The score of the Third Symphony by Mahler sold by Sotheby's

Martin Cullingford6th Jun 2011
Maher's score of his Third Symphony (credit: Sotheby’s)Maher's score of his Third Symphony (credit: Sotheby’s)

Mahler’s own annotated copy of his monumental Third Symphony was sold at auction at Sotheby’s, London, on Wednesday. Coming to the market for the first time, the manuscript, published in 1902 by Weinberger of Vienna shortly after the first complete performance, contains Mahler’s extensive alterations and markings that Mahler made after he conducted the first performances of the symphony. Found in a private collection, the score exceeded its estimate of £100,000-£150,000 to sell for £163,250.

The amendments are made directly onto the staves and in the margins, and appear on over 60 per cent of the score's pages. They constitute the composer’s entire revision of the symphony’s orchestration, says Sotheby’s. For example, one passage of 20 bars sees “Mahler transform the pages with new parts for oboes and clarinets in red ink, subsequently deleting these new parts in blue crayon with others for trumpets and timpani in red ink and blue crayon, then deleting entire staves for percussion in brown crayon.”

Worldwide Head of Books and Manuscripts at Sotheby’s, Stephen Roe, described the score as “a magnificent new source for Mahler’s Third. It is a spectacular and beautiful score revealing the passion of Mahler’s creation and the exuberance of his musical thinking.”

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