A Cartoon of Mahler



Symphony No. 2

Sketch, movement 5 – S5.1


Current location unknown





This may indicate the end of the passage marked to be inserted on 4r23–24.



The church was destroyed by fire on 3 July 1906 and rebuilt (reopened in 1912).



Interestingly Mahler made no reference to this moment of inspiration in his letter to his sister Justine in which he reports the events of the day (GMLJ, 382–3; GMLJE, 274–5).



For a a second hand account of Mahler's working environment that summer, by Alfred Rosé (probably based on his mother's, reminiscences) see ARFGM.






[At top of 1r, autograph, ink:] Lux lucet in tenebris!



Undated [AprilJune 1894]






24 staves, no maker's mark, no watermark recorded, upright format, 350 x 270 (r not recorded)

Manuscript structure and collation


4 folios



Heading: 1) Lux lucet in tenebris!




1 bar ≈ b. 1–3; 12 unidentified bars




7 unidentified bars; 7 bars ≈ bb. 43–47


7 bars ≈ 48–54


5 bars ≈ 55–60; 4 bars ≈ bb. 62–65




8 bars ≈ bb. 66–73







Heading: 2) F-dur


7 bars ≈ bb. 74–80




6 bars ≈ bb. 81–86




7 bars ≈ bb. 87–92




9 bars: first = GP; 5 bars (derived from first movement, b. 254ff.); three empty bars. Last 8 bars crossed out




11 bars: 9 bars (derived from the first movement, bb. 151–159); an insertion A-B (unidentified);

on 2r22–23, 2 bars ≈ bb. 143–144


6 bars ≈ bb. 143–150. At the foot note the page: vide Nächste Zeite!





Heading: 3)




7 bars ≈ bb. 151–157




7 bars ≈ bb. 158–164




8 bars ≈ bb. 165–172


2 unused bars deleted; 7 bars ≈ bb. 173–179


12 bars ≈ 180–194 (b. 189 is to be found as the first bar on 4r24)





D¹ ½Ton tiefer?


13 bars (b. 11 deleted) ≈ 325–334




10 unused bars, c.f. bb. 116–127; 1½ bars deleted




12 bars ≈ bb. 339?–351


9 bars ≈ bb. 352–360


10 bars ≈ bb. 361–370


2 bars ≈ bb. 189, 191, followed by a blank bar with C-D (an indication of an insert) written above


8 bars ≈ bb. 371–376, 381



Alma Mahler-Werfel (by inheritance); Johannes Hollnsteiner (by gift from Alma Mahler-Werfel, c. 1932); private collection (by inheritance?)



Complete black and white facsimile in FBJR

Select Bibliography


FBJR passim; NKGII.2, 27, 116 (source Sk-5)



The compositional process of this movement is poorly documented as a whole, with no short score/continuity draft or orchestral draft currently located or seen in recent years. Nevertheless the course of events can be discerned from other sources.  In an unpublished portion of her memoir of Mahler, Natalie Bauer-Lechner reported that the composer had begun to sketch ideas towards the end of his summer vacation in 1893, but had commented (NBL2, 28; HLG1, 276 (revised, with editorial underlining)):

Läst du mir die Tücke des Objects statt des 4/4 Taktes, den ich zum vierten Satz brauche, jetzt lauter 3/4 Takte einfallen, mit denen ich nichts zu tun anfangen kann!

Things have a nasty will of their own. Instead of ideas in 4/4, which I need for the fourth movement, I now have only ideas in 3/4 time, with which I can do nothing!

So the early sketches from the late summer of 1893 may not have played a significant role in the completed movement. The crucial event in the evolution of the last movement was the funeral of Hans von Bülow at the Michaeliskirche in Hamburg² on 29 March 1894. As Mahler recounted in a letter to Arthur Seidl on 17 February 1897, the 'problem' of the finale was resolved (GMB 229; GMSL, 212):³

Ich trug mich damals lange Zeit schon mit dem Gedanken, zum letzten Satz den Chor herbei-zuziehen und nur die Sorge, man möchte dies als äußerliche Nachahmung Beethovens empfinden, ließ mich immer und immer wieder zögern! Zu dieser Zeit starb Bülow und ich wohnte seiner Totenfeier hier bei. – Die Stimmung, in der ich dasaß und des Heimgegangenen gedachte, war so recht im Geiste des Werkes, das ich damals mit mir herumtrug. – Da intonierte der Chor von der Orgel den Klopstock-Choral „Auferstehn"! – Wie ein Blitz traf mich dies und alles stand ganz klar und deutlich vor meiner Seele! Auf diesen Blitz wartet der Schaffende...,

I had long contemplated bringing in the choir in the last movement, and only the fear that it would be taken as a formal imitation of Beethoven made me hesitate again and again. Then Bülow died and I went to the memorial service [actually the funeral]. — The mood in which I sat and pondered on the departed was utterly in the spirit of what I was working on at the time.— Then the choir, up in the organ loft, intoning Klopstock's Resurrection chorale. —It flashed on me like lightening, and everything became plain and clear in my mind! It was the flash that all creative artists wait for....

This account confirms the memoirs of one of Mahler's Hamburg friends, J.B. Foerster, who was at the service and noted also the impact of the sound of the church bells, another sonic event embedded in the peroration of Mahler's Symphony. In the afternoon he visited Mahler in his apartment (JBFDP, 405):

Ich öffne die Tür und sehe ihn am Schreibtisch sitzen, das haupt ist gesenkt, die Hand hält die Feder über Notenpapier. Noch stehe ich in der Türe. Mahler wendet sich um und sagt: „Liebe Freunde, ich hab's!” ... Klopstocks Gedicht, das wir am Vormittag aus Kindermünden vernommen haben, wird die Unterlage für den Schlußsatz der Zweiten Symphonie sein.

I opened the door, and saw him sitting at the writing desk, head bent, hand holding pen over manuscript paper. I remained standing at the door. Mahler turned and said: 'Dear friend, I've got it!'...Klopstock's poem which we heard this morning in the mouths of children, will be the basis of the finale of the Second Symphony.

So it appears that Mahler may have made some sketches that day, and if so, they may survive (see S5.4). However, not least because of his very busy conducting schedule, it is very unlikely that very much more work was undertaken before the summer vacation in Steinbach am Attersee. Mahler travelled there from Weimar (where he had conducted his First Symphony) on 6 June 1894; on 29 June he sent a postcard to Friedrich Löhr to 'Beg to report safe delivery of a strong, healthy last movement to my Second' (GMB 100–1; GMSL, 154–5; Mahler posted a virtually identical note to his brother Otto on 30 June (GMLJ, 391; GMLJE, 281). What exactly had been completed becomes clearer from a later letter of 10 July, addressed to Arnold Berliner (GMB 133–4; GMSL, 155):

Ich bin natürlich mitten im Arbeiten. Der 5. Satz ist grandios und schließt mit einem Chorgesang dessen Dichtung von mir herrührt...Die Skizzierung ist bis in die kleinste Einzelheit vollendet und eben bin ich daran, die Partitur auszuführen.

I am of course hard at work. The fifth movement is grandiose, concluding with a chorus for which I have written the words myself ... The sketch is complete down to the last detail and I am just completing the score.

From this it is clear that Mahler was working in the way that was to be the norm in future years: having prepared a sketch – probably a continuity draft in short score format, with detailed indications of instrumentation (= [SS5]) – he was working on an orchestral draft of the movement (= [OD5]). The latter may have been completed by 19 July, when Mahler reported the completion of the Symphony in a letter to Strauss (GMRSB, 40; GMRSBE, 38);  it was certainly finished by 25 July when Mahler wrote to Berliner (GMB 135; GMSL, 157), specifically referring to completion of the 'score' which must be a reference to the orchestral draft. The fair copy (AF2) would not be completed until December 1894.

One further detail of the Berliner letter deserves comment: the unqualified reference to 'the fifth movement'. This seems to  imply that Berliner would already have known that four – including, therefore, Urlicht – had already been completed/incorporated. Indeed, the evidence of the orchestral draft (OD2) of what was eventually the second movement, but which in July 1893 was labelled '4. Satz', indicates that the decision about Urlicht had been taken rather earlier, in the summer of 1893. Mahler's comment to Seidl, that he had long contemplated bringing in the choir perhaps needs to be read in this context: a movement for solo voice and orchestra would form an appropriate bridge. On the other hand, the title page of the 1893 orchestral draft of the song makes its numerical position (no. 7) within the growing Des Knaben Wunderhorn collection unambiguously clear, and Mahler's reference in 1893, quoted above, to his attempts to sketch the 'fourth movement',  leaves the question of the date of the song's definitive incorporation into the Symphony unresolved. 

Having completed the orchestral draft of the finale, Mahler left on 26 July 1894 for a brief trip to Bayreuth (until 4 August), before a last few days in Steinbach. He returned to Hamburg via Vienna (see GMB 101; GMSL, 157), Munich and Berlin, where he met the concert agent, Hermann Wolff, with whom he eventually arranged the first complete performance, in December 1895 (GMLJ, 394; GMLJE 284). On 31 August he played the new Symphony to J.B. Foerster – presumably from his orchestral drafts, and either the full score or vocal score of Urlicht – and was able to report Foerster's enthusiastic response to Justine (GMLJ, 395; GMLJE 285).

A number of sketches survive for the later stages of the finale (see S5.2–5.6), but the recently uncovered sheets described here shed light on the evolution of that part of the finale about which least was known, the opening. Although at first glance the fourth sheet seems not to be a continuation of the first three, it may be the page referred to in a note at the foot of page 2: the 17-bar passage that stands in place of what are bars 97–141 in the final version, are deleted, and at the end of the cut Mahler writes an insert sign and A—B and writes at the foot of the page Vide Nachste Seite!. On the other hand the later stages of page 4 are such that it is difficult to envisage how the material could have eventually linked with bb. 142ff.

The two passages (on pp. 1 and 2) that are substantially different from the final version inevitably raise some interesting issues of musical content and structure. The first has very little musical substance at all, and was replaced by a restatement of the 'cry of disgust' from the scherzo and a prefiguration of material that become important at the very end (e.g. at b. 696ff.). The second made direct reference to material from the first movement – b. 254ff. – which was later replaced by new material that was to be memorably developed later in the structure of the movement.

S5.1 has not been examined and this description is based on the published account (FBJR) and the facsimile published therein.

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© 2007 Paul Banks | This page was lasted edited on 16 May 2020