompaniment is provided by piano I only), with the exception of three short passages, simplified versions of which are notated on the title page of the manuscript (see above). Whether Mahler saw Behn's manuscript before it was sent to Röder is uncertain, but it bears no annotations by him. However, it seems to have been used as a printer's copy and the casting-off corresponds to that of that first edition (PV1); moreover, Mahler expected to see the proofs along with those of Behn's two-piano arrangement of the whole symphony. Clearly Mahler approved of the published arrangement, but the main work on it was undertaken by Behn.

There is one notable feature of PV1 that is absent from Behn's manuscript, the additional, unsung text printed beneath bb. 3–13 of the accompaniment:

Stern und Blume!

Geist und Kleid!

Lieb' und Leid!

Zeit! Ewigkeit!

This is based on a fragment that acts as a verbal leitmotive in Clemens Brentano's late MärchenGockel, Hinkel, Gackeleia (1837) that had its origins in a 'Katholisches Kirchenlied' first printed in 1638.¹ One can only speculate about the role of this additional text in the creative and publishing history of Urlicht. The simplest explanations would be that it was not included in Mahler's manuscript of the piano-vocal version ([AV]);² or that, even if it was, Behn followed Mahler's advice and prepared his arrangement on the basis of the autograph full score (AF), and therefore omitted the text. If either of these scenarios is correct, the text must have been added before the manuscript was sent to Röder for engraving, or at proof stage, presumably by Mahler himself.

The document is undated, but was probably prepared in the period October–early November 1895. Publication of PV1 was announced in the December 1895 issue of Hofmeister's Monatsbericht.

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