Gustav Mahler - Conductor as Interpreter: A Comprehensive Study of the Bach-Mahler Suite for Orchestra
Date of Award
Open Access Dissertation
School of Music
This document is an examination of Mahler's contributions to the discipline of conducting through the Retuschen he made of other composers' works. Chapter 1 is an overview of Mahler's ideas on what interpretive responsibilities a conductor faces when he/she conducts other composers' music. It explores how his changes to other composers' scores give us a valuable glimpse of Mahler's own sense of interpretation as well as documents the nineteenth-century approach to performance practice.
Chapter 2 is a study of the history of Retuschen-making and how these modifications made by conductors exemplify a nineteenth-century attitude towards the music of the past. Particular focus is placed on Wagner's changes to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and his written justification for these alterations which are indicated in his essay "The Rendering of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony." Chapter 3 reveals how Wagner's changes to Beethoven's symphony affected Mahler's alterations to this same work. This chapter also examines the Retusche Mahler made to Beethoven's String Quartet in F Minor, Op. 95. Of the forty works Mahler altered when he conducted performances of them, however, Beethoven's scores are the only for which he wrote a justification. In addition to the Retuschen, these two justifications also document his motivation for the changes he made to other composers' works. These written justifications are also important because they offer an explanation of his Retuschen process in general.
As the title suggests, the chief purpose of this document is to present a comprehensive study of Mahler's modification to Bach's Orchestral Suites Nos. 2 and 3. Chapter 4 is a summary of the affect Bach's music had on Mahler and how Mahler's idea to make a Retusche of these two Bach suites came to the surface.
Chapter 5 is a detailed description of how Mahler's alterations to Bach's suites affected the form and instrumentation, as well as the indications of dynamics, articulations, and expression markings he added. Itemized suggestions on how to interpret Mahler's changes to Bach's suites is offered in Chapter 6. This chapter also addresses the larger question of nineteenth-century versus twentieth-century performance practices.
Chapter 7 encompasses a list of when and where Mahler conducted the Bach-Mahler Suite for Orchestra while Music Director and Conductor of the New York Philharmonic and Chapter 8 includes the critical reception Mahler received. Performances of the Bach-Mahler Suite since Mahler's original performances in 1909- 1911 can be seen in Chapter 9. The conclusion offered in Chapter 10 emphasizes how Mahler's changes to other composers' works documents a nineteenth-century approach to performance practice that is very different from that of modern day conductors.
Eight appendices are included in this document which contain pertinent materials such as Mahler's written justificaitons for his Retuschen to Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 and String Quartet in F Minor, a chronological list of when and where Mahler conducted his own Retuschen of other composers' works, program notes from two performances Mahler gave of the Bach-Mahler Suite for Orchestra, a discography of all of Mahler's Retuschen, and information on the availability of the score and parts to the Bach-Mahler Suite. A copy of the complete score of the Bach-Mahler Suite published by G. Schirmer in 1910 is presented as a musical supplement.
Seliger, B. M.(2001). Gustav Mahler - Conductor as Interpreter: A Comprehensive Study of the Bach-Mahler Suite for Orchestra. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from https://scholarcommons.sc.edu/etd/5967