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Full text of "Gustav Mahler : a study of his personality and work"










Presented to the 


Estate of 
Robert A. Fenn 


A Study of His Personality and tf^ork 














BERLIN, Summer of 1912. 


The present translation was undertaken by the writer some 
two years ago, on the appearance of the first German edition. 
Oskar Fried had made known to us in Berlin the overwhelming 
beauty of Mahler's music, and it was intended that the book 
should pave the way for Mahler in England. From his 
appearance there, we hoped that his genius as man and musi- 
cian would be recognised, and also that his example would put 
an end to the intolerable existing chaos in reproductive music- 
making, wherein every quack may succeed who is unscrupulous 
enough and wealthy enough to hold out until he becomes 
"popular." The English musician's prayer was: "God pre- 
serve Mozart and Beethoven until the right man comes," 
and this man would have been Mahler. 

Then came Mahler's death with such appalling suddenness 
for our youthful enthusiasm. Since that tragedy, "young" 
musicians suddenly find themselves a generation older, if 
only for the reason that the responsibility of continuing Mah- 
ler's ideals now rests upon their shoulders in dead earnest. 
The work, in England and elsewhere, will now fall to others. 
Progress will be slow at first, but the way is clear and there 
are those who are strong enough to walk in Mahler's footsteps. 

The future of Mahler's compositions is as certain as that his 
ideals will live; and it is perhaps they that concern the musical 
public most. In Germany their greatness is scarcely dis- 
puted to-day amongst musicians. Goethe distinguishes two 
kinds of music, that which aims at external perfection of 
texture, and that which strives to satisfy intelligence, sensi- 
bility and perception; and he adds that "without question, the 


union of these two characters does and must take place in the 
greatest works of the greatest masters." The opinion is 
irresistibly gaining ground that in modern music the two com- 
posers who have attained this limit of perfection are Beethoven 
and Mahler. 

It is therefore in the highest degree agreeable to the writer 
that this translation, in its present extended form, appear with 
a purpose worthy of it; not merely as a work of propaganda 
for a musician, however great, but as an extremely valuable 
psychological essay on Mahler's music as a whole, and as a 
history (in the best sense of the word) of some of the most heroic 
deeds that have been performed during the development of 
modern art. It tells, in short, ''what manner of man" 
Mahler was. 

The book has been specially revised for the present issue 
and many additions have been made since the appearance 
of the fourth German edition the most important being 
concerning the Ninth Symphony, which was first heard in 
Vienna in June last, i. e., since the latest German edition was 

Notes have been added in a few cases where certain names 
might be unfamiliar to those not versed in the more "tenden- 
tial" aspects of German artistic life. 

Lastly, may I be allowed here to thank my friend Dr. Paul 
Stefan for permission to translate his admirable work, and for 
the valuable intercourse with him the translating of it has 
procured me. 


In September, 1911, this book went its way for the second 
time the first time since Mahler's death. 

I wrote, "he is dead." But my book referred to the living 
man, and I never thought it would so soon be otherwise. It 
has done its work for the living Mahler. Must it hardly a 
year later "appraise" his now completed work? 

It is called "appraisal," and this is demanding something I 
cannot do measuring and weighing up. For I know I should 
say little that would be different. The past time is too near 
and sticks too fast in our remembrance. And for the moment 

I do not wish merely to patch up So I have only 

added an account of the last year of his life. Faults and omis- 
sions remain. 

This third time I was clearer and more composed. I 
renewed, improved and completed as well as I could. But the 
nature of the book remains unchanged. The many things 
that still are to be said, and that perhaps will soon be to say, 
about Mahler as man and artist, demand a new and larger 
work. The limits of this study are clear. It is still not 
critical, but the loud call of an enthusiast to enthusiasts. 
Many have followed it. So I call once again. In the name of 
one who will for all time awaken enthusiasm. 

February the 12th, 1912. 





Translator's Preface v 

Foreword vii 


The Man, the Artist, and His Art 1 
Work and Race 8 
Childhood, Early Youth 11 
Apprenticeship 20 
Prague and Leipzig 25 
Pesth. For the First Time Director 32 
Hamburg. The Summer Composer. First Performances 35 
The Master. Vienna Court Opera. Later Works and Per- 
formances 42 


Mahler's Lyrics 79 

Mahler's Symphonies 92 

First Symphony (D major) 96 

Second Symphony (C minor) 98 

Third Symphony (D minor) 101 

Fourth Symphony (G major) 103 

Fifth Symphony (C-sharp minor) 107 

Sixth Symphony (A minor) 108 

Seventh Symphony (B minor) 109 

Eighth Symphony (.E-flat major) 110 

The Last Stage and Last Works 114 

Das Lied von der Erde 121 

Ninth Symphony (D major) 124 



I. The Works of Gustav Mahler 129 

II. A Few Books about Mahler 131 



From Meister Raro's, Florestan's and Eusebius's Notebook 
of Things and Thoughts : 

"Intelligence errs, but not sensibility." 

Let no one expect to find in this book a "Biography," as was 
prophesied during Mahler's lifetime by some in a friendly 
spirit, by many in mockery. As the work took form, Mahler 
stood in the zenith of his power, but also in the zenith of his 
right: the right neither to limit nor to divide himself in his 
intentions, his right not to be trammeled by "consistencies." 
His life was not one that obtruded itself on others, rather one 
that strove towards a given goal; a modest and hidden life, 
like that of the old masters of our art, a matter-of-fact life, as 
has been well said, a life in the world versus the world. And 
even to-day, now that it has ended, we still think of it as his 
contemporaries. We have not yet outgrown this feeling, and 
the figure of the man Mahler still vibrates in our memory, so 
that no calm for viewing and reviewing has come to us. What 
if it never should come? To survey calmly a volcano! Or, 
'at any rate, not at once. One thing is certain, calmness is for 
the present not our affair. Our aim is simply to retain for a 
moment the last flaming reflection of this life, and my book 
may be called a biography only inasmuch as in describing that of 
Gustav Mahler it strikes sparks of life itself. It will often 
speak in images, for this is the only way we have of speaking 
about music, itself an image of presentiments and secrets 



beyond the bounds of temporality. May these images be 
such as become comprehensible where Mahler's will controls 
and Mahler's works are heard. And then, when they are no 
longer needed, and the true sense of the works is revealed; 
when a few have seized their real meaning then the veil will 
be drawn aside, and the goal reached; then words about a 
man's life will not have been wasted disquisitions on art- 
matters are only too often a hindrance and a waste of time; 
then, life itself will have spoken, and no greater satisfaction 
can be given the mediator between the genius and those who 
wish to approach him. 

This book strives little for the "Lob des hohen Verstandes" 
(the "praise of lofty intellect"); for the "dispassionate" 
judge it will have collected too few "data" and too little 
"information," though the author was far from despising the 
labour of the investigator, and the search for and exami- 
nation of whatever friendly assistance and books could offer. 
(His thanks are due to all who have given him assistance by 
opening the treasures of their recollection, and it would be 
immodest not to acknowledge the services rendered to subse- 
quent efforts more especially by Richard Specht, 3 and also by 
Ernst Otto Nodnagel 2 and Ludwig Schiedermair, 1 in their 
books and essays; to say nothing of the innumerable and ad- 
mirable articles dispersed in magazines and newspapers, which 
were accessible only in part. The stream was for the most 
part none too full, and many statements examined proved 
worthless. I have had little regard for such externalities as 
formed no real part of Mahler's activity, nor have I taken 
pride in my discoveries or personal knowledge, but rather in 
preserving and ordering actual experiences. To seek for 
details of Mahler's life and works is to consider the subject 
superficially. Sympathy, emotion and enthusiasm are every- 
thing. Enthusiasm! That is the magic word that describes 

1 2 3 The reference-number refers here, and in the following cases, to the corre- 
sponding book in the Bibliography. 


the phenomenon, Gustav Mahler. Enthusiasm was his 
motive power, and may enthusiasm move every one who 
approaches him. He would have been understood, so far as 
it is possible to understand him at this time, had people 
noticed this extraordinary part of his nature, this perpetual 
maximum strain which perpetually struck sparks and flame 
from each object it touched. 

He was not understood, at any rate as long as he lived; he 
was scarcely known, people scarcely sought to know him. 
Celebrated he was amongst those who worked with him at his 
art, or who spoke and wrote about it ; to many he appeared as 
a transient flame seizing some one here and there as in a 
whirlwind, terrifying and then leaving him dazed an experi- 
ence of price only to the fewest. 

The excuse may perhaps be offered that the man of genius 
never is recognised in his own day, that he forces his way to the 
front only after the bitterest struggles, and that this non- 
recognition is rooted in the very nature of genius. Schopen- 
hauer says: "Merely talented men find their time always ripe 
for them; the genius, on the contrary, comes upon his time 
like a comet upon the planetary system, with whose regular 
and fixed order its eccentric path has nothing in common. 
He cannot, therefore, intervene in the existing, steady-going 
cultural movement of his day, but throws his works far for- 
wards out into the path that lies before him (as the Imperator, 
having dedicated himself to death, hurls his spear against the 
enemy), which his time has then to overtake." And he 
points to the words of St. John's Gospel: "My time has not 
yet come; but your time [meaning the merely talented] is 
always ready." However well this fits, however vividly the 
case of Wagner lives in our recollection and all that has been 
said against Mahler pales in comparison with the blasphemies 
against Wagner (Wilhelm Tappert's " Wagner- Lexicon " has 
collected them alphabetically) I still do not wish to apply 
this natural law of genius in Mahler's case. In a period of 


ferment and agitation, with a mania for innovation, which after 
all has, on the whole, drawn the moral from the Wagner perse- 
cution, we must look deeper for the reason. At least, the 
question must be changed to this: While others are, if not 
understood, at any rate exalted and proclaimed, why is nothing 
said about Mahler? Why are people better informed about 
Richard Strauss, Pfitzner, Reger? Why was not and still is 
not Mahler pointed out as the man he is? 

This question seems to me important; to my mind, if there 
be a " problematical" Mahler, the problem lies here. I shall, 
therefore, attempt to elucidate it more carefully. 

Georg Gohler, 7 the conductor of the Leipzig Riedel-Verein, 
says that it is the lack of imagination of our day which 
estranges it from an artist so richly gifted with imagination as 
Mahler. That is a fragment of comprehension; but we must 
have the whole. What our time lacks is not so much imagina- 
tion as the courage to be imaginative, courage to open its arms 
towards life, thought and poetry, and to realise the long 
dreamed-of unity of life and art. We are the slaves of tech- 
nique. We can, in fact, fly; but in truth we cannot soar aloft. 
Novalis and his disciples still possessed this faculty. Our 
inward vision, our God-given certainty of belief in the exalta- 
tion of the ideal world over that of appearance, have become 
paralysed; we are lost in a delirium of facts. Purity, original- 
ity, naturalness and perfection are beyond our reach. We no 
longer believe in the reality of fairy tales and here are some 
almost within our grasp. They approach us, but only create 
discord in us. Our time itself is incapable of naturalness; 
does it not overlook and disregard him who is natural in spite 
of it, who sings folk-songs, recreates the "Wunderhorn" and 
finally flout him with its surly " recognition" of "ability"? 
It is not capable of understanding strength of will, of respecting 
ceaseless work, or of esteeming the search for truth and perfec- 
tion higher than success for it acknowledges only success. 
And then comes a man who, both as creative and reproductive 


artist, strives indefatigably after the object he has in view, 
who steps backward only in order to spring the further forward, 
one who never pauses, who follows the inspiration of each mo- 
ment and who, out of the inmost fire of his spirit, out of the 
strength of a saintly nature, succeeds perpetually in reaching 
the highest perfection what thanks could our time have for 
such a man? Its senses are still blunted, it has no compre- 
hension for the rhythm of a new life, it still sees in this life (the 
sluggish blood of the Too-many never yet succeeded in attain- 
ing to life) only sin and lamentation, hurry and restlessness. 
At best it seeks hastily and superficially to conform itself to it, 
oftenest in the end condemning it as superficial. And there- 
fore our "men of culture," those who " acknowledge " our time, 
"make an end as quickly as possible of everything, works of 
art, beautiful natural objects, and the really universally valu- 
able view of life in all its scenes." 

Thus Schopenhauer, our principal witness. And further 
(from the same chapter of his masterwork): "But he (the 
ordinary man, Nature's manufactured goods) does not stay." 
When he has "finished with" the intruder, he thinks no more of 
the matter that would be to force him to give reasons for his 
frivolous position. And thus certain persons have succeeded 
in throwing suspicion upon the "apparent" and "manufac- 
tured" naivete of the composer and to condemn the artist's 
"restless," "hypercritical," "capricious" manner as sham. 
Thus they justified their indifference. Instead of asking 
whether they themselves were unprejudiced enough naively to 
consider naive greatness, they accused the giver of trifling, of 
artificiality and insincerity. No, they were not to be deceived. 
For that is the dread of private ignorance (and public opinion), 
that some day it may be found out ; and they forget that tenfold 
exaggeration is not so bad as a single failure to appreciate. 
The ruling spirit is not one of furtherance and hospitable 
sympathy; at every corner stands the schoolmaster, the hair- 
splitter, the professor of infallibility. 


Had the educated, or that last degeneration of swollen 
pride and cleverness, the "good musicians," been capable of 
observation, of imagining naturalness and of listening naturally, 
it would have been easier for them to recognise Mahler's 
greatness; they would have remembered many similar figures 
in the history of our intellectual development, and the path 
would have been prepared for him. Or, who can enjoy the 
stories of the Fioretti enjoy them so that he can believe them? 
For instance, that wherein St. Francis visited the priest of 
Rieti, and the people came in such crowds to see him that the 
priest's vineyard was completely destroyed; and how the priest 
then regretted having received St. Francis, who, however, 
begged him to leave the vineyard open to the crowd. And, 
when that was done, how the vineyard yielded more in that 
year than ever before. Or the story of the contract the Saint 
made with the wolf of Gobbio that ravished the land, and that 
now agreed to keep the peace if food were allowed it, which 
agreement was kept until its death. Or that of Brother 
Masseo, to whom the light of God had appeared, and who now 
rejoiced continually like a dove ("in forma et con suono di 
colomba obtuso, u ! u ! u ! ") . Or the legend of Brother Juniper, 
one of the first ioculatores Domini, who gave to the poor the 
whole belongings of the monastery and the treasure of the 
church, even to the altar bells. 

These are symbols; but Gustav Mahler's music sings of such 
men, of such animals, of such delight in nature on the hill of 
La Vernia. 

And in order that the night-aspect of his being may not lack 
a prelude, more than that of the day: how many know E. T. 
A. Hoffmann? Hoffmann the musician had a premonition of 
the coming centuries; the comrade and exerciser of Kapell- 
meister Kreisler exhausted the daemonic possibilities of his 

Kreisler's resurrection on the plane of earthly life is Gustav 
Mahler. "The wildest, most frightful things are to your 


taste. ... I had the ^Eolian harp. ... set up, and the storm 
played upon it like a splendid harmonist. In the roar and 
rush of the hurricane, through the crash of the thunder, 
sounded the tones of the gigantic organ. Quicker and quicker 
followed the mighty chords. . . . Half an hour later all was 
over. The moon appeared from behind the clouds. The 
night wind sighed soothingly through the terrified forest and 
dried the tears on the darkling bushes. Now and again the 
harp could still be heard, like dull, distant bells." 

This, too, is only a symbol ; but the counterpart of this storm 
resounds in Gustav Mahler. 

The sunny Saint of Umbria, and the northern ghost-scorner 
and ghost-fleer! The notes are pressed, overtones sound at the 
same time and leave their secret mark. But there are other 
paths leading to Mahler, which few have ever followed: The 
folk-tune and its simple meaning; wanderers and minstrels; 
the musician Weber, whom people praise but do riot perform; 
the dreamer Schumann; the conductor and philosopher 
Richard Wagner; the venerable figure of Anton Bruckner; all 
of whom went their way, the one too early, the other too late. 
Not as though a real connection were here found or sought. 
But he to whom Mahler is a part of experience builds himself 
bridges to his experience. He is willing to belong to Mahler, 
and has strengthened the grace of good-will in himself. The 
phenomenon Mahler must be valued according to its ethos, 
just like Mahler's music. Its characteristic is goodness. 
Bettina von Arnim begins her " Correspondence " : " This book 
is for the good, and not for the wicked." And he who would 
enter this world of Mahler's must ask himself whether he is 
capable of receiving goodness. More than this is not necessary. 

Here speaks one to whom Mahler had become a part of expe- 
rience slowly and gradually; first the conductor; then the 
stage-director; then the composer, formerly admired respect- 
fully from a distance. He wishes to give again the living 
Mahler, not weighing nor limiting, but, standing in the shadow 


of this great genius, with enthusiasm rather than with ifs and 
buts. As though the creator of the divinest joys were an 
" object" for discussion. 

"Intelligence errs, but not sensibility." 


A few of the easy-going and prejudiced, in order to oppose 
Mahler's art and significance, have called this art Jewish; 
naturally in the most disagreeable sense of the word. During 
Mahler's lifetime this book purposely ignored them. To-day 
it will no longer keep silence. 

Gustav Mahler was born of Jewish parents, and is, therefore, 
in every-day parlance, a Jew according to race. Now, many 
scientists are of the opinion that a Jewish race does not exist, 
but only two races, a blond and a dark-skinned, which are 
quite different species and must be differently valued. But, 
even assuming that this notion should go out of fashion again, 
that a Jewish race really subsists and that a Fritz Mauthner is 
" anthropologically related" to an old-clothes dealer in Polish- 
Russia: what in the world has that to do with intellectual 
matters, with art and, in particular, with music? 

On the contrary, I do not dream of passing over the life- 
question of a million of people with a few words, or of talking the 
usual nonsense about the Jewish question. And it makes no 
difference if people on one side or the other are offended, so 
long as knowledge comes of it. 

Far be it from me to deny the influence of race upon the 
development of a culture: I was enough attacked when I 
emphasized Germanic influence in the nature and art of 
Umbria. But this agens is for me, as for all whose starting- 
point is mind and not matter (that is, who are not materialists), 
once again but a spiritual element: the idea of race. The 
mind builds for itself the body, and only the mind builds up the 


mind. The numerous Germanic individuals, who worked in 
Umbria (to remain by the same example) , were living members 
of a people, a nation, a culture. And they could thus as living 
elements reproduce life of their own kind. The descendants 
of a Jewish family, living who knows how long together with 
German and Slav peasants and citizens, however closely they 
may be penned together with other Jewish families, cannot 
weaken our life in active constitutive strength, in far-reaching 
energy, such as his parents' house transmitted to him German 
culture. Neither language, nation, nor community binds him 
to the people of his forefathers (the " confession" may be left 
out of consideration); no idea of race is living in him. The 
Jewish element in him is a residue, physically provable, 
intellectually negligible. Such a man must first acquire his 
spiritual nature. He may be called rootless. But it is not 
permissible to count the dead roots and to despise them. 

Frankly, the destiny of the individual must decide whether 
he is able to acquire a spiritual nature, whether he can open 
the gates of an artistic community. Many cease to be Jews 
because rudimentary organs have died out, few become mem- 
bers of the people surrounding them. That presumes a be- 
stowing, welling nature, one that can accept and render again; 
an adaptation and reproduction in kingdom and possession, 
which is, like all things spiritual, riot everybody's affair, but 
that of the anointed. 

And such was the case of Gustav Mahler. Grown from 
earliest youth in the succession of Beethoven and Wagner 
(also of the philosopher Wagner who sought for the regenera- 
tion, renascence of the Jews in particular and mankind in 
general), a pupil of Goethe, Schopenhauer and the German 
romantic school; then he goes the way of German music, 
which leads most surely to the heart of Germanism. Bruckner 
stands at the commencement, and the German folk-song bears 
him further. When he finds voice for poetry, it is, and in a 
most superficial period, like a presentiment of the Wunderhorn, 


which the young man does not even know. And then he 
announces Death, Judgment and Resurrection in a no less 
Christian sense than that of the old masters of painting: the 
Second Symphony permits the expression that was used in an 
earlier issue of this book, that he, amongst the great artists, 
is the " Christian of our day." Again and again his works 
move in Christian-pantheistic and in national-German paths. 
Where a leading-thought grows with him, it is the proud 
Idea of the German philosophers. Most distinctly and most 
beautifully in his Eighth Symphony, which begins, though 
without a trace of ecclesiasticism, in the freest interpretation, 
with an old hymnical call upon the Holy Spirit, and allows it, 
the spirit of love, with the profound words of the second part 
of Faust, to conquer every remaining trace of earthly desire. 
He who wishes to characterise the great works of this great 
life, from the earliest popular lyrics to the renascence of 
symphonic art, can do so only through the development of 
German music: it proceeds germ within germ, from German 
music, and it will increase its glory and fructifying power. 

That other glory of German music, that of reproduction, 
Gustav Mahler was one of the first to help to create; here 
again a pupil of Richard Wagner. The seriousness, the sin- 
cerity, the ceaseless striving after perfection that blazed in 
him that is German, if German after Wagner means doing 
a thing for its own sake. What he has given the German theatre 
is history. Subverting and maintaining, he was a furtherer of 
the best that German masters have left behind and willed. 
"The genius of Gustav Mahler," said Gerhardt Haupt- 
mann, 7 a visionary German poet and man, "is representative 
in the sense of the great traditions of German music. . . . 
He has the demoniacal nature and the ardent morality of the 
German intellect, the only nobility that still can prove his 
truly divine origin." 

Richard Wagner's writings upon Jewry in Music will be 
opposed to what I say, and all that he wrote when aged, em- 


bittered, almost alone and conditioned by his time, against 
musicians of Jewish descent. We must understand him 
rightly! What Wagner wanted, although often exaggerating 
for the sake of example, was to censure the superficiality of 
Mendelssohn, the self-sufficiency and applause-cringing of 
Meyerbeer, but not because they were Jews; simply because 
superficiality and the rest were things that irritated him all 
his life long. He told also non-Jewish singers, conductors and 
composers what he thought of them. If he projected what 
he hated upon Jewry, it need not astonish us in a time of the 
birth of capitalism, in the awakening years of the emancipation 
of the Jews, during the mastery and opposition of an insuffer- 
able pseudo-intellectualism, and feuilletonistish trash, such 
as we can hardly imagine to-day. But he entrusted Parsifal, 
which is to be understood only through Christianity, to 
Hermann Levi. 

To-day there may be many musicians of Jewish descent, 
but there is no Jewish music. So long as it is not possible to 
prove anything positive or negative, anything common (good 
or bad) to the works and activity of these musicians, so long 
as any really "Jewish" peculiarities are not seriously to be 
found (but seriously, and not in jest or out of hatred), so long 
will Gustav Mahler's significance belong to those amongst 
whom the most intelligent foreigners have long since placed it : 
in the succession of the great German geniuses. 


Gustav Mahler came from an unpretentious village. It 
is called Kalischt, and lies in Bohemia near the Moravian 
border and the town of Iglau. That he was just a native of 
the Royal Province Bohemia was later of importance for him, 
as it was the Society for the Furtherance of German Science 
and Art in Bohemia that brought about the publication of its 
countryman's first symphonies. Mahler was born in Kalischt 


on the 7th of July, 1860; this at any rate is the date one usually 
reads and hears. It is, however, not certain. Mahler's 
parents, as he himself said, kept the 1st of July as his birthday, 
and the papers are lost. His parents, shopkeepers only fairly 
well to do, but zealous in matters of culture, soon moved over 
to Iglau. The child was quiet, shy, reserved: they would 
gladly have seen it livelier. Liveliness, however, came too 
with the comprehension of music. Musical impressions were 
decisive even at this early age. Moravian servants, both 
Germans and Slavs, sing willingly and well. Melancholy 
songs accompany getting up and going to bed. The bugles 
ring out from the barracks. The regimental band marches 
past. And the tiny youngster sings each and every tune after 
them. At the age of four, some one buys him a concertina, and 
now he plays them himself, especially the military marches. 
These latter have so much attraction for him that one morning, 
hastily dressed, he hurries away after the soldiers, and gives 
the marketwomen who come to fetch him a regular concert 
on his instrument. When six years old he discovers at his 
grandfather's an old piano, and nothing can induce him to 
leave it, not even the call to meals. At eight, he has a pupil in 
piano-playing, aged seven, at a cent a lesson. But, owing to 
the inattention of the learner, the teacher loses his temper and 
the instruction has to be broken off. 

Only one thing even distantly approaches his passion for 
music the reading mania. So addicted is the boy to it that 
often the whole day long he is nowhere to be found. He also 
makes frequent use of the town's musical library. 

He attends the Grammar School at Iglau, and for a short 
time also that of Prague. Teachers and companions notice 
from time to time a certain indifference not inattention, but 
simply a forgetfulness of his surroundings, distinctly to be 
remarked under musical impressions. Once he whistles 
during school hours a long note to himself, and awakes thereby 
to the effect, not a little astonished. 


The family seems to have had no doubt as to what the boy's 
profession would be in view of his obvious talent, although a 
sacrifice would have to be made to allow him the necessary time 
for study, and there were other children to be considered. 
Perhaps the prudent father even had objections; Prof. Julius 
Epstein of the Vienna Conservatoire says that he had. At 
any rate, a young man of 15 came one day in 1875 to Ep- 
stein's house with his father, who asked the Professor to decide 
as to his talent, and at the same time as to the further course 
of his studies. Not very willingly, but still struck by a re- 
markable look in the boy's face, Epstein invited the young 
unknown to play something, either of his own or otherwise. 
And after only a few minutes He told the father: "He is a 
born musician"; and answered all objections with, "In this 
case I am certainly not mistaken." 

Thus "Gustav Mahler from Iglau, aged 15," became in the 
autumn of 1875 a pupil in the Conservatoire at Vienna. The 
Director of the Institute was "Old Hellmesberger," a legendary 
figure in Vienna. An excellent artist of the traditional type, 
but also one of those "good Viennese musicians" of the old 
stamp, who for the young and impetuous, and for rising talents, 
were dangerous people, and not in the least pioneers. It will 
be remembered that about this time Hugo Wolf was expelled 
from the Conservatoire for "breach of discipline." Mahler, 
too, once conducted himself "insubordinately," and the same 
punishment was not so far distant for him. However this 
may be, he made rapid progress. The Annual Report of the 
Conservatoire for the year 1875-76 shows that he skipped the 
preparatory class to enter the first finishing class for piano of 
Prof. Epstein. In addition, he studied harmony with Robert 
Fuchs, and at the same time (and not in accord with the 
curriculum) composition with Theodore Krenn. He probably 
entered the last-named course on the strength of compositions 
submitted for examination. He entered the competition in 
piano-playing and composition at the end of the year, and 


in both cases won the first prize; in the former for his perform- 
ance of the first movement of Schubert's A-minor Sonata 
[which?], in the latter for the first movement of a piano- 
quintette. The report of the following year shows that Mah- 
ler attended the second finishing class in piano-playing, the 
second year of the course in composition, and the first year of 
that in counterpoint. As a matter of fact, we find his name 
amongst Epstein's and Krenn's pupils, but it is missing from 
the counterpoint class. It is said that Hellmesberger "let 
him off" counterpoint because his compositions showed so 
much knowledge and skill, and that Mahler even regretted it 
later. But how he mastered counterpoint is best shown in 
his symphonies. 

In the pianoforte competition of this year (Humoreske of 
Schumann) Mahler again won the first prize. He had not 
entered for the composition prize. 

In the third and last year, 1877-78, he is entered as composi- 
tion pupil in Krenn's Third Class. He also heard lectures 
on the history of music, but again his name does not appear. 
At the "final production," on July llth, 1878, the Scherzo of a 
piano-quintette of Mahler's was performed, the composer 
himself playing the piano-part. Then he left the Institute 
with the diploma that is given when the pupil passes his prin- 
cipal course with remarkable skill, and the secondary ones with 
at least sufficient success, and having won a prize at the final 

Simultaneously with his work at the Conservatoire, which 
was probably no great strain on him, Mahler completed the 
study of the final Grammar School course, passed his examina- 
tions at Iglau, and inscribed himself as auditor of the philo- 
sophical and historical lectures at the Vienna University. He 
heard, however, only a few of them, and his astounding know- 
ledge was gained later according to his own plan. The pocket- 
money he received from home was increased by what he 
earned by giving lessons in pianoforte-playing. 


Amongst his teachers at the Conservatoire, Epstein and 
Fuchs bear distinguished names. Epstein proudly calls him- 
self Mahler's teacher, and tells how he from the first had a 
preference for this somewhat unruly and inspirational rather 
than hard-working pupil. We may also trust his kindness to 
have overlooked much that others do not usually pardon in 
enthusiastic youth. Krenn, who is already dead, was (accord- 
ing to Decsey's description) " hardworking, taciturn and dry"; 
and Hugo Wolf, who was also his pupil from the autumn of 
1875, could certainly not have felt comfortable with him. 
There is no information of how the Conservatoire influenced 
Mahler. Years later the Institute, as " Royal Academy of 
Music and the Plastic Arts," was fundamentally renewed, and 
came under government control, and then, although only as an 
honorary member, Mahler was given a place on the Board of 

Amongst the teachers, the absence of one is noticeable whose 
pupil Mahler is often stated to have been Anton Bruckner. 
If the annual reports are to be trusted, it appears that Mahler 
was not Bruckner's pupil. But in fact, for this period, they 
are not all too trustworthy; and Mahler himself has repeatedly 
given the same assurance. The explanation is perhaps to be 
found in the counterpoint class that he missed. Besides, he 
was not Bruckner's private pupil. At the University (Pub- 
lica) he probably did hear Bruckner's lectures, but we can 
scarcely infer from this that their relations were those of 
Master and Pupil, especially as Bruckner showed himself 
there quite otherwise than at the Conservatoire. He nearly 
always came with Mahler into the lecture-room, and the two 
left it together. Bruckner, in his relation to Mahler, may 
be well called (in Guido Adler's words) his adopted "father-in- 
learning." We may even speak of friendship, although the 
Bruckner legend throws no light upon the matter. Bruckner 
always spoke of Mahler with the greatest respect as his 
editor, Theodor Rattig, amongst others, affirms often met 


him, and played him various compositions of his, old and new. 
When Mahler had visited him at his house, the far elder 
Bruckner insisted upon conducting the young man down the 
four flights of stairs, hat in hand. 

And Mahler? It is not generally known that he made one 
of the first piano-duet arrangements of Bruckner's symphonies. 
This arrangement of the Third Symphony that dedicated to 
Wagner, with the trumpet-theme was probably published in 
1878 by the firm of Bosendorfer & Rattig (now Schlesinger- 
Lienau) . It was made after the new edition of the score, which 
was rewritten in 1876-77, the third and final form being com- 
pleted only in 1889. Mahler's piano score follows the orches- 
tral one exactly, and attempts to keep the various parts in the 
characteristic pitch of the instruments, even at the expense of 
not being easily playable. 

During his later wanderings from place to place Mahler had 
little opportunity for a Bruckner propaganda. In Prague and 
Hamburg, however, where he had concerts to conduct, he 
began it at once. As conductor of the Philharmonic Concerts 
in Vienna, he gave the first performances of Bruckner's Fifth 
(composed 1878!) and Sixth (composed 1881!) at these con- 
certs. This was Mahler's way of expressing admiration. And 
when the Viennese made an appeal for contributions for a 
Bruckner Memorial, and the Director of the Opera was asked 
to sign the petition, he refused and said to the orchestra: "Let 
us play his music instead. Amongst people who would hear 
nothing of Bruckner whilst he was alive, and stood in his way, 
is no place for me." 

Mahler composed much during these years of apprentice- 
ship. In addition to his prize work, which was composed 
literally overnight, there was a violin sonata which enjoyed a 
certain celebrity amongst his friends. Also a "Northern" 
symphony is said to have existed, and some of the early lyrics 
date from this period. An opera, The Argonauts, was written 
in alliterative verse and its composition partly executed. 


"Das klagende Lied," the only youthful work that Mahler 
acknowledges (and that in a revised edition), was also to have 
been an opera. 

At this period he also laid the foundations of the proud 
edifice of his general knowledge. He became acquainted with 
the philosophers, especially Kant and Schopenhauer; later 
Fechner, Lotze and Helmholtz were added. In Nietzsche he 
admired the hymnic vein. Philosophy, in particular the 
boundaries that touch the natural sciences, always attracted 
him; how attentively, for instance, he recently followed the 
researches of Reinke, to whom he was led, as to Fechner, by 
his religious instinct. Goethe, Schiller and the Romantic 
School were already his precious possessions, his favourites 
being E. T. A. Hoffmann and Jean Paul, especially the latter's 
"Titan." History, biology and psychology held his attention 
always. As psychologist and poet, Dostoieffsky was for 
Mahler a discovery. 

His fiery manner of speech, his lightning-like readiness of 
mind, his daemonic force of perception and absolutely amazing 
power of clearing up any situation with one word were re- 
marked even then. Friends he met willingly and often. The 
chief of these were Guido Adler, now professor of the History 
of Music at the Vienna University; Rudolf Krzyzanowsky, 
who died as Hofkapellmeister at Weimar only a few weeks 
later than Mahler; the writer Heinrich Krzyzanowsky, 
Rudolf's brother; the archeologist Fritz Lohr, and his since 
deceased brother; and a musician of genius, Hans Rott, who 
died unrecognised and in want on the very threshold of his 
career. Hugo Wolf must then have been Mahler's friend, 
according to his own account, even if the two perhaps more 
respected than understood one another. Precisely this man, 
rough and difficult to handle, Mahler showed his kindness to. 
He was hardly Director of the Opera when Wolf's wish to 
have free entry was fulfilled, and the Corregidor was accepted 
for performance. Even if it remained for some time unper- 


formed, that only shows that for Mahler duty as he understood 
it was of more weight than a service of friendship his duty, 
because he was convinced of the slender stage-effect of the 
beautiful opera, an opinion which proved only too well founded. 

Still another friend must be named, whom I did not care to 
mention during his lifetime, so great was his timidity and retire- 
ment after a wonderful beginning. Siegfried Lipiner is known 
to all who have read Nietzsche's letter to Rohde (II, No. 196 
of the year 1877) : "Just recently I had a real holy-day with 
Lipiner's 'Prometheus Unbound.' If this poet be not a man 
of genius, I no longer know what genius is. Everything in 
it is wonderful, and I seemed to meet my own exalted and 
deified self in it. I bow my head low before the man who 
can imagine and produce such a work as this." 

This man died on December 30th, 1911, after a long illness, 
as Regierungsrat and Librarian of the Houses of Parliament in 
Vienna. With few exceptions this was all the papers knew of 
him; they scarcely even knew of his translation of Mickiewicz. 
I recall him here to speak of Mahler's affection for him. He 
constantly returned to this youthful friendship. 

However intimate Mahler's relations with these friends of 
his youth were, he was equally generous with his assistance to 
strangers, when once convinced of their merit. But a long and 
bitter time of suffering was now destined to be his own lot, in 
spite of certain outward good fortune. 

Their rallying-point in those days was the Wagner Society, 
and there the Master's cause was upheld in word and deed. 
It is not known how far Mahler took part in the struggles of 
that wonderful period; he was often enough looked upon as a 
fanatic, because, no doubt owing to Wagner's writings about 
Regeneration, he was at that time both an abstainer and a 
vegetarian. But that he understood Wagner as perhaps 
none before him, his stage-direction proved to all the world, and 
the history of the German theatre will long keep it in mind. 

The young artist gave the best of himself at the piano. 


All who heard it speak of his playing with veneration. At 
the Conservatoire they said that a pianist of exceptional gifts 
was latent in him, one of those who might enter the lists with 
Rubinstein and Liszt. But it was on account of the spirit, 
not of mere technique. The enormous will-power, the genius 
that exhausts every possibility of the music, broke out in the 
pianist's spirit, as later in the conductor's power. The whole 
dread of the mystical abyss enveloped his Beethoven, and 
Mahler's friends have never again heard the last sonatas 
played in such fashion. He fled to Beethoven out of the sordid 
atmosphere of the theatre to Beethoven and to Bach. And, 
however much he was plagued with performances and re- 
hearsals, he was always ready for chamber music the more 
the better. The true musician's joy in music-making enticed 
him, and his perpetually re-creating, ever-imparting en- 
thusiasm lavishly poured out his gifts. 

He seems to have visited the theatre only seldom, and it is 
right to say that he became acquainted with most of the operas 
he conducted later only as their conductor. This was quite in 
keeping with his contempt for tradition, which as a rule only 
gives and takes mistakes, and neither attains nor even strives 
after perfection. 

The holiday months of the summer he spent in this and the 
following years at home with his parents. The landscape 
round Iglau is tame, and almost without beauty. It is no 
tragic landscape, rather one that dreams in the rear of trage- 
dies, giving cheer and comfort. Its melancholy is subdued by 
its charm: gentle slopes awaken longing; wanderers fare onward, 
songs resound. Mahler has much to thank this neighborhood 
for; its voice is heard in all his early symphonies. He took 
the man of the soil seriously. Once he meets a shepherd and 
his flock what may such a man's thoughts be? Somebody 
replies: About the next market-day. But Mahler becomes 
angry: The shepherd lives with nature, he dreams and 
broods; he surely has ideas of his own 


His kindly sympathetic and divinatory nature brought him 
near to animals. He understood much of their language, 
and could pass hours playing with dogs. In the same way, he 
was devoted to children, which have the candid seriousness of 
animals. How many things in his works are for children and 
for childish genius alone! And it must have been remarked 
how children understood him. In the preliminary rehearsals 
for the Eighth Symphony, at Munich, the cordial relations of 
the children's chorus to him provided many an empirical con- 
firmation of that which an observer who follows the inner 
nature must already have known. 

In this time of his youth everything was foreshadowed that 
Mahler's character was to produce. Again and again it 
throws its light upon his whole later life. In the blossom are 
the fruit and the magic of the blossom. And one cannot stay 
long enough in the spring. 


The agreeable life of Vienna might have been continued- 
only externalities were concerned and Mahler would probably 
have been led to his own creative work outside the traffic of the 
theatre sooner and (perhaps) more permanently. At the 
same time, we to-day, and especially we in Vienna, will surely 
not regret that things turned out otherwise, and that the 
young man of hardly twenty went head over heels into an 
apprenticeship to the trade of conducting. Rattig says he 
persuaded him, as he saw its necessity, to pay a visit to the 
inevitable Agent. And Mahler was offered an " engagement" 
at Hall, in Austria, then not even Hall Spa. The enthusiastic 
disciple of Wagner and friend of Bruckner and a summer 
theatre! His parents and a few others opposed; but Prof. 
Epstein advised Mahler to accept, in order to make a start 
somewhere. "You will soon find other places," he said con- 


So Mahler went at the age of 19 and conducted operettas, 
farces and stage music in Hall at a salary of $12.50 a month 
and a " gratification " of about 17 cents per performance. 
Whether he sought supporters in or out of the theatre is not 
known; anyhow, he had them. For he was always of such a 
striking and winning manner that he awakened enthusiasm 
even in earliest youth, and the same continued until the end. 
The Vienna "Mahler-clique," which was formerly so insulted 
and ridiculed, came into existence in no other manner. When 
genius calls, there are always some who must follow and that 
others neither must, can, nor will, is self-explanatory. 

But in autumn the great doings at Hall came to an end, and 
nothing similar was to be found. ' The alternative was Vienna, 
piano-lessons, and composition. Not till the season of 1881-82 
do we find Mahler again in the theatre, this time at Laibach 
and apparently in a very limited sphere of action. It is 
related that in Martha the conductor once had to whistle the 
"Last rose of summer." But this misery passed, too, and in 
the winter of 1882 he again remained in Vienna and worked at 
the composition of a fairy opera, Rubezahl. It was not com- 
pleted or published, but Mahler's friends say that it was of 
much importance in his development. The bright humour, 
and the dark, biting, perverse style a la Callot which we know 
from the lyrical and symphonic works, existed already in 
Rilbezahl. Especially a March of Suitors is remembered 
as accompanied by music in the maddest of moods. Just 
then it was at the beginning of 1883 the first conductor of 
the theatre at Olmiitz died, and Mahler was called upon to 
take his place. To-day, Olmiitz counts as a better-class 
provincial theatre; but at that time things must have been in 
a sad way. Mahler felt outraged ("profaned"), and at once 
set to work to get Mozart and Wagner intrigued out of the 
repertoire, so as not to shame the music. He then conducted 
hardly anything but Meyerbeer and Verdi, also Joseph in 
Egypt, and finally the first appearance in Olmiitz of Carmen 


but with what scorn in his heart! When he wanted to drag his 
people with him, and saw the indifference which at most 
turned the smile at the " idealist" and his enthusiasm into a 
grin, it was for him like harnessing a winged steed to a plough. 
At times they did do something for the poor idealist the 
word is in theatre language an insult but that was only out of 
pity for his feelings. Mahler wrote at that time to a friend: 
"Only the feeling that I must stand it for the sake of my Mas- 
ters, and perhaps even do sometimes strike a spark of their 
fire from the hearts of these wretched people, steels my 

Perhaps things were not really so black as they appeared to 
the idealism of the impetuous young man. And even to-day 
some people in Olmiitz still have a warm recollection of the 
Kapellmeister of their theatre. 

One day, however, Mahler heard that a second conductor's 
post was vacant at Cassel and, having borrowed money for 
his fare, went to see about the place. His presence was a 
recommendation, and he was engaged with the title of " Royal 
Director of Music." He laboured for two years at this theatre, 
and amongst the larger operas that he conducted were Der 
Freischutz, Hans Heiling, Robert the Devil, and the Ratten- 
fdnger. Angelo Neumann's statement, that in Cassel Mahler 
was given only Lortzing to conduct, is an error; but at any 
rate he did not get the " classics." Between Olmtitz and 
Cassel there lie a short season of activity as chorus-conductor 
of an Italian stagione at the Carl Theatre in Vienna and a 
pilgrimage to Bayreuth. There the perfection of the perform- 
ances was an inspiration to him after so much ignominy, and 
he was shaken to the roots of his being by Parsifal. He 
said the greatest and saddest of all things had appeared to 
him, and he would have to carry it with him through life. 
After Bayreuth, he also visited Wunsiedel and the landscape 
of Jean Paul. 

In the years 1883 and 1884 fall the "Lieder eines fahrenden 


Gesellen." The First Symphony, which depends for its 
themes upon two of them, was also begun about this time. 

In the service of the theatre, he wrote music to some living 
pictures representing Scheffel's Trumpeter of Sakkingen, 
which was composed in two days, and, besides amusing Mahler 
immensely, had great success. The living pictures with the 
music were also produced in Mannheim, Wiesbaden and 

But his theatre pleased him less and less. He could not 
attain to the great works he was burning to conduct. Then 
came differences of opinion with the Intendant, which at once 
(perhaps as Mahler stubbornly refused to conduct a parody on 
Tannhauser) were stamped as an infraction of Prussian "subor- 
dination." On account of such audacity, he was viewed by 
the theatre-folk with pity and aversion. With the orchestra, 
too, he was too severe in the rehearsals, which often lasted 
eight hours. The worst came, however, when Mahler, who 
was already conductor of a chorus in the neighbouring town of 
Miinden, was chosen by several choral societies as conductor 
of a musical Festival in the summer of 1885. His superior, the 
first conductor at the opera, must have felt hurt, and the In- 
tendant even demanded that Mahler should decline. Even 
before .this, Mahler had written to Angelo Neumann, the 
future director of the German Theatre at Prague. This 
typical letter was published in the "Prager Tageblatt" of 
March 5th, 1898. It' reads: 

CASSEL, 3rd December, 1884. 
Dear Sir, 

I herewith take the liberty of introducing myself to you. I am 
second conductor at the theatre here, and conduct Robert the Devil, 
Hans Heiling, Freischutz, Rattenf anger, etc. You will be able 
without any great difficulty to obtain particulars as to my capabilities 
from here, or from stage-manager Uberhorst of the Dresden Opera, 
who knows me well. I desire to change my position as soon as 
possible, chiefly because I need more and better work, and unfor- 


tunately here, as second conductor, I cannot find any that corre- 
sponds with what I am capable of. Can you make use of a young 
and energetic conductor who I must evidently sing my own praises 
has knowledge and routine at his disposal, and who is not without 
the power of breathing fire and enthusiasm into works of art, and 
also into the artists taking part? I shall be brief, and not take up 
more of your time. Kindly let me have your reply as soon as pos- 

Yours faithfully, 

Cassel, Wolfsschlucht 13, Third Floor. 

Neumann asked Mahler to apply again as soon as the news 
that he was definitely entrusted with the direction in Prague 
had appeared in the papers. "I do not know even to-day 
how it was that the form and content of this letter made such 
an impression upon me, and made me send a hopeful reply to 
the Cassel choral conductor, as I was inundated with other 
applications, especially for the post of conductor." 

In April, 1885, Mahler handed in his resignation. It was 
accepted. In July he was engaged for a month's trial at the 
Stadttheater in Leipzig, and with enthusiasm he devoted the 
remainder of the summer to preparing the Musical Festival. 
During the quarrel he was obliged to come secretly and under 
all kinds of difficulties to the various societies in the district. 
But, in the end, everything " went." On June 29th and 30th, 
and July 1st, the Festival took place. The soloists were Frau 
Papier-Paumgartner, Bulss from Dresden, the pianist Reise- 
nauer, the violinist Halir; the conductors being Herr Freiburg, 
Director of Music at Marburg, and Mahler. There were four 
choruses from Cassel, Marburg, Mtinden and Nordhausen, 
and an orchestra 80 strong. The programme consisted of a 
symphony concert, a chamber music concert, and a performance 
of Mendelssohn's "St. Paul." It was the last-named concert 
that Mahler conducted, and with such success that the depart- 
ing conductor became quite a local hero. He left Cassel, 
honoured with laurel wreaths and many valuable presents. 


The trial month at Leipzig also ended with Mahler's engage- 
ment for the season of 1886-87. Already at the end of the 
summer of 1885 Mahler began his activities in Prague, where 
in the meantime Angelo Neumann had taken over the direction 
of the Landestheater. 


When Angelo Neumann took over his theatre on August 1st, 
1885, it was in a rather unsettled state. But in a very short 
time he was able to awaken the theatrical inclination of the 
people of Prague. His first conductor and musical adviser was 
Anton Seidl, who soon took a long leave of absence, however, 
and went to America, where he remained. 

Seidl conducted the first performance under Neumann's 
direction : Lohengrin. In the rehearsals, where everything was 
probably much more carefully studied than in the smaller 
theatres that Mahler knew, the young conductor was trans- 
ported with delight. Neumann and Seidl then decided as a 
trial to entrust Mahler with the performance on the Emperor's 
birthday Cherubini's Water-Carrier. The study and per- 
formance of the work went so well that Mahler was at once 
definitely engaged for the whole season, and given Rheingold 
and Valkyrie to prepare, both then entering for the first time 
into the repertoire of the Prague theatre. What a joy for the 
Master's disciple to be able at last to shape these works for him. 
But, before they were ready, he was given Don Giovanni, be- 
cause the elderly conductor Slansky, who had been for 25 
years in Prague, did not care about taking up this work again, 
"which they had never been able to make anything of in 
Prague" must we recall that Don Giovanni was composed for 
Prague? What a new joy for Mahler! and it was a splendid 
evening. If this wonder in tones had meanwhile suffered neg- 
lect in the town where it was first performed, it was now, 
thanks to Mahler's enthusiasm, reinstated amongst the su- 


preme musical delights. The Dresden musical critic Ludwig 
Hartmann, who was present at the performance, could still 
revel in recollections of it years afterwards. Later, it was 
Brahms who recognised Mahler's commanding ability after 
hearing his production of the work in Pesth; and Biilow was 
transported with that in Hamburg. And, most recently, the 
unforgettable Mozart Festival in Vienna showed that Mahler 
had ever had a quite special standpoint in relation to Don 
Giovanni. His glowing love for art enflamed the people of 
Prague. Then came the Master singers, Rheingold, Valkyrie, 
Fidelia, Iphigenia, and Nessler's Trumpeter] But the great 
works now regularly fall to his share. 

At a Sunday concert in the theatre Beethoven's Ninth 
Symphony was conducted by the youthful Karl Muck. This 
concert, in which Mahler directed the Liebesmahl scene from 
Parsifal, had great success, and the Deutscher Schulpfennig- 
Verein made arrangements with the Director for a repetition 
of the works for the benefit of the Society on the following 
Sunday, February 21st, 1886. Mahler had this time to con- 
duct the whole concert, as Muck had left the Choral Sym- 
phony with the rest. There was hardly a week, " therefore''' 
only one rehearsal with orchestra and chorus, but Mahler was 
still able to have a separate rehearsal of the recitative with 
'celli and basses. Then he conducted the performance with 
real terribilta and by heart. The effect was indescribable. 
Mahler received an address of thanks (as Guido Adler, then 
professor in Prague, relates), upon which were inscribed the 
most distinguished names of German Prague and many pro- 
fessors at the University. It recalled his striving for the 
German masters for Mozart, Beethoven and Wagner. 

The critic Dr. Richard Batke was present at a later rehearsal 
of the Ninth Symphony in Prague in 1898, and I have to thank 
him for a score in which Mahler's directions to the orchestra 
are placed opposite the remarks of Wagner. It is wonderful to 
see how Mahler's words translate Wagner's intentions into 


technical language with extraordinary terseness and exacti- 
tude. There is as yet no reference to the more recent retinting 
of the instrumentation. 

In a letter to the Prague newspapers Neumann con- 
gratulated his conductor and expressed the hope that his 
career, the Prague portion of which was now completed, might 
everywhere be so rich in honours. This letter was at the same 
time a reconciliation between Neumann and his conductor, 
who, unbending as he was, did not always conform literally to 
his director's regulations. 

There is also record in the following weeks of a performance 
of Cosi fan tutte, and of a concert in April for the benefit of the 
Society for supporting German law-students. In the latter 
Mahler conducted (by heart) Mozart's G-minor Symphony, 
the Scherzo of Bruckner's Third Symphony, and Wagner's 
"Kaisermarsch." Fraulein Franck of the Prague Theatre 
sang some songs, amongst which were a few of Mahler's. 
One of them, "Hans und Crete," had to be repeated. This 
was probably the first public performance of works by Mahler. 

In the summer of 1886 Mahler had to go to Leipzig in pur- 
suance of his engagement. But Prague still counts him as its 
own. The Bohemian composers are indebted to him, if only 
for what he did for Smetana. And at the first performance of 
his Seventh Symphony this honour belongs to Prague- 
German and Bohemian musicians were united both in orchestra 
and auditorium. 

Mahler's activities in Leipzig in reality only nominally as 
second conductor extended over two years from the summer 
of 1886. Since 1882 Stagemann had been director of the 
Stadttheater. He was a tireless worker, and therefore favour- 
able to Mahler. The Stadttheater gave many operas, and 
had a very large repertoire which required for its maintenance 
numerous and strenuous rehearsals. For instance, in March, 
1888, there were eleven operatic performances in which eleven 
different works were given: Gotterddmmerung, Flying Dutch- 


man, Lohengrin, FreiscMtz, Euryanthe, Three Pintos, Hans 
Heiling, Merry Wives, Robert the Devil, Fidelia and Mignon. 
In the season of 1887-88, 214 performances of 54 different operas 
were given, of which five were new and seven newly studied. 
Forty-eight evenings were devoted to Wagner. To celebrate 
Weber's hundredth birthday, all his operas were given in a 
"cycle." Later, when under Mahler Siegfried and Gotter- 
dammerung were taken into the repertoire, a cycle of Wagner's 
operas was given. Nikisch was the first conductor; but he, 
when Mahler came to Leipzig, was thinking of other positions 
to be had, and so counted for only half. Moreover, he once 
was ill for six months, so that during this entire half-year the 
full musical responsibility rested upon Mahler's shoulders. 
During this time he often stayed all day from morning until 
late at night in the theatre. He did not lack recognition; his 
relations with Nikisch only improved; and though he resigned 
his position in May, 1888, he did so because he still wanted to 
be "first" somewhere or other. In Leipzig, Mahler conducted 
nearly all the great works in the repertoire, and also, in a 
concert, scenes from Parsifal, in which the Leipzig Riedel- 
Verein and the Teachers' Choral Society took part. 

Dr. Max Steinitzer ' tells in his witty fashion all sorts of ex- 
traordinary things that happened in the Leipzig period: 
"Young Mahler represented 'man as expression' amongst the 
many for whom man exists only as 'form.' He had the best will 
in the world to remain polite, but his look, when anybody said 
anything silly or ordinary which was perhaps quite good enough 
for the requirements of the moment, was only too eloquent. 
Before he remembered himself and got his features back again 
into the mould of conventional courtesy, everybody had read 
from them what he really thought Having full recog- 
nition for seriousness of aim, he was a warm friend of Karl 
Perron, an interested helper of Paul Kniipfer, and an admirer 
of Josephine Artner's intuitive abilities. That was towards the 
end of the eighties in Leipzig; and later, when I read in the 


Viennese papers about Mahler's absolutism, despotism and 
even satanism, I of ten used to smile and think of the humorous, 
always readily sympathetic and uniform kindliness which 
characterized his attitude in private life towards us musicians. 

"True, he so detested pretension, dilettantism, coquetry 
with art, that his opinion was instantly noticeable, however 
'correct' he might remain in outward form. The precision 
of expression at every moment which characterised his whole 
being showed itself most interestingly and agreeably in his 
conducting. It was an event in our lives when he took the 
first four bars of the Third Leonore Overture in a continual 
ritenuto: thus, in the simplest fashion, each one of the descend- 
ing octaves became an element 'of tragic import, until finally 
low F sharp lay in majestic and rigid repose, like the waters 
over which moved the spirit of God. In Don Giovanni he 
began the terzet with the dying Commandant in a fairly rapid 
tempo and, taking it gradually slower and slower, reached 
such a tremendous climax that the last few bars became an 
adagio of most impressive effect. He also began the Allegro of 
the above-mentioned Leonore Overture with a real pianissimo, 
the like of which but few of us had ever heard. In short, when 
Mahler conducted, every bar, so to speak, gained new interest 
and life." 

And think of the " predominantly mirthful" episodes which 
Steinitzer witnessed and took part in ! 

The most important event of the Leipzig years was his 
meeting the grandson of Carl Maria von Weber. The Saxon 
Captain Carl von Weber, whose regiment was quartered in 
Leipzig, became acquainted with Mahler through Stagemann, 
and soon asked him to undertake the completion and arrange- 
ment of Weber's opera The Three Pintos. Captain Weber 
believed in the possibility of such a completion. Meyerbeer 
had held a different opinion, and kept for years the manu- 
script which Weber's widow had given him, without carrying 
out the idea. Nor was Mahler easily convinced; but after 


taking the remaining fragments and the grandson's plans 
home with him and fully considering them, he set to work with 
enthusiastic fervour and had the whole thing finished in an 
incredibly short time. "The Three Pintos, comic opera in 
three acts by C. M. von Weber, based upon the text of the 
same name by Th. Hell and upon sketches left by, and selected 
manuscripts of, the composer; the dramatic part by Carl von 
Weber, the musical part by Gustav Mahler," was immediately 
accepted by the Leipzig Municipal Theatre and performed for 
the first time on January 20th, 1888, under Mahler's direction. 
The success was great, but it was also continued. Until the 
summer, the opera was given fifteen times, the oftenest of all 
operas in the repertoire. Hamburg and Dresden soon followed, 
other towns somewhat later, Vienna in January, 1889. It 
was the first time that Mahler came into contact with the 
Vienna Court Opera. Even to-day the work is given here and 
there, though too seldom. 

The relation of the original sketches to this revision has 
often been discussed. Public and critics found precisely those 
parts really Weberish which Mahler himself had composed, 
and were irritated at the impious innovator where not a 
single note of Weber's composition had been altered. The 
word went round that the whole was rather "gemahlt" than 
"gewebt," and even worse jokes were made. Thus the ever- 
witty in Vienna decided at once, after a lukewarm performance, 
that the completion had been undertaken merely that a young 
man might hitch his name to Weber's, and thus get himself 
dragged into notoriety. 

The truth of the matter was shown by Ludwig Hartmann 5 
through a comparison with Weber's manuscript. In the years 
1816-21 Weber had worked at this composition. In January, 
1826, he was again busy with the opera, the text of which had 
been written for him by Hofrat Winkler (Theodor Hell) after 
an old Spanish humoresque. Weber's music sufficed for two 
acts. The third Mahler pieced together out of old, forgotten 


fragments of Weber's compositions for guitar, songs and 
cantatas, etc., in so masterly fashion that one can scarcely 
believe that such a work was possible. "That Mahler should 
have so steeped himself in Weber's style ought to be signalized 
as a unique instance of affectionate unselfishness." And we 
must also remember that Mahler had already completed a 
symphony which is anything but Weberish, and had begun a 
second, and that the actual work is said to have occupied only 
a week of his holidays. 

The story of the text, which Carl von Weber somewhat 
altered, tells how a young girl, promised in marriage to an old 
nobleman, is taken from him by her lover after all kinds of 
puzzling situations and foolery. Performances have shown 
that when the players maintain the lightness and movement of 
the piece it is quite capable of supporting the music. 

The latter begins with a chorus of students. The twenty- 
one introductory bars are by Mahler, the chorus is taken from a 
"Turnierbankett," Op. 68, of Weber. Gaston's solo ("the 
real Weber") is by Mahler. On the contrary, the chorus No. 
8, which was described as a clever imitation by Mahler, is 
Weber's own, and was written for The Three Pintos. The 
entr'acte which precedes was arranged by Mahler from themes 
of the first act. The Arietta No. 9, which resembles Annchen's 
comfortings in the Freischiitz, is a triolet from Weber's Op. 71 ; 
the coda, that of an unpublished valse composed in 1816. 
The especially popular No. 15, a three-part canon, is from 
Weber's Op. 13. In No. 17 we find, at the Vivace in two-four 
time, the last melody which Weber, already stricken by mortal 
illness, ever wrote. 

The work is certainly shamefully neglected. But it looks 
as though Weber had fallen upon evil days at least till the 
next "centenary." 



When Mahler left Leipzig (an Italian journey probably 
supervened during these few months) he had no positive offer 
for the following season. Negotiations were begun with Ham- 
burg, Karlsruhe, Pesth, even with New York, but there was 
hesitancy on both sides. No performance of his own works 
was to be thought of, and the only auspicious event of the 
immediate past was the significant artistic and even material 
success of The Three Pintos, the entr'acte of which penetrated 
as far as New York. On August 18th he conducted the first 
performance of the opera during the imperial celebration in 
Prague. He began to despair of overcoming the stagnation. 
But between summer and autumn the decision came; Mahler 
was appointed Director of the Royal Opera in Pesth. 

Pesth has two court theatres, a play-house (the National 
Theatre), and an opera-house. In January, 1888, the Inten- 
dant Count Stefan Keglevich resigned, leaving the National 
Theatre as a well-conducted and well-frequented house. 
On the other hand, the Opera provided trouble enough for 
both, being, as Keglevich said, "a product of the extravagant 
period." At the time when Hungary's independence was 
being emphasised on all sides, a " magnificent " opera-house was 
built, and it was thought that the future of Hungarian (rede 
Magyar) music was assured. But the public of Pesth, whose 
curiously mixed population was not yet won over to Magyar- 
ism, and furthermore tolerated a German theatre, turned a 
cold shoulder to the " national" opera, and went there only 
when Italian operatic " stars" were to be expected. The 
deficit became terrific, reports were sent in to parliament, and 
the new Intendant, Count Franz von Beniczky, could see no 
way out of the difficulty other than keeping down expenses. 
There was talk of reducing the number of performances; some 
of the artists were paid off. Nothing helped. The artistic 
negligence was correspondingly great. What with resigna- 


tions and excuses, there was hardly ever a proper performance. 
Chorus and orchestra were thoroughly disorganized, the singers 
bewildered; everything seemed to be going to rack and ruin. 
Into this chaos came Mahler. He was to help, to hold things 
together, to bring head and limbs into working order, to per- 
form miracles. And his first words were, "I shall work with 
enthusiasm." "Guests" and "stars" disappeared, the local 
ensemble had to learn and receive credit for what they were 
capable of. Above all, the dramatic side of the performances 
was to be cultivated, and only one language used, whereas 
until then one had sung in Magyar, another in German, a 
third in Italian and a fourth in French. And, as it was felt, 
of course, that Magyar should 'predominate in a Hungarian 
opera-house, Mahler was acclaimed as a "patriot" who bat- 
tled for the Hungarian cause. But, as he was not patriotic 
enough to learn the difficult language himself, the actor and 
elocutionist Ujhazy was engaged to rehearse the dramatic 
part with the singers, according to the director's instructions, 
and to superintend the stage-management. But, from the 
very outset, Mahler himself directed the stage rehearsals, 
as he did later in Vienna. Then came the unsparing vim of 
his work, and the miracle was performed; the theatre filled 
again, and once more deeds were done and results achieved. 
The singers' courage was tried upon a difficult task; Rheingold 
and The Valkyrie were prepared in eight weeks and produced 
in December, 1888. The Valkyrie had just been translated 
into the native language; Rheingold was done specially for this 
case. There was great difficulty in distributing the parts. 
But as early as January, 1889, there were given on two succes- 
sive days (an order regularly observed under Mahler) "A 
Raina Kincse" (Rheingold) and "A Walkiir" (Valkyrie). 
One can almost judge of the labour from the titles themselves, 
but both triumphed, and following the tumultuous applause 
for Mahler a public address of thanks was issued by the 


It would avail us little to tell in detail all that Mahler 
achieved in Pesth with the comparatively restricted means at 
his disposal. Let this suffice; Brahms is said to have re- 
marked, "Such a Don Giovanni performance as they have in 
Pesth is not to be heard in Vienna." Mahler was the central 
figure in public attention. Even his symphony was given at a 
Philharmonic Concert on November 20th, 1889, under his own 
direction. The Hungarian programme described it as a 
Symphonic Poem in two parts. It is needless to say that time 
and place were not yet ripe for such a performance; witness 
how Mahler's activity was not understood to the fullest extent 
in a country but gradually accustoming itself to the music of 
Western Europe, although the best people admired him. 

But in Pesth, as later in Vienna, the easy-going calm of many 
people was disturbed. They lamented and complained; and 
when Beniczky a straightforward man who respected Mah- 
ler's independence and was thankful to him for his help- 
resigned in January, 1891, the retiring Intendant published a 
detailed statement for the benefit of his Director. From this 
it appears that in the twenty months of Mahler's directorship 
thirty-one works were rehearsed, of which the following were 
given for the first time, or revived after a long interval: 
Pecheurs de Perks, Fille du Regiment, Nachtlager in Granada, 
Rheingold, Valkyrie, Georg Brankowich (by Erkel), Maillart's 
Dragons de Villars, Merry Wives, Auber's La Part du Diable, 
Templer und Judin, Asracl, Cavalleria (first performance out- 
side Italy), Offenbach's Mariage aux Lanternes, Waffen- 
schmied, Tales of Hoffmann, and four ballets. The newly stud- 
ied works were Marriage of Figaro, Lohengrin, Merlin, Aida, 
Queen of Sheba, Adam's Poupee de Nuremberg, Mignon, Don 
Giovanni, Bankban (Erkel), Ballo in Maschera, Fidelio, Noces 
de Jeannette. Mahler's enormous activity and organising 
capacity were highly praised, and the continually increasing 
profit, which had already replaced the everlasting deficit, was 
given in figures. At last it reached nearly 25,000 Gulden 


(about $12,000). At the same time there appeared in the 
"Pester Lloyd" a more detailed appreciation of Mahler, 
"whose artistic tact towards the nation," whose staging (espe- 
cially of Wagner) and whose educational power in general 
were generously extolled. "Even were the reproach possible 
that Mahler had not raised the Opera to the level of other 
royal theatres, it must be said that this could not come about 
in two or even twenty years, if at all. Everything might be 
denied or found fault with, except Mahler's artistic honesty or 
his extraordinary capabilities." 

On February 3rd the new Intendant, Count Geza Zichy, 
pianist, composer and poet, took over his position. He was 
not in agreement with Mahler's "Wagnerian" tendency. 
Then the theatre ordinances were altered and the director lost 
his "authoritative rights." Zichy directed rehearsals. On 
the 4th of March Mahler gave up his post. His contract ran 
for eight years further, and the in tendance had quite a high 
indemnity to pay. Later an attempt was made to get Mahler 
back again to Pesth. When the newspapers announced his 
retirement, a telegram from Pollini called him to Hamburg 
as first conductor, and on April 1st he was already busy in his 
new position. Pesth sent tokens of its appreciation after him. 
Count Albert Apponyi, Moritz Wahrmann, Edmund von 
Mihalovich and Siegmund Singer raised a subscription, 
principally amongst the subscribers of the Opera, and sent to 
Mahler in Hamburg a gold baton and a silver vase with the 
inscription, "To the musician of genius, Gustav Mahler, from 
his Buda-Pesth admirers." 


Thus the director had once more become first conductor. 
But under Pollini in this capacity he had almost unlimited 
authority. In his ensemble were artists like Anna von Milden- 


burg, Katharina Klafsky, Bertha Foerster-Lauterer, Ernestine 
Schumann-Heink, Josephine Artner, Willy Hesch, Birrenko- 
ven, Leopold Demuth. He lacked work and variety as little 
as recognition or sympathetic and stimulating friends. The 
performances under Mahler became celebrated throughout 
North Germany. Amongst the principal events of the Ham- 
burg theatre were the staging of Der Freischiitz and Tannhduser, 
of Rubinstein's Demon (for which Mahler thenceforward 
showed a certain partiality), the first performance in Germany 
of Tschaikowsky's Eugene Onegin (at which the composer was 
present and distinguished Mahler by lavish praise), Bizet's 
Djamileh, Verdi's Falstaff, Haydn's Apotheker, and The Bar- 
tered Bride, Two Widows, and Dalibor, by Smetana. We 
recognise here the same lines of procedure as during the first 
years in Vienna. He conducted other novelties such as 
Bruneau's Attaque du Moulin (after Zola), Franchetti's 
Columbus, the first German performance of Puccini's Manon, 
the Manon of Massenet and the same composer's Werther, 
Hansel und Gretel, The Cricket on the Hearth. In Mozart, 
Wagner, Fidelio, he reigned supreme. The composer J. B. 
Foerster tells much of Mahler's rehearsing and conducting. 
His solo rehearsals with the singers were almost dreaded, but 
were none the less a master-school of musico-dramatic art. 
With inexorable severity and the fiery zeal that always pos- 
sessed him, he demanded the utmost exactitude in the rhythm 
of the music, which on the stage he always made to flow en- 
tirely out of the rhythm of the drama. Only when everything 
in song, in enunciation, in tempo, in relation to the orchestra, 
was worked out with the greatest precision, did he leave the 
artists freedom to use their own individuality, testing and 
weighing in most cases, not meddling with or only unnoticeably 
directing those whom he trusted. The conductor wrought 
out the slightest dynamic and agogic nuances, which the stage- 
manager supported with those of lighting and arrangement. 
I have also heard from Foerster a phrase used by many other 


genuine and acutely sensitive musicians independently one of 
the other: That everything which took shape under Mahler's 
fingers was as though born again. And this enormous strain 
of creative energy was transmitted to the nerves of the hearers. 
Perhaps herein lies the secret of the man who neither taught 
nor explained nor even allowed his earlier vehemence of gesture 
to appear on the surface, but rather created with the inspired 
impulse of the true artist. He even created often enough in a 
literal sense; for after unsuccessfully protesting against the 
acceptance of some inferior or mediocre work, and finally 
agreeing to it, he amazed everybody, and most of all the com- 
posers themselves, who often declared that they had not 
thought it possible for the music 'they had written so to sound 
or so to move people. Mahler's daemonic intensity could strike 
fire out of clay, and he was almost always in such a glow himself 
that he forgot everything theatre, public, artists, and ail- 
when not specially and offensively reminded of them. Then 
occurred the outbursts, one of which Specht reports during the 
Hamburg period. Mahler had already begun with the first 
bars of The Valkyrie, and some late-comers were still noisily 
seeking their places. Suddenly he stopped the orchestra, 
turned around and said: "Don't mind me, I can wait." 
And silence reigned. In Vienna it was no rare occurrence, 
when the last bars of a movement were interrupted by " south- 
ern" applause for some singer or other, for him to turn and 
indignantly demand silence, even if audible only to those 
nearest him. And those who created a disturbance in concert- 
hall or theatre by late coming and early going in the Phil- 
harmonic concerts in Vienna this is almost good form, as far 
as "unpopular" composers are concerned were terrified by 
looks that would have shamed the Philistine, had he not long 
since forgotten what such a feeling is like. "Naturally" 
everything is natural to the Philistine he then sneers at ex- 
citability, hyper-sensitiveness, capriciousness, bad temper. 
But it was only the creator's wrath at the paralysing intruder. 


Amongst those who learned to respect Mahler in Hamburg 
was Hans von Biilow. Mahler had already heard Biilow and 
the Meiningen Orchestra in Cassel, and had written an enthu- 
siastic letter to its conductor. Now it was the older man's 
turn to admire. And he did so with the whole fire of his tem- 
perament, and allowed no occasion to pass without singling 
Mahler out for praise. Such occasions presented themselves 
in the so-called subscription concerts of the Hamburg Society 
of Music-Lovers, which Biilow conducted. Mahler always had 
to sit in a front row, and Biilow, who liked to bridge over the 
distance between concert-stage and audience with words, re- 
peatedly spoke to him from there, reached him the scores of 
new works, to the astonishment of the assembled public, and 
often seemed to be conducting for him alone. He invited 
Mahler to his house, and once presented him with a laurel 
wreath, on the ribbon of which was written, " To the Pygmalion 
of the Hamburg Opera-House. Hans von Biilow." When 
Biilow fell ill in December, 1892, Mahler at his request con- 
ducted the following concert. The illness became worse. 
Biilow resigned his post in 1893 and nominated Mahler as his 
successor. On the 12th of February, 1894, Biilow died at 
Cairo. The penultimate concert of the 26th was in memory of 
Hans von Biilow. Mahler's admirer, Dr. Hermann Behn, a 
passionate lover of art, spoke a few words of remembrance. 
After this Mahler conducted a movement of Brahms' German 
Requiem and the Eroica. Billow's body was brought to 
Hamburg and, in accordance with his wish, cremated. The 
burial ceremony, conducted by the Senate of Hamburg, took 
place in the church of St. Michael. Klopstock's ode "Aufer- 
stehen, ja auferstehen," was sung. It was as though the spirit 
of the dead musician had once more saluted his friend, and at 
this service Mahler received the inspiration for the final choral 
movement of his second symphony, which contains Klop- 
stock's verses continued by Mahler, crowning the majestic 
edifice. Until then no other ending attempted had appeared 


worthy of the beginning. There are other cases in his works 
where he had similar inspirations; visions, dreams, out of 
which seem to speak voices from another world. 

Mahler then, in 1894-95, conducted the next series of sub- 
scription concerts. They were eight in number, the last in- 
cluding Beethoven's "Weihe des Hauses" and Choral Sym- 
phony. On the other programmes we find the Pastoral Sym- 
phony, Schubert's C-major Symphony, Schumann's First, 
Bruckner's Romantic, Berlioz's Fantastique and Carnaval 
remain, and the Siegfried Idyll. The fourth concert was in 
memory of Rubinstein, with selections from The Demon and 
the Ocean Symphony. 

As Mahler had found a master m Billow, he found in Bruno 
Walter, now first conductor of the Vienna Court Opera, an 
intelligent disciple. Walter was able to mature under Mah- 
ler's example as conductor at the Hamburg theatre, and later 
in Vienna. He became the composer's companion. During 
the Hamburg period he made the four-hand piano arrange- 
ment of the Second Symphony, and has subsequently often 
enough shown how deeply he has penetrated into the spirit of 
Mahler's work, perhaps best as he rehearsed and produced 
the master's posthumous Lied von der Erde at Munich, 1911. 
But there were other friends, and Mahler loved to delight them 
with chamber music at his house. It was at the same time his 
relaxation from the theatre. Foerster has even yet not for- 
gotten the impression he had from Mahler's piano-playing in 
the "Geister" trio. He had never before been so conscious of 
the supernatural element in the music. And the admirers of 
the conductor and artist became active and sympathetic 
furtherers of the composer. In these years his star was at 
last in the ascendant. 

In the summer of 1892 Mahler conducted an ensemble 
(most of which, soloists, chorus and orchestra, belonged to the 
Hamburg theatre) at Drury Lane Theatre, London. The 
performances of German opera which Sir Augustus Harris 


gave, together with French and Italian works, were Tristan, 
the Ring, and Fidelia. Paul Dukas has described how Mah- 
ler's reading of the Third Leonore Overture affected him. 
The success was so great that Harris was able to announce 
performances of Wagner's works in English. 

In the autumn there was an outbreak of cholera in Hamburg. 
The theatre began later than usual, but still during the plague. 
Mahler held out pluckily and luckily. A year later, as isolated 
cases still occurred, Mahler himself fell a victim, but soon 

In the summer holidays of 1893-96 Mahler lived at Stein- 
bach on the Attersee. There, in June, 1894, in a quiet little 
house, the Second Symphony, which was begun during the 
Leipzig period, was finished. In August, 1895, after a few weeks' 
work, the plans for the Third were ready, and the composition 
completed in Hamburg. Several of the Wunderhorn lyrics, 
such as the "Fischpredigt," "Das irdische Leben" and the 
" Rhemlegendchen, " were also written about this time the 
"Rheinlegendchen," it is said, in a couple of hours. The 
spring now flowed uncontrollably after having long been 

And the flood spread out over the land. 

On December 12th, 1892, at the fifth Philharmonic concert 
in Berlin, Frau Amalie Joachim sang some of Mahler's lyrics with 
orchestral accompaniment, "Der Schildwache Nachtlied" and 
"Verlorene Miih." It was the first attempt in Berlin. In the 
autumn of the same year the First Symphony was played in 
Hamburg, in addition to which Frau Schuch and Kammer- 
sanger Bulss performed "Humoresken" (Wunderhornlieder 
with orchestra) . Ferdinand Pf ohl wrote cordially about these 
works. It was of greater importance, however, that, through 
the influence of Richard Strauss and Prof. Kretzschmar, the 
First Symphony was set on the programme of the Tonkiinstler 
Festival at Weimar in June, 1894. The Allgemeine Deutsche 
Musikverein founded by Liszt, which arranges the Tonkiinstler 


Festivals, was thereby of the greatest assistance to Mahler. 
Later, too, it has entered the lists in his behalf, although no 
work of his has figured at any Festival since 1906. At Weimar 
the Symphony was handicapped by its title "Titan," by a 
programme which shall be referred to later, by a rather weak 
movement (the andante), which was soon discarded, and prin- 
cipally by insufficient preparation. The tired-out orchestra 
had only a single rehearsal of the work. If we may believe 
the criticisms, the public was completely perplexed. But in 
this case, as in many others when Mahler's works were per- 
formed, it may have been the critics themselves who were 

In March, 1895, Richard Strauss /conducted the three instru- 
mental movements of the Second Symphony at a Berlin Phil- 
harmonic concert. These fragments alone made a great 
impression. On December 13th of the same year, Mahler him- 
self conducted the whole work in Berlin. The Philharmonic 
orchestra and the Stern Choral Union took part in the per- 
formance. The success was tumultuous, however much the 
critics raged. The majority of these gentlemen had not 
thought it necessary to hear the three "already known" 
movements over again, and only came in time for the fourth. 
One even reported that the last movement commences with 
female voices alone. A second "Orchestral Concert of Gustav 
Mahler" in the same season (March, 1896) included the first 
movement of the Second Symphony, the First without the 
Andante, and the Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with orchestra, 
sung by Sistermanns. 

In November, 1896, the second movement of the Third was 
performed by Nikisch at a Berlin Philharmonic concert under 
the title, "What the flowers of the meadow tell me." The same 
piece had such success in Hamburg on December 8th with the 
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Weingartner, that it 
had to be repeated. A few days later, on December 14th, 
the Leipzig Liszt Society performed the first and second move- 


ments of the Second Symphony under Mahler's direction. 
Schuch made the Second Symphony known in Dresden in the 
season of 1896-97. In March, 1897, Weingartner conducted 
the second, third and sixth movements of the Third in a concert 
of the Royal Orchestra in Berlin. The old-fogyish audience 
of these concerts took fright, and the work was not produced 
in its entirety at that time. Weingartner, however, later 
again took the field for Mahler in his essay on "The Symphony 
since Beethoven," but unhappily not as conductor of the 
Vienna Philharmonic concerts, at least as long as Mahler 

In the last Hamburg years negotiations were begun by 
various court theatres with Mahler; but the Vienna Opera 
finally engaged him as conductor. Brahms, whom Mahler 
had visited at his summer residence at Ischl in 1896, was con- 
vinced of his capability as artist and man and had warmly 
recommended him. Mahler again visited the then ailing but 
still hopeful master during the last days of his life. And 
simultaneously with the news of his death came the notifica- 
tion of Mahler's engagement for the Vienna Opera. Shortly 
before (in March), Mahler had been acclaimed as concert con- 
ductor in St. Petersburg. 


The ten years that now follow (1897-1907) are still recog- 
nised as one of the great epochs in the history of German opera, 
equal in importance to Carl Maria von Weber's and Richard 
Wagner's direction of the Dresden Opera, and Liszt's activity 
in Weimar. As in Bayreuth, and as a development of the 
Bayreuth ideal, the struggle against the difficulty of daily per- 
formance was fought out, in perpetual opposition to the nature 
of this richly gifted but characterless town; a "style" created, 
and festivals celebrated, such as can neither be disavowed 


nor forgotten. And all this from a man who could have done 
greater things in his own branch of art an art wholly unre- 
lated to the transient phenomena of the stage but who was 
able only on holidays and in pauses to think that he belonged 
in reality to his own art; -a man who had seen through and 
despised the falsehood and sham of the theatre in a wretched 
period when art is the slave of the heaviest purse; who knew 
by experience the miserable and degrading connection of art 
with business, and of inspiration with handicraft, and had 
seen how the daily traffic of the smaller theatres coarsens the 
artist, wears out the listener, and how the apparent, outward 
perfection of the larger ones is/ only disguised corruption. 
Salvation, salvation from the nightmare of the present! 

In 1908, as I thought Mahler's work endangered because 
insipid " successors" were taking pains to destroy its last 
remains, out of which the soul had already been driven, I 
published a detailed history of these deeds and of the opposi- 
tion to them "Gustav Mahler's Heritage." 8 The book was 
combative, and had to be so. It was not fortified with "irre- 
futable facts," nor did it pretend to be. For I did the work 
myself, and nobody had provided me with "material." And 
as History no longer proposes to light up past and future, 
but simply to be "informed," my work could not fail to gain 
the praise of readers who "count" and also the blame of 
the "well-informed," which even went so far as to inspire a 
counter-pamphlet. And, while referring those who wish for 
details of these ten Mahler years to my earlier book, I would 
warn "objective" readers. Goethe once said that the real 
content of all history is the struggle of belief with unbelief. 
And he who possesses a belief in great men, in nature, and in 
the greatest art, sees truth where he recognises belief. To 
such readers I may still recommend the book; for, though 
the "letter" may perish, the spirit will remain. 

At Mahler's advent the Vienna Court Opera was tram- 
meled by Jahn's illness. In Vienna, once in his position, the 


theatre-director has every opportunity to take it easy and let 
things go. This is in the very air. If he is naturally self- 
indulgent, or should physical weakness oblige him to spare 
himself, it is usually the beginning of the end. His days are 
numbered, the charm of novelty is lost, his opponents become 
inexorable and in Vienna it is always the fashion to be an 

In the seventeen years of his directorship Jahn had really 
become old and weary. A company of splendid singers no 
longer formed an ensemble; discipline tottered; the repertoire 
consisted principally of fashionable French sentimentalities; 
the deficit, the continual dread of the parsimonious manage- 
ment, was increasing. In short, things were ripe for renova- 
tion from top to bottom. This was the work the new con- 
ductor had to undertake. On the llth of May he conducted 
Lohengrin after a single rehearsal, traditionally one of the 
"good performances." It was a conquest. How different, 
how much more delicately and fervently, how new the well- 
known work sounded in all its splendour! Ludwig Speidel 
wrote at that time, " Mahler is a small, thin and energetic 
figure with sharp-cut, intelligent features, who involuntarily 
recalls Hermann Esser. And the conductor resembles the 
man, so full of energy and delicate comprehension. He con- 
ducted Lohengrin with material expedients which took on an 
almost spiritual character. He began the dreamy motive of 
the Prelude with extremest delicacy, and only at the climax 
of the work, where the brass enters with full power, he seized 
the entire orchestra with a swift, energetic gesture. The effect 

was magical He showed his mastery in every detail. 

He stood in living touch with the orchestra, with the chorus, 

with the separate soloists; for none did his signal fail 

There could be no more delicate and practical way of sparing 
the invalid director than setting such an artist by his side. 
Herr Mahler will work like artistic leaven in the Opera, if he 
is allowed to work at all!" 


The Flying Dutchman was the second victory, and therein 
Mahler "discovered" the Opera chorus. On the 1st of August 
he was appointed deputy, a month later "temporary," direc- 
tor; another month saw him definitely director. But even 
before this, in the town of the faithful disciple, Hans Richter, 
he had freed Wagner's life-work, the Ring, from the customary 
"cuts" and mutilations. And now began a ceaseless work, 
the struggle against convention a tyranny of genuine 
creative artistry. The claque disappeared; late-comers were 
forbidden entrance during the performance; the drama in the 
music was awakened, in Wagner's spirit, in the older works 
of the r6pertoire and especially in the great works of the Ger- 
man masters. The singers became members of an ensemble 
and learned to act without the usual operatic poses and 
tricks. In works that were newly rehearsed, Mahler de- 
clared war (as early as 1898!) against the panoramic display 
and "naturalism" of the old regime; in the Wolf's Glen only 
spectral shadows were viewed; in the scene of the Norns 
(which till then had been omitted!!) no real thread was 
thrown. The Marriage of Figaro was studied and shortly 
afterward radically re-studied; the revolving stage was used 
for the first time in Cosi fan tutte; with Marie Gutheil-Schoder, 
who was promptly engaged and pushed forward in spite of 
public and critics, came the unforgettable performances of the 
Merry Wives, and of Hoffmann's Tales re-created over Offen- 
bach's head in the spirit of Hoffmann himself. Then came 
Haydn's Apotheker, Lortzing's Opera Rehearsal, Siegfried Wag- 
ner's Bdrenhduter, Rubinstein's Demon, Tschaikowsky's lolan- 
the and Pique-Dame, Smetana's Dalibor, Bizet's Djamileh, 
Zemlinsky's fairy opera Once Upon a Time, Strauss's Feuersnot, 
Reiter's Bundschuh, Thuille's Lobetanz, Forster's Dot Mon, 
the Ballo in Maschera (under Bruno Walter), Ernani, Aida, 
The Huguenots, Mozart's Zaide, Fidelia, Rienzi. These are 
only the most remarkable events of the first years, in which 
brilliance and beauty blossomed from ruins. In the majority 


of the new works an understudy, often more than one, was 
ready for each role, so as to avoid the abandonment of perform- 
ances and its unpleasant consequences. The deficit of the 
Opera disappeared; and, in spite of the fact that the orchestra- 
players' salaries were increased through Mahler's representa- 
tions, there still remained a considerable profit even when the 
Intendendant raised the price of the seats. Public and press 
were enthusiastic; the new singers that Mahler engaged, 
amongst whom were Anna von Mildenburg, Marie Gutheil- 
Schoder, Selma Kurz, Bertha Foerster-Lauterer, Lucie Weidt, 
Grete Forst, Josie Petru, Weidemann, Slezak, Mayr and 
Moser, were greeted in the most friendly fashion; even the 
"ejection" of former favourites who would not conform to 
his severe ideals was not laid to his account. Instead of 
recounting the effects of such energy on Mahler and on others, 
I will rather quote a few of his remarks during this period: 
"There is no such thing as tradition, only genius and stupid- 
ity." "In every performance the work must be born again." 
"Humanly, I make every concession; artistically, none what- 
ever." -"I butt the wall with my head, but the wall gets a 
hole knocked in it." And lastly: "Others care for themselves 
and wear out the theatre; I wear myself out and care for the 
theatre." I know that Mahler spoke these words; and even if 
it were not so, and had they been said somewhat differently, 
they are none the less true. Unfortunately, the truest is that 
about wearing himself out. In the fullness of his youth and 
strength, Mahler thought little of it when he was called upon, 
as in Pesth, to restore whatever was out of joint, although he 
can have had no illusions as to the instability of what can be 
done for the theatre of our time, or the fickleness of favour 
and applause. 

In addition to the labour of directing the opera, he gladly 
undertook the conductorship of the Philharmonic Concerts. 


He conducted them from the season of 1898-99 until 1901. 
The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra is the orchestra of the 
Opera-House, which has formed a kind of republic for its 
Sunday concerts. Apart from the evils of self-government 
and polyarchy inseparable from its constitution, it is perhaps 
really the best orchestra in the world, as it has often been 
called, and can take up anybody's glove, if it likes. But it 
does not always like. After Hans Richter, whose ways and 
tradition were dear to everybody, Mahler led this orchestra 
from victory to victory. And here, too, each work that his 
baton touched was born again. All deceptions and misunder- 
standings disappeared, weaknesses were removed or concealed, 
familiar works revealed hidden secrets. The kingdom of 
beauty extended its boundaries as but seldom heretofore. 
When Mahler played an old, agreeably pedantic piece of 
Rameau, he was all severity, rhythm, discretion; with Berlioz, 
a wild, unsparing, yet inwardly controlled phantast; with 
Schumann, a helper and reproducer of that which the piano- 
composer must have expected from the orchestra; with 
Bruckner he succeeded by means of some secret or other in 
binding design and by-design so firmly together that these 
mighty symphonies were forced into architectural unity; 
there were no more gaps, nothing irrelevant, not even a trace 
of self-will. And then Beethoven! He was the regent of 
these three years, whom Mahler honoured upon altars ever 
new. Revelations were the gain of his fervour. Even the 
audience of the Philharmonic Concerts, not always in devo- 
tional mood, so often the slaves of fashion, of position, " cul- 
ture" and society, were transported. In this period, it was 
not only almost impossible to obtain a seat, but the concerts 
sometimes had to be repeated, even on interpolated dates (a 
thing absolutely unheard-of before or since), such as the 
Ninth Symphony in 1900 and a concert having on its pro- 
gramme the Euryanthe overture, the Jupiter Symphony, and 
Beethoven's Fifth. The artistic and material fecundity of 


these years has not been surpassed. It is so much the more 
necessary to accentuate this, as the attempt is made on all 
"occasions" to conceal it ; the lower the concerts sink, and 
superficiality, empty "charm" and cherished indolence seem 
to celebrate similar victories. 

Mahler the conductor had an aim, which only Wagner 
before him had sought with such tenacity to attain : Distinct- 
ness. The experience of many years had given him unerring 
knowledge of the capabilities of each instrument, of the possi- 
bilities of every score. Distinctness, for him, was an exact 
ratio of light and shade. His crescendi, his storms, growing 
from bar to bar, now taking breath for a moment and anon 
crashing into fortissimo; his climaxes, obtained by the simplest 
of means; his whispering pianissimo; his instinct for the need- 
ful alternation of tranquillity and agitation; his sense for the 
sharpness of the melodic line; all these were elements which 
equally went to make up his power. Add to this his outward 
attention to and inward hearing of details, hidden secondary 
parts and nuances which others hardly noticed in the score; 
and lastly, a hypnotic power of will over all who had to hear 
and to obey, a power from God (or from the Devil, as many 
said but this Devil was from God, too!). Instead of 
vehement gestures, however significant and realistic they might 
be, a glance sufficed, a quiet inflection, a mere suggestion. 
"Performers and listeners felt the ease and absolute certainty 
of this conducting, the constraining force of this will, the con- 
trol of an almost supernatural force. No words can adequately 
describe this magical power, which must be experienced. 
One who is filled with E. T. A. Hoffmann's mysterious pre- 
sentiments, to whom these thoughts which perhaps reached 
the extremest depths, still to be discovered, of the hidden 
springs of music have become a living reality, would have 
recognised in Mahler the realisation of such possibilities; a 
realisation which had been relegated to the realm of dreams. 
But he who has experienced Mahler can no longer compare 


or weigh ; what he gives is, as he gives it, a necessity in every 
moment. There is neither a More nor an Otherwise." 
["Gustav Mahler's Heritage."] 

Mahler's resemblance to the reformer, artist and conductor 
Wagner has already often been remarked. His demand for 
truth and distinctness, his taking the melos as point of depar- 
ture, shows relationship to Wagner the conductor. I may 
here refer to a letter which a member of the orchestra wrote to 
Mahler after the first Lohengrin performance. This musician 
had played under Wagner; and he asserted that until Mahler 
he had never again heard the work given with the tempi 
demanded by Wagner; especially the prelude in suitable 
slowness, and the introduction to the third act with itsfurioso. 
This conducting was truly Wagnerish, because Mahler under- 
stood how to modify the tempi exactly as the master himself 
felt them. The (anonymous) writer reminded Mahler of 
Wagner's essay "On Conducting," in which Wagner tells how 
the 'cellist Dotzauer of the Dresden Opera assured him that 
he was the first conductor who had taken the clarinet theme 
in the overture to Der Freischiitz in the same slow tempo as 
Weber, which Dotzauer knew from Weber's day. 

Like Wagner, too, he sought, when performing Beethoven's 
Ninth Symphony, to free it from all mischances and dross by 
"touching up" the instrumentation. The first performance 
of the work with these alterations, which Wagner had already 
indicated and justified, had to be repeated. Mahler replied 
to the shrieks of a few critics by a printed explanation, which 
was distributed in the hall (the text reprinted here was edited 
by Lipiner): 

"In consequence of certain publicly expressed remarks, it 
might appear to a section of the public that the conductor of 
the present concert had undertaken arbitrary alterations in 
certain details of Beethoven's works, and especially in the 
Ninth Symphony. It therefore seems desirable not to with- 
hold an explanation upon this point. 


11 Owing to the disorder of his hearing, whieh ended in com- 
plete deafness, Beethoven had lost the indispensable contact 
with reality, with the world of physical sound, precisely in 
that epoch of his creative work in which the mightiest climax 
of his conceptions forced him to seek out new means of expres- 
sion, and to drastic methods in handling the orchestra there- 
tofore undreamed of. Equally familiar as the above is this 
other fact that the construction of the brass instruments in his 
time was such as to render impossible the execution of certain 
successions of notes necessary to the formation of melodies. 
Precisely this deficiency has, in the course of time, brought 
about a perfection of these instruments; and not to utilise this 
development in order to attain the highest perfection in the 
performance of Beethoven's works seems no less than sacrilege. 

"Richard Wagner, who all his life strove to rid the execu- 
tion of Beethoven's works of a negligence which had become 
insufferable, indicated in his essay 'On the Execution of 
Beethoven's Ninth Symphony' (Complete Works, Vol. IX) 
the way to a realisation of this symphony as nearly as possible 
corresponding to the composer's intentions, which all recent 
conductors have followed. The conductor of the present 
concert has done the same, from a conviction gained and 
strengthened by having lived himself into the work, without 
essentially exceeding the bounds set by Wagner. 

"There can, of course, be absolutely no question of re- 
instrumentation, alteration, or 'improvement' of Beetho- 
ven's work. The doubling of the string-instruments long ago 
became customary, and led also a long time ago to an 
increase in the wind-instruments. This serves exclusively the 
purpose of increasing the sonority, and in no wise is a new 
orchestral role assigned to them. In both these points, 
which concern the interpretation of the work both as a whole 
and in detail (indeed, the clearer, the further one goes into 
detail), proof can be found in the score that the conductor's 
only intention was, not arbitrarily or obtrusively, but also 


not misled by any 'tradition/ to follow the will of Beethoven 
into the apparently slightest detail, and in the execution not to 
sacrifice the smallest thing the Master wished, or to allow it 
to be drowned in a tumult of sound." 

The matters in question were the doubling of the wood- 
wind, the employment of a third and fourth pair of horns and 
(in the last movement) of a third and fourth trumpet, the 
emphasizing of pauses and expression-marks, the reinforcing 
and lessening of the sonority. Further, Mahler's remarkable 
experiment of performing Beethoven's String-quartet, Opus 95, 
by the whole string-orchestra, in order to enhance the effect of 
the "wretched" instruments and to make it possible to perform 
the work in a large hall, ended in an outburst of pedantic 
wrath. Even this "experiment" followed a precedent which 
nobody at the time cared to remember. At the Mozart 
Festival in Salzburg in 1891 Jahn performed the Adagio from 
Mozart's quintet in G minor with the entire string-orchestra. 

Under Mahler, twenty-five works by Beethoven were per- 
formed, and fifty-two by other composers. Amongst the 
novelties were Bruckner's Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, 
Liszt's Festklange, Berlioz's Rob Roy, Goetz's Symphony in F, 
Cesar Franck's Variations symphoniques, Aus Italien by 
Strauss, works by Bizet, Tschaikowsky, Dvorak and Smetana. 
Of Mahler's own works, the Second Symphony in 1899; the 
Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen and some of those from Des 
Knaben Wunderhorn (with orchestra), and the First Sym- 
phony, in 1900. In 1902, when Mahler had ceased to be 
conductor of the Philharmonic Concerts, he was invited by the 
orchestra to conduct the first performance in Vienna of the 
Fourth Symphony. In 1900, Mahler conducted five concerts 
with the Philharmonic Orchestra in Paris during the Exhibi- 
tion. In 1901, at a concert of the Singakademie, Das klagende 
Lied was given, and ; t was repeated in 1902 with the Philhar- 
monic Orchestra under Mahler; a week later than the Phil- 
harmonic performance, a repetition of the Fourth Symphony. 


In 1905, the orchestra took part in the concert of a young 
"Vereinigung schaffender Tonkiinstler" (Society of Com- 
posers), of which Mahler was honorary president, wherein he 
performed his Lieder from the Wunderhorn, the Kindertoten- 
lieder and the remaining Lieder after Riickert. The concert 
had to be repeated a few days later; likewise the first perform- 
ance of his Third Symphony, which he conducted in a Phil- 
harmonic Concert, had had to be repeated immediately before 
(end of 1904). In December, 1905, the Philharmonic Or- 
chestra gave, under Mahler's direction, the first performance of 
the Fifth; in 1906 the Konzertverein gave for the first time the 
Sixth, also under Mahler; and in 1907 Mahler said, with the 
Second Symphony, farewell to the Philharmonic Orchestra 
and to Vienna. Until Mahler's death, only six performances 
of his symphonies were given by other conductors in Vienna; 
his Lieder had quite disappeared. 

It should be said that Mahler, as Director of the Opera, had 
forbidden the members of the Opera to sing his lyrics. (After 
him, such propriety was not observed.) But now that death 
has made him fashionable, the sluices of piety are opened. 
Hardly a vocal concert without Mahler, and in a single winter 
all his symphonies (with the exception of the highly important 
Seventh) were performed. In Vienna, this contrast was espe- 
cially painful, but also in other places it was not to be dis- 
guised. Everywhere he was "ours." A provincial paper 
involuntarily brought the relation of the German public to 
these things into the correct formula: "Seeing that Mahler 
died some time ago. . . it becomes the duty of conductors and 
public to take cognizance of his works." 

His connection with the Philharmonic Orchestra was dis- 
solved in 1901. "The Philharmoniker love peace and comfort; 
anything but excitement, anything but rehearsals! But 
Mahler was inexorable with others as with himself, never gave 
in, worked tirelessly, and embodied the whole nervousness of 
the modern man and musician. Thus, much may be explained 


that was harsh in his severity. Discord arose and increased. 
In the theatre they were Mahler's subjects, in the Philhar- 
monic republic they would show him who was master." 
("Gustav Mahler's Heritage."). 

In the few weeks of the theatre holidays the composer 
came into his own. In 1899 the Fourth Symphony was begun 
in Aussee, and completed in 1900. Several of the separate 
orchestral lyrics were composed at this time, for instance the 
first three of the Kindertotenlieder, and Revelge. In 1901 and 
1902, in the quiet of a cottage near Maiernegg on the Worther- 
see, the Rlickert lyrics, the fourth and fifth Kindertotenlieder, 
and the Fifth Symphony. In the following years, also at 
Maiernegg, the Sixth and Seventh. In 1906 Mahler was at 
work on the Eighth. In 1908 in Toblach he completed the 
Lied von der Erde, "Chinese Songs with orchestra," which are 
bound together into a symphonic work. In 1909 the Ninth 
Symphony was composed and in 1910 the Tenth, of which part 
is written, but which is not to be made public. A creative 
mood of the greatest intensity, the almost convulsive libera- 
tion from the fullness of inward visions that was the recreation 
of this man, whose body seemed to rival his mind in strength. 

Here it may be briefly mentioned that Gustav Mahler was 
married on the 9th of March, 1901, to Anna Maria Schindler, a 
daughter of the Vienna painter. The Eighth Symphony is 
dedicated to her, this work so typical of the man and artist, 
and the only one that bears a dedication. One of the two 
children of this marriage, the elder daughter, died in 1907 in 
Maiernegg: the emotion of the father had been represented 
six years previously in the Kindertotenlieder. His country- 
house where the child's death occurred was abandoned, and 
Mahler passed the following three summers in Toblach 
(Altschluderbach) in a large peasant house. Quite near, on 
the edge of the forest, was Mahler's "workhouse." His grief 
at the death of his daughter (at whose side he wished to be 
buried); the knowledge of his heart-disease; a new and over- 


powering revelation of nature; these are the springs from which 
the Lied von der Erde sprang. It would have been the Ninth 
Symphony. But Mahler held back from a "Ninth," which 
seemed to lead the musical world to new expectations and at 
the same time to be fatal to the composer; since the great 
"Ninths," no composer had yet completed a tenth. That is 
why the "Chinese Songs" do not bear this title. The next 
work was, in spite of all, called so, and, curiously enough, 
Mahler has not finished his Tenth either. 

Publishers now began to interest themselves for the Direc- 
tor's compositions. Even before the Vienna period Hofmei- 
ster in Leipzig, upon the representations of Hamburg friends, 
had taken the score and piano arrangement of the Second. 
Earlier still, in 1892, three books of lyrics for voice and piano- 
forte were published by Schott in Mainz. Then in 1893 the 
Newspaper Company of Waldheim-Eberle in Vienna published 
the First and Third, "with the support of the Society for the 
furtherance of German science, art and literature in Bohemia," 
as is stated on several copies. This support was agreed to after 
a detailed report from Professor Guido Adler of the Vienna 
University. In 1900 Das klagende Lied was added. The 
sale of these works on commission was entrusted to the firm of 
Joseph Weinberger in Vienna. The same firm had in 1897 
already received the publishing rights of the Lieder eines 
fahrenden Gesellen. The Newspaper Company obtained the 
Fourth in 1901, and the firm of Herzmansky-Doblinger was 
given the commission. The Newspaper Company also pub- 
lished the Lieder from the Wunderhorn. In 1904 the Fifth 
appeared in the Edition Peters; in 1905 Kahnt issued the Sixth, 
the Kindertotenlieder, Revelge, the Tambourg'sell and five 
Lieder after Riickert. Bote & Bock took the Seventh, and the 
Eighth was given the Universal Edition in 1910. The rights 
of all these works, also the later ones, are now in the hands of 
the Universal Edition; only two books of lyrics remain with 
Schott, and the Fifth with Peters. 


About the turn of the century, the previously rare per- 
formances increased in number. The Second Symphony, in 
spite of the trouble critical enemies give themselves to dis- 
credit it, has made its way by its effect alone, especially since 
the performance by the Munich Hugo Wolf Society on the 
20th of October, 1900. The Fourth was also performed for 
the first time in Munich (25th November, 1901) ; immediately 
afterwards Berlin followed. But, as Richard Strauss has well 
remarked, the turning-point was the performance of the Third 
at the Tonkiinstler Festival in Crefeld in June, 1902. The 
symphony had been completed since 1896. It achieved such 
extraordinary success, that the /work Berlin had despised now 
hastened from triumph to triumph, awakening everywhere 
the utmost enthusiasm. In Barmen, for instance, the last 
movement had to be repeated immediately; in Vienna, too, 
the whole work had to be repeated within a week. Once more, 
upon Strauss's recommendation, the Tonkiinstler Festival 
in Basel (1903) gave a performance of the Second in the cathe- 
dral. On October the 18th the Fifth went on its way, begin- 
ning with a Giirzenich Concert at Cologne. Fried laid the 
foundations of Mahler's reputation in Berlin with a perform- 
ance of the Second. The new orchestral lyrics and the 
Kindertotenlieder were sung in Vienna in January and immedi- 
ately repeated, and also put on the programme of the Ton- 
kiinstler Festival in Graz (May, 1905). On the 26th of May, 
1906, the Tonkiinstler Festival in Essen brought the first per- 
formance of the Sixth, which Fried immediately repeated- 
thanks to the munificence of a Mahler enthusiast in Berlin. 
In 1908 came the first performance of the Seventh in Prague 
(19th of September), and two years later (on the 12th of 
September), in 1910, the Eighth was heard for the first time 
in Munich. The Lied von der Erde was only performed 
(after Mahler's death) on the 20th of November, 1911, in the 
Munich memorial concert by Bruno Walter; the Ninth 
Symphony 1912 (June 23rd), also under Walter at the Vienna 
Musical Festival. 


Mahler was one who could afford to wait; even the Eighth 
Symphony was ready four years before it was produced, and 
it was not really his fault that it was performed at last. When 
the first rehearsal had shown that everything sounded as he 
wished, he was careless of further performances. He created 
afresh, well knowing how long his works will live. He often 
said of the Lied von der Erde and the Ninth Symphony that 
he wished he could hear them both once, by himself, and 
then not bother any more about them. And he himself often 
put difficulties in the way of proposed performances when he 
feared that the works would not be heard for their own sake. 
For instance, he forbade the performance of his Seventh in 
Vienna during the crisis of the anti-Weingartner * protests , 
because he wished to avoid any " demonstration " for himself. 
It is not by chance that, during Mahler's stage-direction, no 
first performance of his works was given in Vienna. We have 
already told how he acted with his Lieder. In truth, not 
every artist, especially nowadays, has this careless patience, 
this confidence, this superiority. But he who is sure of the 
future need have no care for the present. 

In spite of all, Mahler must have loved his works. And it 
was his greatest joy to hear that some one, of whose honesty he 
was assured, had taken pleasure even in one of his lyrics. And 
nothing gave him more delight, no honour was dearer to him, 
than a worthy performance of his works. 

These figures and events were purposely anticipated. 
That which is now not to be described, but only suggested, the 
grandest period and the tragedy of Mahler's directorate and 

* It is not our purpose to toll of the anti-Mahler machinations of Weingartner 
during his directorate of the Vienna Royal Opera as Mahler's successor. But it 
is necessary to mention them, as they are several times referred to in the present 
work. Such hints as are given (which sufficed for the musicians who remember 
those days of dishonour) find for the most part a fuller telling in "Gustav Mahler's 
Heritage" pace Dr. Stefan, an admirable piece of historical writing. In 
the cases which occur I have, therefore, given the latter book as a reference. 
[Translator's note.] 


at the same time of the present-day German theatre, tolerates 
no digression. 

I have often read and heard that it is neither possible nor 
permissible to take the theatre of to-day so seriously, still less 
to mention its tragic aspect. But, after Richard Wagner and 
Bayreuth, even the most exalted mind can no longer despise 
the theatre as such. And precisely this disdain of the theatre 
should oblige those who take art seriously to contemplate for a 
moment this destiny of Mahler's, even if they should be at- 
tacked by the snobs, and even if those philosophers who sail in 
the smooth waters of journalism shrug their shoulders and 
then set their course for eternity with an air of sublimity. 
For Mahler had sought to realise Wagner's dream of the unity 
of the sister arts in the drama. And if we are thankful to 
Reinhardt, to the Munich Kiinstler-Theater, to Hagemann,* 
and to all who have freed the stage from the yoke of every-day 
life, how much dearer to the wanderer in the land of beauty 
must this man be who first, though misunderstood and despised, 
did these deeds, whilst the spirit urged him to other works? 

In the book "Gustav Mahler's Heritage" I have shown how 
Mahler's ideal was founded upon the yearning of a century, 
upon the strivings of enlightened minds; how Alfred Roller's 
art came within his reach. The naturalism of the illusion of 
reality was wrecked on canvas and paint, and by the size of the 
huge stages. And, as every work of art demands its own par- 
ticular form and its true material, the theatre demands the 
style of the theatre, demands the style of its time, which had 
realised the unity of tone, light and colour, after the models 
of the romantic period. Roller lay as a possibility in Mahler's 
path and in that of the plastic arts. A chance realised it. 
In the house of his young wife and of her step-father, Carl 
Moll, Mahler met the leaders of the Vienna Secession, Klimt, 

* Dr. Carl Hagemann, founder of the Mannheim Ideal Stage, and now director 
of the German Schauspielhaus in Hamburg; well known by his writings upon 
modern stage management and decoration. [Translator's note.] 


Metzner, Roller, Hoffmann, Moser. Mahler was planning a 
new staging for Tristan, Roller brought him his own. The 
director was enthusiastic; Roller was engaged for the Royal 
Opera, and the work of the two men began. 

Mahler's and Roller's goal was to renew the repertoire from 
the foundation. The best works of the German stage were 
reborn in riper artistry, and their eternal value was proved by 
the fact that they showed new beauty in the new style. Tristan 
was the beginning. And as the second half of Mahler's 
directorate closed, Gluck's Iphigenia, a Mozart cycle, Fidelio, - 
Euryanthe, Rheingold, the Valkyrie, Lohengrin, Goetz's Taming 
of the Shrew, were produced, and the whole of the Ring, 
Weber's Oberon, and many other things, were planned. Then 
come the novelties, amongst which are Wolf's Corregidor, 
Charpentier's Louise, Verdi's Falstaff, Pfitzner's Rose vom 
Liebesgarten; various works newly rehearsed; all this with 
ever-increased rehearsal and care in preparation an achieve- 
ment whose quantity alone demands admiration. And had 
these conquests, these victories of imagination over the stage 
"as it of course is," over the resistance of a court theatre- 
had all this not been in Vienna, the whole world would have 
known and spoken of it. Out of the experiences of this time I 
quote a few lines from my earlier book, where I cannot alter 
the form they have assumed. These quotations speak of 
what affected me most deeply the new Tristan, Fidelio, and 
Don Giovanni. 

"Tristan und Isolde. Even during the prelude earth 
sinks, and only music remains. The mysterious delicacy, the 
lashing impetuosity of the strings, contrasting storm and 
calm, are controlled by Mahler as perhaps never before. 
Breathless stillness draws the glance to the stage. The curtain 
divides. A section of a ship's deck, with a protecting canopy. 
Semi-obscurity, as if to suggest Isolde's gloomy, revengeful 
woe. The dominant tint orange, apparently realistic; for the 
royal ship the softened rusty red of North Sea sailing-ships; and 


still ideal colour, conveying to the vision the unity of mood of 
this wildly upflaring scene, fluctuating between death and the 
most vivid consciousness of life. Such a psychology of colour 
was already familiar to old-time science. Kittel-Brangane 
seeks in every way to comprehend the superhuman traits of 
her mistress. The oftener one sees the Isolde of Anna von 
Mildenburg, the greater is its living reality. She is the greatest 
tragic singer of the German stage. She possesses the gift of 
tragedy. To understand her acting is to approach the Greeks. 
She raises her arm, turns her head, kneels; and the artist 
knows more by intuition than he haply might learn from 
Nietzsche or Burckhardt. One first realised this in her 
Isolde. To imagine her, followed by Mahler and Roller into 
the uttermost depths, is to imagine the Vienna Tristan. 
Schmedes, or now and again Winkelmann, personates the hero, 
the one accentuating his masterful strength, the other his suf- 
fering. Both were schooled in Bayreuth. Tristan enters 
through a narrow opening, accompanied by heroic sonority of 
the brass destiny. They taste the wine. A terrific climax 
is worked up to the close of the act. The next shows a fairy- 
like castle with a marble balcony. The night is close with 
expectation; the dominant tint, lilac-blue. Notice here the 
complement of the earlier orange, the ripening completion to 
the promise of love, at the same time the evocation of sweet- 
ness, of twilight secrecy now become colour. In the far dis- 
tance the sea, the dark-blue sky full of stars. The music be- 
comes almost visible, grows plastic in its indescribable perfec- 
tion, at the same time as though transported into another world. 
Isolde, stamping out the torch, signals with the veil, to the 
rhythm of the orchestra then united and surrendered to 
Tristan. A vivid streak across the sky daylight and treason. 
Cold light of morning. Lastly, the group from Melot to 
Brangiine, with the erect and then stricken Tristan in the 
midst. Then the issue: The chill emptiness only harsher; a 
cold sunlight bathing desolate ruins. Tristan lies at the foot 


of a protecting tree in the middle of a meadow. The earth of 
his ruined home receives him before he enters the real rest of 
the Liebestod. 

"Fidelio. It opened with the pleasing, but not at all com- 
edy-like overture in E. One has only to feel the bitter, 
nowise idyllic mood that Mahler discovered therein, and lend 
expression to it. But the first scenes really contain much 
that is idyllic, and Mahler accentuated this mood by uniting 
them as far as the march in B flat in a special decoration a 
small room in the gaoler's house. The stage-picture narrow 
and intimate in a mysterious half-light; only at the quartet, 
"Mir ist so wunderbar," a " faint ray" of hope lights up the 
room with gold. Rocco goes out to bring the Governour his 
letters, the curtain is closed, the march played quickly (vivace), 
in whose sharp rhythm the drum awakens tragic expectation. 
With the last bars, the new scene opens. The soldiers are 
hastily marched out, Pizarro-Weidemann already bullying 
them. He is proudly clad in menacing red. (Wilde says that 
even a costume can be dramatic.) The scene is a dark prison- 
court with blackening walls, only on the left of the spectator a 
few branches peep over, as though in derision. The light 
cannot be strong. The prisoners issue from a hole in the wall, 
scarcely daring to breathe, their song a mere fearful whisper: 
"Wir sind belauscht mit Ohr und Blick"; the shadow of the 
sentry patrolling the wall on the left falls over the stage. 
The act closes almost inaudibly, in indescribable sadness. 

"In the next Florestan's dungeon is a frightful, black vault. 
Here, too, the eye receives the effect of the terrible drama and 
of the raging music. Anna von Mildenburg as Fidelio incor- 
porates Beethoven's "Immortal Beloved," whose spirit hovers 
over the dark abyss of the work. Boundless joy of liberation; 
Leonore and Florestan prepare to mount towards the light. 
Now the curtain falls. The G of the last chord leads at once 
into the first bar of the Third Leonore Overture, which stands 
here and can stand nowhere but here, as a symbol of the whole; 


suffering and fidelity, longing and joy, spiritualised and shorn 
of stage-effect, again pass before our spiritual vision purged of 
all earthliness. Stage and absolute music complete one 
another; and as the " symphony" intensifies the effect of the 
opera, the ensuing jubilation on the stage is a further exalta- 
tion following upon the orchestral music, heightened a hundred- 
fold by the joyousness of the scene an open landscape flooded 
with sunlight, into which a corner of the prison wall barely 
protrudes. The full width of the Opera stage is cleverly utilised 
to add unlimited visual scope to the exulting C-major of the 
music, and to proclaim love's redemption unto the ends of the 

"Don Giovanni. The overture begins with brazen might 
and goes over into an orgiastic tempo. (Allegro molto, the 
"absolute allegro" of Wagner's essay "On Conducting.") 
The curtain rises and the stage is shown without side-wings, 
in whose stead are "towers," high prisms covered with grey 
cloth, which, with a simply ornamented ground cloth, form 
the frame wherein the whole piece is played. (The fixed stage- 
decorations of the Teatro Olimpico at Vicenza bear a certain 
resemblance to them.) Here, in December, 1905, are the 
towers of the Munich Kiinstler-Theater and of the Mann- 
heim Ideal Stage. So it is here, confronting the eternal 
problem of human passion, uninfluenced by any naturalistic 
mood, that Roller simplifies, idealises, invents a style. But 
the towers are not immovable; they "take part," conforming 
to the changing stage-pictures. At about the height of a 
story window-like openings are made, and the sides of the 
prisms that face inward are removable; thus windows in 
buildings, or loggias and niches, can be produced. 

"The first scene shows a terrace, bounded at the back by a 
balustrade; the towers on the left belong to the palace of the 
Commandant. In the background is a park, darkling over 
which is a deep-blue southern sky; from left to right mount 
shadowy black cypresses. Starlight. The terrace is en- 


livened by red azaleas picturesquely grouped. The intensity of 
colour is heightened through having the whole prospect cut out 
of black and blue velvet, that is, not painted. The back- 
ground for the Champagne Aria is a baroque palace in a 
garden overflowing with colour. Don Giovanni salutes the 
arriving guests from one of the towers. The finale is played 
in a brilliantly lighted hall. The towers are niches; in the mid- 
dle of the stage three tribunes are placed for the musicians. 
Elvira's chamber (beginning of Act II) is supposed to be in 
one of the towers on the right; Don Giovanni's serenade was 
accompanied by Mahler on the cembalo, and the recitatives 
also. A dark hall on the ground floor of Donna Elvira's 
house; the only light on the stage shines through the scarcely 
opened huge portals. Elvira sings her aria of shame and 
dread in the modest room of an inn, by the flickering light of a 
dim lantern; she too is following after the seducer. The 
churchyard is steeped in blue-grey; the moonshine weirdly 
lights up the monuments. In the middle the mighty 
equestrian statue of the Governour; the two rear towers are 
monuments. In the background, towering cypresses. The 
scene of the letter-aria is a narrow room, still hung with funeral 
decorations. The background, covered with black velvet, 
bears a portrait of the Governour; six candelabra with burning 
candles. Sudden change a broad, red-tinted hall in baroque 
style, with dining tables and musicians. Don Giovanni, in 
white embroidered silk, sits feasting. Elvira warns once more; 
hurrying away, she staggers back, flees across the whole 
stage uttering a frightful shriek and the stone guest appears 
and drags Don Giovanni into the depths. The sextet, in 
which virtue celebrates its triumph, is omitted. 

"Anna von Mildenburg is Donna Anna, and plays the part 
according to E. T. A. Hoffmann's tale. She loves the knightly 
villain, the victorious man, and through all thoughts of 
revenge seems to will but one end to the now executed deed- 
that the feeble Don Octavio will fall for her honour, and that 



Don Giovanni, for the second time a bloodstained victor, will 
not fail to overcome the now unprotected woman. The tragedy 
of enforced duty and untamed desire was expressed in masterly 
fashion. Incomparable too was Frau Gutheil's Elvira, in 
every glance all devotion and still without ever sacrificing her 

The last resuscitation, Iphigenia, showed Mahler, who grew 
with each completed work, on entirely new paths. (The work 
'had not been given since 1894!) " Filled with our knowledge 
of the Greeks, he disparted Gluck's intention from French 
classicism, to which it was outwardly forfeit. The stage, too, 
took on the style of the antique. Frau Mildenburg and Frau 
Gutheil resembled, both separately and together, the most 
exquisite Greek statues; a ring-dance seemed to have been 
charmed from some Greek vase. The scenes rose to view 
and passed 'just like antique bas-reliefs' [Goethe]. The con- 
tours and arrangement of the stage supported this illusion of 
reliefs, which was here revealed earlier than in the Munich 
Ktinstler-Theater. A bright curtain formed the background; 
only at the close the unveiled prospect of the harbour of 
Aulis was seen. The music chiselled in heroic proportions, 
note by note." 

Not one of those who savoured Mahler's art with delight 
and they were the true aristocracy of Vienna not one could 
have said to what unknown realms of beauty this path, 
conquered step by step, might have led. Much later, I 
heard Mahler say to a young musician, in dismissal of admiring 
comments: "All these were only essays, we had to feel our 
way forward; the real achievement would have followed." 
We, his companions, felt, of a truth, how much might have 
followed! But the end was near. 

It is very likely that in other places, too, the general public 
would have failed to recognise such art. But it would at least 
have been respected. In Vienna it was outraged. The rea- 
sons for this Viennese peculiarity may be found in Kurnber- 


ger,* the application to this case in "Gustav Mahler's Herit- 
age." But Mahler himself was partly at fault. He had been 
upright and harsh, had disdained "society," had written 
neither "Explanations" nor other feuilletons. 6 He had 
also, by living in his work, lost touch with the world. And 
to nobody does the world pardon this less than a theatre- 
director. Thus there arose, fomented by a certain public 
opinion, a revolt against the man who had scourged private 
slothfulness. Dissatisfied theatre-goers, seekers after "change," 
all kinds of unprincipled, undisciplined folk, rabidly attacked 
him with the meanest, most shameful devices. Disgust 
seized Mahler, the high-minded man and artist. Suddenly, 
in the summer of 1907, he resigned his position. At the news 
of the threatening danger, an address was presented to him 
containing a vehement protest against the senseless grumbling 
and stupid outbreaks of rage. It was signed by poets, writers, 
musicians, painters, scientists, members of parliament, noble- 
men, art-loving citizens. The second demonstration for the 
departing man was occasioned by the magnificent performance 
of the Second Symphony which Mahler conducted in Novem- 
ber, 1907. It was the greatest an unforgettable celebra- 
tion. But perhaps the farewell at the station was more 
affectionate still. As the hour of his departure became known 
from mouth to mouth and from man to man, hundreds collected 
in the early morning on the platform. On the 9th of December 
Mahler left for America. For several years he was to conduct 
opera for a few months each year : the composer, longing for 
freedom to live at last for his own work, had accepted the offer. 
One just reproach may, perhaps, lie against Mahler. He 
thought he could celebrate festival performances amid the 
daily traffic of the theatre. Such performances, in which he 
himself arranged and rehearsed every slightest detail, demanded 

* Kvirnberger, Ferdinand, novelist and publicist. The most important modern 
writer of German Austria. Censured severely Austrian indolence. See hia 
"Siegelringe" (political feuilletons). [Translator's note.] 


his whole strength. And while the improvisatorial will of the 
omnipresent conductor carried all before it and wrought 
wonders to-day, to-morrow, in his absence, there would be a 
mediocre performance before an indifferent audience of sub- 
scribers. In his pamphlet on "The Vienna Court Opera," 
written as early as 1863, Wagner declares artistic perfection 
incompatible with daily performance. This has been cor- 
roborated time and again; for after Mahler, when his best 
productions were destroyed, his festival performances abjured 
by his successor, the mediocre daily performances only became 
worse. 6 

Mahler's characteristic farewell letter reads as follows: 

"To the esteemed Members of the Court Opera! The hour 
has come which sets a bound to our common activities. 
Departing from a scene of action that has grown dear to me, 
I now bid you farewell. 

"Instead of a Whole, finished and rounded out, such as I 
had dreamed of, I leave behind only patchwork, incomplete, 
typical of man's destiny. 

"It is not for me to express an opinion on what my labours 
may have signified for those to whom they were dedicated. 
But in such a moment I may venture to say of myself that my 
intentions were honest and my aim lofty. My endeavours 
could not always be crowned with success. No one is so 
delivered over to the refractoriness of his material, to the 
perfidy of the object, as the executive artist. But I have al- 
ways put my whole soul into the work, subordinated my person 
to the cause, my inclinations to duty. I have not spared 
myself, and could, therefore, require of others their utmost 

"In the press of the struggle, in the heat of the moment, 
neither you nor I have escaped wounds and misunderstandings. 
But when a work was successful, a problem solved, we forgot 
the difficulties and troubles, and all felt richly rewarded even 
though outward signs of success were wanting. All of us 


have advanced, and with us the institution for whoso welfare 
we worked. 

"And now, my heartfelt thanks to you who have stood by 
me in my difficult, often thankless, task who have helped me 
and fought by my side. Receive my sincerest good wishes for 
your future careers and for the prosperity of the Court Opera- 
Theatre, whose fortunes I shall continue to follow with the 
liveliest sympathy. Gustav Mahler." 

It was no robust man that now left Vienna. The terrific 
agitation of his life and experiences; of his work in the theatre, 
which had almost always begun with a clearing away of refuse 
and the re-erection of a new edifice from the foundations; of 
his visionary recreative work, which he had so of ten to interrupt 
in the struggle against misunderstanding and vulgarity, espe- 
cially in the last years; all this had wasted him away, and his 
heart had become diseased. Later this was to be fatal to 

Hagemann has described Mahler's departure to America as 
a tragedy of culture. The term is exact. However great his 
success, an artist and man like Mahler could not count there for 
that which he was; and on this side all good Europeans thirsted 
after his knowledge. It is a disgrace for the German world 
and for his Austrian home, that Mahler did not then find a 
post where he, internally free, would have been the cause of a 
thousand good things. He would have been a bcstower, for 
that he was obliged to be. 

In America, Mahler conducted twice each month at the 
theatre various works of Mozart and Wagner. Later, a new 
Philharmonic Society was founded in New York. It placed 
a new orchestra of his own at Mahler's disposal, with which 
he gave in 1909-10 forty-six concerts, and in the following 
season forty-eight of the proposed sixty-five. Then he fell ill. 
At the theatre he had conducted only a few further perform- 

In Europe he conducted latterly performances of his sym- 


phonies in Munich, Amsterdam and Paris. In the summer of 
1910 he prepared the first performance of the Eighth in 
Munich. Then he went to Toblach, where the Tenth was 
composed. He was cordially saluted on his fiftieth birthday 
(7th July, 1910j. And we thought, especially after the triumph 
of the Eighth in September, that it was a new dawn. But it 
was blood-red evening. 



"Audisti opprobrium eorum, Domine, omnes cogitationes 
adversum me." Are not we, in whom the Eighth Symphony 
is a living memory, reminded of these words of a seeker after 
the living God: "Domine, exaudi orationem meam Et 
clamor meus ad te veniat. De profundis clamavi ad te. . . . 
Veni, sancte spiritus!" 

But it is only the inscription on an old Tyrolian house in the 
village of Alt-Schluderbach, where Mahler lived three summers: 
"Thou hast heard their reproach, O Lord, and all their imagina- 
tions against me." It is striking that the very house that 
sufficed for Mahler's not easily satisfied requirements for 
solitude and quietness should bear precisely this sign. As it 
often happens, to him that has ears to hear, a divine dispensa- 
tion, a supernatural voice, seems to make itself heard in such a 

For there is perhaps no living musician except Pfitzner who 
has been more wounded by silence and indifference, and cer- 
tainly none more violently abused, than Mahler. The mad 
chain extends from those unproductive theory-teachers who 
knew from the first that Mahler's "boundless will" could be 
realised only by a Beethoven, to the just discharged operetta- 
composer 6 who dared to write of the Sixth, that the harmonic 
and thematic work in it were "equally null." I have already 
attempted to explain why such arrogance should be vented 



precisely on Mahler. But, on the other hand, the number of 
admirers increases too. Men of such different natures as the 
East-Prussian musician Otto Ernst Nodnagel; the French 
artist and observer William Ritter, Catholic and antisemite 
as he calls himself; his compatriot General Picquart, a liberal 
politician; the conservative conductor and writer Georg 
Gohler; the radically modern composer and theorist Arnold 
Schonberg; Alfredo Casella, the Italian enthusiast in Paris, 
Bruno Walter of the Vienna Opera and Oscar Fried of the 
Berlin Society of Music-Lovers, these last two Mahler's 
anointed disciples; all these meii point to Beethoven and in 
his name speak of the value of Mahler's works for the future. 
But can these with their For, or the opponents with their 
Against, bring conviction? No, at any rate not with words 
(which could at most speak of technical perfection). School- 
masters and quacks may dare approach Mahler's music with 
their censorship but of his art only this art itself can speak, 
only performances. And the impartial have their pleasure in 
them, and would continue to do so, did they not learn from 
the next morning's paper that such monstrosities could "find 
favour" only with snobism and misguided inexperience; that 
the whole is spurious, mere effect, cunning contrivance. 
Thus is "a system out of words prepared." Is it of any use to 
disprove it with words, or to attempt with words to accom- 
plish anything, where Mahler says in his music the highest 
things that even music is capable of? As though Schopen- 
hauer had not proved for us the impossibility of comparing 
music, the image of the world in tones, with all other artistic 
activity; and had not gained for us the privilege of treating 
art from the standpoint of intellect, thereby stating one of the 
most important laws of modern aesthetics, and preparing the 
way for a new culture which, as Nietzsche said, will see science 
with the eye of the artist. No, no words! What language is 
capable of in the consideration of Mahler's works is either "to 
see how far he deviates from the ordinary and what he ven- 


tures" (as Ph. Emarmel Bach has stated the business of such 
considerations to be), or to speak subjectively and in symbols 
of the conviction, born of experience, with which they fill one. 
And if anywhere, surely here should wisdom "be placed as 
highest aim, instead of science; that wisdom which bends its 
steady gaze upon the entirety of the world." 

My book has from the beginning sought to go the second of 
these two ways. It has shown that Mahler's is the personality 
which, out of its tragic tension, out of the excess of its enthusi- 
asm, out of the primitivity and unity of its being, has trans- 
muted all the deceptions of appearance into reality. The 
musician Mahler has similarly struggled as the interpreter of 
high works, as the tolerator and renewer of the stage. The 
wings of the genius grow stronger, as his will requires more 
strength. How Mahler's knowledge developed still remains 
to be indicated; it reveals the essence of him to show that he 
could and had to "dare" the stupendous. The symbols of 
experience were our starting-point. They shall be the begin- 
ning, middle and end of our considerations. 

In the presence of this grave, it is not possible to do more 
than this. 

I at any rate do not dare to do so to-day even less than at 
my first attempt recognising more and more, as I do, the 
greatness of the task. But I hope that we shall soon receive a 
small and also a larger book upon Mahler's works from Arnold 
Schonberg. He who knows this master's incomparable Theory 
of Harmony (which might equally well be called Theory of Art, 
or of the World) a master because in the truest sense a 
creative artist; he who has enjoyed instruction from him in 
any form whatever, or seen his drawings after various sym- 
phonies of Mahler with the inward vision they demand, such 
an one will realise how much Schonberg has to say about 
Mahler, and Schonberg will wish to say it. Frequently in the 
Theory of Harmony, which is dedicated to Mahler's memory, 
his music is already mentioned. Ernst Decsey, too, who has 


done so much for Hugo Wolf, is planning an Introduction to 
Mahler's works, which may be recommended in advance. I 
must therefore hope for the patience of new readers of this book; 
perhaps they will still gain, by the modesty of its suggestions, 
by the change from facts to symbols, by the accentuation of 
the unity and solitude of this life, at least for the time being, 
an idea of what Mahler's works are. My intention is to 
convert, not to understand or to judge. Intelligence errs, but 
not sensibility. 

Almost exactly a year before his death, just as he was 
about to begin the Tenth Symphony, Mahler told his Parisian 
friend Casella some very curious things about his works. In 
them he distinguished three periods: The first includes the 
Symphonies I to IV; the second, V to VIII; the third begins 
with IX, although it is not clear from this whether by Ninth 
Symphony the Lied von der Erde is or is not meant. And this 
seems to prove, so far as I can see at present, the peculiar 
position of the Eighth. Certainly the Ninth Symphony sur- 
prised us, too, as did each work of this genius. But I almost 
think that both this work and the Lied von der Erde lie along 
the same road as the Seventh, only far beyond it. (For the 
latter, too, shows a new aspect of Mahler's art. It comes 
from a quite different world and throws a quite new light 
upon the earlier works, although it might be grouped with 
the Second, but from a different standpoint.) Frankly, we 
are therein quite unhistorical and probably also quite un- 
biological. And it would seem quite certain that the present 
is not the time to approach the volcano "with screws and 
hammers," and that the best way is to waive all questions of 
periods, however interesting and "authentic" they may be. 

Whilst speaking of divisions, however, one thing must be 
noticed that after the Fourth Symphony a distinct change 
takes place. Till then, Mahler's works were purely subjective; 
a great and intensely personal struggle with the world and the 
universe; desire and searching from macrocosm to microcosm; 


a continued song of the joy and pain of heaven and earth, as 
the soul of Faust imagined them; of victory and pacification. 
It will be noticed that all these four symphonies call for the aid 
of words, so as to say "quite distinctly" what they are rejoicing 
and suffering about, even the First, which is only apparently 
orchestral music, as the first and third movements are formed 
out of the Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, certainly not without 
deep significance. In the Second and Third Symphonies, 
apart from the movements where the voice is used, there are 
two instrumental movements which are taken from the 
Wunderhorn-Lieder, and which certainly fit in with the figura- 
tive content of the work. Two other lyrics from this collection 
are taken over as vocal movements, one into the Third and 
another into the Fourth. In all there is such a strong, indi- 
vidual life-experience, that the music demands the poet's 
words, which, banishing all doubt, must speak in symbols as 
of the universal ego. It shall be seen later that in spite of 
this, no " programme" is intended or implied. The two 
ballads from the Wunderhorn, "Revelge" and the "Tam- 
bourg'sell," which are outside the collection, and whose work- 
manship indicates a later style, close this portion of our 

Another lyric this attempt at an interpretation of the 
highest and freest spiritual experience is not, of course, literally 
" exact," but even the close proximity of the dates is clear from 
our preceding remarks this lyric, which for the man Mahler 
is a programme in itself, leads over to the works that follow, 
to symphonies V, VI and VII. It begins with the words, 
"Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen" (I am lost to the 
world), that is, not the cosmos, from which music can never 
escape, but the world in the sense of the Christian, the philoso- 
pher worldliness. The world has lost the artist Mahler, 
whom she had never possessed; the " composer" who turned 
into music his perception of earthly and heavenly life has 
become a "tone-poet"; as though, moving in lofty spheres, he 


has now mastered his own musical language, penetrating into 
it more intensely, spiritualising it, so that he now no longer 
needs human language. The soul of him is the same, only he 
struggles now with other spirits, fixes his gaze upon a new sun; 
other abysses open before him, he salutes the colder serenity 
of other planets. It is like a reincarnation upon some other 
plane of all-embracing life, where only the most charitable, 
the most chaste, and the most sorely wounded, can be born 

In this rebirth, the spirit clings ever closer to the humanly 
speaking eternal form of symphonic art. The resemblances 
between these symphonies and some of the later lyrics, as in the 
Fifth, merely recall a subject of similar mood; on this plane 
they never become thematic. The struggle is thrice renewed. 
Then the deepest depths are stirred and a terrible flame lays 
hold of the artist's whole existence, his past and his future. 
No gateway can withstand the searching glow of this desire. 
Redemption is its cry; the cry of a thousand voices rediscovers 
the song of longing and desire of an earlier work and extorts 
with superhuman strength the comforting promise : Salvation 
is possible; it is at work within you; that which surrounds you 
and falls to your lot is only appearance, an image. These are 
the words and refrain of the Eighth Symphony; words once 
again, it is true, but now hymns, no longer lyrics. 

There follows a great interruption. A pause in production. 
In a period of fecundity, a summer and no great work! 
Then, in the next, the Lied von der Erde. Once again we are 
amongst the highest peaks. After the unspeakable brightness 
of the sun at the summit the Eighth Symphony the growing 
darkness, but still at the greatest and divinest elevation. 
Mists rise and sink. Abysses gape. Where are we being 
led to? 

Later, this book attempts an answer. No, it dares once 
again to ask the same question. . . 

Such a conscious struggle with the problems of existence 


was hardly known in music before Mahler. Whoever has 
interpreted Mahler's being in each of its various modes of 
expression as a perpetually renewed experience of the universe, 
will not be astonished to find its purest expression in his music, 
especially in the symphonies. " Experience," to be universal, 
begins on the roadside and extends to infinity. Some fea- 
tures in the most every-day music (such as the " cries of Paris" 
in Charpen tier's Louise, of which Mahler was so fond), a dance 
of peasants, a march of soldiers, airs from the open road, in the 
gaudy dress of the wandering Gypsy minstrel, a motley mixture 
from motley Austria all these elements are gathered together, 
dignified and made part of our most lasting art- treasures. 
These are the "banalities" of Mahler, about which our " cul- 
tured" musicians speak in such a superior tone. Suppress 
these elements, and Mahler becomes untrue; it is his nature to 
refine such clay, to eat with publicans and sinners. Quite 
apart from the many places in which he represents the resist- 
ance of vulgarity, where he exaggerates it in order to employ 
it as a medium. 

His media (of expression) and their "extravagance": that 
is another convenient catchword of Mahler's adversaries. 
But in executing the gigantic plans of these symphonies, which 
seek to burst the bounds of mankind, shall the composer re- 
frain from utilising all the means over which he disposes? 
Has not every extension of content led, of necessity, to an ex- 
tension of form? as though that were not almost a definition 
of real works of art. Or do other present-day composers 
exercise abstinence in these matters? It would be unapt, 
even if they did. It ought to give us pleasure that the lan- 
guage of music is growing richer, whereas that of words, 
which a few poets and masters have in their keeping, is daily 
growing poorer. They who sound the retreat in the battle, 
who constantly whine about the lost simplicity of (say) 
Mozart's music, should once and for all consider that life and 
death forwards go. Even before the performance of the Eighth 


Symphony, the " thousand executants" went to not a few 
heads. Pause here and reflect on this "reflection!" 

But, some say, the import of the work is not on a par with 
the expenditure of means. For we have (thanks to the Devil) 
a host of learned writers and art critics who are able to gauge 
exactly, with infallible measures of the latest model, the 
spiritual content of every work past, present and future. 
They have always "been there," and know for certain what 
Beethoven wanted to express, and "in what degree" he was 
successful. The result is to be found in the histories of litera- 
ture which children must swaljow at school; the various, now 
even "popular" presentations of the history of music, whose 
stupidity disappears in comparison with their danger; and so 
on. So Mahler has been spitted and dissected; and, right! 
the spiritual bond, the "content," was not to be found which 
could justify, for instance, the use of song or of celesta. But 
life fares on swiftly, and perhaps our weighers and judgers 
would wear their dignity better were they less lavish of esti- 
mates of value. This is no reason for surrendering the right of 
being enthusiastic about Mahler. One can be carried away 
by conviction and enlightenment; fault-finding can only sneak 
upon us. But at least people should be more cautious in 
condemning an artist who, careless of success, without chang- 
ing or yielding a jot, has tirelessly striven after the highest 
goals. This is not a defence of a great will, where only the 
power to realise it counts although it has rightly been asked 
how many, especially in our time, have possessed even the 
great will but a warning against placing too much reliance on 
the infallibility of "lofty understanding." 

But is not Mahler effective with small means, too? Read the 
score of the Fourth Symphony, where no trombones are used, 
individual instruments are often employed as in chamber- 
music, and most magical effects are conjured almost out of 
nothing. (See page 12 et seq. of the score, and coda of last 
movement, page 121.) Or, of the lyrical works, take " Wer hat 


dies Liedlein erdacht?" with its tiny orchestra (two horns, and 
of the percussives only triangle); "Wo die schonen Trompeten 
blasen," which contains neither bassoons, drums nor trom- 
bones; and the "Tambourg'sell," where, with quite full instru- 
mentation otherwise, flutes and trombones are omitted. The 
Riickert lyrics show peculiar moderation in the orchestration, 
that of the Kindertotenlieder is an absolute novelty. Need we 
recall the magical colouring of the Lied von der Erde, where 
only the How is considered and not the How-much? The 
effect never suffers. How finely everything is thought out 
even the pianoforte arrangement of the orchestral lyrics, as 
concert performances have shown. The musician who can 
thus renounce may also exact; he who weighs his means so 
exactly cannot be called extravagant. 

A few words may be said as to Mahler's means in general 
and a few indications given as to the grammar of his language. 
His themes are wide in curve, and there is no short rest fol- 
lowed by repetition and development. A theme extending 
over forty bars is no uncommon thing, and long breath is the 
rule. The pregnancy and distinctness of the whole are never 
lost. The invention always flows out of the melody; and the 
melos, even if one at first thinks of others, at the second hearing 
belongs positively to Mahler. People have always tried to 
find " reminiscences" in Mahler's music. Whenever it is 
possible to think of a similar passage in Beethoven or Wagner 
and that only in the earliest works in Schubert or Bruckner, 
it is noticed by "every ass," as Brahms said, and it is of course 
without the slightest importance for the whole. (Walter 
Scott called this occupation a favourite task of pedantic stu- 
pidity.) The outspoken rhythm of the themes is especially 
characteristic, being in many lyrics and often in the sym- 
phonies like a march and intentionally recalling the harsh 
shrillness of military marches and funeral processions. Mah- 
ler's harmony has been called " unmodern " both in praise and 
blame. But it has been learned from all the moderns since 


Bach and Chopin, and often in the course of its development 
very nearly equals the most audacious of innovations, such 
as those of Schonberg and the young French school. The 
independence of the parts often leads to harsh passages. Such 
are most often explained by a combination of themes appearing 
accompanied by their original harmony. For his counterpoint 
becomes constantly richer and more ruthless. It seems at 
times as though a theme were not harmonised but counter- 
pointed, as though there were no such thing as a superposition, 
but only a juxtaposition of melodic elements. But finally 
the whole is resolved by means of passing-notes and mighty 
organ-points into the old diatonic system. More " ques- 
tionable" are the whole-tone scales, which race up and down, 
presto, at the end of the Fifth Symphony. In the Sixth they 
are masked in the horns by anticipations (score, p. 122), but 
are quite distinct in the first Serenade of the Seventh (score, 
page 120) in cor anglais, bass clarinet and bassoons, over a 
smoother parallel movement of the basses. The most modern 
progressions and formations of fourths appear. But they are 
almost exceptions, as though Mahler wished to show that he 
could do that too. As a rule he is "the last diatonic writer," 
as he has been called, and at times of an almost sacerdotal sim- 
plicity which derives directly from Beethoven. Precisely in 
the Eighth Symphony he revels in tonic and dominant of 
Eb. In general, the prudent use of modulation is remarkable, 
especially in the earlier works; but, when used, it is with abso- 
lute psychological keenness and significance. Wagner, too, 
never modulates without reason or for the sake of doing so; 
a fact which he specially calls attention to. Just as little does 
Mahler seek audacious or peculiar harmonies, simply to 
astonish with them or to charm with some effect of sonority. 
Mere sound, in contrast to the young French school, has 
absolutely no value for him; he is bent on giving a theme 
everywhere. Even the most insignificant secondary theme is 
absolutely plastic and vocal. His counterpoint has already 


been discussed. It is specially opulent in Symphonies V and 
IX. The last movement of the former is an example of 
Mahler's art of fugue. To praise his instrumentation were 
wearisome repetition; even his bitterest enemies are silent here. 
Mahler speaks the language of every instrument and knows its 
limitations exactly; and he often uses them for special effects 
where their sound is forced, or mysterious, or raucous; for 
instance when the trumpets and bassoons are employed in 
their highest range, or flutes in their deepest. His string- 
writing produces all shades and mixtures in full and muted 
tones; sometimes the strings are struck with the stick. In all 
critical places the stroke and the tone-quality of the position 
are distinctly marked. His manner of using the wind is 
characteristic in marches and march-rhythms, often in the 
manner of military bands, shrill and piercing; and again, to 
exemplify the brute force of every-day life, as in the Sixth 
Symphony. The clarinets in E? of the military band are also 
characteristic of Mahler, although Berlioz uses them to "en- 
canailler" (vulgarize), which also penetrate through strings 
and loud wind (Berlioz' " Instrumentation," edited by Richard 
Strauss), and lend piercing colour to the marches. Drum and 
cymbals have sometimes to be struck by one player, as in the 
military orchestras; kettledrums, tam-tam, birch rods,* tam- 
bourine, xylophone, clapper, are also used here and there in the 
later symphonies and lyrics. In the finale of the Sixth there 
comes twice a terrific crash of the whole orchestra, reinforced 
by a hammer of dull, not metallic, sound. Sometimes large 
bells are required, and cowbells in the Sixth and Seventh Sym- 
phonies; in the latter there is a guitar; in the Seventh, 
Eighth, and the Lied von der Erde, a mandolin. The new 
celesta appears immediately in the Sixth and in the later 
lyrics, used in especially virtuoso fashion. The harp often 
appears solo; it not only plays chords and arpeggios, but leads 

*Two "fagots" the size of the wrist, used to belabor a piece of sheet iron 
lying on a table. 


the melody. The harp goes together with the pianoforte in 
the lyric "Urn Mitternacht." The Eighth makes use of the 
harmonium, the Second and Eighth employ the organ. 

In all this opulence there is nothing arbitrary, no excess. 
Not a single instrument can be omitted; each has its part in the 
work and something of its own to say. In all the multiplicity 
and diversity of the scores, they are not for a moment con- 
fusing; the Master is recognised at once in the clearness of 
the arrangement, and in the distinctness and positiveness of 
each direction. Just as Mahler the conductor and stage- 
manager used to elucidate everything with a single word, the 
instructions and remarks in the scores strive, despite their 
brevity, to exclude all possibility of misunderstanding. 
How well the composer hears, and how well he knows certain 
habits of players, such as "smudging," " going through the 
motions," and " shirking"! All this is to be read out of his 
directions in the score. For instance, in the Eighth, in a 
place where both choruses, children's chorus, and seven soloists 
enter together fortissimo: "It is absolutely forbidden for the 
representatives of the solo-parts to spare themselves in this 
unison passage." In all the voices there sounds entreaty, 
pleading, almost menace, for they sing the weighty words: 
"Accende, accende lumen sensibus!" 

And now to the several works! 


There are forty-two of them. They are not difficult, but 
are only seldom sung for all that, and until Mahler's death 
this neglect was fairly grotesque. That they have not become 
domesticated in the concert-room may be explainable, but is 
not pardonable. "These admirable singers can shout and 
groan their stuff with the greatest bravura, but try them with 
a folk-song, and the spurious effect vanishes. Either the 
pieces they sing are so trivial in character that the effect 


cannot be missed, or else, if we did perceive their real sense, 
we should chase them from their platform and sing for our- 
selves what we like best." Thus writes Achim von Arnim in 
his essay on folk-song, prefacing Part I of the "Wunderhorn" 
over a hundred years ago. Even to-day, when we have got 
so much further in music and especially in lyrical music, it is 
still the case that our concert singers can rarely make anything 
of a folk-song; and Mahler's lyrics are almost all in the spirit 
of the folk-song, homely, simple, but never silly, never trivial, 
or playfully ironical. One would think them meant to be 
sung by the music-lover who, avoiding the countless song- 
recitals of the "season, " stays at home and "sings himself." 
But even the music-lover sings only what he sees on the 
programmes. And who arranges the programmes? They 
are decided upon according to their commercial value, often 
not at all by the singer but by the "manager." In Vienna, 
for instance, a celebrated singer might sing Mahler's lyrics so 
long as he was Director. Thereafter, no one found this advis- 
able ; but then the next Court Opera Director was all the more 
zealously favoured in making up programmes. (And well we 
know what these programmes look like! Even of Schumann 
and Brahms, it is always the same few things, which count as 
"winners," that are given, or else are sung in the manner of 
So-and-So.) Once more: It is explainable, but not pardon- 

And precisely these lyrics which could lead people without 
trouble to Mahler should be given to "such as have an under- 
standing of song" to ponder over. I do not allude to their 
"effectiveness." (Some may recall the tasteful Mahler pro- 
grammes and great success of Madame Cahier and Maria 
Freund.) I mean for people who themselves really enjoy and 
demand music. For such, Mahler's lyrics are better fitted than 
any others. 

Most of them are culled from popular poetry; very few rest 
upon other poems. As Nietzsche says, in the folk-tune the 


melody is the principal and universal element, the poem is 
born out of the melody, and not only once but again and again, 
which explains the use of the strophe and the presence of 
several texts to one melody; in the poems of folk-tunes the 
language is put to the highest tension in order to imitate the 
music; and it seems to me that Mahler's lyrics contain all 
these characteristics. At least, I always have the impression 
that the words were invented to fit the music; not the con- 
trary, as is the case with the art-lyric. Curiously enough, I 
have empirical confirmation of this in the Eighth Symphony, 
where the themes of the Hymnus came before the words, 
which in that case, to be sure, rather goes to prove the primacy 
of the symphonic form, but which may also serve as a clew 
in this case. It goes without saying that there can be no 
question of a clumsy distinction between First and Last; 
the development of a work of art is something infinitely deli- 
cate and mysterious, whose beginning and end are clothed in 
presentiment and fulfilment. But at any rate it may help to 
explain why Mahler's lyrics stand so absolutely apart from all 
others, past or present, and why they, drawn out of the depths 
of music and the interpretability of the words, are so difficult 
to understand, though all that is necessary is to sing over the 
tune to oneself like the countryfolk, without troubling 
about the words, which come of themselves. 

It would be quite false to read sentimentality, or pathos, or 
irony, into Mahler's lyrics. Many composers handle music 
of popular character with a fine and deliberate irony. Mah- 
ler's lyrics are never ironical in this sense. The artist merges 
himself in the work; he never feels himself superior to his 
tune or his text. It must be repeated here: Mahler, the 
leader, the organiser, so full of knowledge, is as a composer 
naive. He remains so even where he makes use of the richest 
gifts of his knowledge in the orchestra ; and his lyrics are almost 
without exception thought out orchestrally to begin with. 

"Des Knaben Wunderhorn" provided him with most of his 


texts this collection which Arnim and Brentano dug like a 
hoarded treasure out of the German past. But Mahler first 
became acquainted with the collection at the age of 28, and 
it is extraordinary how the words he chose for his earliest airs 
resemble the old songs in form and mood, without being either 
forced into a certain manner or disturbed by reminiscences of 
others. These are the four Licder eines fahrenden Gesellen 
(Lays of a Traveling Journeyman). The score and piano 
arrangement, which appeared in 1897, bear the date of Decem- 
ber, 1883. 

In the first the Gesell laments: "Wenn mein Schatz Hoch- 
zeit macht, frohliche Hochzeit macht, hab' ich meinen traurigen 
Tag." (When my sweetheart has her wedding, joyous wed- 
ding, 'tis a sorrowful day for me.) Neither the familiar walk 
through the fields nor the solitude of his little chamber can 
comfort him. "Des Abends wenn ich schlafen gehe, denk' ich 
an mein Leide." (At evening, when I go to bed, I think upon 
my sorrow.) Faster and slower tempi, three- and four-beat 
rhythms, alternate immediately in the four opening bars, and 
later throughout the whole work, but just as naturally as in 
old folk-tunes (Prinz Eugenius!). This regular-irregular beat 
is quite usual with Mahler. The mood remains "quiet and 
sad until the end," as the score demands from the voice. 
The strings are muted; the wood- wind intones a hurrying 
motive. After a peaceful intermezzo (the comforting voice 
of nature), the melancholy of the beginning returns, but leads 
over from D minor to G, where it remains. All four lyrics 
avoid their opening key. The second begins in D and ends in 
the dominant of B. It is the morning walk, where the bluebell 
and the finch announce the beauty of the summer day. But 
there is no luck for the wanderer: "Nein, nein, das ich mein', 
mir nimmer bltihen kann." (No, no! What I will can never 
bloom for me.) This melody is the theme of the first move- 
ment of the First Symphony, but in the latter it is at once ex- 
tended, apart from the altered instrumentation, comes to a 


climax, is imitated, but is still, in spite of its new garb, exactly 
the melody of the Lied des fahrenden Gesellen. A remark in 
the score indicates that the second lyric should follow immedi- 
ately after the first. All four form a unity; the mood of the 
pieces suffices to make this clear. At the beginning of the 
first and second verses the harp accompanies the voice, and 
the words are (unusually for Mahler) here and there declaimed. 
Twice, thrice the orchestra soars up, lastly in B major. The 
glistening sunshine, flowers and birds call "Good-morning." 
Muted horns and strings die away as though disappointed. 
The third lyric begins wildly in D minor with full orchestra, in 
hammered-out quavers: "Ich hab ein gliihend Messer, ein 
Messer in meiner Brust." (I have a glowing knife, a knife 
within my breast.) The pain lessens. Very softly: "Wenn 
ich in den Himmel seh', seh' ich zwei blaue Augen stehn. 
Wenn ich im gelben Felde geh', seh' ich von fern das blonde 
Haar im Winde wehn." (When I gaze at the sky, I see two 
blue eyes; when I go through the yellow field, I see from afar 
blond tresses blown by the wind.) Suddenly, again very loud: 
"Wenn ich aus dem Traum aufTahr', und hore klingen ihr 
silbernes Lachen, o Weh!" (When I start out of my dream, 
and hear her silvery laughter sound, ah me !) And a fresh out- 
burst for the last time : "Ich wollt', ich lag' auf dem schwarzen 
Bahr, konnt' nimmer die Augen auf machen. ' ' (I would I lay on 
the black bier, might never ope mine eyes.) It dies away; cor 
anglais and bassoon and viola once again recall the movement 
of the beginning, a delicate downward passage for strings, 
and the end is reached a deep E flat in double-basses and 
harp, together with which tam-tam and drum are struck, and 
the music ceases. The fourth begins in E minor, in march- 
rhythm. "Die zwei blauen Augen von meinem Schatz, die 
haben mich in die weite Welt geschickt." (The two blue 
eyes of my sweetheart, they sent me out into the wide world.) 
Gradually the episode develops, that of the third movement of 
the First Symphony, similarly introduced and orchestrated as 


there, and closes in F minor. The poem ends ("not sentimen- 
tally!"): "Ich bin ausgegangen in stiller Nacht, wohl iiber 
die dunkle Heide; hat mir niemand ade gesagt, ade. Mein 
Gesell war Lieb und Leide! Auf der Strasse stand ein Lin- 
denbaum; da hab' ich zum erstenmal im Schlaf geruht, imterm 
Lindenbaum; der hat seine Bliiten iiber mich geschneit. Da 
wusst' ich nicht, wie das Leben tut, war alles, alles wieder 
gut. Alles, alles; Lieb und Leid und Welt und Traum!" 
(I fared abroad in silent night, all over the darkling heather; 
none said good-bye to me, good-bye. My companions were 
love and sorrow! By the road there stood a linden-tree; 
'twas there I rested first in sleep, under the linden- tree; it 
snowed its blossoms over me. Then knew I not how life is 
sore, and all, and all was well once more. All, all: Love, 
sorrow, world and dream!) This fourth lyric, of nameless 
beauty even with the pianoforte, may be recommended to all 
who sing; taken by itself, it is also suitable for a female voice. 

The first Book of the lyrics, published in 1892 by Schott, 
bears a similar character to the Lieder ernes fahrenden Gesellen, 
and seems to have been composed about the same time. It 
contains two lyrics after Leander and two folk-songlike com- 
positions from Tirso de Molina's Don Juan, the form of the 
story that was best known before Mozart's day; so Mahler had 
already found the source of the story of the stone guest. Of 
these two, the Serenade is intended for an accompaniment of 
wind-instruments ; the accompaniment of a harp is recommend- 
ed for the "Phantasie." The fifth song, "Hans und Grete," 
is called folk-song, but Mahler probably wrote the poem too. 
It is a dance-song in "easy waltz-tempo," and the beginning 
readily reminds one of the Scherzo of the First Symphony. 

Early in 1806, the first part of "Des Knaben Wunderhorn" 
was published with a dedication to Goethe. On the 21st of 
January Goethe already published a long criticism of it in the 
Jena "Allgemeine Literaturzeitung." He wrote: "But this 
book will find its most suitable place upon the piano of the 


amateur or master of music, so that the poems contained there- 
in may enter their true sphere, either set to familiar old melo- 
dies or fitted with other suitable tunes; or, God willing, with 
new, significant melodies inspired by them." Mahler, at any 
rate, succeeded in finding these new and significant melodies 
sooner than other modern composers no comparison is in- 
tended. The Wunderhorn gave him the words he had been 
seeking for. Once he had found it, he no longer needed to 
write poems of his own for his music. These songs are most 
truly Mahler's own, for they are truly naive. 

His settings of poems in the Wunderhorn are contained in 
Books 2 and 3 of Schott's and in the two Books of the Univer- 
sal Edition: "Zwolf Gesange aus des Knaben Wunderhorn." 
Then come, separately, Revelge and the '^Tambourg'sell (orches- 
tral score published by Kahnt, piano arrangement in the Uni- 
versal Edition). All these were distributed over the years 
1888-1901, the period from the First to the Fourth Symphony. 
We shall follow the order of publication. 

"Um schlimme Kinder artig zu machen." (To make 
naughty children good.) Cuckoo-calls in fourths, to be 
noticed again in the First Symphony. "Ich ging mit Lust 
durch einen griinen Wald." (Thro' a green wood I strayed 
full joyously.) Soft, delicate chords in D major, a simple, 
charming figure for the singing of the birds. He goes to his 
sweetheart. A lovely change into G major. In the evening 
the lad knocks in vain. D major again. The nightingale 
sings all night long, but the sleepy lass will not stir. "Aus! 
aus!" (Off! off!) is the march-song of the departing lansquenet, 
while the maiden weeps after him. Her coaxing grows more 
urgent, but is always overborne by the loud "heut marschieren 
wir" (to-day we march). And the man has the last word: 
"Im Mai bluhn gar viele Blumelein, die Lieb' ist noch nicht 
aus." (In May blows many a floweret, and love is not yet 
o'er.) "Aus" is repeated with intentional double meaning. 
Text-repetitions in Mahler's lyrics never occur merely for the 


sake of the musical line, whatever may have been said about 
his use of music and words. Each has its sufficient significance, 
even its art. This should also be noticed in the Eighth 

"Starke Einbildungskraf t " (Strong Imagination) is another 
dialogue. The girl demands that she shall be taken at the 
time arranged. The boy replies: "Wie soil ich dich denn 
nehmeri, dieweil ich dich schon hab'? Und wenn ich halt 
an dich gedenk', so mein' ich alleweile, ich ware schon bei 
dir!" (Now, say, how shall I take you, when you're already 
mine? And when I haply think of you, it really seems to me 
then as tho' I were with you.) The whole thing is easy and 
jolly, with marked folk-song rhythms. In "Zu Strassburg auf 
der Schanz" (At Stras'sburg on the fort) the pipe sounds, and 
immediately afterwards is heard the song of the captured 
Swiss mercenary, in a motive that recalls "Revelge." How 
far Mahler's art had progressed in the "Tambourg'sell," where 
the subject is similar! 

"Ablosung im Sommer": "Kuckuck hat sich zu Tode 
gefallen" (The Changes of Summer: "Cuckoo's killed him- 
self by falling") becomes later part of the Third Symphony. 
If the cuckoo is dead, the song knows what to do: "Wir warten 
auf Frau Nachtigall, dann fangt sie an zu schlagen." (We're 
waiting for Dame Nightingale, then she'll begin her singing.) 
The series of fifths (p. 7, bars 7-9) is remarkable. "Scheiden 
und Meiden" (Leave-taking) brings, with swift, bold musical 
uprush, the confession (Wann werd' ich mein Schatzel wohl 
kriegen?): "Und ist es nicht morgen, ach war' es wohl heut; 
es machte uns beiden wohl grosse Freud'. " (When shall I get 
my sweetheart? "And if not to-morrow, would it were to- 
day; 'twould surely give both of us great joy.") The touch- 
ing "Nicht wiedersehen" contains the melodically and har- 
monically remarkable line, "Ade, ade, mein herzallerliebster 
Schatz" (Farewell, farewell, my dearest love). 

: Selbstgef iihl " (Self-esteem); the words "ich weiss nicht 



wie mir ist" (I know not what I feel) survive even to-day in 
Steiermark. With "Der Schildwache Nachtlied" (The Sen- 
try's Nightsong) begins the series of lyrics with orchestra; a 
real ballade, a dialogue between the blunt, devout soldier and 
the seductive fay. Again the march-rhythm and the changing 
beat; at the close a delicate dying-away vanishing of the 
whole orchestra as in a dream (the harp-part!), accompanying 
the repeated words of the text: " Mitternacht, Mitternacht, 
Feldwacht" (Midnight, midnight, outpost), which seem spoken 
as though half-asleep. "Verlorne Miih" (Lost Labor a 
Swabian song) . Again the maiden begs, hesitatingly, breaking 
down at each attempt after the first words; her lad "mag holt 
nit" (don't care to). The tiny orchestra is handled in masterly 
fashion. "Trost im Ungliick" (Cheer in Sorrow) is the fare- 
well of two who, loving one another, would rather part than 
give way. So the huzzar saddles his horse and the girl sings: 
"Du glaubst, du bist der Schonste auf der ganzen weiten Welt, 
und auch der Angenehmste! ist aber weit, weit gefehlt." 
(You think you're the handsomest fellow in the whole wide 
world, and the nicest, too! But you're sadly mistaken.) 
" Wer hat dies Liedlein erdacht" (Who was it thought out this 
song) dances simply and at last joyously through the orchestra. 
"Das irdische Leben" (Earthly Life) evokes, with cor anglais, 
three horns and divided strings, a "weird agitation"; sombre, 
stressful activity; the hungry child is put off until everything 
is harvested, threshed and baked, and in the meantime starves. 
Such is the prudence of the "earthly life." "St. Antonius von 
Padua Fischpredigt " (St. Anthony of Padua's Sermon to the 
Fishes) is the uncouth story of Abraham a Santa Clara with 
an ironical turn to the subject. Goethe described these verses 
as "incomparable both in meaning and treatment." The 
Saint, finding his church empty, preaches to the fishes, and the 
whole finned river-folk comes to listen. "Sharp-snouted" 
pike that fight the whole time; stockfish, eels and sturgeon, 
who go to make the best dishes of aristocrats and are therefore 


aristocrats themselves; even crabs and turtles. But the 
sermon ended, "ein jedes sich wendet. . . . die Krebse gehn 
zuriicke, die Stockfisch bleiben dicke, die Karpfen viel fressen, 
die Predigt vergessen" (each one turneth about. . . . The 
crabs walk backward, the cod stay thick and awkward, the 
carp eat all they come on, forgetting the sermon). And 
Mahler repeats: "Die Predigt hat g'fallen, hat g'fallen." 
(The sermon gave pleasure, gave pleasure.) The fishes come 
swimming along to the rolling, rowing movement of the music. 
One can almost see how their stupid bodies rock, how they 
move their fins, gape around, and then (violas, 'cellos and 
basses with springing bow) stupidly turn away. The piece is 
taken over into the Second Symphony as scherzo. Then fol- 
lows the exquisite " Rheinlegendchen " (Rhine Legend): 
"Bald gras' ich am Necker, bald gras' ich am Rhein" (I reap 
on the Neckar, I mow on the Rhine). The effect of the very 
small orchestra must be noticed one flute, one oboe, one 
clarinet, one bassoon and one horn, besides strings. Then the 
gloomy "Lied des Verfolgten im Turm." (Lay of the Prisoner 
in the Tower.) The maiden who loves him sings outside, but 
the prisoner renounces her, so that his thoughts may remain 
free. "Wo die schonon Trompeten blasen" (Where the beau- 
tiful trumpets blow) is for me perhaps the greatest of all; 
these strange passages in major where the ghostly lover appears, 
the approach of morning, the sobbing nightingale, which 
frightens the maiden still more so that she suddenly bursts 
into tears; the change into minor at the first glimmer of day- 
light when the stars go out; the close. "Allwo die schonen 
Trompeten blasen, da ist mein Haus, mein Haus von grunem 
Rasen." (And where the beautiful trumpets blow, there is my 
house, in the greensward below.) Once again, as in despair, 
the trumpet sounds. The "Lob des hohen Verstandes" 
(Praise of Lofty Intellect) is the contest between nightingale 
and cuckoo, with the ass as umpire. The nightingale does 
well, but the critic cannot take it in, whereas the cuckoo sings 


"gut Choral und halt den Takt fein inne" (holds well the tune 
and keeps time most exactly the time in which the ass brays 
"He-haw!"). The last of these series of lyrics are the chorus 
for women's voices, from the Third Symphony, and "Urlicht," 
from the Second. Outside the set are the two masterpieces 
"Revelge" (says Goethe: " Incomparable for those whose 
imagination can follow"), and the " Tambourg'sell " ("a poem 
whose equal the comprehending reader will have difficulty in 
finding"); especially the " Revelge," the march and fight of 
the drummer beyond death, has" become through its music 
more especially " quite incomparable." 

Mahler felt himself at home amongst the poems of the 
Wunderhorn, found in them his own self again. We must 
respect the feeling that led him to Riickert later, just as we 
respect that which leads old and new composers back to 
Heine. I confess myself incapable of following Rlickert's 
poems in the same way; for it seems to me, despite all their 
beauty of form and sentiment, that they almost always play 
with their subjects. Recall a lyric by Eichendorff, Morike, or 
Liliencron, and you will see what I mean. My delight in the 
four Riickert lyrics "Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder," "Ich 
atmet' einen linden Duft," " Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekom- 
men," and " Mitternacht " ("Look not into my songs," "I 
breathed an air so soft and mild," "I am lost to the world" and 
"Midnight") is thereby somewhat interfered with, although 
just the last two have great importance as confessions of 
Mahler's art : solitary, world-forgetting, yearning for heaven. 

The death of his two children gave Riickert "material for 
endless poems." Of the " Kindertotenlieder " which appeared 
posthumously Mahler, with the taste of a connoisseur and 
artist, chose five, in which a really profound sentiment lies, 
and welded them into a Whole which thus became a new worft 
of art. Everything is ennobled by the purity, simplicity and 
sincerity of the music. It is characteristic of Mahler that he 
had finished this composition at a time when even the possi- 


bility of a similar misfortune happening to himself did not 
exist. The first, "Nun will die Sonn' so hell aufgehen" 
(And now the sun will rise so bright), seeks in vain for conso- 
lation in the Universe. Again and again a double stroke of 
the Glockenspiel sounds like a doleful reminder, "Ein Lamplein 
erlosch in meinem Zelt" (Within my tent a little light is 
spent), and dies gently away with the greeting to the sun: 
"Heil sei dem Freudenlicht der Welt" (Hail, joyous light of all 
the world). In the second, the eyes of the dead children 
brighten again only eyes before, only stars now. In the third, 
the voice with its empty fourths, deep, muted, as though 
speaking alone, joins the sorrowful cor anglais melody. The 
glance seeks the vanished child on the threshold, beside the 
entering mother. A violent outbreak of grief, and all becomes 
silent again, only a low G of the harp is struck. Then violins 
and horns begin a hurrying melody, "Oft denke ich, sie sind 
nur ausgegangen" (I often think, they are but gone abroad). 
A furious storm; the children would never have been allowed 
out in this weather. Anxiety is vain to-day. The Glocken- 
spiel is heard again, and over the celesta and violins sounds in 
maj or ' ' like a cradle-song ' ' the message of hope and lasting peace. 

In these Kindertolenlieder Mahler has rescued the most 
valuable part of Rlickert; his veiled, often enough masked 
sentiment; a bitter, chaste, masculine way of feeling. He 
thus exercised his power over this poet's words, as over the 
Wunderhorn in earlier years. But in this case it was possible 
only to his far maturer art. 

Some day, when Mahler is better appreciated, the "klagen- 
des Lied" will again be remembered, which he began at 18 and 
completed at 20. It is for soprano and tenor solos, mixed 
chorus and orchestra, and may therefore be called a choral 
work; but in its arrangement it betrays the original intention 
of making it an opera. In the orchestral prelude, the themes 
follow one another just as in an opera overture. Then begins 
the story: 


Beim Weidenbaum, im kiihlen Tann, 
Da flattern die Dohlen und Raben; 
Da liegt ein blonder Reitersmann 
Unter Bliiten und Blattern begraben. 
Dort 1st es so lind und voll von Duft, 
Als ging ein Weinen durch die Luft. 
O Leide! Leide! 

( By the willow-tree, where cool the wood, 
The daws and the ravens are flying; 

With leaves and blossoms covered yon 
A fair-haired horseman is lying. 

'Tis all so mild and balmy there 

As went a weeping thro' the air. 
sorrow! sorrow!) 

A minstrel goes by, sees a bone shining through the grass, 
keeps it and carves a flute out of it as out of a reed : and, as he 
plays, it is the lament of the murdered knight that resounds 
he had been murdered by his brother in order that the latter 
might win a great lady. The minstrel carries the song of 
lament into the world. He comes to the hall of the newly- 
married pair, where the second part begins, as in the theatre, 
with rejoicing in chorus and orchestra. Once more the baleful 
flute is played, and loudly accuses the king of fratricide. The 
marriage festivities cease; the castle sinks into the earth. 
O sorrow! The words are by Mahler, after an old German 
story. They are as sure and effective as the music, in which 
the young artist for the first time trusts his wings and already 
soars on high. Even if the score, so tardily published (not till 
1899), betrays many alterations by the mature, ever-improving 
master, this first form must still have had strength enough to 
restrain Mahler from putting it away from him, as he did many 
other youthful works. Perhaps he respected it because it 
showed him how strong he was, and that he might still go 
forward as he had begun. The instrumentation, the setting 
of the chorus, are admirable. 



However important his lyric compositions may be, Mahler 
is primarily a symphonist. But he makes use of his mastery 
over the human voice also in his symphonies. He does so 
in five of the ten great works we are to examine. What was for 
others exceptional, the use of song and chorus, is for him a new 
form. After Liszt, Bruckner had let the instruments speak 
alone. Bruckner was the last composer beyond whom he had 
to go. 

At the outset the movements follow each other like great 
songs ; at first comes an interchanging, a variation, of the first 
and second themes. The old form, a garment already out- 
grown, is thrown round the young giant's body, who feels it as 
a fetter to every movement. And he weaves for himself a new 
garment after the pattern of the old, such as had served his 
predecessors, and thenceforward his power is unrestrained 
when he hurls the titanic themes one amongst the other, 
knots and binds them together, when he recommences the 
ended play of the development, mastering with courageous 
grasp the arts of the old teachers. The symphony of Beethoven 
was carried by Bruckner into Wagner's aura. Mahler, whose 
nature it was to widen existing bounds, bears it on still fur- 
ther. Where Bruckner worshipped, Mahler is tempted, 
wrestles with and subdues the tempter, and only after the 
visions in the wilderness comes transfiguration on the summit 
of Tabor. 

But have not interpretations of this struggle influenced the 
new form? Is not this form conveyed allegorically into the 
music? Do not Mahler's compositions follow programmes, 
overt or hidden? Did not they decide the new form? 

A chance has made such questions possible. In the main 
Mahler has always advocated the view stated by Hoffmann- 
Kreisler: "Music opens for man an unknown continent, a 
world that has nothing in common with the exterior world of 


sense that surrounds it, and in which he leaves behind all 
determinate feelings in order that he may give himself up to 
indescribable yearning." But like Bruckner (in his later years) 
Mahler, at the beginning, believed that the " programme" 
possessed a certain potency whereby his music might be 
brought nearer to the listener. He thus came to the "pro- 
gramme as a final, ideal elucidation." He wrote these words 
himself in 1897 to Arthur Seidl and showed the difference 
between his programmes and those of Richard Strauss, which 
he calls "a given pensum," without intending to advance 
an estimate, and even expressly pointing out the importance 
of Strauss. This explains why the programme of the First 
Symphony was not issued for the performance at Pesth in 
1889 (probably it did not then exist), whilst in Hamburg and 
Weimar Mahler, evidently to counteract the legendary " enor- 
mities" of the work, gave out the following: "Part I. The 
Days of Youth. Youth, flowers and thorns. (1) Spring 
without end. The introduction represents the awakening of 
nature at early dawn. (In Hamburg it was called 'Winter 
Sleep.') (2) A Chapter of Flowers (Andante). (3) Full Sail! 
(Scherzo). Part II. Commedia umana. (4) Stranded. 
A funeral march d la Callot (at Weimar, 'The Hunter's 
Funeral Procession'). The following remarks may serve as 
an explanation if necessary. The author received the external 
incitement to this piece from a pictorial parody well known to 
all children in South Germany, 'The Hunter's Funeral Pro- 
cession.' The forest animals accompany the dead forester's 
coffin to the grave. The hares carry flags; in front is a band 
of Gypsy musicians and music-making cats, frogs, crows, etc. ; 
and deer, stags, foxes, and other four-footed and feathered 
denizens of the forest accompany the procession in comic 
postures. In the present piece the imagined expression is 
partly ironically gay, partly gloomily brooding, and is immedi- 
ately followed by (5) Dall' Inferno al Paradiso (allegro furioso), 
the sudden outbreak of a profoundly wounded heart." 


The whole is entitled "Titan." 

And now call to mind Jean Paul's "Titan" and his endless 
aberrations and chastenings! The only relation between them 
is expressed by Jean Paul's remark about the romance: It 
really should be called "Anti-Titan," because every would-be 
sealer of heaven finds his hell therein. If one thinks of all the 
other hints at words and works of Jean Paul (and considers 
that the Andante is now removed), one must ask, What has 
all this to do with the First Symphony? It was nothing but 
an accommodation to the demands of the day, a concession 
which ended in confusion. The whole was understood so 
much the less. 

I have recalled this "programme" only to check, once for all, 
the talk about Mahler's earlier works being "programme- 
music"; as for the later ones, even those "best informed" 
could not, even if they would, pretend to think so, after Mah- 
ler had withdrawn all programmes whatever, however much 
it might have interested them to know "who was being buried " 
during any given funeral march. In general, the hearer who 
interprets rather than listens likes nothing better than to 
investigate what the composer "meant" by his works. Of 
course, he meant nothing whatever. But by means of a sym- 
bol, an image, one may better understand his works. Beet- 
hoven's headings and instructions, and Schumann's titles, are 
intended to be thus understood, and in this sense Mahler's 
symphonies can here and there be described in words; often 
the words of the vocal movements themselves invite it. I 
always regret, for instance, that the titles of the movements 
of the Third Symphony should have been abandoned. They 
were, formerly: Pan awakes; summer's advent What the 
flowers of the meadow tell me What the beasts of the forest 
tell me What man tells me What the angels tell me What 
love tells me. Originally this was followed by the last move- 
ment of the Fourth Symphony, as may still be recognised by 
the thematic relationship. These titles are certainly not 


necessary for the " understanding" of the work; but it may be 
significant that they were revived on the programmes of the 
Berlin performance in 1907 that is, after Mahler's vehement 
declaration against "programmes" before the Munich Hugo 
Wolf Society in 1900. Naturally, they must be taken only 
as images for the recipient, not as programmes for the creator, 
who with ever-increasing vehemence demanded music, only 
music. Bruno Walter puts the matter finely: "If we under- 
stand the titles Mahler gave his works in the mystical and 
only possible sense, we must not expect any explanation of the 
music by means of them; but we may hope that the music 
itself will throw the most penetrating light upon the sphere of 
emotion which the titles suggest. Let us be prudent enough 
to free these titles from an exact meaning, and remember that 
in the kingdom of beauty nothing is to be found except ' Gestal- 
tung, Umgestaltung, des ewigen Sinnes ewige Unterhaltung.' 
(Formation, Transformation, Th'eternal Mind's eternal recrea- 
tion.) Should we attach to those programmatical schemes fixed 
names, the 'transformation' would prove us wrong in the 
next minute. We must not think of that ' which the flowers of 
the meadow tell,' but of everything that touches our hearts 
with gentlest beauty and tenderest charm." On being re- 
quested to do so, Mahler himself once even undertook a similar 
supplementary interpretation after a private performance of 
the Second Symphony. 

When the notion of Mahler's programmes, and the still 
more dangerous one of the "suppressed programme," are once 
cleared away, the pure musical form remains behind, which is 
derivable solely from the development of the music, from the 
unity of the work, and from the character of the great creed. 
Bruckner, not Liszt, is Mahler's forerunner, but only a fore- 
runner. And, as with Bruckner, Mahler's symphonies fol- 
lowed each other, careless of time or success, and he was obliged 
to hold them back for years. He never became doubtful of 
himself, not even under the influence of the greater effective- 


ness and " productiveness" of the theatre, the way to which 
would have been short enough for him. These creations 
awaken but slowly out of the score. Mahler's time was not 
yet come, that of certain others was ever with us. 

On attempting to sketch a picture of these works, I am able 
to give only what the present moment allows; any final judg- 
ment, any entering into details, is forbidden by time and cir- 
cumstances for many years to come. Where impressions are 
set forth, they must be taken only as images; they follow no 
secret programmes. 

First Symphony (D major). The work of a lyrist in his 
twenties (completed 1888), at a time when the younger men 
were disciples if, indeed, they ever shook off the bonds of 
discipleship. Richard Strauss had not yet written Tod und 
Verkldrung. . . And in these same eighties this symphony 
was written, a work of such originality (quite aside from all 
" interpretations" and "interlineations") musically a feat 
that might have been convincing, had any one known of it. 
Perhaps not a symphonic masterwork, but one of emotion and 
invention; of sonority, of personality. And still only a begin- 
ning. How beautiful the introduction is, suggesting the 
melancholy of the Moravian plains over a long-sustained A, 
down to which the minor theme in oboe and bassoon dreamily 
sinks! Thereupon the up-striving fanfare of the clarinets; 
the fourth becomes a cuckoo-call in the wood-wind, a lovely 
song in the horns; then, still over the pedal A, a gradual rolling 
movement, first in the divided 'celli and basses, like the re- 
awakening of the earth after a clear summer's night. The 
tempo quickens, the cuckoo's call becomes the first notes of the 
first Lied eines fahrenden Gesellen: "Ging heut morgen iiber's 
Feld" (O'er the fields I went at morn). The whole melody, 
here in symphonic breath, is sung softly by the strings, turns 
into the dominant, mounts in speed and strength, sinks back 
pianissimo, and is repeated. An actual repeat-sign; save in 


the scherzo-form, there is only one other example of this in 
Mahler, in the Sixth Symphony. A kind of development-sec- 
tion follows, but it really rather confirms the theme. The 
leap of the fourth now becomes a fifth, developed melodically 
through major and minor; the " awakening" is repeated, the 
harp taking the tune; once again D major over the pedal A. 
A new tune in the horns; modulation, livelier play of the motives 
with many an unrelated succession of ideas. Suddenly, in the 
wood-wind, a theme of the last movement, immediately fol- 
lowed by a Brucknerish climax, /on whose summit is heard the 
introductory fanfare, then abruptly the horn-theme and the 
fourths of the commencement. Then comes a kind of reprise 
altered as Mahler nearly always does in later works (preferably 
shortened, not recommencing with the beginning!). Merrier 
still, ever livelier until the end; always in the principal key. 
The Lied des fahrenden Gesellen fixes the entire character; no 
secondary theme, scarcely a development. But the music, 
dewy fresh, strikes the goggles from the nose of the peering 
critic. There follows a merry, dancing scherzo, an Austrian 
Landler like those of Bruckner and Schubert, exquisitely har- 
monised and scored. A horn leads into the oldentime Trio. 
The fahrender Gesell has discovered a hidden village where 
people are happy as of yore. But precisely this merry-making 
recalls his own sad flight from love. (.After a long pause begins 
the third part with the rugged canon " Frere Jacques." Muted 
drums beat out the " fourth"; it sounds like the rhythm of a 
grotesque funeral-march a la Callot. A muted double-bass 
begins, a bassoon and 'cello follow, then bass tuba and a deep 
clarinet. An oboe bleats and squeaks thereto in the upper 
register. Four flutes with the canon drag the orchestra along 
with them; the shrill E-flat clarinet quacks; over a quiet 
counterpoint in the trumpets the oboes are tootling a vulgar 
street-song; two -E'-flat clarinets, with bassoon and flutes, 
parodistically pipe wretched stuff, accompanied by an m-ta, 
m-ta, in the percussion (cymbals attached to the big drum, so 


as to sound thoroughly vulgar) and in the strings (scratched 
with the sticks). Discordant every-day life, which never lets 
go its hold. Then harps and wind take up a soft D, treat it as 
dominant, add the major third of G, and the violins sing the 
lay of the sheltering linden-tree. Deliverance: "Da wusst 
ich nicht wie das Leben tut, war alles, alles wieder gut." 
(Then knew I not how life might be, and all again was well 
with me.) j But the barrel-organ canon straightway starts up 
again, dies away finally and leads directly into the last move- 
ment. Raging, a chromatic triplet rushes downward, a 
theme from the development of the first movement announces 
itself, everything ferments and fumes, clinging fast to the 
key of F minor. Over a pedal on D flat, the 'cello movement 
and the " fourth" motive from the first part now sound 
triumphantly in D major. This relationship and similarity 
of the themes in different movements is still more emphatically 
developed by Mahler than by his predecessors. An even 
louder climax, where seven horns must be heard above every- 
thing, even the trumpets. They sound like a chorale from 
paradise after the waves of hell. Saved! 

Here is art, understandable in images, but still, at least in 
intention, severely symphonic, jA " programme" is unneces- 
sary. Apart from the digressions of the last movement, the 
work is not more difficult for hearers than for players, and one 
which stimulates a genuine interest in MahlerJ It arouses a 
desire to become acquainted with his other works. 

On the other hand, the Second Symphony (in C minor) re- 
quires a very large orchestra (ten horns alone) ; the percussion 
employs five extra musicians besides the two drummers; 
organ, alto solo and a mixed chorus are added. It is a sym- 
phony of destiny. Mahler's subsequent explanation implies 
(in the first movement) the death of a hero, who is fallen in 
Promethean struggle for his ideal, for the knowledge of life 
and death. Abysmal depths are stirred. A well-nigh endless 
funeral march rises sharp and trenchant from the restless, 


declamatory basses. Consuming lament in the wood-wind. 
Then suddenly the change from minor to major, so character- 
istic of Mahler, in horns and strings; very softly, a first promise 
of consolation. But, quick as lightning, the convulsion of the 
beginning returns. The rolling basses sink down into inaudi- 
bility. A lighter secondary section; modulation; the basses 
burst through the march-rhythm, the passionate raging is 
renewed. Development. In the funeral march a chorale is 
heard, which swings forward from gloomy resolution to joyous 
promise, and is repeated in the last movement. But here only 
despair may triumph. A repeat in the principal key, much 
shortened, the motives crowded together as though afraid to 
spread themselves. Harps and basses introduce the coda, 
which slowly advances, but only to speak an epilogue : Impavi- 
dum ferient ruince. The chord of C major immediately goes 
over to C minor. (Sixth Symphony!) A swift descending run, 
and the colossal movement ends. A long pause. Then an 
intermezzo in A flat; remembrance and retrospect. The strings 
begin a dance-tune. A horn leads to the key of B, changing 
E flat enharmonically into D sharp. Lively, youthfully gay 
triplets over an unmoving bass. Once more the dance-tune, 
with a counterpoint in the 'celli. After a subdued variation 
of the mobile theme, the dance-melody creeps back for the 
third time, this time pizzicato in the strings and lengthened by 
interpolated imitative measures. Further on, more grand- 
fatherly enjoyment. 

The next movement (C minor), a scherzo in form, is St. 
Anthony of Padua's sermon to the fishes. A second typical 
figure; the hero in manhood goes forth into the world, and 
sees how stupidity and vulgarity, like the fishes of the legend, 
are incorrigible. The trio, beginning by afugato, mounts from 
step to step, C-D-E, reaches a point of repose, and sinks back 
into C it was only another sermon to the fishes. Return of 
the scherzo. An outcry of disgust, and then even the tireless 
progression of this movement refuses to flow onward. 


It ceases in C; and, without interruption, the alto solo begins 
in D flat: "0 Roschen rot! Der Mensch liegt in grosster Not ! 
Der Mensch liegt in grosster Pein! Je lieber mocht' ich im 
Himmel sein." (0 rosebud red! Mankind lies in sorest need! 
Mankind lies in sorest pain ! The rather would I be in heaven !) 
And will not be turned aside. "Ich bin von Gott, und will 
wieder zu Gott; der liebe Gott wird mir ein Lichtchen geben, 
wird leuchten mir bis in das ewig, selig Leben." (I am from 
God, and must to God return; my kind Father will give me a 
light, shall light me to eternal, blessed life.) 

Attacca the fifth movement. A new affliction; death and 
judgment are at hand. But the storm of the orchestra is 
interrupted by reassurances. Distant horns spread the terror 
of the last day. Quite softly, march-like, the chorale of the 
first movement sounds. A reference to the coming " Resur- 
rection" motive is heard. "The dead arise and march for- 
ward in endless procession. . . . The cry for mercy and 
grace sounds terrible in our ears." Fear and hope struggle 
in all hearts. "The Great Call is heard; the trumpets of the 
apocalypse sound the summons; amid the awful silence we 
seem to hear a far, far distant nightingale, like the last quiver- 
ing echo of earthly life. The chorus of the saints and the 
heavenly host begins almost ,inaudibly: 'Auferstehen, ja 
auferstehen wirst du!' (Thou shalt arise, arise from the 
dead.) The splendour of God appears. . . . It is no judg- 
ment; there are no sinners, no righteous. . . . There is no 
punishment and no reward. An irresistible sentiment of love 
penetrates us with blest knowledge and vital glow." The 
chorus, with soprano solo, begins a cappella with indescribable 
effect. It sings Klopstock's ode; an alto proceeds with Mah- 
ler's words: "O glaube, mein Herz, es geht dir nichts verloren! 
Dein ist, was du gesehnt, dein was du geliebt, was du gestritten. 
Mit Fliigeln die ich mir errungen, werde ich entschweben. . . 
Sterben werde ich, um zu leben." (Oh, believe, my heart, to 
thee shall naught be lost ! Thine is, what thou didst long for, 


thine, what thou hast loved, for which thou strov'st. With 
wings that I myself have won, shall I soar upward. ... I 
shall die, that I may live.) With the peal of organ and bells 
amid the jubilation of the orchestra, this "Resurrection 
Symphony" ends. 

It has always borne eloquent witness for Mahler's art, for its 
truth and beauty. How exactly it represents Mahler as man 
and artist is confirmed by the fact that he returns in the 
Eighth Symphony, though on a higher plane, to this same 
circle of thought. 

While he makes Man the subject of the Second, in the 
Third Symphony (D minor) it is with and of Nature that he 
speaks. Of still wider scope, in it stones, trees and birds take 
on life (in Fechner's sense), and the Soul of the Earth sings to 
mankind. An imposing first movement stands alone; its 
performance fills three-quarters of an hour. There is a cyclo- 
pean succession of march-rhythms in most audacious harmoni- 
sation. Rigid, motionless nature. Pan awakes but gradually. 
The marches grow ever harder and ruder in the development, 
as though something especially evil were smuggled in. Soli in 
drum and kettledrums mark sections. The usual altered and 
shortened repetition, inexhaustible in new invention, new 
gayety, which however must still undergo purification. Pause. 
The other movements form a unity. A lovely minuet follows : 
"Was mir die Blumen auf der Wiese erzahlen" (What the 
field-flowers tell me), idyllic, still tranquil. Third movement, 
the "Ablosung in Sommer"; now it is the animals of the forest 
that converse together; they hear the horn of the passing mail- 
coach; the speech of the men within is incomprehensible. There 
has been laughter enough at this post-horn; but what has here 
grown out of the well-known tune of the trumpeting coachman, 
especially where the horns enter and the JS'-flat clarinets make 
the echo, shows how Mahler could ennoble an old melody, 
which seems almost to have been taken from the language of 
the beasts. With a merry fanfare, the Austrian military 


signal " Retreat," the coach departs, and the forest talk re- 
commences, but now altered and more excited. The animals 
become rougher and coarser, squalling and wrangling tire- 
lessly together; the horn is once more heard in the distance, and 
the animals amuse themselves with running about until the 
end. People who are friends of nature, which should really 
be always in our thoughts, will only need to listen to this 
scherzo "with variations," and everything will become "un- 

Once again comes the human voice, a contralto solo. A 
motive heard at the beginning of the symphony, and the mys- 
terious chords that followed it, introduce Zarathustra's 
"Drunken Song." Man gives voice to his deepest longing and 
desire: Eternity. Without a break follows a lyric from DCS 
Knaben Wundcrhorn. A choir of boys intones its bim-bam 
with the bells, and a female chorus sings : 

"Es sungen drei Engcl einen siissen Gesang; 
Mit Frcuden es selig in dem Himmel klang, 
Sic jauchzten frohlich auch dabei, 
Dass Petrus sei von Siinden frei. 
Und als der Herr Jesus zu Tische sags, 
Mit scincn zwolf Ji'mgern das Abendmahl ass; 
Da sprach der Herr Jesus: Was stehst du denn hier? 
Wenn ich dich anseh', so weinest du mir!" 

(Three angels were singing a dulcet song, 
Full joyous the sound rang thro' heaven along; 
And full of joy were they to see 
That Peter now from sin was free. 
And as the Lord Jesus at table sate, 
With his twelve disciples the supper ate; 
Saith Jesus: "Wherefore standest thou here? 
I see thee shedding many a tear.)' 

A contralto voice alone (magna peccatrix) : 

"Und sollt' ich nicht weinen, du giitiger Gott?" 
(And should not I weep, Thou merciful God?) 


The chorus of angels: . 
"Du sollst ja nicht weinen." 
(Nay, weep thou no more.) 

The contralto replies: 

"Ich hab' iibertreten die zehn Gebot." 
(The ten commandments have I broke.) 

But the remedy is there: 

" . . . . Liebe nur Gott in alle Zeit, 
So wirst du erlangen die himmlische Freud'. 
Die himmlische Freud' ist eine selige Stadt, 
Die himmlische Freud', die kein Ende mehr hat! 
Die himmlische Freude war Petro bereit't, 
Durch Jesum and Allen zur Seligkeit." 

( Love thou but God for evermore, 

For thee heaven's joys shall be in store. 
The joys of heaven, that have no end, 
Blest city, whither thou dost wend! 
The joys for Peter and all the rest 
Prepared by Jesus in heavenly rest.) 

Bells, harps and the whole orchestra, except the violins, 
which do not play in this movement, exult. That is what the 
angels have to tell. And Mahler dares go straight from the 
land of Zarathustra into the Christian heaven. Both are 
images, and only the love of that desire and that heaven is 
meant. The last movement speaks of this love; a sweet, 
noble, serene adagio: since Beethoven there are but few that 
can compare with it. 

After this work Mahler wrote a shorter and more peaceful 
one, his Fourth Symphony, in G major, which is usually 
considered to be gay. But it only becomes so; it has to struggle 
through many a cloudy moment; in its bright noonday we are 
often stricken with a panic dread. The work is, as far as 
material is concerned, easy to perform. Wood-wind and 
strings are fairly numerous; there are, however, only four 
horns; trombones, none at all. The instrumentation is 


masterly in the extreme, and Mahler's art was scarcely ever 
greater than in this modest work. In any case, the Fourth 
should often be played and studied. At the very beginning, 
there is a satisfied but almost cautious gaiety. The movement 
is exposed quietly and with ease; it is developed with greater 
freedom and variety than any preceding work. Three bars of 
the introduction also play an important part. Suddenly comes 
the repeat, entering in the very midst of the first part, and with 
it the friendliness of the commencement returns; towards the 
close it becomes an almost Mozartian jubilation. In the 
second movement, a scherzo in character, is a slow violin 
tuned a whole tone higher, which sounds sharp and piercing 
like a countryman's fiddle. Only one being can play thus 
Death. He is very good-natured, and lets the others go on 
dancing, but they must not forget who is making the music. 
When he lets his bow fall, the other players try to overtake him; 
they are in major, but even that sounds creepy enough, as in 
the sermon to the fishes. Then the piece becomes somewhat 
livelier (Trio), but the ghostly theme returns and remains. 
Another violin enters, less piercing (not tuned higher). At 
last the glassy tones die away. The third movement, poco 
adagio, begins "peacefully," with an almost supernatural 
composedness. Constantly more lively variations of the 
theme, which, suddenly reaching an allegro molto, return as 
suddenly to the calm of the beginning, transfiguring it. Only 
once, near the end of this part, the theme of the last movement 
is betrayed. It begins " very complacently," and a soprano solo 
sings, with childishly gay expression, " absolutely without 
parodying," to words from Des Knaben Wunderhorn that we 
are now really in heaven: 

"Wir geniessen die himmlischen Freuden, 
Drum tun wir das Irdische meiden. 
Kein weltlich Getiimmel 
Hort man nicht im Himmel! 
Lebt alles in sanf tester Ruh'. 


Wir fiihren ein englischcs Lcben, 
Sind clennoch ganz lustig daneben, 

Wir tanzcn und springen, 

Wir hiipfen und singen." 

(The delights of heaven we're enjoying, 
The pleasures of earth destroying. 
No earth-born riot 
Is heard in heaven's quiet! 

All live in reposeful delight. 
A life like the angels we're leading, 
Yet merriment reigneth exceeding: 

We dance and we spring; 

We leap and we sing.) 

Slackened in tempo and reflectively, accompanied by flutes, 
horns and harp in fifths and octaves: 

"Sanct Peter im Himmel sieht zu." 
(St. Peter looks on from his height.) 

These bars, used as a refrain, are exactly the confession of 
sin, "Ich hab' iibertreten die zehn Gebot," from the Third 
Symphony. Even here a residue of earth; the saints are 
reflective. But the inhabitants of heaven feast at ease. St. 
John brings them his little lamb, St. Luke the Evangelist his 
ox; Herod is the butcher. As in the fairy tales, the animals 
all come to life again at once. Game, fish, vegetables and 
fruit are to be had for nothing, "the gardeners allow every- 
thing": a real peasant-paradise of the middle ages. Immedi- 
ately after the refrain, the music recommences as in the first 
movement with the harness bells, the strings are struck with 
the bow-sticks, the bass jars in fifths, and only the refrain can 
in the least restrain the heavenly boisterousness. When it has 
sounded for the third time, the movement modulates quietly, 
almost mysteriously, from G into E flat. A graceful dance-tune 
goes past, as though the heavenly music were being played 
somewhere quite near: 


Kein' Musik ist ja nicht auf Erden, 
Die unserer verglichen kann werden. . . 

Elftausend Jungfrauen 

Zu tanzen sich trauen. . . 
Cacilia mit ihren Verwandten 
Sind trcffliche Hofmtisikanten. . . 

(No music on the earth is there 
That ever might with ours compare. 
Eleven thousand virgins 
Are dancing without urging; 
Cecilia and all her relations 
Are excellent court musicians.) 

Even St. Ursula, austerest of saints, smiles at the dancing. 
She smiles the " smile of the prelates," as Mahler once said, 
the kindly, stony smile of old church monuments, the smile of 
the conqueror. 

Mahler's next symphonies, the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh, 
form a unity by themselves, in the same way as the first four. 
Bruno Walter tells of a dream he once had, in which he saw 
Mahler striving upward at constantly shifting points of a 
mountain. This dream is a " true one." After the struggling 
of the Second and Third, the truce with the gentle warning of 
the spirits in the Fourth, the life of the earth surges so much 
more tremendously in the Fifth, and demands to be traversed. 
This latter work begins w r ith the epilogue after a great sorrow, 
and surmounts it. But, in the Sixth, fate has no mercy; it is 
the only work of Mahler's that ends in the wildest despair. 
In the Seventh he is on the mountain-tops, far from earth, 
and as though convalescent looks down upon it from above. 
The triple struggle with the spirit of heaviness: at the same 
time a struggle with his own technique, with the new means 
which bring ever greater knowledge. Here again I have 
"interpreted"; there is not the slightest trace of- a " pro- 
gramme." The form becomes, especially in the Sixth, the 
regular " classical" one. And the possibility of speaking in 
images will guide us more easily through these difficult -works. 


The Fifth Symphony opens with a long, gloomy fanfare in 
C sharp minor, which leads into a stern funeral march. A 
turn into A flat (G sharp as dominant of C sharp). Then 
an episode of passionate lamenting, with ostinato double- 
basses. The funeral march returns altered, and dies away 
in a passage that bears a distinct resemblance to one of the 
Kindertotenlieder. A second episode, a variation of the first, 
and a coda of a few bars only ends the song-like and expository 
movement. Like a great development of it, the second rages 
forward. The theme is developed from a viola-part of the 
earlier second episode. Then the secondary section in the 
episode itself, exactly in the tempo of the funeral march. 
The repeat after the exposition, which still stands in the small 
score, is cancelled, and the development begins. It is inter- 
rupted by a quotation from the funeral march. In the repeat, 
the cutting " ninth" motive of the beginning binds everything 
together, effaces and displaces the themes. In a new cropping 
out (so to say) of the coda, two intensifications into D ; at the 
culmination a chorale, from which the victory of the last move- 
ment shines. Close in minor, will-o'-the-wisp-like. A ter- 
rific scherzo indicates the turning. In immensity of projection, 
in harmonic and specifically contrapuntal art, it is something 
theretofore unheard-of, even in Mahler. The melody does 
not disavow the character of a dance-tune. The fourth and fifth 
movements also go thematically together. An almost feminine 
Adagietto, scored for strings and harp alone, is immediately 
followed by a Rondo-Finale. This is one of the most com- 
plicated movements in Mahler's works. The second principal 
theme is taken as fugue-subject, and forces ever new motives 
into the fugue. One of these seems, characteristically enough, 
to be taken from the "Lob des hohen Verstandes." When 
the fugue begins for the second time, a counterpoint shows one 
of the principal themes of the Eighth Symphony. This time 
the renewed Adagietto proceeds from it. A development on 
the gigantic scale of the whole symphony; third, entirely 


altered, repetition of the rondo; triumphant finale with the 
chorale as in the second movement, and close in D major after 
exultant whole-tone passages. 

The Sixth Symphony (A minor) was marked "Tragic" 
at the first performance. A major triad which turns, diminuen- 
do, into minor, borne on chiefly by tapping drum-beats, goes 
through the whole work as leading-motive, appears like a force 
of destiny, and at the same time a symbol of harmonic restless- 
ness. The old form of the symphony is perhaps more closely 
adhered to than in any other symphony of Mahler's, even 
though powerfully intensified. The apparatus is specially large ; 
brass and percussion dominate the orchestra, and the very 
weight of the tone-masses seems directed against external 
foes. It is the most passionate, most despairing of works, one 
that struggles with and strives to surpass itself. Both the 
relationship and also the similarity in character and shadowy 
colour of the motives are even more marked than usual. No- 
where a liberating major which remains for long. Mysterious 
twilight tones mingle with the merciless march-rhythms of the 
first movement. Celesta, divided strings and cowbells sound 
distantly like an ^Eolian harp on quiet mornings, as the 
passing wind strikes it; a chorale is heard; but everything is 
drowned by the crude weight of the rush forwards. In the 
Andante, which brings back more seriously the same mood as 
the Adagietto of the Fifth, is a chary repose. For a moment 
it even becomes pastoral-idyllic. In the scherzo a grim 
humour flashes out. But it is not frank. A " grandf atherly " 
Trio is a place of refuge amongst the scurrilous succession of 
ideas. The returning scherzo is yet more ghostly. A finale 
which lasts half an hour surpasses all the outbreaks of the 
first movement. The first development is broken off by a 
fearful crash of the whole orchestra, with a dull blow from the 
hammer falling, like a falling tree. The march-rhythm of the 
commencement introduces a further development. It seeks 
tranquillity. A second crash falls. Repetition of all fear and 


dread ; each attempt to pierce the night of despair is vain amid 
this ceaselessly raging storm. A long, rigid pedal on A sets a 
goal. The movement becomes slower and slower; the lead- 
ing-motive major-minor and the beating blows of destiny 

In the Seventh Symphony (B minor), which has been little 
played in the four years since the first performance, Mahler's 
art has become still more perfect. It shows the highest 
mastery of technique and the maturity of an heroic conquest. 
The advance beyond the Sixth seems to me immeasurable. 
The effects are magical. The work, distinguished by the 
two movements called "Nachtmusik" as interludes, is a single 
great Nocturne; less a Nocturne in Hoffmann's sense as it 
seemed to me at the performance at Prague than one out of 
the land and art of Segantini. And curiously enough, when 
Mahler wished to " vindicate" the cowbells at a rehearsal in 
Munich, he explained to the orchestra that they were not 
intended to depict anything pastoral, but rather to signify the 
last greeting from the earth that still reaches the wanderer 
on the loftiest heights. The mood is given in the first bars of 
the Introduction. The unity, the momentum and intensifica- 
tion of this movement are rare, even with Mahler. First, 
Night-music, like a march; scared birds cry out in their sleep. 
A Scherzo, " shadow-like "; Trio, somewhat lighter. Wild and 
mad to the end. Another Intermezzo, second Night-music, 
with guitar and mandoline, like a serenade; free variations. 
And then the Finale, like an early morning walk when the sun 
is rising over the mountain snow: a symbol for those who 
have had the experience. Like distant mountain-peaks, just 
before the first light of the sun strikes them, the summits of 
this music are great and near; with the most splendid lines, 
folds, abysses and contrapuntal intersections between one and 
the other. The morning bells of the valley are already 
awake. As intoxicated, it presses ever onward and upward. 
Recollections out of the night are borne up into the brightness. 


The pinnacles gradually grow purple, and morning light trans- 
forms the weird aspects. 

The more deeply this symphony affected me, the more I 
liked my symbolical interpretation. A work, leading upwards 
and forwards, pointing towards a new land and a new future 
of music. May this experience more and more often become 
that of all listeners. 

The Eighth Symphony, in E flat, with the greatest apparatus 
Mahler ever made use of (besides the largely increased orches- 
tra there are two mixed choruses, a chorus of boys and seven 
soloists), is the fruit of the growth in discernment and maturity 
of the man and artist in the course of twenty years. It is a re- 
turn to the problems of the Second; wherein was announced 
the promise of self-gained protection against death and an- 
nihilation, the certainty of immortality, as a reply to the ques- 
tion of death; while in the Eighth, after ardent supplication, 
salvation through work and love is revealed by a mystical cho- 
rus from a world where all things transitory are but an image. 
The union of the Latin church hymn with the last scene in 
Part II of Faust is, in spite of the dominating chorus, a Sym- 
phony, which is proved by the clearly defined sonata-form of 
the first movement a symphony which employs the human 
voices as instruments * without treating them as such ; they do 
not vie with the orchestra, the choral writing itself being of the 
most wonderful sonority. Faust's course to heaven is the 
reply and fulfillment of the hymn Veni, creator spiritus,^ 
here overflowing with desire, in the impetus of a march-rhythm, 
then carried to the climax of a fugue. Saintly hermits on the 
slopes above begin at the words: "Waldung, sie schwankt 

* Wagner has already said this of the Missa Solemnis. It seems only here to 
fit exactly. 

fThe Hymnus "Veni, creator spiritus," according to one tradition composed 
by Charlemagne, not to be confused with the Whitsuntide Sequence "Veni, 
sancte spiritus," is generally attributed to Hrabanus Maurus, Archbishop of 
Mayence (776-856). Mahler composed a less familiar reading of the text. 


heran." And now heavenly visions come floating, which 
recall (as to Goethe) the churchyard frescoes in Pisa, or Dante 
and Swedenborg. Pater ecstaticus (perhaps St. Francis of 
Assisi) and Pater profundus (Dominick) first, then the 
verses of the Pater seraphicus are passed over the angels bear- 
ing the earthly remains of Faust. The "gerettet" (saved!) is 
exactly the counterpart of the "accende lumen sensibus," and 
the grandiose resemblance that exists between the themes of 
the first and second parts becomes quite clear in its relation- 
ship. When the angels sing: "Uns bleibt ein Erdenrest, zu 
tragen peinlich," it is an exact repetition of the motive "in- 
firma nostri corporis." Everywhere begins a triumph of 
redemption through the medium of supplication. One of the 
penitents, otherwise called Gretchen, points out the newcomer, 
who quickly resigns himself to the celestial force and is borne 
thereby. It sounds as at the "Imple superna gratia, qua3 tu 
creasti, pectora." The wise become fools in heaven; the maid- 
en, transfigured by love, has become wise. She prays now: 
"Vergonne mir, ihn zu belehren" and the hymnus "Veni, 
creator spiritus" is intoned. From word to word, from tone 
to tone, the unity is knotted together. All that is transitory is 
but an image. 

A last climax, a final culmination, leads from the first 
whisper of the chorus mysticus to a new outburst of undreamed- 
of glory of sonority; and following the significantly repeated 
"ewig" and "hinan," the ever-onstriving song of supplication 
of the first beginning, now as a broad, joyous chorale, comes 
to rest in the majesty of heaven. 

How incessantly Mahler penetrated into the meaning of 
these last verses of Goethe, which most people simply accept, 
and seemed to find in them the arcana of artistic crea- 
tion, is shown in a letter written to his wife in 1909: 

"Now the interpretation of works of art is quite another mat- 
ter, as you know from the plastic arts. The rational part, i. e., 
that which has to be separated from the intelligence, is nearly 


always the inessential part, and in reality only a veil which 
covers its form. So far as the soul has need of a body- 
nothing can be said to the contrary the artist must take his 
means of representation from the rational world. Wherever he 
has himself not yet penetrated to clearness, or, as should be said, 
to completeness, the rational elements overgrow the artistic 
and inconsistent ones, and demand urgently an explanation. 
' Faust ' is, it is true, a proper mix-up of all these things ; and, as 
its creation occupied the whole of a long life, of course the 
stones out of which the edifice is erected are quite unequal and 
often enough have remained merely material. The result is 
that one must approach the work in various ways and from 
various directions. But the principal thing, all the same, is 
the artistic unity, which cannot be expressed in dry words. 
Truth is imparted differently to every different person and 
for everybody differently at different epochs; just as with 
Beethoven's symphonies, which are for everybody and at 
every different time constantly something new and different. 
Shall I tell you then in what state my 'rationality' finds itself 
as concerns these last verses of 'Faust'? At any rate I 
shall try I don't know whether I shall succeed or not. Well, 
I take these four lines in the most intimate connection with 
what precedes: on the one hand as a direct continuation of 
what goes before, on the other as the apex of the enormous 
pyramid of the whole work, which has shown us a whole 
world of figures, situations and developments. Everything 
points at first indistinctly from scene to scene (especially 
in Part II, where the author himself had so far ripened) and 
ever more consciously to this one end; unspeakable, hardly 
realised, but ever ardently perceived. 

" Everything is only the Image of something, whose realisa- 
tion can be only the insufficient expression of that which is 
here required. Transitory things may perhaps be described, 
but what we feel and surmise and never reach, that is, what 
can here never become realised, but which is durable and im- 


perishable behind all appearance, is indescribable, and that 
which draws us forward with mystical power what every 
creature, perhaps even stones, feels implicitly to be the centre 
of its being: what Goethe here calls, once more in an Image, 
the ' eternal womanly ' that is, the element of repose, the goal; 
in opposition to the eternal longing, striving, forwards- 
straining towards this goal that is, the 'eternal manly' 
characteristics. You are quite right to designate it as the 
might of love. There are innumerable conceptions and names 
for it only think how children and animals, how lower and 
higher mankind live and exist Goethe himself brings here, 
and more clearly the nearer he approaches the close, an endless 
ladder of these images to representation: Faust's passionate 
search for Helena, still again in the Walpurgis Night; for 
Homunculus, for the still unborn; through the various forms 
of being of higher and lower order, ever more consciously and 
more purely represented and expressed, up to the Mater gloriosa 
this is the personification of the eternal womanly. 

"Therefore, directly succeeding the final scene, Goethe 
speaks personally to his hearers and says: 

" All transitory things (such as I have showed you on these two 
evenings) are but Images; of course, insufficient in their earthly 
appearance. But there, freed from the flesh of earthly insuf- 
ficiency, they will be realised; and then we shall no longer need 
such transcriptions, such comparisons, such images for them. 
There these things are done that I have tried to describe, but 
which are in reality indescribable. And indeed, what? I can 
only say it once more by means of an image: 

"The eternal womanly impulse has drawn us onward; we are 
there, we repose, we possess what we on earth could only strive 
after and desire. The Christian calls it ' eternal felicity,' and 
I must make use of this beautiful and sufficient mythological 
idea as the means of my expression the most adequate at- 
tainable to this epoch of mankind. 


"I hope I have expressed myself clearly.* In the case of such 
infinitely delicate, and (as said above) unrational things, the 
danger of being led astray by mere words is constantly near. 
That is why all commentaries are so odious." 


In September of 1910, the general rehearsals for the Eighth 
Symphony began in Munich. Mahler came from Toblach 
after a cold and rainy summer, worn out with work and already 
more than half ill. But he at once regained his wonderful 
strength, and those who were present at these twice daily 
renewed exertions, felt with pleasure how the work was growing 
with each. The choruses came from Vienna and Leipzig, then 
came the soloists. But theirs was nothing compared with 
the joy of the children from the Central Sing-Schule in Munich, 
who had long since closed a firm bond of friendship with 
Mahler. In the streets they greeted him with shouts, and 
he had praise and affectionate sympathy for them on every 
occasion. For both performances the twice three thousand 
seats so many people does the great Exhibition Hall hold 
were sold out. Friends, admirers, judges, enemies, had come 

* It is difficult to render the point in a translation. In his letter, Mahler 
underscored the words printed here in italics, which are those of the Chorus 
mysticus that closes the Second Part of "Faust": 

Alles Vergangliche 
1st nur ein Gleichnis; 
Das Unzulangliche, 
Hier wird's Ereignis; 
Das Unbeschreibliche, 
Hier ist's getan; 
Das Ewig-Weibliche 
Zieht uns hinan. 

One has a wonderful feeling of "reading between the lines," in a literal sense. 
[Translator's note.] 


from all parts of the world. It was shown here for the first 
time that this generation really had an idea of what a man 
like Mahler signified. And as on the evening of the 12th of 
September he stepped before his thousand performers and 
raised his baton, the jubilation of the festive crowd hindered 
the commencement for minutes. Then all became still. 
And then. . . . the last notes died away. All was still 
for an instant. And then the storm broke loose from 
performers as well as hearers and continued for nearly half an 
hour. Nobody moved until Mahler had appeared again and 
again. Then all was over with the good manners of the 
children's choir. They ran down to meet the quite helpless 
victor, seized his hand and rained flowers upon him. Outside 
the carriages were waiting, but when Mahler came, with 
happiness such as he had hardly ever before experienced 
written on his features, he could only slowly find his way 
through the still excited crowd. The joy on the second evening 
was no less. It seemed as though Mahler had at least reached 
the summit of his life and fame. It only seemed so. Tired, 
he departed from Munich that had given him so much. (And it 
would be unjust here to forget the services of Mahler's man- 
ager, Mr. Emil Gutmann, who stimulated, arranged and 
carried the performances through. Mahler often enough lost 
courage and patience.) The " critical" reflection of these 
days was without brilliance. The old friends remained, but 
the old opposers were there, too, even if they now spoke with 
incomparably more respect. What is said in this book about 
the relation of genius to its time and its adversaries was 
repeated exactly. I call to witness the Strassburg University 
Professor Robert Holtzmann, whose essay on " Mahler's 
Eighth Symphony and the Critics" fitly characterises the in- 
extricable confusion. Holtzmann takes note of a question cer- 
tain opponents have recently brought forward that of race. 
For on this occasion some of the more rabid of his enemies ac- 
cused him not only of Jewish but also of superficial Romanish 


music-making. The true essence of German art was said to be 
unattainable to this man, who had worked and created at the 
very centre of the circle of German culture. Holtzmann finds 
sagacious words to meet the foul-mouthed materialism and 
gall of such theories, and others to warn against setting an 
exaggerated value upon the opinion of the critics at all. Some 
day it will be necessary to say more about the status of 
writing on musical subjects. 

Mahler remained a short time in Vienna, and acquired an 
estate in the mountains of the Semmering, where, near the 
town, but still in the quietude of nature, he intended building 
a house, a place for him to work. The whole winter he and 
his were busy with the plans. As early as October this time 
he left for America. There began the second season of the 
Philharmonic Orchestra under his direction. In the first 
year forty-six concerts had been given by the Society, which 
Mahler had completely transformed after having taken it 
over in a state of serious artistic and material difficulties. 
This time there were to be sixty-five, as the greater number of 
concerts promised a greater gain. Mahler agreed, for an only 
slightly increased salary, and the weight of a multifarious 
activity soon weighed upon his shoulders. Had this been the 
only weight! Whilst attacks of the illness (angina) of the 
previous summer and autumn recurred, troubles also arose 
with the committee of the Philharmonic Society. Mahler was 
certainly no easy-going master in America either. In the 
service of the works he demanded everything attainable, and 
he did not seek to do so by means of social manoeuvres, which 
all his life long he had never known. He also let fall many a 
sharp word, which, although unpremeditated and as quickly 
forgotten by him, were remembered and intensified by those 
they struck. Amongst the ladies of the committee ladies 
had brought together the means for the undertaking there 
were ambitious ones who sought to make their influence felt. 
If this emphasis upon material influence was perhaps typically 


American, one is still reminded of Vienna and other towns in 
the Old World when an American newspaper wrote: "Perhaps 
if he had gone to afternoon teas, he would have been more 
popular, and would have been alive to-day." Very American, 
too, was the preponderance of the Musicians' Union, which 
treated purely artistic matters only too often from the stand- 
point of a local trade union. But at the same time, it is only 
just to recognise that Mahler's greatness was also realised in 
America, that he had loyal admirers there as everywhere, and 
also new and no less faithful fridnds ; and that Mahler, although 
he spoke depressingly of many transatlantic matters, still 
preferred his work in New York to a " Gastdirigieren " (travel- 
ling-conductorship) from town to town in Europe, or to being 
an inactive spectator in Vienna. 

But in the middle of February fresh confusion arose. In 
the irritation, his old heart-disorder reappeared, which, 
through the excessive strain and perpetual insufficiency of a 
heroic life, and not least through the struggle against stupidity 
and malice, had already been observed in Vienna. Then 
came another attack of angina. Though ill with fever, he 
still conducted on the 21st and then broke down. There 
still remained seventeen concerts, which were taken over by 
Mahler's leader and friend, Theodore Spiering. On account 
of heart-disease, the patient's state was recognised as hopeless. 
But the journey to Europe was risked in order to try a serum 
treatment in Paris. It was, however, without result. The 
journey was undertaken at the beginning of April, and during 
the whole month the illness developed from day to day. At 
last Frau Mahler called the Vienna Professor Chwostek to 
Paris. It was a relief for Mahler to speak German again with 
a doctor ; in fever the use of French was difficult for him. 
This doctor could see no hope either, but expected an allevia- 
tion if the invalid should visit some familiar neighbourhood. 
Even the mere announcement that he could travel lent him 
new courage, if perhaps only apparently. In Vienna many 


friends had expressed their sympathy: professors at the 
university, the orchestra of the Opera, artists of reputation 
sent him messages, and gave him pleasure therewith. Mah- 
ler's feeling at having returned amongst friends confirmed the 
doctor's opinion. He well knew that he was in danger, per- 
haps even gave himself up. In such a condition it is but human 
to encounter fate by flight. With the greatest difficulty he 
was brought to a sanatorium in the neighbourhood of Vienna. 
The tearful remarks about this last journey had better have 
been left unsaid. Mahler did not wish to die "only in Vienna." 
And even if he had, what an honour for the town that had now 
even allowed him to live in it ! 

On the 18th of May, all hope was suddenly given up, the 
decline began in the afternoon, and an inflammation of the lungs 
led rapidly to the end. At eleven o'clock at night, Gustav 
Mahler died. He had not reached the age of fifty-one. 

Now, of course, every one's conscience was awakened, and 
in the flood of oratory that poured over Mahler's bier were 
to be heard expressions of respect, regret and affection. In 
the prepared and even unprepared articles that were published, 
many beautiful things were said of him. But still more dis- 
tortions; and not a few remained incorrigible even in the face 
of death. Others, too, especially in mercurial Vienna, behaved 
merrily, as though they had been on Mahler's side from the 
first, and had never behaved scurvily. Gustav Mahler was 
dead; he could now disturb no more; he might be as great a 
man as people pleased. 

Meanwhile the body was brought for burial to the cemetery 
of Grinzing, a little village suburb of Vienna, at the foot of 
the nearest hill of the Viennese Forest. It was placed in the 
tiny chapel, just big enough to hold the coffin and the first 
wreaths. The remainder, from everywhere where Mahler 
was known and loved, were so numerous that they had to be 
placed along the whole path to the grave of Mahler's little 
daughter, for he had wished to be buried beside his child. 


Three inscriptions have remained in my memory: "The rich 
one, who has caused us that deepest grief no longer to possess 
the saintly man Gustav Mahler has left us for life the im- 
perishable ideal of his work and works." From Arnold 
Schonberg and some of his pupils. "The grieving Fourth 
Gallery of the Vienna Royal Opera, in ineffaceable remembrance. 
Figaro; Fidelio; Iphigenia; Tristan." "The Teaching Staff 
and Pupils of the Central Sing-Schule, Munich; to the Com- 
poser and Conductor of the Eighth Symphony." 

Mahler had wished for a simple burial unaccompanied by 
word or music, and people were thus deprived of their "spec- 
tacle." In order to deter those who "wanted to have been 
there," and also because the small church and cemetery of 
Grinzing did not allow it, both were closed, and admission was 
allowed only to the holders of entrance-cards. And even then 
many who had them were obliged to wait outside the church. 
Thence the coffin was carried through streaming rain to the 
burial-place, and immediately on arrival interred without fur- 
ther ceremony. The crowd, still many hundreds, was scarce 
able to speak. The rain had ceased, a wonderful rainbow 
became visible, and a nightingale's voice was heard through the 
silence. Then fell the last clods, and all was over. 

A splendid memorial was immediately to be raised. None 
of marble or stone. Mahler had often spoken of the lot of 
poor and unrecognised masters in his art. And it was in a 
certain sense fulfilling his wish to undertake the care of such 
as deserved support. Even before the funeral, a number of 
wealthy friends had collected, at first amongst themselves, 
without intending to make their action public. But as the 
result sufficed, an appeal was issued for an international 
foundation which bears Gustav Mahler's name. The details 
of arrangement and administration are not yet definitely 
determined, and this will not be easy to do, as it is intended to 
prevent any later intrusion of professional and academical 
music; for the present Frau Alma Marie Mahler, who has 


chosen Dr. Richard Strauss, Busoni and Bruno Walter as 
advisers, will ward off the danger. 

And one other statement. In the Regiecollegium of the 
Opera, Kapellmeister Schalk proposed that no performance 
should be given on the day of the interment. Director 
Gregor and the other members agreed; but sanction from 
above was not forthcoming in time. And neither during his 
illness nor after his death did the Court once think of the man 
who had exhausted himself during the ten years he served the 
Imperial Opera, and brought honour and wealth to the 
institute. Needless to say, the corporation of Vienna also 
kept silence. 

Mahler's works will now profit by performances worthy of 
them and their composer; to be sure, they are also at the 
mercy of that sensationalism which masquerades as " piety." 
Everywhere during last year celebration festivals, perfor- 
mances In Memoriam, took place. Is it not typical that in 
Vienna after Mahler's fiftieth birthday not a single thing of 
his own was performed? whereas now no less than six sym- 
phonies and Das klagende Lied, to say nothing of countless 
Liederabende, were given in a single winter. Even the Phil- 
harmonic Orchestra, which year in, year out, diligently held 
aloof from Mahler, desired to show that it is not the last 
amongst orchestras, and waited upon its subscribers with a 
symphony. Or that, after Munich, no town was able to 
fulfill the " enormous" requirements of the Eighth Symphony 
so long as Mahler lived, and then, during the season 1911-12, 
no less than fifteen performances were counted. . . . Com- 
posers will see what they have to do. Thus the neglect of 
years was to be made good; it is to be hoped that it will not 
provide an excuse for continuing that neglect a season later. 

We have already mentioned the posthumous works in this 
book; let us now consider them in detail. 

Mahler used to say that his works were anticipated experi- 
ences. That is in keeping with his visionary nature and 


confidence. There was a time when he enjoyed the triumph of 
the Eighth Symphony; the last September days in Munich 
were its summit and end. The work itself was completed in 
1906. The suffering and bitterness of farewell are fore- 
shadowed in the Lied von der Erde. 

Mahler received from his friend, the late Hofrat Dr. Theo- 
bald Pollak, the collection of old and new Chinese poems 
which Hans Bethge has arranged and put into verse, "Die 
Chinesische Flote." A splendid, delicate, yet earth-born 
perfume of melancholy rises from these pages. It is as though 
one had entered into a kingdom of hopelessness, whose be- 
numbing atmosphere one cannot escape. Mahler was so im- 
pressed by the book, that he chose seven of these poems and 
translated them into his language. He not only clothed them 
with music; he also remodelled Bethge's words, as he felt and 
needed them. A tenor and alto (or baritone) sing them. The 
strength of the orchestra is midway between the lyrics and the 

At the beginning stands the "Trinklied vom Jammer der 
Erde" (Drinking-song of the Woefulness of Earth), after the 
great Li-Tai-Po. A horn-theme rushes by, the orchestra 
after it; the voice of a tenor mocks in drunken words the 
nothingness of mankind in the midst of the ever-flowering 
earth. And he praises the wine that brings forgetfulness. 
"Dunkel ist das Leben, ist der Tod." (Sombre is life, is 
death.) The line recurs three times also thematically. 
The music hovers between grandiose contrasts of wild intoxica- 
tion and sweet, reflective melancholy. In the general lines, 
in working-out, combinations and character, it resembles a 
short first movement of such strength as Mahler loved. It is 
also the one that most resembles the idea one had of his music. 
For already in the second number, "Der Einsame im Herbst" 
(Tschang-tsi) (The Lonely One in Autumn), a marvellous 
exoticism makes itself felt, which is of endless charm precisely 
because one feels Mahler in it at every moment. This lonely 


one laments the withering of nature in fog and frost. "Es 
gemahnt mich an den Schlaf. . . . Sonne der Liebe, willst 
du nie erscheinen, um meine bittern Tranen mild aufzutrock- 
nen?" (It reminds me of sleep. . . . Sun of Love, wilt thou 
never appear to dry my bitter tears with thy mild ray?) The 
whole is in the manner of an Andante; accompanying the 
dragging string-figure the wood-wind sighs over long organ- 
points. The words are sung by a contralto. Deep melan- 
choly dies quietly away, to be suddenly banished by a gaily 
agitated movement. "Von der Jugend" (Li-Tai-Po) (Of 
Youth) this third poem is called, at the beginning playful, 
gay and joyous. The singer (tenor) has a beautiful picture 
before him: a small porcelain pavilion where friends sit 
pleasantly together " drinking, chatting, several writing 
verses." Suddenly a change into minor; in the water they 
see the reflection of all this. But serenity soon regains the 
upper hand. How beautiful, that everything should be stand- 
ing on its head in the porcelain pavilion. It is already past, 
whispering, shadowy, and still so full of soul and meaning; 
but the reflection of youth, now only the reflection, cannot be 
effaced. He who has seen it prepares himself for farewell; 
he must imagine that everything has its reflection in the water. 
Again a charming lyric begins "Von der Schonheit" (Li-Tai-Po) 
(Of Beauty), almost a minuet. Young girls are plucking 
flowers by the riverside. Boys are exercising their horses by 
the water's edge. And the fairest maiden sends long looks 
full of desire after "him." "Ihre stolze Haltung ist nur 
Verstellung. In dem Funkeln ihrer grossen Augen, in dem 
Dunkel ihres heissen Blickes schwingt klagend noch die Erre- 
gung ihres Herzens nach. . ." (Her haughty pose is a mere 
pretence. In the sparkling of her great eyes, in the dark depths 
of her ardent glances, there trembles the dolorous vibration of 
her agitated heart.) As a minuet once more (which alternates 
with a melody almost credibly Chinese) the music dies away. 
In the middle section the steeds prance in, pant and rear. 


They are almost visible but it is only the reflection, the 
picture in the water. 

"Der Trunkene im Friihling." (One Drunken in Spring- 
tide.) (Li-Tai-Po.) A poem almost without equal. A bird 
speaks to the drunken one, who is oblivious of the world, of the 
spring; penetrating through the wild, captivating song, the mel- 
ody of a single violin, which affects by its simple goodness. Out 
of deep dreaming (the words are by Mahler and quite in Mahler's 
style) the drunken one listens. "Der Vogel singt und lacht." 
(The bird sings and laughs.) But the man, to whom the won- 
der of the blossoms has nothing to say, drinks and sings and 
sinks again into sleep. "Was geht denn mich der Friihling 
an? Lasst mich betrunken sein!" (What care I for Spring? 
Let me be drunk!) Mad, delirious harmonies, audacious 
even for the composer of the Seventh Symphony; quite 
stormy until the end. 

And then the last word, "Der Abschied" (The Farewell), 
put together from two of the poems (the first by Mong-Kao- 
Jen, the second by Wang- Wei) by Mahler himself and con- 
siderably altered. It is the lower-voiced singer that has this 
number. (I would decide in the second part for a man's 
voice: even "Der Einsame im Herbst" should be sung by a 
man, however wonderfully Frau Cahier seized the spirit of 
the work at the first performance.) The music is here naught 
but expression, and well-nigh rhapsodical speaking, sighing, 
lamenting and pining. Long calls of the oboe and flute re- 
sound in the approaching night. The wind blows gently. 
Everything breathes sleep. "Die miiden Menschen gehen 
heimwarts, um vergessenes Gliick und Jugend neu zu lernen." 
(The weary folk fare homeward, forgotten joy and youth to 
learn afresh.) And in the dark a man awaits his friend to say 
farewell. The friend comes and goes again, for the last time, 
solitary into the mountains. 


Ich suche Ruhe fiir mcin einsam Herz! 

Ich wandle nach der Heimat, meiner Statte! 

Ich werde niemals in die Feme schweifen. 

Still ist mein Herz und harret seiner Stunde! 

Die Hebe Erde alliiberall bltiht auf, 

Bliiht auf im Lenz und grunt aufs neu 

Alliiberall, und ewig, ewig blauen licht die Fernen. 

(I seek repose for my lonely heart! 

I travel toward my home, my dwelling-place! 

I never shall roam afar. 

Still is my heart, and waiteth for its hour! 

Around me everywhere the dear earth blooms, 

It blooms in Springtime and again grows green 

Around about, and ever, ever glow blue, distant hills.) 

This "ewig" (ever) is heard ever deeper and softer. And 
with it dies away this penetrating lament, over uneasy chords 
on the celesta, without having found the peace of a final chord. 
What a mystery are these words and this music! What a 
tremendous mystery! "Sombre are life and death." 

Did Mahler depart thus, unconsciously uttering this 
decision with the hypnotic power of his genius? Many things 
lead us to think that he had, though so young in years, mea- 
sured his own days; that he had grown out of a world that he 
had read to the heart of, and which could mean nothing more 
to him. But he to it? Was it capable of appreciating the 
fullness and purity of his being and his actions? Did it not 
find "the same everywhere," and the "good" in the first or 
even the first that comes? What could appearance signify to 

Laments and questions! The Ninth Symphony, which was 
performed for the first time at the Vienna Musical Festival 
in June, 1912, by Bruno Walter, follows in the path of the 
Lied von der Erde. A brazen resignation; a supernatural 
solitude, beyond joy and pain; a farewell without bitterness. 
Mahler's orchestra, alone, speaks it; an orchestra more per- 


suasive than ever before, by means of its art, however, not 
through amplitude of apparatus. The old form is com- 
pletely retained, only yet further enriched. Perhaps most 
wonderfully in the first movement, andante, D major. Every- 
thing that was previously great in Mahler's works here grows 
new, convincing, and profoundly moving out of the heart of 
nature and art. For a comparison we may best take the 
first movement of the Seventh. There is a curious quotation 
from the Kindertotenlieder. Then follows, as second move- 
ment, a Landler, in the last as formerly in the first of the 
symphonies; this time wild, ironical and rough. And then 
another derision of the world in the Rondo-Burlesque of the 
third movement. According to the form, it might be a Finale; 
it even recalls the Finale of the Fifth. The ascent to the end 
and climax is titanic in its might. Then follows peace, abso- 
lute and overwhelming peace: the last movement, adagio, D 
flat major, is a distinct farewell, and bears a remarkable 
resemblance to the last song of the Lied von der Erde. 

And there is still a Tenth Symphony, even if not completed, 
and which will not be published. What can, what could it 
still have to say? It is frightful that Mahler should have died 
so young, but after the Lied von der Erde, after this " Ninth, " 
we can understand his almost organic yearning for peace and a 
new life. 

This death was an enigma, just as this life was, as all life is. 
Perhaps we shall understand it better later. For this inex- 
haustible wealth whose name is Gustav Mahler does not belong 
to music alone. We know to-day that he was one who was 
destined to be lord and leader; yne whom we must follow. It 
was a duty to combat for him. It is a joy to be certain of his 
victory. Intelligence errs, but not sensibility. 



We were going along the shore of the lake in the May twilight. 
The great city was far distant. Pinetree trunks were flaming 
in the last rays of the sinking sun. Frau Agnes was joyful. 

" To-morrow, he will be dead," I thought. 

She sang a few bars of Briinnhilde. I was astonished to thus 
hear the soulful lyrical voice. Then she said: " Of ten I hate 
Wagner. But I should like to sing his music, to be able to 
sing it on the stage. For the artist he gives the greatest hap- 
piness and the richest outlook." 

I nodded. The Prelude to Lohengrin descended in my 
imagination. We had to speak of its tones; and once more I 
saw the man who had unsealed it for the living. 

" Outlooks into the future," I said, "are opening themselves 
to-day perhaps (such as with Kokoschka; and Arnold 
Schonberg follows proudly his own path forwards). But dur- 
ing these days, the whole future seems to me to be veiled. 

"He who is to leave us, opened the outlook into the past: He 
taught us, in the highest sense of the word, the development 
of the opera. It is to him that we owe Beethoven, Mozart, 
Gluck and Weber. And I, Frau Agnes, have not lived in 
vain. For I have heard and seen all these things, I have ex- 
perienced them and borne witness of them. A few years, 
and nobody will believe it, nobody seize it. And it also will 
belong to the past." 

"Tell me more; more," she said. 

"I think of Fidelio. Every tone, every beat, every step, 
every gesture, was tragic, supreme, a redemption was 



Desire, Woman, Man and God. I think of the symphony 
Leonore. I think of streaming sunlight; of the jubilant 
Beethoven in the last scene of all, that of the liberation. I 
think of Don Giovanni; of the velvet splendour of a southern 
starlit sky; of a gay castle; of a conversation in a churchyard at 
which we shuddered; of the cutting sonority of the cembalo 
(he played it himself); of the raging finale, all blood-red and 
hellish. I think of Euryanthe. It had become all law and 
splendour; the whole present shone in it. I think of Iphigenia. 
There stood the Chevalier Gluck and celebrated his right as 
though through Nietzsche and Hofmannsthal. He who is on 
the point of leaving us, he it is that created what none of us 
who hoped for such festivals of German art had ever dreamed 
of. Here was the attainment and the end, the summit of 
ten years of work, possible through this man alone. Here was 
a master, a creator, a consummator." 

Frau Agnes asked: "What path led him so high? And 
how was this possible for him, after twenty years of the 

"Because he had seen through the theatre. Because he 
had grown up from his own music. Because the present 
blazed in him and was fanned by past and future. Because he 
formed a thing of his own out of what was foreign, and some- 
thing for the distant future out of what was his own. What 
the lyrics and symphonies contain is, for us, for all, and for 
you because for the best, still buried treasure. Those who 
judged, explained the musician by means of the conductor and 
the interpreter. Those who seek knowledge will learn to 
interpret others by interpreting their own selves. Only he 
who was himself a sun could, like him, look so steadily at the 
sun; who, himself a Titan, unloose Titans. Only he who had 
faith, could endure his daimon. 

"How beautifully you, Frau Agnes, sang his Urlicht from 
the Wunderhorn, this turning-point of the Second Symphony! 
That is the way to his nature, as I have perceived and pro- 


claimed it in the feast-days that my life has vouchsafed me. 
And you must not ask, not doubt; great kingdoms open them- 
selves only to faith, submission and patience. Those who 
belong to the church invisible belong to him, and must belong 
to him. Do you remember what you said at the close of 
Reinhardt's Second Part of Faust? That here we must de- 
spair of words, that all words were no solution, and that still 
no music on earth could lead into this heaven? But you will 
learn, like the twice three thousand in Munich, to experience 
in this Eighth Symphony the heavenly music to Faust's 
consummation. It will be ever-present to us in these verses. 
We shall ever demand these works and melodies redeemed by 
striving when the time is no longer one of transition, 
when it no longer worships the critic ; in an approaching time 
when wisdom will be knowledge, in that of the next great 
liberation. We feel it coming. We are helping, you, I and 
love. For all are building who have grace and good-will. All, 
all are laboring for the work. Amen." 

We went home; after hours of profound emotion, during 
which we had thought of what must come, the midnight was 
passed. The musician with the chiselled head of a young 
saint came to meet us. "He is dead," he whispered, and 
stood in the uncertain grey of the morning twilight. 


I. The Works of Gustav Mahler 

1. Choral and Orchestral Works 

Das klagende Lied y Universal Edition 

for soprano, alto and tenor soli, 

mixed chorus and orchestra. 
Symphony No. 1 in D major Universal Edition 

for large orchestra. 
Symphony No. 2 in C minor Universal Edition 

for large orchestra with chorus and 

alto solo. 
Symphony No. 3 in D minor Universal Edition 

for large orchestra with female chorus 

and boys' chorus, and alto solo. 
Symphony No. 4 in G major Universal Edition 

for large orchestra and soprano solo. 
Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor Edition Peters 

for large orchestra. 
Symphony No. 6 in A minor Universal Edition 

for large orchestra. 
Symphony No. 7 in E minor Universal Edition 

for large orchestra. 
Symphony No. 8 in E flat major Universal Edition 

for large orchestra, two mixed cho- 
ruses, boys' chorus, and seven soloists. 
Das Lied von der Erde, a Symphony Universal Edition 

for tenor and alto (or baritone) soli 

and orchestra. 
Symphony No. 9 in D major Universal Edition 

for large orchestra. 



2. Lyrical Works 

a. With pianoforte accompaniment Schott & Co. 

Friihlingsmorgen (R. Leander) 

Erinnerung (R. Leander) 

Hans imd Crete (Volkslied) 

Serenade aus "Don Juan" (Tlrso de Molina) 

Phantasie aus "Don Juan" (Tirso de Molina) 

From "Des Knaben Wunderhorn" 

Um schlimme Kinder artig zu machen 

Ich ging mit Lust durch einen griinen Wald 

Aus! Aus! 

Starke Einbildungskraft 

Zu Strassburg auf der Schanz 

Ablosung im Sommer 

Scheiden und Meiden 

Nicht wiedersehen! 


b. With orchestral accompaniment Universal Edition 

From "Des Knaben Wunderhorn'' 

Der Schildwache Nachtlied 
Verlorne Muh' 
Trost im Ungliick 
Wer hat dies Liedlein erdacht 
Das irdische Leben 

Des Antonius von Padua Fischpredigt 

Lied des Verfolgten im Turme 

Wo die schonen Trompeten blasen 

Lob des hohen Verstandes 

Es sungen drei Engel einen siissen Gesang 

Urlicht (Alto Solo from the Second Symphony) 

Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Gustav Mahler) 

Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht 
Ging heut' morgen liber's Feld 


Ich hab' ein gliihend Messer 

Die zwei blauen Augen von meinem Schatz 

Kindertotenlieder (Riickert) 

/ Nun will die Sonn' so hell aufgeh'n 

Nun seh' ich wohl, warum so dunkle Flamraen 

Wenn dein Miitterlein 
^ Oft denk' ich, sie sind nur ausgegangen 

In diesem Wetter 

From "Des Knaben Wunderhorn " 
Der Tambourg'sell 

Five Lyrics (Riickert) 

Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder 
Ich atmet' einen linden Duft 
Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen 
Liebst du um Schonheit 
v' Um Mitternacht 

3. Arrangements 

C. M. von Weber, Die drei Pintos C. F. Kahnt 

Mozart, Die Hochzeit des Figaro C. F. Peters 

"Arrangement of the Vienna Ivjyai Opera." 

J. S. Bach, Suite from his orchestral works . . G. Schirmer 
Arranged for concert performance, the continuo-part filled 

N. B. The publishers' names here given refer to piano arrangement and so- 
called "miniature score." In the case of the Kindertotenlieder, Revelge, Der 
Tambourg'sell, and the lyrics after Riickert, the full score is published by C. F. 
Kahnt Nachfolger, Leipzig, and of the Seventh Symphony by Bote & Bock, 

II. A Few Books About Mahler 

(Newspaper and magazine articles are here omitted, as they are only with 
difficulty accessible.) 

1. Ludwig Schiedermair. "Gustav Mahler." Leipzig, 1900. 

2. Ernst Otto Nodnagel. "Jenseits von Wagner und Liszt." 

Konigsberg, 1902. 


3. Richard Specht. "Gustav Mahler." Berlin, 1905. 

4. William Hitter. " Etudes d'Art etranger." Paris, 1905. 

5. Ludwig Hartmann. " Weber-Mahler. Die drei Pintos." 

Schlesingers Opernfiihrer, No. 80. 

6. Dr. Paul Stefan. "Gustav Mahlers Erbe. Ein Beitrag 

zur neuesten Geschichte der deutschen Biihne und des 
Herrn Felix von Weingartner." Munich, 1908. 

(And its pendant): 
Paul Stauber. "Das wahre Erbe Mahlers." Vienna, 1909. 

7. Dr. Paul Stefan (edited by). "Gustav Mahler, ein Bild 

seiner Personlichkeit in Widmungen." Munich, 1910. 
With contributions by Auguste Rodin, Conrad Ansorge, 
Gerhart Hauptmann, Guido Adler, Angelo Neumann, 
Max Steinitzer, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Hermann 
Bahr, Oskar Bie, Julius Bittner, Alfred Roller, Marie 
Gutheil-Schoder, Hans Pfitzner, Anna Bahr-Milden- 
burg, Ferdinand Gregori, Max Burckhard, Carl Hage- 
mann, Oskar Fried, Stefan Zweig, Remain Rolland, 
Richard Strauss, Arthur Schnitzler, Georg Gohler, Max 
Schillings, Max Reger, Paul Dukas, Bruno Walter, 
Alfredo Casella, William Ritter and Gustav Klimt. 

8. Dr. Paul Stefan. "Gustav Mahler. Eine Studie iiber 

Personlichkeit und Werk." Munich. First edition, 
September, 1910. Second enlarged edition, Novem- 
ber, 1911. Third and Fourth enlarged and thoroughly 
revised editions, March, 1912. 

Two other important works about Mahler are in prepara- 
tion and may be mentioned here : 

Arnold Schonberg. A Lecture on Gustav Mahler, held in 
Prague in May, 1912; an English translation of which has 
been undertaken by the writer. 

Richard Specht. A large Biography of Mahler.