In 2020, the Cleveland Orchestra received an extraordinary, unique gift: the full, handwritten score of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 from the orchestra’s International Trustee Dr. Herbert G. Kloiber. One of the leading composers of late Romantic symphonic music, Gustav Mahler (1860–1911) was born in Bohemia (modern Czech Republic) and active in Germany and Austria. His monumental Second Symphony is considered the grandest of all symphonies from the 1800s. Requiring more than 100 instrumentalists, two soloists, as well as a full chorus, and at nearly 80 minutes, it surpassed its choral predecessors by Ludwig van Beethoven, Hector Berlioz, and Franz Liszt in range and conception.
Mahler wrote the dramatic score between 1888 and 1894 in his characteristically bold musical script, mainly in intense black ink, with some parts in brown or violet. It is a working manuscript with inserted leaves, corrections, deletions, and revisions. Additions to the orchestration are written in blue crayon in the first three movements, and in violet ink in the final movement. The complete manuscript is 232 pages, comprising 24- and 28-stave (musical staff) papers in unbound bifolios. This is the composer’s only handwritten manuscript of the complete symphony and includes the work’s finale, its crowning glory.
The Cleveland Orchestra acknowledges Dr. Herbert G. Kloiber with deep gratitude for his generous gift of the autograph manuscript of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2. The Cleveland Orchestra thanks the Cleveland Museum of Art for its partnership in the manuscript’s care and temporary display.
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Gustav Mahler, 1860–1911
Mahler was born in Bohemia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, to Jewish parents of modest means. He converted to Catholicism to obtain his position as director of the Vienna Court Opera but still received harsh criticism in the anti-Semitic press. In addition to Vienna, he directed operas or symphonies in Prague, Leipzig, Cologne, Hamburg, Essen, Budapest, London, Paris, and New York. By the time of his death in 1911, Mahler had secured his reputation as one of the most innovative conductors and composers of his time. Performances of his music were banned throughout occupied Europe during the Nazi era, only to be rediscovered to great acclaim after 1945.