Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 6. Leipzig 1906 | Arnold Schönberg Center

Numerous printed scores found their way into the archive at the Arnold Schönberg Center via the pianist Leonard Stein, with individual copies originally owned by Arnold Schönberg himself. One of these scores is a version for piano of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 6, which has previously received little attention and has now proven a significant source for performance practice in the Viennese School.

April 1919: Arnold Schönberg’s diary contains frequent appointments marked with “VI Mahler,” which refers to the distinguished composer’s symphony. A performance of the work in the version for piano four-hands by Alexander Zemlinsky was planned for a concert on April 27 held by the Society for Private Musical Performances. The two pianists Ernst Bachrich and Eduard Steuermann rehearsed their parts under guidance by Arnold Schönberg, who – as the “recital master” – was responsible for adequate rehearsals of the score. Nevertheless, the symphony is not found in the Society’s library in the composer’s estate.
Books and scores were given away or occasionally lent to students and friends by Schönberg, and Schönberg’s widow Gertrud also passed on individual documents from the estate for the purpose of studying or as a thank-you gift after his death. One of the works in the possession of Leonard Stein, the composer’s pupil and assistant, and also the long-standing director of the Arnold Schoenberg Institute, was an edition of Mahler's "Lied von der Erde" with Arnold Schoenberg's sketches for an arrangement for chamber orchestra that was later completed.
In contrast, the aforementioned copy of Symphony No. 6 has remained unknown. Bearing the characteristic stamp, it is clearly recognizable as a former part of the library for the Society for Private Musical Performances. The score contains numerous entries that were likely written in by the two Society pianists, including several changes to Zemlinsky’s arrangement. Even more striking are annotations to the tempo, dynamics and articulation in various colored pencils, the majority of which were entered by Schönberg.
As part of a symposium at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, entitled “Voices of History – History of Voices. Interpreting Mahler” (June 21 to 24, 2022), the document will be presented for discussion for the first time. Insights into how traces of historical performance practice can influence and change the present-day presentation of a work are granted in a concert with explanatory comments.