Mahler Research

“David Pickett ... the foremost worldwide authority on the extensive material concerning Mahler’s retouchings of the works of other composers.”
— Dr. Reinhold Kubik, Vice-President of the International Gustav Mahler Society, Vienna, and chief editor of the Critical Complete Edition of Mahler’s works.

“David Pickett ... der weltweit erste Kenner der umfangreichen Materie von Mahlers Retuschen der Werke anderer Komponisten.”
— Dr. Reinhold Kubik, Vize-Präsident der Internationalen Gustav Mahler Gesellschaft, Wien, und Editionsleiter der Kritschen Gesamtausgabe der Werke Mahlers.

Hier klicken, um einen Artikel von Dr. Reinhold Kubik
über Mahlers Beethoven Retuschen zu lesen.

Links to Individual Topics

These essays will open in a separate page.

    Mahler the Conductor and his “Editions”
    21st century performances of Mahler's Retuschen edited by David Pickett
    The IGMG Edition of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Mahler’s Retuschen

    The National Symphony Orchestra’s 2000 Beethoven/Mahler Festival
    Recordings of Mahler’s music and how faithful they are to his aims

    “Klezmer Musik” in the First Symphony
    The Offstage Band in the Second Symphony
    The Earliest Recording of the Second Symphony
    The "Impossible" Oboe Glissando in the Third Symphony
    Interpreting the Beginning of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony
    Orchestral Balance in Jascha Horenstein’s Mahler Recordings
    Glissandi in the Fourth and Fifth Symphonies
    The Naked Note in the Scherzo of the Fifth Symphony
    Dynamics in the Finale of the Sixth Symphony

    David Pickett’s Blog on various musical themes, including Mahler.

David Pickett can hardly recall a time when he was not actively engaged in studying the life and works of the composer and conductor Gustav Mahler (1860-1911). As a teenager, he studied and copied out the manuscript of Mahler's Tenth Symphony and as a university professor he has lectured frequently on Mahler and his works.

In 1975, upon seeing original performance materials that Mahler used as a conductor of the music of other composers and, realising that this was a largely unexplored though important area of the composer's life, he began to concentrate his studies on Mahler's conducting career and the changes that Mahler made in the scores he conducted. This work was done under the direction of Dr. Hans Heimler, the Viennese-born composer, conductor and musicologist. In the resulting PhD thesis, Gustav Mahler as an Interpreter (University of Surrey 1989), Pickett catalogued and analysed for the first time 60 such sources now in archives and private collections in Europe and the USA. His own experience as a conductor and composer has proved key to understanding Mahler's intentions and in deciphering the shorthand in Mahler's scores. Click here to open a new window with background information on David Pickett's thesis and his research into Mahler's Retuschen.

Pickett has since identified additional sources and, in partnership with the International Gustav Mahler Society (IGMG) in Vienna, and music publishers Universal Edition and Josef Weinberger Ltd, is now engaged in editing and publishing transcriptions of these scores and orchestral materials.

Beethoven: Symphony No.9

The first of these publications, Mahler's “version” of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, is expected to appear in 2013. Modern performances have already been given of this “version”, which is based exclusively on the score and parts that Mahler prepared in Vienna for his legendary and controversial performance of 18 February 1900, and which he continued to use throughout the rest of his conducting career. (He had made an earlier and different version already in Hamburg, which may one day be the subject of a separate edition.) The version to be published requires a large string section to balance the eight horns, four trumpets and quadruple woodwind that he used. Click here to read more in a new window about Mahler’s changes to the instrumentation in Beethoven IX. and the two versions of the score.

Performances of this edition have been conducted by Leonard Slatkin, Kristjan Järvi, Vasily Petrenko, Peter Ruzicka, Neeme Järvi, Christoph König and Robert Spano, including:

National Symphony Orchestra cond. Leonard Slatkin
15 & 16 September, 2000, Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. The NSO gave further performances on their East Coast tour in 2004, including in Carnegie Hall, New York.

Tonkünstler Orchester, cond. Kristjan Järvi
29 September and 1 October 2006: Großer Saal, Musikverein, Vienna
30 September 2006: Schloss Grafenegg
2 October 2006: Großer Saal, Festspielhaus St. Pölten

Beethoven IX CD
CD recording in stereo / surround: Preiser PR90773

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Vasily Petrenko
9 December 2007, Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool

“...the players of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra went at it all with a will, inspired by David Pickett’s edition...” — The Times, London

Weimar Staatskapelle dir. Peter Ruzicka
12 September 2008, Städtischer Musiverein zu Düsseldorf

London Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Neeme Järvi
4 February 2009, Royal Festival Hall, London

Click here to open a new window containing a complete list of 21st Century performances of Mahler’s Retuschen edited by David Pickett.

National Symphony Orchestra, 2000 Beethoven Festival

In September 2000, at the Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C., the National Symphony Orchestra, Music Director Leonard Slatkin, mounted a two-week Beethoven Festival focussed on Mahler's Beethoven performance practice. David Pickett was the Festival Advisor.

“Gustav Mahler famously said ‘My time will come.’ He was referring, of course, to his own compositions, which started to enter the musical mainstream roughly 50 years ater his death in 1911. The National Symphony Orchestra's extraordinary Beethoven Festival has suggested the much more far-fetched possibility that the time for for Mahler's revisions to Beethoven scores may have come too... The firmest evidence on behalf of Mahler's insight came in the performance of the Ninth Symphony. It was like standing before the very familiar Mona Lisa, but suddenly noticing for the very first time all that exquisite detail in the distance over her shoulders. In some places it felt like going from black-and-white Kansas to Technicolor Oz.”
— The Sun, Washington, D.C.

Click here to open a new window and read more about this festival.

Conference Papers on Mahler

My search for the Written Sources of Mahler’s Retuschen, the Identification of his Copyists, and the Significance of his Changes to the Works of other Composers
Symposium: “Mahler as Interpreter; Mahler as Interpreted”, New England Conservatory, Boston, MA, 30 November, 2011

Was mir die Aufnahmen erzählen — Mahlers Orchester und Spieltechnik im Licht von frühen Aufnahmen (What the Recordings tell me — Mahler's Orchestras and their Playing Technique in the Light of Early Recordings)
Symposium: Instrumente und Musizierpraxis zur Zeit Gustav Mahlers, Vienna, April 2005

Talentlos und Phlegmatisch: Mahler und die New Yorker Philharmoniker (Talentless and Phlegmatic: Mahler and the New York Philharmonic Players)
Symposium: Instrumente und Musizierpraxis zur Zeit Gustav Mahlers, Vienna, April 2005

Gustav Mahler in the Recording Studio.
International Association of Sound Archives conference, Vienna, September 1999

Gustav Mahler through Loudspeakers.
British Musicological Societies Conference, Guildford, England, July 1999

Gustav Mahler, the Conductor.
"Music as a Performing Art" Conference, University of Helsinki, Finland, November 1987

Publications about Mahler

La interpretación de la Séptima Sinfonía de Mahler
Quodlibet, No. 49, Jan–Apr 2011. (Universidad de Alcalá, Spain)

“Ich muß aus dem Gefühl der Selbsterhaltung heraus und der Achtung vor mir selbst Konzerte dirigieren” — Über Mahlers schöpferische Aktivitäten im Konzertsaal: Repertoire und Quellen (“Out of instincts of self-preservation and self-respect I must conduct concerts” — about Mahlers Creative Activities in the Concert Hall: Repertoire and Sources) In Peter Revers und Oliver Korte: Gustav Mahler — Interpretationen seiner Werke, Laaber Verlag, 2011.

“Die anlässlich von Gustav Mahlers 100. Todestag von Peter Revers und Oliver Korte herausgegebenen 2-bändigen Mahler-Interpretationen ergänzen die verdienstvolle Reihe von Kompendien zum Schaffen von Beethoven, Schumann, Mendelssohn Bartholdy und Schönberg im Laaber-Verlag. Ein namhaftes, in der Mahlerforschung ausgewiesenes Autorenteam aus der deutschsprachigen Musikwissenschaft bietet ausführliche und anschauliche Werkbesprechungen von den unvollendeten Jugend-werken bis zum Spätwerk dieses wichtigen Komponisten am Schnittpunkt von Spätromantik und Moderne. Vier eingestreute Exkurse verbinden sich zusammen mit einer Darstellung von Mahlers zahlreichen Bearbeitungen und Retuschen an Werken anderer Komponisten im Rahmen seiner Dirigiertätigkeit zu einem umfassenden Gesamtbild Mahlers. [...] Aufschlussreich ist zu Beschluss des Abschnittes “Über Mahlers schöpferische Aktivitäten im Konzertsaal” eine Zusammenstellung seines Konzert- und Opernrepertoires als Dirigent (Bd. 2, S. 483f).”
Hartmut Möller, Rostock, 22.07.2012

Was mir die Aufnahmen erzählen — Mahlers Orchester und Spieltechnik im Licht von frühen Aufnahmen (What the Recordings tell me — Mahler's Orchestras and their Playing Technique in the Light of Early Recordings.)
In Kubik: Instrumente und Musizierpraxis zur Zeit Gustav Mahlers, Böhlau Verlag, 2007

Talentlos und Phlegmatisch: Mahler und die New Yorker Philharmoniker (Talentless and Phlegmatic: Mahler and the New York Philharmonic Players)
In Kubik: Instrumente und Musizierpraxis zur Zeit Gustav Mahlers, Böhlau Verlag, 2007

Beethovens 9. Symphonie in Mahlers Bearbeitung (Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Mahler’s Arrangement).
Österreichische Musikzeitschrift, Jan 2007

Arrangements and Retuschen — Mahler and 19th Century Performance Practice.
In Barham: The Cambridge Companion to Mahler, Cambridge University Press, 2007

Do not forget that I have the most sensitive, most reliable copyist in Vienna... / Vergiß nicht, daß ich in Wien auch den feinsten, verläßlichsten Copisten habe... (with Reinhold Kubik)
News about Mahler Research 54 / Nachrichten zur Mahler-Forschung 54, Internationale Gustav Mahler Gesellschaft, Wien, 2006

Mahler on Record — the Spirit or the Letter?
In Barham: Perspectives on Gustav Mahler. Ashgate Press, 2005

“David Pickett examines the extent to which historically and technically the recording medium in particular has both served Mahler by disseminating his music more widely than he could ever have thought possible, and undermined his cause through negligence and misunderstanding on the part of certain interpreters. In so doing, Pickett re-establishes the importance of discographic studies as an indispensable tool in understanding traditions of performance practice and broader configurations of reception history.” (from the Introduction)

“...One of the most thought-provoking essays in the collection is David Pickett's "Mahler on Record: The Spirit or the Letter?," which debates whether conductors on recordings of Mahler's symphonies have appropriately adjusted to the technology of the recording studio to realize Mahler's intentions for the concert hall, insofar as this is possible...” — Brien Weiner, “Notes”

Extracts from this essay may be read here.

New Light on Three Photographs and a Letter / Drei Photographien und ein Brief in neuem Licht.
News about Mahler Research 40 / Nachrichten zur Mahler-Forschung 40, Internationale Gustav Mahler Gesellschaft, Wien, 1999

Citations of David Pickett's Writing on Mahler

Henry-Louis de La Grange, Gustav Mahler (Vol.4): A New Life Cut Short, Oxford University Press, 2008. Appendix 1Bc. The Unfinished Tenth Symphony.

Prof. La Grange's four volume work is recognized as the standard biography of Mahler. It includes detailed discussions and analyses of Mahler's compositions and conducting career, refers in detail to Pickett’s research on Mahler’s Retuschen, and quotes his opinion of the realization of Mahler’s unfinished Tenth Symphony by Samale and Mazzuca.

Bernd Schabbing, Gustav Mahler als Konzert- und Operndirigent in Hamburg, Verlag Ernst Kuhn, Berlin 2002.

Dr. Bernd Schabbing’s excellent study of Mahler’s performing activity in Hamburg (1891-1897) refers frequently to Pickett's thesis and his study of the retouched conducting scores that Mahler used in concert during that period.

Anna Ficarella, Mahler interprete ‘wagneriano’ di Beethoven: storia di una ricezione controversa, Studi musicali, no.2, Rome, 2012. p.375 412

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