Abridging mahlerₑs symphonies: A historical perspective

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

A hundred years after Gustav Mahler's death, it is widely considered blasphemous to cut any notes from the composer's symphonies. In recordings and live performances, the symphonies generally remain intact. In discographies, the few recordings listed in which material has been cut-including well-known ones by Hermann Scherchen in the 1960s-are viewed as curiosities that reflect the values of certain idiosyncratic conductors at specific moments in time. But the documentary evidence surrounding American performances of Mahler's works in the fifty years after his death in 1911-a time before his music became widely accepted-tells a different story. Performing scores, newspaper reports, and materials in orchestra archives demonstrate that cutting Mahler was a tradition with deep roots, and that several noted conductors regularly made significant deletions in Mahler's music. Special attention is given here to Wilhelm Gericke's performances of the Fifth Symphony and Serge Koussevitzky's premiere of the Ninth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRethinking Mahler
PublisherOxford University Press
Pages299-313
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9780199316090
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Keywords

  • Abridgement
  • Cuts
  • Fifth symphony
  • Mahler
  • Ninth symphony
  • Performance
  • Serge koussevitsky
  • Wilhelm gericke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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