Library staff recommendation: The Facsimile Score, Window to Musical Creativity

IX. Symphonie, Partiturentwurf [9th Symphony draft score]
By Gustav Mahler
Music Library Reference ML 96.5 .M214 no. 9 1999

The UArts Music Library is home to over 14,000 music scores, covering a wide variety of different styles, composers, and time periods.  Within the collection, you can find a number of facsimile scores that are available to anybody visiting the library, including both sketch scores and full scores.  You can find the composer’s own comments, thoughts, edits, and other compositional notes throughout these reproductions.  Although many are not cleaned-up final drafts, these uncommon windows into musical creativity allow you to see the thoughts behind the compositional process firsthand, and you can find them in the Reference section and in the Special Collections of the Music Library.

The framework of a masterpiece, Gustav Mahler: IX. Symphonie, Partiturentwurf, is a sketch of the first three movements of Mahler’s last completed symphony.  The Ninth is an imperial and substantial work, a capstone of the Romantic Era, and can be viewed as the culmination of almost 100 years of Romantic influences and of his own previous works.

This piece stands out from the rest as a particularly fascinating score to be reproduced in facsimile.  Mahler is remembered for the highly specific and meticulous techniques he includes in his works for the performers.  Consequently, he was writing down in great detail all of the expressitivity he was hoping to hear from the orchestra in this facsimile score.  Markings such as “Schattenhaft”, which means shadowy, are not performance markings frequently found in a music score.  Directions like “Nicht eilen”, meaning, “do not rush”, are personal notes for Mahler’s own conducting, which did not even make it into the published score.  Also found is “Jugendzeit entschwundene! O lieber! Verwehte!,”  which can be translated to, “Vanished youth! Oh dear! Blown away!” which might refer to Mahler’s own life, since he was to pass away from a weakening heart condition shortly after composing the piece.  Such personal and compositional directions are only a few of the many notes found throughout the draft score.

There are always insights to be gained from looking at a revised and cleaned up score while listening to a piece of music.  However, viewing the exact markings of a composer while listening to the work is an indescribable experience, bringing one closer to the moment of creation and the understanding of a musical mastermind.

-Recommended by Nick Lombardelli, Music Library Work Study Assistant


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