Jenny Feld (1866-1921)

No photo.

  • Profession: Student, friend
  • Relation to Mahler: Pupil of Gustav Mahler at the Conservatory of Vienna in Year 1878Blumine.
  • Correspondence with Mahler: 
  • Born: 00-00-1866
  • Marriage: Jenny Feld married a sales representative from Seneca Falls, New York (John Perrin’s father) and the couple settled in Belgium. Jenny kept the score all her life and passed it on to her son.
  • Died: 00-00-1921
  • Buried: 00-00-0000 

Mentioned in diary Natalie Bauer-Lechner (1858-1921).



In 1959 a manuscript of Symphony No. 1 was offered to Sotheby’s by John C. Perrin, who had got it from his mother, Jenny Feld (1866-1921). See Blumine for details.

Jenny Feld (gift from Gustav Mahler); John C. Perrin (by bequest from his mother); sold at Sotheby’s, 08-12-1959; purchased by Mrs James M. Osborn; placed on deposit at Yale University Library in 1968.

At a London auction once a manuscript of Mahler’s First Symphony surfaced. That was in 1959, seventy years after the premiere of the work. The manuscript belonged to Jenny Feld, a good friend of Mahler’s estate. The symphony had a drastically different form in this manuscript version than in which it was played until then. Namely with four classic parts.

After the disastrous premiere in 1889, Mahler had removed the second, nicknamed Blumine, from the original five parts. He found this part too weak to maintain any longer. He also removed all programmatic titles from the other parts. He wanted the music to speak for itself.

In 1967, about eight years after the London auction, Benjamin Britten provided a performance of this deleted part of Blumine during the Aldeburgh Festival in Suffolk. With unanimously very favorable criticism.

A year later (1968) The New Haven Symphony Orchestra, as the new owner of the manuscript, gave the first complete performance of the symphony in five parts since The dreamy atmosphere of Blumine recalls the post-horn solo from the Third Symphony. It was described in 1920 by Mahler’s friend Max Steinitzer (1864-1936) as a serenade blown over the moonlit Rhine in the direction of the castle where Margarethe lives.

Originally the part still had the subtitle Spring without end. Just like the Adagietto from the Fifth Symphony, the thinly instrumented Blumine is generally performed as an independent piece.


The previous owner of the manuscript, John C. Perrin of Brussels, gives the following history: His mother, nee Jenny Feld, was tutored by Mahler when the young composer was a student at the Vienna Conservatory in 1878, and she became his lifelong friend and confidante. On leaving for Hamburg, Mahler gave Jenny the score as a remembrance. Shortly thereafter, Jenny Feld married a sales representative from Seneca Falls, New York—John Perrin’s father—and the couple settled in Belgium. Jenny kept the score all her life and passed it on to her son.

Mr. Perrin tells us that his mother spoke to him of “Blumine.” Like the Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer) – two of which found their way into the music of the symphony (first movement and funeral march)—the Andante, he declares, was written for Johanna Richter, the blonde, blue-eyed singer at the Cassel Opera whom Mahler loved so deeply at the age of 24. The publisher in 1899, however, considered the symphony too long, so that “after a hard fight, Mahler gave in very reluctantly and, full of anger, suppressed the Andante, which expressed his innermost feeling for Johanna.”

Equally strange but revealing is the relation of “Blumine” to the lost incidental music Mahler wrote for Scheffel’s Der Trompeter von Sdckingen (Cassel, 1884). The beginning of the fervently melancholy trumpet solo in “Blumine” is identical with the melody of Werner’s “trumpet song” in the Sdckingen music, as quoted from memory by Max Steinitzer. In an article appearing in Der Anbruch in April 1920, Dr. Steinitzer wrote: “Mahler took with him to Leipzig [in 1886] only this one piece in score, a very appropriate setting of the tableau wherein Werner plays a serenade across the moonlit Rhine toward the castle where Margareta lives. But Mahler found it too sentimental, became annoyed with it, and finally made me promise that I would destroy the piano score I had made from it.”

No mention of the fact that Mahler subsequently put some of the very same music into his First Symphony, took it out, put it back, and so on, in the most ambivalent fashion! Obviously, it was music of very special and intimate connotations for Mahler, and it is by no means

inconceivable that he temporarily deleted the movement from the symphony himself in 1893, only to fight for it, “full of anger,” six years later. But since he evidently never mentioned “Blumine” again thereafter, there can be no final determination of the point, only conjecture. We can, if we wish, reject it out of hand for lack of provable evidence on its behalf; or we can weigh it on purely internal evidence—stylistic and structural —considering its functional role, if any, in the scheme of the symphony.

That the word “Blumine,” perhaps coined by Mahler himself, was derived from Blumen (flowers) is not at all certain, though generally assumed; at any rate, we recall that the second movement (Tempo di menuetto) of Symphony No. 3 was originally titled Was mir die Blumen auf der Wiese erzdhlen (What the flowers of the meadow tell me). The trumpet solo in “Blumine” also has some of the old-worldliness of the posthorn episode in the scherzo of No. 3. The same bittersweet style returns in the Andante amoroso of No. 7, likewise composed for a chamber-sized orchestra within a much larger canvas.

The five-movement structure is manifestly one of which Mahler remained exceedingly fond throughout his life. It is found in his Second, Fifth, Seventh and Tenth Symphonies. For those to whom the exuberant first-movement coda of No. 1 has always appeared to “bump” against the scherzo’s equally vigorous “peasant dance,” some addition seems needed here, also, to counterbalance the macabre funeral march from the darker side of the scherzo.

Motivically, too, the “Blumine” music – for all its far-off, dreamy, soloistic “otherness” – does fit into the scheme of No. 1 to the extent that it begins with and grows out of the interval of the rising fourth, just as all the other sections of the work begin with rising or falling fourths (as so often has been remarked). Most telling of all, perhaps, is the fact that the lyrical section of the finale (both in the exposition and the reprise) refers back to “Blumine” in the nostalgic way of lyrical “flashbacks” found in all the other Mahler symphonies. Only, in this case, there has never been anything to flash back to, so that the deepest inner meaning of these references in the finale has until now been lost to us.

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