Chronology: Year 1910

Year 1910. Impresario Emil Gutmann (1877-1920), program from 05-1910 in the Musik-FesthalleMunich with 1910 Concert Munich 12-09-1910 – Symphony No. 8 (Premiere).

1910 Concert Munich 12-09-1910 – Symphony No. 8 (Premiere). Poster Emil Gutmann (1877-1920).

1910 Concert Munich 12-09-1910 – Symphony No. 8 (Premiere). Program.

130. 1910 Concert Munich 12-09-1910 – Symphony No. 8 (Premiere). Mahler in rehearsel.

131. 1910 Concert Munich 12-09-1910 – Symphony No. 8 (Premiere). Mahler in rehearsal.

132. 1910 Concert Munich 12-09-1910 – Symphony No. 8 (Premiere). Mahler in rehearsal.

1910 Concert Munich 12-09-1910 – Symphony No. 8 (Premiere). Numbers.

1910 Concert Munich 12-09-1910 – Symphony No. 8 (Premiere). Ticket.

1910 Concert Munich 12-09-1910 – Symphony No. 8 (Premiere). Poster by Alfred Roller (1864-1935).

  • 1910 Mahler made arrangements with the impresario Emil Gutmann for the symphony to be premiered in Munich in the autumn of 1910. He soon regretted this involvement, writing of his fears that Gutmann would turn the performance into “a catastrophic Barnum and Bailey show”. Preparations began early in the year, with the selection of choirs from the choral societies of Munich, Leipzig and Vienna. The Munich central-Singschule provided 350 students for the children’s choir. Meanwhile Bruno Walter, Mahler’s assistant at the Vienna Hofoper, was responsible for the recruitment and preparation of the eight soloists. Through the spring and summer these forces prepared in their home towns, before assembling in Munich early in September for three full days of final rehearsals under Mahler. His youthful assistant Otto Klemperer remarked later on the many small changes that Mahler made to the score during rehearsal: “He always wanted more clarity, more sound, more dynamic contrast. At one point during rehearsals he turned to us and said, ‘If, after my death, something doesn’t sound right, then change it. You have not only a right but a duty to do so.'”
  • Posters all over Munich.
  • For the premiere, fixed for 12 September, Gutmann had hired the newly built Neue Musik-Festhalle, in the Munich International Exhibition grounds near Theresienhöhe (now a branch of the Deutsches Museum). This vast hall had a capacity of 3,200; to assist ticket sales and raise publicity, Gutmann devised the nickname “Symphony of a Thousand”, which has remained the symphony’s popular subtitle despite Mahler’s disapproval. Among the many distinguished figures present at the sold-out premiere were the composers Richard Strauss, Camille Saint-Saëns and Anton Webern; the writer Thomas Mann; and the leading theatre director of the day, Max Reinhardt. Also in the audience was the 28-year-old British conductor Leopold Stokowski, who six years later would lead the first United States performance of the symphony.
  • Up to this time, receptions of Mahler’s new symphonies had usually been disappointing. However, the Munich premiere of the Eighth Symphony was an unqualified triumph; as the final chords died away there was a short pause before a huge outbreak of applause which lasted for twenty minutes. Back at his hotel Mahler received a letter from Thomas Mann, which referred to the composer as “the man who, as I believe, expresses the art of our time in its profoundest and most sacred form”.
  • The symphony’s duration at its first performance was recorded by the critic-composer Julius Korngold as 85 minutes. This performance was the last time that Mahler conducted a premiere of one of his own works. Eight months after his Munich triumph, he died at the age of 50. His remaining works (Das Lied von der Erde (“The Song of the Earth”), his Ninth Symphony and the unfinished Tenth) were all premiered after his death.
  • See description in diary Janko Cadra (1882-1927).
  • La Grange draws attention to the notably high tessitura for the sopranos, for soloists and for choral singers. He characterises the alto solos as brief and unremarkable; however, the tenor solo role in Part II is both extensive and demanding, requiring on several occasions to be heard over the choruses. The wide melodic leaps in the Pater Profundus role present particular challenges to the bass soloist.
  • Willem Mengelberg (1871-1951) acquired the Dutch (Amsterdam) premiere rights and the rights for Germany (Franfurt) by Universal Edition (UE) music publishers for Symphony No. 8 until 30-04-1912 after the premiere was moved from Amsterdam to Munich.
  • Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) told Willem Mengelberg (1871-1951) that both the auditorium and the choir (850 singers) had been far too small and that he had imagined a much larger space. This statement was later confirmed by the composer and pianist Otto Neitzel.
  • 03-04-1912 In the Festhalle in Frankfurt were about three times (12.000) as many spectators as during the world premiere (4.000 listeners). The ensemble would also be big enough this time, because Mengelbers orchestras and choirs from Amsterdam and Frankfurt would perform together.


Legend audience

  • R = Present at one or more rehearsals.
  • R5 = Present at rehearsal monday 05-09-1910: Orchestral rehearsals (9.30 to 12 and 4 to 6.30 hours).
  • R6 = Present at rehearsal tuesday 06-09-1910: Orchestral rehearsals (9.30 to 12 and 4 to 6.30 hours).
  • R7 = Present at rehearsal wednesday 07-09-1910: Orchestral rehearsals (9.30 to 12 and 4 to 6.30 hours).
  • R8 = Present at rehearsal thursday 08-09-1910: Soloist and children rehearsals (11 hours).
  • R9 = Present at rehearsal friday 09-09-1910: No rehearsals?
  • R10 = Present at rehearsal saturday 10-09-1910 Full rehearsal Part I (10 hours) and full rehearsal Part II (4 hours).
  • R11 = Present at rehearsal sunday 11-09-1910 Sunday: Final rehearsal (11 hours).
  • C12 = Present at concert monday 12-09-1910: 1910 Concert Munich 12-09-1910 – Symphony No. 8 (Premiere) (7.30 hours).
  • C13 = Present at concert tuesday 13-09-1910: 1910 Concert Munich 13-09-1910 – Symphony No. 8 (7.30 hours).

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