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Main heading: The Music of Gustav Mahler: A Catalogue of Manuscript and Printed Sources [rule] Paul Banks

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Incidental Music to Der Trompeter von Säkkingen

 

Title

  [Incidental music to Der Trompeter von Säkkingen]

Date

  20–22 June 1884

Movements

 

1 Bild: Ein Ständchen am Rhein

 

2 Bild: Die erste Begegnung

 

3 Bild: Das Maifest am Bergsee

 

4 Bild: Trompeten-Unterricht in der Geißblattlaube

 

5 Bild: Der Überfall im Schlossgarten

 

6 Bild: Liebesglück

 

7 Bild: Wiedersehen in Rom

Scoring

  Unknown

Duration

 

Unknown

Manuscripts

 

Lost

 

Printed Editions

 

None

 
Chronology
 
1884.06.20 Work on the score begun
1884.06.22 The score completed
1884.06.23 First performance in Kassel, conducted by Mahler
1885.01.31 Second performance in Kassel, conducted by Wilhelm Treiber
1885.06.05 Performance in Karlsruhe

Notes

 

Mahler's contract at the Königliches Theater, Kassel included a clause that required him to provide such music as was required by the management and in June 1884 he was drawn into the preparations for a benefit concert ‘zum Besten der Allgemeinen Pensions-Anstalt der Genossenschaft Deutscher Bühnenangehörigen’. He was already a member of this international association (membership number 8198), and was also on the committee of the theatre's benefit funds for members of the orchestra and chorus respectively (AGDB, passim).

As with most such events, the programme, given on the last day of the theatrical season, was diverse:

1. Wagner: Overture to Rienzi

2. Meyerbeer: Die Hugenotten, act 4

3. Verdi: Der Troubadour, act 4

4. Der Trompeter von Säkkingen

The last item was described as ‘Sieben lebende Bilder mit verbindenden Dichtung nach Victor von Scheffel von Wilhelm Bennecke. Musik Mahler’. These tableaux vivants were based on an enormously popular semi-ironic narrative poem by Victor von Scheffel (1826–86) that had also been turned into operas by Emil Kaiser (Mahler's predecessor at Olmütz) and  Victor Nessler – whose version coincidentally also had its première in 1884 and which, much to his disgust, Mahler had to conduct in later years. Scheffel, who walked out of a performance of the Nessler opera (Mahler would have approved), was nevertheless happy to authorise the Kassel entertainment (KBME, 171):

I am very glad to give my consent to a performance of Der Tompeter von Säkkingen in the form of tableaux vivants at the Royal Theatre at Kassel. This was successfully done by the Mining Association during the Carnival at Stuttgart a few years ago, and the linking narration, decorations costumes and the final festive procession of all the participants were highly effective.

The author of the connecting text was a local Kassel writer, Wilhelm Bennecke (1846–1906) – who may have been related to Frau Bennecke, one of the principal dancers at the theatre – and the narration was by Gustav Thies, a popular leading actor in the company.

Mahler reported briefly on the composition of his incidental music in a letter to Fritz Löhr, dated 22 June 1884 (GMB, 27–8; GMSL, 77)

Ich habe in den letzten Tagen über Hals und Kopf eine Musik zum „Trompeter von Säkkingen“ schreiben müssen, welche morgen mit lebenden Bildern im Theater aufgeführt wird. Binnen 2 Tagen war das Opus fertig und ich muß gestehen, daß ich eine große Freude daran habe. Wie Du Dir denken kannst, hat es nicht viel mit Scheffelscher Affektiertheit gemein, sondern geht eben weit über den Dichter hinaus. Deinen Brief erhielt ich eben, als ich die letzte Note in die Partitur schrieb; wie Du wohl fühlen wirst, schien er mir mehr eine himmlische als irdische Stimme.

In the last few days I have had to write some music helter-skelter for Der Trompeter von Säkkingen which is going to be performed in the theatre tomorrow with tableaux vivants. I polished off this opus inside two days, and I must confess I am very pleased with it. As you can imagine, it has little in common with Scheffel's affectation, indeed leaves that author a long way behind. Your letter arrived just as I was writing the last note in the score; as you can imagine, it was more like a heavenly than an earthly voice.

The performance seems to have gone down well, to judge from the report that appeared in the Hessischen Morgenzeitung on 25 June (HJSGMK, 57):

Die lebenden Bilder zu Scheffels, „Trompeter von Säkkingen“, zu welchem Herr Musikdirektor Mahler eine durchaus stimmungsvolle Musik componirt hatte, gelangen vortrefflich und wurden stürmisch beklatscht.

The tableaux vivants on Scheffel's Trompeter von Säkkingen, for which music director Mahler had composed music full of thoroughly genuine feeling, succeeded splendidly and were enthusiastically applauded.

Presumably the 2177 Mk. paid over to the Genossenschaft in September 1884 (see AGDB, 169) were the profits from the evening.

A few months later Mahler had some further news about the score, which he passed on to Löhr in a letter of 1 January 1885 (GMB, 34; GMSL, 81):

Meine „Trompetermusik" ist in Mannheim aufgeführt morden und wird demnächst in Wiesbaden und Karlsruhe aufgeführt werden. Alles natürlich ohne das geringste Zutun von meiner Seite. Denn Du weißt, wie wenig mich gerade dieses Werk in Anspruch nimmt.

My `Trumpeter music' has been performed in Mannheim and is shortly to be performed in Wiesbaden and Karlsruhe. All of course without any instigation whatsoever on my part. For you know how little this work in particular concerns me.

In fact no performance in Mannheim has been traced, but the work was certainly given in Karlsruhe in Black and white facsimile of the press announcement of the Karlsruhe performance of Der Trompeter von Säkkingenaid of the Hoftheater's pension fund, on 5 June 1885. The staging was by Herr Ewald, one of the resident producers on the staff of the Kassel Theatre, who presumably knew the original production (see the accompanying facsimile from the Karlsruher Zeitung, ?4 June 1885); the text was declaimed by Aloys Pratsch, one of the actors in the Karlsruhe company. Whether the Wiesbaden performance took place is unclear (see GMSL, 392 and GMiK, 51).

The performing material – presumably consisting of a score and a set of copyist's parts – was probably returned to Kassel, and if so was almost certainly destroyed there during World War II. But one movement, or at least  material from it, survives as Blumine, which, for seven or eight years was the second movement of the First Symphony, before being omitted in 1896. The connection between the incidental music and the Symphony was established indirectly by the conductor and critic Max Steinitzer (1864–1936) who knew the movement from the incidental music, but seems not to have been aware of its subsequent symphonic incarnation (MSGM; see also MSGMiL):

Für einen Zyklus lebender Bilder aus dem ,Trompeter von Säkkingen' am Hoftheater Kassel (ich glaube zum besten des Orchesterpensionsfonds) hatte Mahler begleitende Musik geschrieben, auf die er keinerlei Wert legte: möglicherweise – ich habe nie mehr davon gehört – könnte etwas davon noch in Kassel vorhanden sein. Nach Leipzig brachte er nur ein Stück davon in Partitur mit, das meiner Meinung nach den Vorwurf – Werner bläst in der Mondnacht nach dem Schlosse, wo Margaretha wohnt, über den Rhein hinüber ein Ständchen – sehr passend verkörperte. Mahler fand es aber zu sentimental, ärgerte sich darüber und ich mußte ihm mein Wort geben, den Klavierauszug, den ich davon gemacht hatte zu vernichten. Soweit ich es noch im Gedächtnis habe, begann dieses Trompeten-Solo:

Mahler wrote accompanying music for a series of tableaux vivants, based on Der Trompeter von Säkkingen, at the Court Theatre at Kassel (for the benefit of the orchestra pension fund, I think) which he regarded as absolutely worthless; I have never heard of it since, but possibly that some of it might still be at Kassel. He brought with him to Leipzig only the score of one movement, which I thought expressed its subject very well: in the moonlight Werner is playing a serenade across the Rhine to the castle where Margareta lives. However, Mahler found it too sentimental, fretted about it, and I had to give him my word to destroy the piano arrangement that I had made of it. As far as I can remember, the trumpet solo began like this:

Musical example showing Steinitzer's memorial reconstruction of the opening of the serendade from Der trompetter von Säkkingen

The melody corresponds quite closely to that of Blumine (the last pitch is presumably a misprint for a''), though the chromatic neighbour notes in the accompaniment to the first complete bar do not appear in the symphonic movement, which is a tone lower, in C major.

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© 2007 Paul Banks  |  This page was lasted edited on 04 December 2007